Almost Labor Day

Aside

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Cool
Rocks
connected to earth
Wet

Feeling
Air – Air! – Breathe
peace
slow
Warm Sun

Beauty.
Connection.

My People
My Place
My Pack

Peace, pace
Kindness.
Satisfaction.

A Pack of Friends or One at a Time? (2014)

A Pack of Friends or One at a Timeby Andrea Chilcote

There’s a saying I love to share, just to watch the puzzles form on listeners’ faces as they try to decipher the message. It goes like this:

“One dog, you have a dog. Two dogs, you have half a dog. Three dogs, you have no dog at all.”

The point, of course, is that due to pack behavior, the closeness of a human’s relationship with a companion dog depends on how many dogs there are. When there are several, you don’t have one-on-one relationships — you live with a pack. My neighbor observes this behavior in her husband and his two grown sons, with whom he is very close. When they’re away, she has a husband. When one son is present, she says she has roughly half a husband and when all three are together, she laments (but with a smile), that she really has no husband at all.

Even though I work with people day in and day out, am socially adept and enjoy interaction with others, I’m an introvert by nature. That just means I get my energy by being alone or with one very close, significant other. I expend energy in my work and in social interactions, and need time in nature or with one close (and quiet) friend to recharge. Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy by being with people. I often tease a strongly extroverted colleague about the time she told me, in all seriousness, that she couldn’t wait to relax on a Jimmy Buffet cruise with 200 of her closest friends. “200 close friends?” I exclaimed. I could not imagine (though this was before Facebook) having that many friends, let alone consider being with them all at once “relaxing.”

This introvert/extrovert concept is complex, because we need different things from groups than from our one-on-one relationships. In this world of never-enough-time, I tend to covet and protect time alone with special pals, even to the point of (I confess), sometimes resenting when well-meaning others join us. As an introvert, I tend to let the “pack” do its pack thing, with me on the fringes as a lone wolf. I can easily lose connection and drift away into my own thoughts while they carry on as a unit.

Susan Cain’s new bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking  does a beautiful job of helping introverts understand themselves a bit better and nudges their extroverted friends, partners and colleagues to consider a different way of interacting with them. Take her quiz to assess your own preferences.

If you need the absence of connection, the solitude of your choosing, to build the energy to connect with important others in your life, consider the choices you are making. Do you go along with crowd, later feeling exhausted or even resentful that your bucket is empty? Or do you make time for quiet, alone or with a quiet confidant? Honoring these core needs contributes to the quality of our lives.

“One of the ways you can tell if you are introverted is that you need time to recharge your batteries and decompress after you spend time with others.”– The Introverted Leader by Jennifer Kahnweiler

Looking for Fun

by Andrea Chilcote

The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. This summer, followers of this blog will enjoy bi-weekly archived posts that have appeared on The Spirited Woman but never before on this site. 

It’s my guess that even the most lighthearted of you would agree that life on planet earth can be a little heavy at times. And I’ve grown to learn that we have to balance that with heaviness with light. There are many ways to lighten the load. One of them is to have fun.

Almost a year ago, I shared with a friend that I had a goal to have more fun. She asked me what kinds of things were fun for me, and that’s when I knew I was in trouble. It was hard for me to think of any.

Now I have to add a caveat here. The dictionary includes “enjoyment” in the definition of fun. I see them as different. I lead a happy life, and there are many, many things I enjoy. It’s just that most don’t have that quality of light frivolity that defines the essence of fun. For me, fun does not have to be funny, but it has to be light. 

So I’ve been searching for fun experiences ever since. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. I’m sharing what I learned here in the hope of sparking the same quest in you, if your life could use a lightening of the load.

Here’s what I learned about fun.

  • Fun requires connection – with another person, a group, or the animal companions. I take pleasure in many solitary activities – reading and writing come to mind — and I get great fulfillment from them. Fun requires two or more.
  • Fun (for me) has to represent a break from things I find difficult or tedious. A jigsaw puzzle for example, a source of fun for many, does not make my list. That kind of thing creates stress for me.
  • Fun requires space, not ticking clocks. Some tasks can be fun or stressful, depending on whether there is time. Recently a friend taught me how to bake bread. It was a fun experience in part because we had the time to do it properly. I have built that time into subsequent loaves and have no desire to rush that special activity.
  • Time can be short. A spontaneous romp in the yard with my dogs tops my fun list, and it can be done as stress reliever at just about any time and for as long as I wish.
  • Fun has a characteristic similar to that of flow. Flow, proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, is described as complete absorption in what one does. Next time you have fun, notice how your immersion and engagement seem to make the time fly by.

I also learned that fun is very individual when I joined a group of friends for a play that was touted as “hilarious.” Given my quest for fun, it sounded perfect. Not only did I find it silly (not at all funny), I was struck by how many others (most of the people in the theatre) laughed out loud, thoroughly enjoying the performance. I realized (once again) how different we all are. And that’s why your quest for fun, should you take on the challenge I’m offering, will be as unique as you are.

Have fun.

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
–Simon and Garfunkel