Sunday, July 22, 2018

Reinventing Ourselves

It's a beautiful summer evening; I'm on the deck, wearing shorts and a tank top. The sun is setting, the air temp is PERFECT and I'm not too annoyed at the mosquitoes. I've just finished reading a book. My heart is heavy and I've just had a little cry.

I'm heading into old age and wondering WHO will I be? What kind of senior citizen do I want to be like? I observe the women who are in their  60's and 70's (my mom, her friends, my friends' moms, my co-workers, book and movie characters, famous women, women in the news...) and while I don't have an actual bulletin board where I post clippings and photos, I DO have a mental one, where I accumulate inspiring ideas from the people around me.

JUST thought of Pinterest. I guess I could start a board there? Most people have boards on Things To Wear, or Foods To Eat, Places To Go, Exercises To Try, Books To Read ... Mine would be Who I Want To Be When I'm 70.) (Bound to be one of my popular boards.)

(Why do I think I need to be intentional about this? Why do I think I need to PLAN on who I want to be? Do I not have confidence in my ability to just age naturally? Am I worried about my decision-making ability as the years wear on? Do I think that if I don't have something to aim for I'll just waste my later years? WHAT IS MY DEAL?)

This is the book I read that made me sad.

"It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen,  decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Bröntes—but without the dying young bit.

By sixteen, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less."

Johanna has a wall in her bedroom where she posts song lyrics, bits of poems, articles, photos, fashion ideas, and what not. She DECIDES who she wants to be, and goes for it with 100% buy-in. She changes from Johanna to Dolly and it's kinda gross.

She has no moral compass.

And it made me sad for young women, specifically, but everyone, actually, who will do anything to be popular/make money/achieve their goals...

Dolly tried every drug that was offered to her, had sex with anyone who asked, believed that being drunk was part of her new role, was committed to writing scathing reviews about every band she critiqued. And with every bad decision she made, my heart ached for her.

As her 17th birthday approached, she re-assessed.
And decided she didn't like who she'd become.
So she set about to tweak her look, make some adjustments to her values, and create a new attitude so that her reputation would be more positive.

(Sadly, she decided to keep all the sex, drugs and alcohol. Those were the 'good' things she going to take moving forward.)

I'm not recommending this book; it's super graphic and wildly descriptive and if you're offended by foul language, you'll have an aneurysm by page 6. But it was very well written and is being made into a movie. So there's that.

Some of my fav quotes: (I'm posting them here for me. Feel free to skip 'em)

“Because what you are, as a teenager, is a small, silver, empty rocket. And you use loud music as fuel, and then the information in books as maps and coordinates, to tell you where you’re going.” 

“Because my biggest secret of all—the one I would rather die than tell, the one I wouldn’t even put in my diary—is that I really, truly, in my heart, want to be beautiful. I want to be beautiful so much—because it will keep me safe, and keep me lucky, and it’s too exhausting not to be.”

“what do you do when you build yourself—only to realize you built yourself with the wrong things? You rip it up and start again. That is the work of your teenage years—to build up and tear down and build up again, over and over, endlessly, like speeded-up film of cities during boom times and wars. To be fearless, and endless, in your reinventions—to keep twisting on nineteen, going bust, and dealing in again, and again. Invent, invent, invent.”

“Because I am still learning to walk and talk, and it is a million times easier to be cynical and wield a sword, than it is to be open-hearted and stand there, holding a balloon and a birthday cake, with the infinite potential to look foolish.” 

“I wish I was Bill Murray. I hope everything I’ve read about evolution is wrong, and I eventually evolve into him. It’s one of only three plans I have.” 

“Explaining why you love something is one of the most important jobs on earth.” 

This is what I want to be. I want to be a self-made woman. I want to conjure myself out of every sparkling, fast moving thing I can see. I want to be the creator of myself. I'm going to begat myself” 

“People with no upper-body strength, who read poetry. These are my people.”

“You go out into your world, and try and find the things that will be useful to you. Your weapons. Your tools. Your charms. You find a record, or a poem, or a picture of a girl that you pin to the wall and go, "Her. I'll try and be her. I'll try and be her - but here." You observe the way others walk, and talk, and you steal little bits of them - you collage yourself out of whatever you can get your hands on. You are like the robot Johnny 5 in Short Circuit, crying, "More input! More input for Johnny 5! as you rifle through books and watch films and sit in front of the television, trying to guess which of these things that you are watching - Alexis Carrington Colby walking down a marble staircase; Anne of Green Gables holding her shoddy suitcase; Cathy wailing on the moors; Courtney Love wailing in her petticoat; Dorothy Parker gunning people down; Grace Jones singing "Slave to the Rhythm" - you will need when you get out there. What will be useful. What will be, eventually, you? 

And you will be quite on your own when you do all this. There is no academy where you can learn to be yourself; there is no line manager slowly urging you toward the correct answer. You are midwife to yourself, and will give birth to yourself, over and over, in dark rooms, alone. 

“And when you are being kissed like this, you are Christmas Day; you are the moon shot; you are field larks. My shoes were suddenly worth a million pounds, and my breath was the ethyl in champagne. When someone kisses you like this, you are the point of everything.” 

“Anger is just fear, brought to the boil.” 

“when cynicism becomes the default language, playfulness and invention become impossible.” 

“I haven’t yet learned the simplest and most important thing of all: the world is difficult, and we are all breakable. So just be kind.” 

“As I’ve not been kissed before, I’m not really sure how you activate this function on a man.” 


Recently, at work, I was asked to do the Birkman on-line survey. 
There were a million 'easy' true or false questions that were supposed to take 15 minutes to complete. I took 17 hours and second-guessed myself on each one. Example: True of False: Most people sometimes get so angry they want to hit someone.

How often is SOMETIMES?
And how would I know what people feel like doing?

Another one: true or false - Most people seldom have ready answers?
Or, most people sometimes think about things before making decisions?
Or, true or false, most people have to avoid being shy. 
Or, true or false, most people find it harder to be accurate than to be fast.
Or true or false, most people like work where they can move around. 
Most people do not like to wait for traffic lights to change.
Most people prefer routine over variety.

I don't know. 
It depends if they're extroverts or introverts. If they're thinkers or doers. If they're in a hurry or not. 

I was entirely frustrated. 

Then 125 questions later, the exact same questions were asked except this time, it was All About Me. Am I impatient at stop lights. Have I wanted to hit another adult in anger? Do I like to sleep before I make a decision? 

And after that there were about 60 job descriptions. They were presented to me, four at a time and I was to arrange them in order, from something I'd want to do, to something I definitely didn't want to do. 

On Friday afternoon, I had a meeting with my Birkman consultant who gave me my personalized 29 page report and went through the results with me. 

Do you see where the star is located? At the extreme bottom right corner. Exactly where INTROVERT meets PEOPLE?
I thought that meant I was an introvert that places more value on people than on tasks.
But according to my printout, that asterisk's location indicates:


So if the asterisk (above) indicates where MY INTERESTS LIE, the diamond-shape, below, shows me what MY USUAL BEHAVIOUR IS:

I'm still an introvert in real life, but I give tasks and people equal consideration.

Or in other words:

Am I?

Is this how I usually behave?
Those of you who know me, are these the words you'd use to describe me? Detached? Concentrative?  Organized? Consistent? Insightful? Selectively social? Thoughtful?

(I'm remembering the words 5 co-workers used to describe me last month:

Organized keeps coming up.
That'll look good on an on-line dating profile.

I think I'd rather be fun.

When I'm stressed or unhappy, these behaviours will be your clue:

So if I conform, I'm stressed. And if I resist, I'm stressed.
Keep 'em guessing I always say.

This was chart was fun:
High scores indicate activities I enjoy.
Low scores indicate areas I would prefer to avoid.

I will never be an accountant/bookkeeper even though my highschool bookkeeping teacher told me a I had a great gift for numbers and I got perfect A's in those classes.

I am not a gardener. I'd rather wash dishes for an hour than pick weeds for 15 minutes. One of my jobs was working at Bevo Greenhouses; doing farm labor. Grateful for the job, but was so glad when that season in my life was over.

I am not a salesperson/debater. My two years as a realtor were hell. I think of that time in my life as my 'wilderness wandering' season. And Clint's favorite form of communication is debate, which exhausts and scares me. ALL OF THIS MAKES SENSE.

At the other end of the scale, like at the top of the page, are the things I am most interested in. Not a surprise. Not even a little bit.

SO, with that information, I was so disappointed with the CAREER EXPLORATION OVERVIEW which gave me some specific job descriptions that I would be well-suited for:

  • applying scientific knowledge to specific domains (research collecting/analysis, devising methods to apply laws and theories to industry, like agriculture and chemistry.)
  • piloting, driving, operating transport vehicles or material moving machinery (like construction cranes, driving school buses, taxis) Operating forklifts, inspecting freight and cargo.
  • providing medical care (everything from performing surgery to reviewing laboratory diagnostics).
  • Providing clerical support, including preparing statements, record-keeping, bill collecting. tracking inventory, handling monetary transactions.

I'm not sure what I learned about myself. 
Or what my (new-to-me) boss has learned about me. 
Or how this information will help me in my career or relationships. 

There was a whole other section on my behaviours in nine different areas of analysis. 
I'm wondering if I can, with time and determination, change some of these? Or, for example, will I always be a 1 (on a scale of 1 to 99) in assertiveness. THAT'S A TERRIBLE NUMBER. 1 in assertiveness. I have a voice. What is my problem? Why don't I use it? WHY CAN'T I SPEAK UP? 

The analysis on having a 1 in assertiveness is:

"You deal with people best on the basis of discussion and suggestion. When giving directions to others you have the decided asset of asking rather than telling, and you come across to others as pleasant and easy-going. Your usual behavior is agreeable and self-directive. For highest productivity, you need a peaceful environment. You respond best to people who involve you in the decision-making process rather than order you to follow other people's instructions. Direct confrontations are likely to make you uncomfortable, especially when they become personal or emotional. You feel intimidated by highly authoritarian people. Stress reactions are a resistance to others' direction, difficulty speaking up, and avoidance of open disagreement."



Wow, what a self-obsessed post.
And more me. 


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. That I have a job I love and don't have to drive a forklift or remove gall bladders for a living.

2. That it's OK to be an introvert who likes people. 

3. That digital cameras were invented.

4. That God was so creative when it came to colours and shapes and textures and flowers.

5. That we are experiencing a great run of spectacular weather.

6. That I have so many friends who like to walk n talk. And don't mind if I stop to take a pic or two.

7. That there are so many pretty places to walk in my corner of the world.

8. So very thankful that I get to live this life.
So very much hoping I'm not wasting it.

Shalom, friends.

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