I am an introvert.

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I am an introvert, recharged by alone time.

Overwhelmed by social stimulation.

There must be something wrong with me, right?

At least that’s the message I heard.

A society built by the outgoing.

Why am I not outgoing?

Why is simple small talk a problem?

I wish I knew.

Socializing is often stressful.

Sweat trickles down my back.

Uncomfortable silences

Even after rehearsing  I stumble with words.

That’s right I rehearse conversations.

What, you don’t?

I feel stupid.

Embarrassed.

If only I was less “shy,”

Just break out of my shell.

But it’s not easy.

If you’re me.

To be sensitive, defensive,

and selfish.

But in a different way than one may think.

Selfish with my innermost feelings.

For without protection they aren’t safe.

From fear of judgment, fear of loneliness,

Fear of fear.

Fear of hate.

Poet Tree

Check out my sister-in-law’s new blog called “Lauren Sits.” She’s a talented aspiring writer and a disability advocate! 🙂

laurensits

So here’s Poet Tree: It’s about how my disability can both be devastating and wonderful all at the same time.

Poet Tree

That tree is my brain.

It gives me energy to see and to simply be.

Be

bold,

be

happy,

be

loud and speak.

Be

witty,

be

sad, and write strangely

formatted

poetry, it gives me capacity.

There are withered leaves there –cerebral palsy.

I am hurt.

I am different.

I have no choice.

I am extraordinary.

I persevere.

I have no choice.

I love my Poet Tree,

don’t you?

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Beyond the Quarter Life: Now what?

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Written by guest blogger, my wife!  Check out her blog: Finding Nikki

Go to college, get a degree, find a job, get married, buy a house, have a baby. These were goals I set for myself as a young adult. When I was 18, these life events were all a big mystery– I didn’t know what I was going to major in, where I would work, who I would marry…but I knew this is what I wanted for my life, and I looked forward to the future with excitement as these goals took shape.

Fast forward 10 years. Now I’m nearly 28. I have a degree from the University of Minnesota. I found a job with career potential right out of college. I met my husband and we married in 2009. We bought a house in the suburbs. I had a baby in 2012, at the age of 25. Fantastic! All my life goals are complete. Now what?

That’s the scary part. I have no idea. I think I’ve been a little too distracted the last couple years, and I never paid much attention to the future. You can only do so much when you are battling severe postpartum depression, an anxiety-inducing and demanding full time job, and taking care of a baby that was sick all the time with ear infections, pneumonia, and has some developmental delays.

Things have improved immensely with my depression and anxiety (a whole other story to share a different time!). My daughter’s illnesses have been reduced thanks to a new treatment plan that included ear tubes, daily nebulizer treatment, and she also sees an early childhood special education teacher to work on her developmental skills.

The last hurdle was my job. I felt trapped– I had many reasons to stay (good benefits, good co-workers, a semi-interesting career path), but only one reason to leave: a hostile work environment created by my boss. In the last 2 years, I have done everything in my power to make it bearable to work with her. It worked for a while, but it was taking a toll on me and my family.

A couple weeks ago I did what I thought was impossible– I quit my job! After working there for almost 6 years, I went into work, gave my notice, and didn’t come back the next day. If you know me, then you might be a little shocked. I’m supposed to be the dedicated, stable, enthusiastic employee. I had no job lined up, knew I would be giving up my family’s health insurance, and my only plan was to use some of my 401k money that I would now have access to upon leaving. This is very un-Me behavior!

So this is where I stand currently: I’m taking a break from all things career-related. I’m not ready to start looking for jobs yet. Mostly I have no idea where I want to begin my next career path. But I’m fine with that. I will be using this time to be at home with my daughter and my husband, who is working from home in his new business venture. I want to make up some of my lost mother-daughter time from having postpartum depression and working full time in her first 2 years. I want to reflect on the crazy whirlwind that has been my life in the past few years, and through this I hope to learn more about myself and have a better idea of what I want for my future.

Oh, and we were able to get a new health insurance policy on the private insurance market, and its actually affordable (thanks, Obama!).

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Walls so thick

walls so thick
She gave so much
long labored
neglecting herself
mental health suffered

Her nature
justifies action
hidden behind
stark relentless pain

Exuding confidence
illusion of control
but just underneath
a black hole stirs..

Middle child recluse
put on a happy face
hidden stuffed feelings
emotionally alone

Now a mother herself
cheerfully lonely
for the love of her kin
cannot extinguish this fully

Crushing pressure..
Breathing in cement..
She screams!
Silence.
Nothing penetrates.

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It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky

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In our chaotically beautiful human lives, it helps to know you’re not alone.

When you look up at the night sky, imagine all the other people doing and thinking the same thing.

People long for both solitude and togetherness but cannot have both at the same time. It is this contradiction that makes us human. It forces us to choose.

While solitude brings us peace, being social with others brings joy. It is this that fulfills our need to feel connected, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

The next time you’re feeling anti-social, try stepping out of your comfort zone and connecting with others. Chances are they’ve been there and can relate to your tendency to withdraw.

After all, when you leave this world for good one day you’ll have nothing but peace and quiet.

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What are your strengths and weaknesses?

making a list of strengths and weakness

We all have them, what we see as our strong suits and where we fall short of expectations. It may come as no surprise that we are our worst critics and what others think of us doesn’t always match our description.

I recently found a list I made in October 2012 where I detailed what I thought my strengths and weaknesses were at that time. As you will see, like many of us the items on my weakness list far outweigh the strengths.

It’s an snapshot in time of how I felt about myself. I just thought it is interesting as some of these items I still believe to be true an others have evolved and changed over the last year. I would love to hear feedback if anyone else has done this or thought about it doing this. Now without further ado…

October 10, 2012


Justin’s Strengths

• You are a very thoughtful person, you consider all the consequences of your actions and are constantly re-evaluating your influence on others, striving for positive outcomes
• You are a very creative person and often find new and innovative ways of looking at things
• Thoroughly analyze all possibilities to complex problems before choosing a solution
• Know when to ask for help, how to ask, and who to ask for a specific goal in mind
• Make sound, well thought out decisions
• You fully explain your reasoning for decisions you make which helps others trust you
• You have profound empathy for other people which helps you relate to others on a human level
• My wife tells me I’m an excellent husband and a father because I’m sensitive to their needs and am not afraid to show my love in many ways
• You hold yourself and others accountable for actions taken
• Can explain complex options and the ramifications of each choice
• Can be tactfully honest to bring clarity to confusing situations
• Interact with people in a way that supports everyone’s success
• You regularly practice self-reflection in a powerful way that creates an internal drive to improve yourself


Justin’s Weaknesses

• Occasionally make snap judgements which creates distrust and invalidates the information you convey
• Sometimes disrespect speakers by not paying full attention or interrupting them
• Can occasionally convey an unhelpful and unapologetic tone which can leave a lasting negative impression
• Sometimes mistrust those around you without any reason
• Intentionally isolate yourself from others and avoid interactions which is a barrier to communication
• Sometimes unjustly judge those who don’t share your views, make choices you disagree with, and who make mistakes in their life
• Can rush through steps too quickly at times which causes unnecessary errors
• Can be distracted and preoccupied with your emotions
• Sometimes stressed when there’s too many unknowns or not a concrete process for a problem
• Can become so overwhelmed by multiple problems that you can shutdown and your natural problem solving skills don’t work
• Can be deeply uncomfortable talking with others for extended periods of time
• Can be deeply uncomfortable talking about yourself and revealing a great deal
• Can be under the misunderstanding that people are judging you
• Can take things too personally or out of context
• Can read too much into things which discredits your intelligence
• Sometimes you are not very articulate and unable to tactfully vocalize your thoughts
• Can give up too easy on ideas that have worked well in the past
• Addicted to change even if there is no good reason to change
• Have difficulty changing old habits even when you’ve identified and have a history of them not working
• Can get overly fixated on one idea giving it much more attention than it deserves and giving the idea more power than the process you used to get to it. This causes the idea to fail because it was never grounded in good logic and reasoning and is not tested or proven, it’s just a dream, a pie in the sky
• Can dismiss your dreams as completely irrational, which the are not, they are just unrefined ideas
• Lack the patience to cultivate unrefined ideas which causes you to overly focus on a rough draft of an idea as complete, this tendency causes you to eventually abandon it when you realize it can’t work exactly as originally designed

Boys do cry

Crying is healthy for boys and men

Image Credit: Catmose College

Boys do cry,
and should cry
society discourages,
but parents
should encourage,
their boys to be sensitive

My father described me,
“he cries at the drop of a hat”
previously ashamed,
but now so proud of that

Sensitivity, my greatest gift,
self esteem began to shift
being emotional I can,
feel what others feel,
be able to cry,
makes me a stronger man.