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Everything I Know

At least what I'm willing to tell.

11 October 1980
External Services:
  • verapamil80@livejournal.com
I love to write fiction in every form. I love to cook, especially for others. Dancing is one of my favorite pastimes, but only in my own home, not in public. I make clothing, I’m really good at sewing, and I go to conventions. My faith, which is Old Age Wicca, seems to be one of the most common topics that I dabble in; the other would be whatever I’m studying in my current semester. I love to read, mostly text and non-fiction, and I love to learn anything and everything I can. However, I also love sharing what I learn with everyone who’ll sit still long enough for me to start talking, much to their chagrin. I love to swim, I could spend all day in the water.

I am a compassionate person; I believe that I should do unto others as I would have them do unto me, and I know that friends help their friends. But with me compassion is just one side of the coin; the other being a side that also expects others to hold up their end of the bargain. So I help others but it is with the expectation that others don't take advantage of me or try to put one over on me. In short, I expect others to treat me as I treat them.

And for those people who do ask for help when they should have taken responsibility for themselves? This is the time when my more hard-edged side comes out. I am skeptical of people when they expect others to bail them out of trouble; if they got themselves into the bind, they should work their way out of the trouble. If it's an emergency, or if it's a friend who has been there for me when I have had hard times, I am there in a quick minute. But I am a discerning person and to me there is a big difference between an emergency and a self-inflicted wound. I just look at the facts: how the situation developed, how serious the situation is, and how they can or cannot get through things on their own. The history I have with the person and with similar situations will inform me whether this is or is not a time for me to get involved.

I also have some limits when it comes to being with people. Sure some people need to be with others all the time and seem to get recharged by helping out almost anyone else. But that's not me. I know that I do best if I spend a fair amount of time on my own. Not that I am a loner, just that time spent by myself is not wasted at all with me. I've come to understand that if I don't take good care of myself, eventually I'll be not good to anyone, including myself or others.

So my compassion is tempered by realism. My sympathy for people in trouble is balanced by a critical evaluation of how they got themselves to the place they are. And I've learned to take good care of myself, so I have something to give to my friends or others truly in need.

Some people may see my practical style as lacking compassion. When my compassion is tempered, as it is at times by my discerning questions and careful consideration, it may seem to some like I have too much head and too little heart. And when I use time and energy to take care of myself there will inevitably be some who see me as selfish and uncaring. But my approach is neither heady nor selfish. It is me. And unless my approach is causing me consistent problems in important relationships, there is really no reason to change. My distinctive manner of having clear expectations for the relationships in which I will exert my energy is true to the core of me.

The truth is that most people respect someone who knows themselves and what they want. So even if some people don't get exactly what they want from me often they will leave with a deeper respect for me. My frank and honest approach may help someone to help themselves when they didn't think this was possible, and they wind up better off: they're out of trouble, they did it on their own, and they have me to thank. And I was, again, true to myself.

I am a very creative and imaginative person who is especially open to new ideas or new ways of thinking about old problems. I love to approach a conventional idea or a traditional way of doing things by walking around to the other side and exploring it from a novel perspective. What's new is what interests me. Like an artist looking for a new way to see, I focus my imagination on envisioning ideas, events or problems in completely original ways. I am intellectually progressive, which means I like to think and feel my way into unexplored landscapes where I let my sense of intellectual adventure romp freely.

Because I am so curious I can also be very teachable. I learn from personal and interpersonal experiences as well as from classrooms and textbooks. I crave new information, and toss and turn it in my vivid imagination. When I come across an idea from someone else or a thought in my own head that is particularly provocative or original, I light up. With wit and wisdom, Dr. Seuss describes I like this: "Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!"

Not everyone will be thrilled by my adventurous mind. Many people are content with the ideas that have served them and their culture well, and with visions they've grown accustomed to of what is and is not true. They're not lit up at the prospect of moving out of their comfort zone. Others are afraid of new ways of thinking and creative ways of solving problems because they are somewhat fragile in the sense that they have trouble maintaining serenity in their current worlds and don't want someone, like me, for instance, pushing out the edges of their intellectual and cultural cosmos. So I’m never surprised if my unconventional ideas sometimes get me criticized, or if some people walk away from the explorations of new territories of the mind that I find so exhilarating.

Despite some negative responses to my style of thinking, many people find my progressive thoughts and vivid imagination quite attractive. Some find my openness to new ways of thinking and my willingness to explore what others shy away from a very compelling quality. Other creative souls will find in me a companion on the journey into the unknown, and will welcome the camaraderie. Conversations with them will be lively and innovative and will ignite my imagination, and theirs. Even some who are less curious than I will be impressed by my courage to think and believe what is for them unimaginable, and by my willingness to go on adventures of the mind that they would find dangerous or daunting. For these people I might become a mentor into the wilder side of thinking and believing, and nudge them toward the creative and progressive ideas that I find so interesting.

In some ways, I've got the best of emotional worlds. When emotions rise up from inside me or are brought forth from a conversation by a friend, I know how to engage them. I deal with sadness, fear, joy, anger - whatever comes up - in ways that are perceptive and flexible. I can adapt to whatever level of emotion is appropriate to the moment. At other times, I am able to cope with my emotions in a more reserved manner. Because I am aware of what does and does not make emotional sense in a particular situation, I will decide when it is an appropriate time to express my emotions and when it would be best to keep them to myself.

All of this gives me a rich emotional life. I am free to express my passions about certain subjects with appropriate people. But I am also emotionally adaptable; if the conversation needs to be more cerebral, I'll keep it "in my head" and talk calmly through whatever issue is on the table. This emotional awareness serves me well. I seldom get in over my head, either by opening up to the wrong person or by triggering in someone else's emotions they may not be able to deal with.

When it comes to dealing with emotions we all meet some people with whom we don't match well. I bring a balanced approach to my emotional life. As such, those who are at the extremes are most likely to have a negative reaction to my. Those who live in their emotions may feel I tend to "live in my head" while those who go through life as an emotional rock may feel that I am a bit too "touchy feely" for their approach.

And of course it is always possible that because I do balance my emotional approach to life I may misread others, we all do at times. So there have undoubtedly been those times when I have misread cues and stayed in my head with someone who hoped for a more open emotional approach or I may have opened up emotionally with someone who keeps their emotions bottled up. But these things happen and since I do have a good balance of being in touch with my emotions and not being overly impacted by emotional swings, I was able to adapt.

Another potential problem is that as people get to know me well, they will discover that I have a great balance between emotional expression and emotional control. If they don't have this balance they may wind up envying me. They can't express feelings as well as me, or they are too often out of emotional control and resent me for my ability to cope so well with the very emotions that may trip them up.
Many people are grateful to find a friend like me who can stay in control when emotions verge on chaos, but who can also go into the tangle of emotions when it is safe and appropriate to do so. Because of my ability to engage them at whatever level they are comfortable, to adapt to whatever changes in emotion emerge in the conversation, and to cope so well with all of it, well, they'll be very glad they found a person like me. I may, in fact, wind up as something of an emotional mentor. My awareness of the emotional temperature of a situation, my ability to adapt to either heat or cold, and my ability to cope with whatever winds up happening in the conversation could be models for them to follow as they come to terms with their own emotional worlds.

When I take on a task at work or at home, I am reliable; I get the job done. In an organized way, I define the goal, lay out a plan, figure how long the task will take, and get to work "solid and dependable me".

But, and this is important, I’m not a slave to the plan. I’m committed to it, but not chained to it; the connection is more casual and informal. I know that sometimes "the best laid plans" fall off the tracks; when this happens, I clean up the train crash and start again, undeterred.

Though not happening often, when plans change, I’m okay with it. In fact, sometimes I change the plan. It's too nice of a Saturday to finish organizing the laundry. Let's go for a walk instead. True, the next rainy Saturday will probably find m back in closet, but for now the work can wait.

What an interesting combination of qualities, I’m organized, but casual; solid, but compliant; and dependable, but informal. At home and at work, people know they can rely on me. I take great satisfaction in knowing that people think of me as disciplined and responsible, but I also know that I have something of a free spirit in me, and when this spirit moves me, off I go, following the impulse of the moment. I am rightly proud of my work ethic, but I also enjoy my willingness to lay the broom down, crank up the music and play like a child.

Some people live like Marines: duty-bound, disciplined and driven. To these people I might seem uncommitted; where they would never leave work for play or change plans in the middle of their life's forced march, I let the circumstance sway me and move in a different direction, and they don't understand.

Others live like kites on a string, attached by thin threads to the solid ground of responsibility and are blown about by every gust of impulse or imagination. To these people I might seem too cowardly, like I'll flirt with my impulses but never give in fully, play on a Saturday but never blow of the entire work week to follow my bliss.

While these Marines and kite-flyers might look down on me for my combination of focus and flexibility, others might be envious. They can't free themselves from a sense that they're not doing enough, or from the equally frustrating feeling that they're not free enough.

And here I am with my accomplishments and my pleasures, getting the job done but also getting my hair blown back as I run with the wind. As far as these people are concerned, I’m lucky I've got the best of both of the worlds in which they feel they fail.

What a great life I have, and a great attitude to boot. I know when to buckle down and push ahead to get the job done; and I do it well. I know when to lay the school books aside, grab my kids and head for the meadow where I can run with the wind. Many people see and admire in me this lovely combination of a person who can focus, but who is flexible enough to know when to let the spirit move me in some new and livelier direction.

It's a life they aspire to, and they delight in seeing it played out in my life. They ask your advice and turn me into a mentor of the full and balanced experience. They want to know how I do it, what the costs are, and if I get frightened that I’m not working hard enough or playing often enough. They make me think about my own life more than I have, so I can share it with those who want to emulate this balance between flexibility and focus.

Some days I want to hang out by myself, not answer the phone, and make the world go away. The next day I e-mail everyone, schedule lunch with a friend, and try to find an evening gathering to take part in.
I am a very sociable person, enjoy spending time with other people, and seek their company. I am uncomfortable with an empty calendar or an empty house. I like coming home to my family, but not to a dark living room when no one is there. I am very outgoing; I seek out other people, arrange activities, and organize gatherings, anything that gives me an opportunity to be with your friends. And when I’m with them, I am full of energy. I add liveliness to any situation. I talk and listen, participate in whatever the activity is, a sport, or a party, or a walk in the woods, and come away from such experiences pumped up by the time spent together.

I especially like to talk with my friends. I bring energy and genuine interest to almost any conversation. When they speak, I listen; and then I am eager to have my say as well. I know how to connect in a conversation, using my energy, my vocabulary, and my genuine interest in being with the other person. I am at my best and am happiest in these experiences of real communication.

One more thing about me; when I am in these experiences of real communication with others, I really know how to let myself go. When I talk, when I play, when I participate in some activities, I am unrestrained. I give all that I've got to these moments, and because I like the experience so much, my warmth comes through. It is clear to whomever I’m with that I’m glad to be in just this situation. In these warm, wide open moments, I am me at my best.

Not everyone enjoys being with me. Because I am so outgoing, those who want their share of the time in a conversation or who think their contribution is worthy of as much focus as mine may find me too much to take. "Talks way too much, and always wants to be the center of attention" is a phrase others use about me, sometimes to my face, though more often behind my back. And some people simply get fed up with me.

Also, those whose personality is quieter, whose idea of a good conversation is more low key, low intensity, low volume, may find they want some distance from me. For them, I suck up too much of the air in the room, and they need to walk away to breathe more comfortably. They might not say anything, after all, they're not as communicative as I am, but by their distance or their absence they'll let me know that sometimes I’m more than they can or want to handle. How I choose to respond will likely depend on the situation but I realize some people have this sort of response to me.

On the other hand, many people enjoy my company immensely. My warmth and liveliness attracts them to me, and my ability to communicate with such unrestrained energy draws them in and keep them interested. They appreciate my willingness to take the initiative in planning an event or leading a conversation, and because I come alive in a group I will make any social situation more fun and more interesting for everyone involved.

If I sometimes go over the top: talk too much, insist too intently on my own opinions, get someone involved in an adventure that may be out of their usual realm of behaviors, people who know me well make allowances for me because they understand that when I get wound up I sometimes don't stop. It's just lively, energetic, outgoing me who makes life so much more interesting for my friends.