G is for Get Up Earlier

For the month of April I’m blogging alphabetically about quick, easy, and practical ways to relieve stress. To see the other posts in this series, click here.

wake up happyI almost feel a little guilty writing that I should get up earlier, especially after my last post. It seems that as I write these posts, I’m discovering that I need to cut out the things in my life that don’t matter, and make time for the things that do matter. I’m also discovering that I have somehow completely reversed the meaning of these two things.

The truth is, I do better when I get up earlier. I am not a morning person, so I like to keep my eyes shut for absolutely as long as I can. Sometimes this means there are already several children in bed with me begging me to get up before I crack an eyelid. The days that happens are usually much more hectic than the days when I get up before my children.

When I initially planned my A to Z topics, I figured I’d talk about how many more things I could accomplish if I would make a habit of getting up earlier. I could have my coffee, pray, exercise, start the kids’ breakfast, etc. I had all kinds of ideas about things I could do with those extra minutes before the children come thundering out of bed. I figured having all those things accomplished would make me more productive, and, somehow make me feel less stressed.

For some reason, I have come to assume that productivity was the cure for stress. Boy was I wrong. Trying to combat stress with more and more productivity is just fueling the fire. I’ve been like a rat on a wheel powering my own destructive cycle. But, despite that, I still think there is something to be gained from getting up earlier. The gain is just different from what I expected it to be. What I gain isn’t productivity, it’s peace.

When I get up earlier, I have precious quiet moments to myself. I can think my own thoughts and sip coffee while I watch the sky slowly illuminate with morning light. I can take a shower so I start the day feeling refreshed. If I chose to pray or exercise, that’s great, but not because it’s productive, because both things make me happy and bring me peace. Getting up earlier isn’t to make extra time for things on my to-do list, it’s to make extra time for me.

No, Really, I AM an Introvert.

introvert fishI’ve told my husband for years that I’m an introvert. He’s always disagreed. He says something along the lines of, “I’ve seen you be social when you want to be. You’re really outgoing. You’re an extrovert.” Truthfully, until I read the Huffington Post article the other day, I didn’t fully understand what it meant to be an introvert. All I meant was that I often feel awkward in social settings and being around people can be so exhausting. Turns out there’s even more to it that that. While both of those traits do fit in with the introvert experience, there’s so much more about my personality that makes sense now that I’ve read that list. Yesterday, I touched on some of the highlights for me. Today I’m going to add my commentary to each of their 23 points. Maybe it will be enough to convince my sweet husband that, even though I have high energy and do enjoy socializing with people I know, I really am an introvert.

First, I’d like to point out that in the introduction the article states that a lot of introverts can be social butterflies and pass as extroverts. I think this is why my hubby refuses to accept that I am really an introvert. Just because I don’t hide in the corner, doesn’t mean I’m not an introvert. The article says that the social aspect is really only a small piece of this personality.

Next, I find it fascinating that the American Psychological Association considered listing “introverted personality” in the DSM as recently as 2010. I certainly understand what they may have been considering. At times, being introverted certainly can feel debilitating. But, overall, it’s not really something that holds me back. It’s just something I have to cope with and make accommodations for. It’s just part of who I am.

Now for their traits…

1.You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.

Oh my gosh! All I can say is AMEN! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “I used to think you were such a b**ch until I got to know you.” Umm…thanks? Glad you took the time to get to know me. I’m really not a b**tch (well…at least not most of the time), but I think this trait is why people perceive me that way. I don’t think I’m better than you, I just really can’t stand having to talk about nothing. To me, it seems like we’re both above that.

This trait is also is to blame for the awkwardness that ensues when random strangers approach me to talk about how cute my baby is. I can tell you all about my baby, but, my guess is, you don’t really care. I just don’t know where else to go from there. You said she’s cute. I said thanks. Now what?

bill lumburg2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people.

You’re having a party? Awesome! I love parties!! But if I could get the guest list in advance to ensure the ratio to people I know to people I don’t know is within my comfort zone, that would be great.

Sure, it’s nice to know a lot of people, but getting to know them is pretty tricky. I think if more people could master good introductions, this would be so much more bearable. You know, when someone says, “Oh! Mary. I want you to meet my friend Suzie. Suzie blah blah blah blah (insert some kind of relevant information about Suzie’s life, career, pet iguana.) Being able to start a conversation with real information helps so much when meeting new people. Otherwise, see # 1 about my dislike of small talk.

3. You often feel alone in a crowd.

I’ve written about this before. I thought this was just the result of my lifestyle choices. Most people treat me like I’m some kind of three-legged freak, so I often feel like one. Maybe there’s more to it than that?

4. Networking makes you feel like a phony.

This is reason # 1 that I couldn’t hack it in Mary Kay. I loved so much about that organization, but I can’t network. I feel like such a fraud when I try. What’s worse is I felt like, even when I wasn’t networking, people would think I was phony, assuming I just wanted to sell something to them rather than just hang out or be friends.

5. You’ve been called “too intense.”

There was a group at the fraternity house where I used to hang out that would sit on the porch and talk for hours. We would talk about all kinds of things: philosophy, books, movies, science, music, history… Everyone always said we were being “too intense.” That we just needed to grab a beer and let loose. We were much more content sitting with our beer and talking about all sorts of things. That’s not to say I never “let loose,” only that I was frequently accused of being “too intense.”

6. You’re easily distracted.

I find this particularly interesting. I have ADHD, which also involves being easily distracted. I’d love to see some work done on how ADHD presents in introverts vs. extroverts. Apparently, I have no hope. Between the two, I’m not likely to ever finish a task, or even a sentence….

Maybe this is why I long for the beach. I get lots of down time.

Maybe this is why I long for the beach. I get lots of down time.

7. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.

I crave downtime. I need it. If I don’t get enough of it, I can’t function. I just end up breaking down. When I was working at our church, I had to take Thursdays completely off. I worked 10-12 hours on Wednesdays, and it was usually my last day of work for the week. On Thursday, I had to veg out. I worried that I was just being lazy, but I knew that I needed it. The kids loved just having a day to chill. They thought I was being “cool.” I was just trying to stay sane. Now that I’m not working outside the home, I still need it, just not in such massive quantities. This is the added benefit to the quiet time we have each day. I get to sit down with my coffee or lunch or whatever and recharge. It makes for a much smoother evening when I’m running on fresh batteries.

8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.

I talked about this one yesterday. I’ll just sum it up by saying this is so true!

9. When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench -– not in the middle.

Always! Or at church. Or the movie theater. Or anywhere. I need to be able to escape easily. Luckily, my kids make for a handy excuse. “I might need to slip out with the baby, so I should sit on the end.”

I also strategically pick my spot at tables in restaurants. It has to have a combination of a good view (I don’t want to be staring at the wall) and an easy escape. Interestingly, I rarely do escape, but I need to feel that I could. I can’t stand to feel trapped. 

10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.

Yes, yes, yes! This is part of the reason I had to take Thursdays off in # 7. The same applies to play dates, shopping trips, even vacations. I need a good balance of activity and down time.

That's not me, that's my beautiful sister. And that's my hubby...being an extrovert?

That’s not me; that’s my beautiful sister, Meghan. And that’s my hubby…being an extrovert?

11. You’re in a relationship with an extrovert.

Most definitely. Having read this list, I’d be interested to find a similar list of extrovert traits. I’d love to know what pieces of his personality are tied to his extroversion that I’ve never noticed. Major plus to being in a relationship with an extrovert: I let him handle the small talk whenever possible. I just stand there and smile.

12. You’d rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything.

So true! There’s so much to learn about everything. You can always go deeper. I can’t imagine being satisfied with surface level knowledge of everything with no deep knowledge of anything. I need to go deep. I need to understand why.

13. You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation.

Umm, of course. I would die if I had to be that sap that got called on stage.

On the same token, there’s nothing worse than being in a workshop when the presenter says, “Now I want you to turn to your neighbor and share your responses to these three questions…” Can we not? I came to hear you, the supposed expert, talk, not the random lady sitting beside me. More than that, I don’t really want to “share” anything with her. I don’t even know her.

14. You screen all your calls — even from friends.

Yes! A million times a day. I can’t help it. I hate phone calls. I thought the article described it perfectly. To me, it really feels like you just jumped out of my closet and shouted, “BOO!” I just can’t deal with that. I’ll call you back when I’m mentally prepared to deal with you. Oh, and when none of my children are screaming. Waiting for those two stars to align could take a while. I’m sorry. This truly is a case of, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

15. You notice details that others don’t.

I’m incredibly detail-oriented. I never would have guessed this is somehow correlated with being an introvert.

16. You have a constantly running inner monologue.

When I first read this I thought, “Doesn’t everybody?” Apparently not. I find this fascinating.

The description also mentioned that introverts need to think first and talk later. This is so true. This is why the thought of taking Q&A’s petrifies me. Not because I won’t know the answer, just because I need to process my thoughts for a minute before answering. I can’t just start talking. I need to think for a minute. This is also why I hate being called on in class. I really did do the reading assignment. I just don’t answer very well on the spot. I need a minute to think.

17. You have low blood pressure.

Always. Even when I’m pregnant.

18. You’ve been called an “old soul” -– since your 20s.

When I was a teenager, my friends always told me how wise I was, especially when we were dealing with boy problems or parent problems. I never really understood why. It was usually after I verbalized what seemed to be incredibly obvious. Maybe this is why? I don’t really know. This hasn’t happened to me in years.

Final Four games at the Alomodome in San Antonio, TX. 43, 715 in attendance!

2009 Final Four games at the Alomodome in San Antonio, TX. 43, 715 in attendance!

19. You don’t feel “high” from your surroundings

This is the only one that I can’t immediately identify with. Perhaps, neurochemically (which is what the article describes) this is true. I have no way of knowing. What I do know is that I love huge concerts and sporting events and other ginormous situations. I think it’s awesome to be part of something so big and so exciting where everyone is so passionate about the same silly thing. I love that.

20. You look at the big picture.

Always. Even when I don’t want to. The good news is, this is probably why I never got in any “real” trouble in college. I did a lot of questionable things, but I was never willing to put my scholarship in jeopardy. This ruled out a lot, since getting in trouble with the campus or the police certainly would have done so.

21. You’ve been told to “come out of your shell.”

For as long as I can remember. Usually, my solution is to surround myself with people who are out of theirs. It seems to camouflage the fact that I’m perfectly content in mine. Or maybe this just leads more people to thinking I’m a b**ch? (see # 1) Who knows?

22. You’re a writer.

Indeed. I always have been. I’ve kept a journal since the 7th grade. When I was in 1st grade, I started writing letters to my parents explaining why I was running away. (That was probably a tad dramatic, but I’m just illustrating that I’ve always been more comfortable expressing myself in writing.)  Maybe one day, when the kids are bigger, I’ll make something substantial of it.

23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity.

This is so true. I’ve touched on this in # 7 and # 10. I definitely have a threshold of activity. I have to have a balance between work and fun and rest. When that balance gets out of whack, I get very stressed out and very cranky. I don’t think as clearly, and I don’t operate as productively. It’s not just being lazy; I really need the downtime to be able to function as a normal human being.

This need makes weekends challenging for me. I have two days to hang out with my husband, to unwind with him, and to get things done with him. I usually don’t balance it out very well, which leaves me disappointed every Sunday. I always feel as if we wasted the weekend. Maybe now that I’m more conscious of the way I cycle through these things, I can plan more balance, and, thus, get more satisfaction out of our weekends together.

Singing and dancing on stage with the band at my friend's wedding. I think it's moments like this that make my husband doubt that I could possibly be an introvert.

Singing and dancing on stage with the band at my friend’s wedding. (I’m the one in the blue dress, just right of center, behind the bride) I think it’s moments like this that make my husband doubt that I could possibly be an introvert.

It’s Not Me; It’s You.

Dear Procrastination,

This just isn’t working out. It’s not me, it’s you. I need you to pack your things and move out immediately. I just can’t waste any more time with you.

I can’t say that it hasn’t been fun, but that’s just not good enough anymore. Please don’t make a scene, or conjure up all kinds of ideas of things we can to do together. This really has to end. Now. Besides, I’ve met someone else. His name is Productivity. Granted, he and I don’t seem to fit together as naturally as you and I do, but I’m determined to make it work. He can take me places you can’t. It’s as simple as that.

I’m sorry to be so harsh, but I don’t see another way. I’ve tried to drop hints and show you how we’re growing apart, but nothing seemed to be working. It just has to end. And I felt like you need to know exactly why.

I’ll certainly look back on the time we spent together fondly, but I’m looking forward to getting to the point where I don’t miss you anymore. I’ll be better off without you. I know I will. I just need you to accept this and move on. You’ll find someone else. Someone better suited for your romping. We’ll both be better off; you’ll see.

The time we’re spending together is in vain, as I’m just growing resentful. When we part, I’m left feeling angry and even used. I just can’t do it anymore. I don’t care if you don’t understand. This is the way it has to be.

Please try and forget we ever knew each other so intimately. I’m not looking back and I won’t change my mind. Starting now, I’m moving on. Really. I am. Yes, it’s hard for me to walk away. But I just have to be strong. I can get past you. I will. I’m done. I’m not falling for you again. Forget moving out of my life. I’ll leave. I’ll be better off for it, you’ll see. Years from now, when we meet again, you’ll hardly know me, and you’ll be exactly as I left you. That’s why it has to happen now. Goodbye, Procrastination. I’m leaving now. Like Fergie said, “Big girls don’t cry.”

Just an Update

Picture 1

Wow! I absolutely can not believe how much I’m learning about myself this year! Between my New Year Resolutions and the Love Dare, I feel like I’ve been given a whole new perspective on who I am and what I accomplish. This has been such a fascinating experience and we’re only 10 days into the new year!

The Love Dare has really been eye-opening. Had you asked me 5 days ago if I thought I was a good wife, I would have confidently told you that I was among the best. I really believed that. The Love Dare has shown me how much room I have to grow as a person, a wife, and an example of Christ’s love. I am much more selfish that I realized and I don’t give Josh nearly enough credit for how amazing he is. While I’ve decide to journal about my everyday Love Dare experiences privately, I have no problem sharing these general updates and lessons learned. I seriously considered sharing my whole experience, but I decided that was contradictory to the intimate nature of marriage. Not everything has to be a reality show, right?

As for my New Year Resolutions, I’m doing ok so far. I expected a learning curve and that’s exactly what I’ve gotten. Some days I complete all my daily resolutions, some days I don’t. I want all 7 of my daily resolutions to be solidly ingrained daily habits (hopefully long before) the end of the year.

I got a new calendar for the new year, one with weekly and monthly views. Each day in the weekly view I make a to do list of the 6 most important things I need to accomplish that day and track my resolutions in the upper left corner. Having the calendar has significantly increased my daily productivity. Most days I cross all six to do items off the list. If I don’t, I move them to the next day. I am so impressed with how much I get done each day using this system.

Aside from my house being cleaner than it has been in quite some time, finally being caught up on the ironing that’s been piling up since long before Christmas, and more time for engaging or educational activities for the boys, my new daily tracking system leaves me feeling fulfilled at the end of the day. It’s so gratifying to look at that list and see that I accomplished everything I set out to do that day. So, I’m basically getting a daily self-esteem boost in addition to a cleaner house and happier children. Happy New Year to me!