Monthly Archives: May 2014

A step in the right direction

Today, I’ve been wandering around internet land, looking into nursing stuff. This was one of my finds: a nurse driven “safe staffing” bill that’s been introduced in the Senate. While it seems primarily focused on RNs and hospitals, I’m really praying it passes…because it might open doors to laws limiting CNAs patient care load down to reasonable limits.

This site argues that a ratio of 5-6:1 or under is best for optimum patient care. Personally, I think we might have better luck trying to get an 8:1 or even a 10:1 ratio law passed. I’d like to only have 5 residents…but when I consider that there are aides out there taking care of as many as 25 residents…yeah. Having 8 or 10 as a standard sounds good to me!

I am so lucky. I have only ever worked in nonprofit nursing homes that try to maintain a 8-12:1 ratio. This didn’t happen by accident; when I was looking for a job, I called local nursing homes and I asked them two questions: what is your base pay and what is your typical resident to aide ratio (on the shift I was looking to work). If I didn’t like what I heard, I didn’t apply at that nursing home. I also repeated this question several times, to make sure I was getting an accurate answer. I asked if the nursing home counted nurses, hydration aides, and activity aides as aides in that ratio; I made it pretty clear that I was asking about floor CNAs only.
I was picky. I was willing to forfeit higher pay for having fewer residents. Not everyone can or will be this picky.

After four years in health care, I’ve come to the conclusion that we need a national standard. In our current “money first” corporate world, we apparently need to make something that should be common sense into a law. So here’s to that bill passing and paving the way for more like it!

Categories: CNActivist | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Open letter to Rush Limbaugh

On Facebook, I found this link.

I got so upset that I just had to write. And here’s what I wrote: an email to Rush Limbaugh.

I am very upset. No…I am pissed off and angry.
I read a transcript of your May 27th thing on The Hunger Games. Now, let me be crystal clear: I am 23 years old and I love The Hunger Games series. The last chapter in Mockingjay is one of my very favorite passages in literature; it has gotten me through a really rough period in my life where I was struggling with depression.
So, The Hunger Games is very near and dear to me.
For the love of God, do your research. Read the book, watch the movie. At least try to be objective.
Or don’t. Whatever. The Hunger Games is fiction…beautiful, powerful, moving and brilliant fiction…but fiction nonetheless. I can shrug and move on. Your opinions on a favorite book do not affect my life in the slightest. Your misinformed comments on Aspergers do.
You see, my brother has Aspergers.
He’s also one of the smartest, strongest and compassionate people I know. He’s come far in his life and he’s had to do it against a world of ignorance and arrogance. Rather like what I found on your show.

People with Aspergers are real. They are human, they have feelings and THEY deserve more than a “whatever it is” from you.
So here are some basic facts you could have picked up from a five minute Google quiz…because God forbid you have to exert yourself.
Aspergers is a pervasive developmental disorder that is, by the way classified on the Autism Spectrum. Not similar: on the same spectrum. It is NOT a disease. It is NOT terrible. And just in case you didn’t get it: Aspergers is NOT a disease. You can’t catch it or cure it. There’s nothing to cure: it’s a difference in brain-wiring.

Saying “They can’t function…It doesn’t take much to have them just go off, and so you have to kid glove everybody. It’s terrible…” is terribly offensive. It’s offensive because it is inaccurate and gives a a false picture of Autism to the world.
While it is true that people with Aspergers are prone to meltdowns (the technical term for what you called “just going off”), these are always a reaction to overstimulation.
And people with Aspergers, with autism…they see the world in relentless high-definition. They see all the details, all the time; they can’t “turn it off” like neurotypical (you’d probably say normal) people can.
Can you really judge them for their meltdowns?
Kid gloves, you say? How about trying a little compassion, Rush? Try putting yourself in their shoes…do a little research. You don’t even have to get off your ass to do it! Just type “Aspergers, autism” into your Google search bar. Then here’s the hard part: read the information. Try to understand it.
Your show reaches millions…that’s an audience I’ll never have. You could do so much good for autism…but if you aren’t willing to do that, do me a favor and please God don’t broadcast misinformation and hasty conclusions on a national platform.
You have no idea how much damage that can do to the lives of people affected by autism.

Categories: ordinary life, Writing | Tags: , | 2 Comments

In the zone

A friend recently snapped a picture of me while I was writing. I got a good giggle out of it: I’d never seen myself writing before!


To be honest, this isn’t something I usually think about. I do know that I’m very expressive when I write…flinging arms about, thumping the keyboard, tipping back in the chair to think, and, occasionally, groaning or muttering when something isn’t coming out right.
But I don’t usually think about what all this looks like from an outside perspective. When I’m in the zone, everything but the screen and the keyboard kinda goes fuzzy. Sometimes I’ll stare intently at the ceiling or a spot in the distance…but I couldn’t tell you what said spot actually looked like. I’m not looking at it, more like that’s the direction my physical eyes are pointed while my mind’s eye is far away. Now, when a human being occupies that spot…let’s just say awkwardness ensues. I had one guy convinced I was checking him out; he was quickly disabused of this notion when he came up to talk to me and I was all like, “Sorry, you’re who? Guy in the corner…there was a guy in the corner? There was a corner?” Apparently, I had this really confused look on my face during the conversation and my eyes kept darting back to my writing. Poor guy. He was kind of handsome…but unfortunately, he wasn’t fictional. And I was rather focused at the time!
I try to keep these external signs of internal processes subdued when I’m writing in public; I’m not always successful. I can’t always help it: writing is like my mind slipping into a whole other world, but my body stays behind. Same with reading. The zone is an all-engrossing place, and it usually requires all my attention and focus–and when I emerge from it, it’s usually to aching arms and a sore ass.

Categories: Writing | 7 Comments

One hand or the other….

Note: this was written on yesterday on a break between shifts, but I didn’t post it because I didn’t get a chance to review it and tighten it up. So it’s being posted today, on my off day. Just read yesterday as the post date.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well, it’s one of those days.
Being a little short on cash, I’ve been picking up extra hours. Now, this is one of the nicest things about working in a nursing home: there are almost always extra hours to pick up!
While I can do them, I’m not fond of working 16 hours; they’re pretty exhausting and the day after, I’m pretty much a zombie. Unless I’m working and then I rather resemble Frankenstein. But, I need the money…so lately I’ve been picking up the back half of second shift as often as I can, usually once a week or so. While I’m still getting off around 11 pm, I at least get 4 hours off between shifts. On the one hand, four hours isn’t much…on the other, it’s four hours. Enough time to catch a movie, or visit Bass Pro, or wander around the mall. Or write a blog post…hello!

It’s amazing how much things can change, depending solely on your attitude…the old “glass half empty or half full” question. I know people think of me as the eternal optimist, but don’t let the outside fool you. Inside, there’s also the girl who’s waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the next thing to go wrong, the next person to judge her. Who can get caught up circling the fan as the sh…well, you get the picture. Having to work for everything I have is frustrating at times…sometimes extremely so. I’m not rich, I don’t come from a wealthy family. Sometimes to make ends meet, I have to siphon more of my time into my job; time I would have otherwise used to write or just be. I’m hardly alone in this, I know. Hell, I’m one of the lucky ones: I am able to make ends meet. I even get to put a little back. Not everyone can. Not everyone has a steady job with a steady income.
There are times I wish I could just write and ditch the full time jig. Work part-time or PRN. But that’s not life; not my life, anyway. Being a CNA isn’t just hard on your body; it is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. And because I write from a place of emotion, some days I get home, pull out my iPad and keyboard…only to discover the well is empty. That place of emotion has been drained by the events at the nursing home and I just can’t write. I need to feel, think, reflect, recharge. I need to wait; the words will come when they are ready. If I try to hunt them, they’ll just run and hide. I have to wait for them to come to me…because I’ve been told it’s painfully obvious when I’ve forced the words.
Sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes I think: “Maybe if I had a less stressful and less emotionally-involved job, maybe I could have more energy for writing.”

But today the glass is half full. I have a good, steady job and I’m lucky. I’m extra lucky because I can pick up when I need to…there are people who couldn’t, or who have to work two jobs just to make ends meet. But I get to work one job, at a place I like, and get the extra hours if I need them. I can put in two days’ worth of hours for a single day’s worth of gas. More time might equal more words, but my time spent with the elderly and infirm is time well spent. It gets me out of my own head, reminds me that a writer is only a conduit. The words may come from within, but the stories come from beyond us. My job might be stressful and emotionally draining, but I’m constantly surrounded by stories; I’m smack up against the bits of life that American society in general has stuffed in the corner. Well, I work in that corner–and my experience in it has definitely improved my writing style. “Write what you know”, they say and being a CNA, I know more than I did before.
My parents didn’t raise a hothouse flower. Working for a living and being an aspiring author is tough to balance, but it’s an adventure in balance. More time might equal more words…but for better or worse, I’m not a writer or a CNA. I’m both. And, not either/or.
And both are important.

Categories: CNActivist, ordinary life, Writing | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Dreaming of Turkey: Nostalgia and Diversity

Two things set the wheels turning for this post. One is this talk which a friend shared with me: The Danger of the Single Story.
The other is what I read online about Djimon Hounsou’s conversation with his son. (About half-way down.)

I honestly used to think that racism wasn’t an issue when I was younger. I had no conception of just how alive it still is today.
How could I? Mom and Dad both completely forgot to teach me to consciously colorblind; they just assumed that I already knew that the color of one’s skin was not a factor in one’s worth as a human. God bless Michael and his literal mind: the first time he heard someone being referred to as “black”, he piped in with a “No, he’s not.” When asked by the amused black man what color Michael thought he was, Michael replied “A nice chocolatey brown.” Michael didn’t think that he himself was white, no, he was “a much lighter shade of brown.”
Michael wasn’t being consciously cute. He was just being, well, Michael.

I didn’t realize that people were still being treated as lesser beings based solely on the color of their skin or where they were from. How could I? I spent my most formative years in Turkey, a country where being Caucasian was being the ethnic minority. And as the ethnic minority, I was treated like royalty. At four years old, I didn’t grasp how much of that respect was being given to me because I was an American in an American military base…and how much of it was because of local beliefs and superstition. When the Turks referred to my appearance at all, my blue eyes took center stage, there wasn’t usually any attention left to pay attention to my fair skin.
(Bit of explanation here, to Turks, blue eyes are considered the blessing of Allah. As the wearer of the blue eyes, most Turks would go out of their way for me and almost out of their minds to get me to stop crying. To the Turkish rug-maker and “mover bears”: I’m really sorry. In particular to the youngest mover bear, I’ve always remembered you fondly as the man who took time out of his busy day to entertain an unhappy little girl. I realize now that you were probably told by the rest of your crew: “do whatever it takes to get blue-eyes to stop raining misfortune down on us with her tears while we finish packing up her toys,” but still.)
As a young child, I had very little conception of the political and superstitious elements at play; all I knew was that the Turks had treated me, the ethnic minority, extremely well and that must be how all minority groups were to be treated. Protocol established and it only took living in a third world country to do it.
Going from Turkey back to the States was the most massive culture shock of my life. In some ways, it’s a shock that I have never gotten over. Our first stop was Georgia, the Deep South. Michael’s surprise was great when a neighbor boy (who was black) told him: “You know nothin’, you’re just a little white boy!”
Deeply hurt, Michael replied, “That’s not fair; you’re only looking on the outside!”
Further conversation was interrupted by the Wrath of God storming around the house in the form of the boy’s mother, yelling out “Little man, you of all people know what racial prejudice feels like! You and me gonna go over yonder and tan yore hide!”
In Georgia, I had no conception of what she meant by “racial prejudice”. How could I? I was still trying to get over the shock of being in America, surrounded by Americans. And what a strange bunch of people they were, whatever the color of their skin!
Moving from Georgia to Southern Indiana just put another jolt in that culture shock. Michael and I immediately agreed that this area was “boring” because everybody looked alike. Most of the people we met were Caucasian with light brown hair. Our relief was great when we started seeing people of different skin tones. I believe Michael put it best when at 12 years old, he put his hands behind his head and sighed “Ah, diversity!” All with the biggest smile on his face.

Because of all this, I never really paid attention to the color of people’s skin on my TV, or in the books I read. Physical appearances were of secondary importance to good characterizations and interesting plots. I never really thought I had to pay attention. I watched Star Trek, where Uhura, Worf, Tuvok, B’Elanna Torres, Guinan, Julian Bashir, Geordi La Forge, Harry Kim, Chakotay, Hoshi Sato, Hikaru Sulu, Benjamin Sisko, and so many others inhabited my screen…no less complex or innately heroic than anyone else there. I watched Star Wars, where the bad guys mostly all looked the same and the good guys mostly all didn’t look the same. Morgan Freeman was clearly more badass and interesting then Kevin Costner in Prince of Thieves. (And much smarter too!) Aravis tied with Peter as my all-time favorite character in the Chronicles of Narnia. I read Egyptian mythology; I read Arabian Nights. I read the Bible and I knew that the people spoken of would more closely resemble the Turks of my childhood then me.

I thought racism was a thing of the past. I remember one day, I was staring at the fireplace that used to reside in my living room and thinking “How would my life be different if my family was black?” I tilted my head and mentally changed the color of my skin. I eventually shook my head. At 11, I still couldn’t imagine anybody believing differently than my parents and besides, in my head, people in general were still all generous Turks and gracious Southerners. I hadn’t yet really come into contact with cruelty of the white, middle class variety.

~ ~ ~ ~

When I saw “cruelty of the white, middle class variety”, I do not, in any way, mean to say that white, middle class people are the scum of the Earth. That’d be a bit ridiculous for one: I’m white, middle class. And that would also be like saying all black people are criminals, or that all Germans are Nazis, or that all Americans are stupid, or that all Cretans are liars. Or that all Turks are Muslims. Not true.

I also don’t mean to imply that Turkey or Georgia are paradise and Southern Indiana is a bad place. If I’d stayed in either of those places, I would have eventually come to see the problems that plague them.
I love Southern Indiana. I love the people; slow but never stupid, laid-back but not lazy. I love the flavor of this place. But it was here that I first came into extended contact with what I call “casual racism”. It was here that I grew up and lost the innocence of childhood where I assumed that racism was a thing of the past. Sadly, it was in conservative Christian circles that I encountered it the most.

It started out small, as most things do. Grumbles about “Mexican” immigrants…despite their true nationality. Arrests and mug shots on the news, primarily young black men…and then hardly a mention when DNA and other evidence proved them innocent of the crime. Girls flirting with a white male stranger and then clutching their purses tighter when passing a black man. Jokes that said “Well, he’s just in that movie to check the ‘diversity’ box.” Condescension creeping into people’s tones when they call someone “mixed”.
One time in church, I overheard a conversation about crayons. A leader in the church was complaining because Crayola had changed the name on one of their crayons. “I’m not being racist, but seriously? That’s just being oversensitive!” The name of the crayon color? Flesh. It was tan.
One time in a restaurant, I was ordering breakfast and witnessed the following:
There was a hispanic construction crew eating together. They’d ordered in English and then started a conversation in Spanish amongst themselves. The other large group was a bunch of white, middle aged men discussing politics. One of the second group raised his voice so that everyone could hear and said the following: “I hate it when people move to another country and don’t learn to speak the native language. What’s next? My kids will be required to learn Spanish in school because these immigrants came into our country and won’t make their kids learn to speak English!” Never mind that the first group had ordered in English.
At the time, I was at my most awkward. That’s no excuse. I still wish I’d stood up and said “So…you’re actually speaking Iroquoian or another Native American language, right?”
I was horrified by this man’s rudeness. But I didn’t say anything and so if those hispanic work men think about that encounter at all, they will remember the rude white guy and the silent white girl. They could have remembered the rude white guy and the white girl who rejected his casual racism.
My silence gave them a single story of white Americans. To this day, I am still ashamed of my inaction. I knew better.

As I started to grow up and pay attention, I noticed a pattern…a pattern that assumed, unless otherwise stated, that the hero would be male and white. I noticed that the stories that held more variety were still being praised as “progressive”. At first I was confused, because this was in the 2,000s…Civil Rights was years ago, so why was the “progressive” label still being applied? Not all TV shows and movies were like Star Trek; as I watched more closely and learned more about casting calls, I found out just how skewed Hollywood still is to white leads…specifically white male leads.
Racism. Sexism. Intolerance. Hatred.
These things make people repress stories and silence voices.
The fear of these things make other people keep quiet and not tell their stories.
Through both, we are robbed of rich stories and unique voices. Even the habits of these things without the malice still oppress. Hanging on to old formulas because “they work” and “are the money-makers”, at the very least, signals a lack of imagination. Can’t we trust the power of a well-told story? Let our movies rest on the talents of an actor rather than the color of their skin?
The world is rich in variety…shouldn’t the world of fiction be too?

So what am I doing about this problem? It’s not enough to point it out and blog about it. If the white, straight male is still the default hero, something more active needs to be done.
Laryn and Alyn, my lead characters in my story have “nice chocolatey brown” skin.
Before, they had no skin color. I don’t “see” my characters, they usually don’t have any physical appearance in my head, except maybe the color of their eyes. I had to go back and add brief mentions of their skin color. It’s not a defining characteristic, it does not change or alter their characters…most importantly, it does not make them and their story any less complex. It is there, canon and set in stone. They are not “default setting”. Will these two girls in W.I.P. story change the world? Probably not. Will all my main characters be “chocolatey brown”? No. I’m not limiting myself. I’m going to write many stories, God willing, and my characters will be as varied as my friends.
Laryn and Alyn are my apology to those hispanic work men in McDonalds and all the children who are ever made to feel that they need be white to be the hero in a story instead of the side-kick. They are my rebellion against the casual racism in American fiction. They are a nod to the Turks I grew up around.

Categories: ordinary life, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

INFP and INFJ: Being Alone Together

Very interesting thoughts!

What's My Type?

All introverts share a common need: time spent alone in order to recharge, reflect, and decompress. So deep is the need in the INFP and INFJ that if neglected, they begin to experience lethargy—a fogging of the mind, if you will. If forced to socialize for extended periods, they might even they suffer anxiety that could blossom into full fledged panic attacks. Solitude is their sanctuary, a place they can enjoy their own thoughts without the clutter of stimulation from the outside world.

human-and-sunsetOf course, with personalities so complex as the INFP and INFJ nothing is ever simple. For them, seclusion is a need of peak importance. Unfortunately, so is a need for deep and meaningful relationships. They are often torn between needing to spend time alone, while simultaneously wishing they could be with a friend or loved one. Mind you, the key to the previous sentence is the lack…

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Buried Treasure…well, buried musings at least

Found in my “random ramblings” notebook/app. It’s about a year old…though I don’t remember writing it! Oh well. Here ya go.

Spoilers for the Twilight saga, especially Breaking Dawn

The threads that hold Twilight together are heartbeats of Bella. When that stops, when those threads are snapped, the whole collapses inwards.
I’ve learned two very important lessons as a story teller.
Number one: the tighter you pull the tension is just that much more that you will have to control the release. Consequences must flow smoothly from choices. You can break your rules, but you cannot break your promises.
It’s in the wrap-up that we learn the caliber of the storyteller, and what the story was really about.

The second lesson?
Boiled down, reduced to its bare elements, Twilight was about an impossible situation. Two lovers, separated by nature itself. Meyer herself called it, “And so the lion fell in love with the lamb.”
Put in another way, a bird may love a fish but where will they live?
Vampire and human. Where is the balance? Meyer dragged this question out for three and a half books, and then suddenly the whole thing comes to a screeching, ragged stop.
Because, in the end, there is no balance. Not here. It’s not that Edward eventually changes Bella into an immortal. It’s not that they will be frozen as newly weds for all eternity.
The trouble I have with Breaking Dawn is Bella and Edward get everything.
Bella gets her saga-long wish: immortality.
She knows that to keep Edward forever, she must give up her humanity: her ability to adapt, to change. She can’t even keep her family or human friends.
Besides all the sacrifice, the other price for immortality is a surrender to nature: the thirst for human blood. Meyer spent so much time reminding us that this thirst is almost unstoppable. Even the Cullens, held up as the very best of vampires, succumb to the temptation.

But when the change comes, Bella keeps everything; becoming, in a sense, the best of two worlds. Her ability to control herself leaves everyone else in the story gasping and fawning over her.

Edward should have just turned her in Twilight, because he was wrong, folks. Bella was right: she could handle the change and hold on to everything she cared about before.

A choice is a limitation, but Bella makes her choice and the only consequences are good ones.
It’s all too easy.
And my world isn’t easy. It’s filled with impossible situations and sacrifice. In fiction, I can submerge myself in another’s choices and possibly learn how to make better ones myself. I didn’t learn anything from Twilight, not anything that’s going to stick with me and help me through a crucible.
I’m not saying that everyone should have my reaction to Twilight…a story is a relationship between words and a person. But this relationship didn’t do much for me.

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Mother’s Day

Dear Mom,
You are awesome. There’s really not much more to say, because “awesome” pretty much describes you to a T. There’s not many people in this world with the grace to handle a crazy writer for a daughter, a husband who’s a techie by day and a farmer by evening, and keep up with a son as intelligent and quirky as Michael. You make it look easy.
I know that it’s not.
You taught me never to judge based on appearance; not to assume that worth is equal to success. You taught me to focus on the person, not the diagnosis.
You’re someone is always there for me. On a bad day, I know you’re praying for me without ever having to text you. I won’t be nearly as balanced a person if you weren’t in my life. You ground me and keep me from floating away. You always seem to know just what it is I need.
When I was just starting out as a CNA, I was about to quit because I was so overwhelmed. You made me promise I’d stick with it for at least 3 months. I can’t tell you how many people are glad you did. My residents see right through me to you and they respect you.
I remember I once asked if “the words were worth it”, if the dichotomy that makes me a good writer was worth the havoc it can play on the rest of my life. You almost put the car in the other lane as you jerked your head around and said “Absolutely”. You’ve never made me feel as though my writing was a waste of time that might be better spent making money. Thank you. You’re always ready to edit and listen to me work through my story. Thank you.
I know there are still, even in 2014, far too many men who are threatened by an intelligent woman who speaks the truth with love. Don’t ever let the haters keep you quiet. And thank you so much for falling in love and staying in love with a good man. You and Dad have shown me by example what mutual respect is. You’ve certainly raised my standards of what to expect in a life partner.
You bring out the best in people; you were born to be a mom.
I know I don’t say it enough…but I love you. Happy Mother’s Day

Categories: ordinary life | 6 Comments

INFP, part 3: crusades

One of the most distinguishing facets of us INFPs is our “crusades” or “causes”. Or, as some people refer to them, our “pet projects”.
I dislike this term excessively. I think it cheapens the importance our causes play in our lives. My causes are not cute little quirks that others humor; they are not futile gestures I indulge in, sucking up energy that should be reserved for more practical things…like making money.
No, no, no. Without my crusades, I am not a whole person. Without a cause to champion, I am only directionless empathy, and I cannot dream like I was meant to.
I am not a “gentle warrior” when it comes to my crusades; while gentleness might be my signature in every other part of my life, it has no place in this part. These crusades touch the foundations of our values…mess with them and you’ll found out just how much backbone an INFP’s got. We tend to hide it under a veil of politeness and sensitivity, but make no mistake. It’s there. And disrespecting our core values and crusades with bring down upon you all the wrath, assertiveness and aggression you thought we didn’t have.
Just because we reserve our energy does not mean we’ve got a limited supply. We will not back down from defending our crusades…you might as well ask me to stop breathing, because that’ll happen first.

My crusades are widespread, but they all fall under the umbrella of the “those that have been told they’re not good enough.” I have a big issue with ANYBODY being degraded and told that they are “less than human”. While the Holocaust may be the first thing that springs to mind, evil isn’t always obvious or marked with a swastika.
Bullying, ignorance, prejudice, neglect, “stick ’em in an institution” mentalities…they all attempt to chip away at the humanity of those who are different, those that often lack a voice to speak for themselves.

Autism, Down’s syndrome, dementia, mental disabilities, developmental disorders. More than I can list. You’re people too. Saying so doesn’t make it so, because you had it all along. But if you ever need a little help getting the respect you deserve, I’m here to shout from the rooftops.

I raise my voice for all those who have been told that theirs is not worthy of attention because they are not “normal’. To the schoolyard bully, the people who talk over my brother, internet commenters who think differences are diseases, those who take advantage of the elderly, I say this:
“Life isn’t normal. There’s no such thing. A ‘perfect’ society of ‘normal’ people would be perfectly boring. I won’t live in that world.
The old man who can’t string five coherent words together, he is worth something to this world. The girl who can’t verbalize her thoughts, she is not an overgrown baby…she is a person with complex thoughts and emotions. Those who thought-processes work differently than you, who perceive the world in relentless high-definition, they don’t need an attitude adjustment. Well, they do. Yours.
None of these people are deadweight. None of these people are worthless or even worth less than a normally functioning person. Like the rest of the 7 billion people on this planet, they are human, with all that that entails. They are the Image of God…and not a distorted image either. Remember this: they might not have your attention, but they’ve got God’s ear. And, for what it’s worth, they’ve got my voice.”

This is why I am a certified nursing aide. This is why I am a writer.

This is my crusade. You’ve been warned. Either get out of the way or get onboard.

Categories: CNActivist, INFP, ordinary life, Writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The 100 renewed!

Yay! More The 100!

Now, don’t you dare turn it into just a soap opera, CW! I like my Sci-Fi to be intelligent and the romantic drama to not take over the rest of the plot. Thank you.

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INFP, part 2: preferences and expressions

A common misconception of MBTI personality profiles is that the string of individual letters can tell you everything about a type.
While there is some truth to that, it’s too simplistic. The letters are called “preferences” and they fall on a spectrum. Some INFPs are more extroverted, for example. (Like me, I fall more towards that introvert/extrovert line.) Our preferences tell us what our natural inclination is, what we would do if it were all up to us. This is nature. Nurture and necessity is what teaches us to channel our strengths when we’re doing something we’d rather not, but can’t avoid. For example, INFPs dislike leadership positions, but in my life I have been put in this spot. I can’t just say “sorry, gentle introvert here!” and dance back into the clouds. I’d be regarded as a flake for sure!
To get the most out of your MBTI profile, you have to look at your function stack. Our function stack is how our individual preferences interact with each other.
My mom is an INFJ; I’m an INFP. In terms of preferences, we’re only one letter off. We must be practically twins, right? But here’s the thing: we don’t have a single function in common. Her stack is Ni, Fe, Ti, Se; mine is Fi, Ne, Si, Te. Not only do they vary as to where they fall on dominant to inferior scale–they are the complete opposite of each other! Her intuition is dominant and introverted, mine is auxiliary and extroverted. My feeling is dominant and introverted, hers is auxiliary and extroverted. My dad, an ESTJ, and I are complete opposites by degree but we share all four functions…though they are reverse of each other. We’re opposites by degree; mom and I are opposites by expression.

So, an INFP’s function stack is Fi, Ne, Si, Te. It’s preferences are introvert, intuitive, feeling and perceiver. What does this mean in ordinary life?

This means I recharge my batteries by quiet reflection. It does not mean I am anti-social or am paralyzed by people. It just means I’ve got limited change to put in my socializing jar. It means that going to the movies by myself is not indicative of a lack of friends…I just enjoy solo activities and I require extensive alone time to function at my best. See Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking for more details.

This means I use my intuition more than my five senses to take in information. I’m more into metaphor than literal meaning. Patterns and impressions are my preferred way of collecting information, rather than facts. I’m more into “the big picture” than the details.

Basically? I’m more subjective than objective in my mindset. I tend to side with the person over the system…especially if that person is an underdog. Personal concerns trump impartial fact; this is my natural bent, the one I revert back to when stressed.

This means I lean more towards flexibility than regimented order in my personal life. Er…basically it means I have to remind myself to occasionally clean my car and personal spaces. I’m more of a free spirit than an ordered soul. I swear I’ll clean my room, Mom!

Introverted Feeling
This means I have extremely intense emotions. I can be hurt a lot more easily than another type, but I’m also deeply moved by beauty. I’ve heard it said that INFPs have a sixth sense: a sense of wonder. This seems about right to me. I place great importance on how stuff makes me feel.
Fi is selective and intensive. It channels our energy in a few choice causes and people. Fi collects a bunch of “feels” and hides them behind walls. I express my emotions indirectly…writing is my outlet of choice, though other INFPs opt for others. I definitely fall under the creative INFP side…the rapport between my Fi and Ne is well-developed.
Fi is extremely personalized; it’s why underdogs resonate with me. It’s less concerned with the system than for those that get left behind.
Of course, Fi is often confusing when seen from the outside. It’s limited nature means I’m either aloof or passionate. Because I do not address my feelings directly (by direct confrontation), they tend to build up to critical mass and then explode, drenching the often innocent bystanders with EMOTION and IRRATIONALITY. This happens most when I’m cut off from quiet introspection and my writing for too long. If I can’t “escape”, I lash out.
So, just an FYI, if I’m becoming visibly upset, please don’t corner me and demand to talk it out. There will be lots of “talk” but little resolution.

Extroverted Intuition (Ne).
Ne functions primarily as either receptive or expressive. It’s the function that takes credit for my listening and writing. Whereas Fi is selective in nature, Ne is more open-ended. I think I said it pretty well in a comment on my previous INFP post:

Ne is divergent in nature, and is quite happy to be endlessly gathering information…the more open-ended, the better. Ne is what makes us second-guess ourselves. I mean, we see so many possibilities, it’s hard to limit ourselves to just one, boring expression.

Ne is what keeps me awake in the middle of the night when I’d much rather be asleep. “What about this?” “What if you look it from this angle?” “I wonder what he meant by that?” In terms of my story, Ne is always presenting alternate versions of a scene, slight changes to dialogue. Sometimes it rambles beyond the reach of logic or even having a point. “What if you put a comma in here. Ooh, semi-colon! Is ‘cold’ really the word for this? What are some synonyms? Hard? Rigid? Ooh, what about the phrase ‘heart of stone, very like cold’? That’s different.” And the request/rebuke “shut up” does not seem to phase this Chatty Cathy.
Ne is also the driving force behind an INFP’s empathy and quirkiness. It’s open-minded and tolerant. Through it, we look for deeper meanings and patterns and insights in EVERYTHING…intended or not. The most common question I ask myself is not “What happened?” but “Why?” Mom has been occasionally known to interrupt my ramblings with something like “Hannah, I think it’d be helpful if I knew what actually happened. Just the facts, please.”
I freakin’ love using my Ne; I love trying to see people, fictional or real, as they see themselves. Operating in the open-minded, “no wrong answers”, Bohemian Ne is exhilarating.
It’s also frustrating at times. Sometimes, seeing all the possibilities is not conducive to MAKING a decision and STICKING to it. Just ask anyone who knows me.

Introverted Sensing (Si)
I’ve been described as “confusing” because I have a conservative morals but liberal ideas. To put it another way, I look like a Republican and talk like a Democrat.
That’s my Si at work. I was raised in conservative Christian home and Si values past precedent. It likes the familiar. It makes me hesitant about change because knowing the “protocol” is very important to me. While my Ne would be happy to hop on a plane bound for Prague, my Si is frantically waving it’s hand in the air, hollering “Now hold on just one minute there, Miss Wanderer! I don’t know what to expect there!”
Si is also responsible for my tastes in clothes, physical surroundings and minimalist attitude to make-up. Ne is drawn towards a Bohemian lifestyle because it celebrates the tolerance that is so important to me. Si is drawn to it because of it’s simplicity. There’s something about that more natural, less flashy lifestyle that inspires my soul. A good friend calls me a “flower child” and she’s spot on. I’m not very fussy about my appearance reflecting current fashion.
Flat irons, dyes, spray-on tans, high-low skirts in, feathers in hair out. Yikes!
I can’t keep track of it all! It’s cool to see girls keeping abreast of fashion trends, but I just don’t have that kind of energy. It’s more important that my outward appearance be an accurate ambassador for my inner being than I follow someone’s else changing perceptions of beauty.
Not, mind you, that my personalized style of “elegant” and “eccentric” is very…coordinated.
One aspect of Si that I need to develop is a more holistic, Eastern approach to health and wellness. (Not a word, Mother!) Developing this aspect of my being, through yoga or Eastern martial arts, will help reduce the physical stress of being a creature of contradictions. From what I’ve experienced of mediation, it’s the most effective, yet gentle, way of shutting off my Ne so I can maybe get some sleep.

Extroverted Thinking (Te).
Ah, Te. You who are always trying to grab the wheel and steering me straight into a ditch. I understand where you’re coming from, I really do. You like order, you like to occasionally FINISH something. You’re absolutely right about my flaws: I’ve got focus issues, I tend to swallow my opinions in favor of keeping the peace. But you could find a less…all or nothing approach to it? I see where you’re coming from and I acknowledge the validity of your points, but let’s not overcompensate. Going “Can’t focus so let’s make lists and schedules and deadlines and punishments” isn’t helpful. Switching between uber-emotion Fi to overly-rigid you just makes people doubt my sanity. And I’m not convinced being a obnoxious, bossy bitch is the best alternative to “doormat”. Let’s try to let Ne and Si into the next spat between you and Fi, okay?

Categories: INFP | Tags: | 4 Comments

INFP, part 1: the spectrum of normal

May 4, 2014

INFP, part one: the spectrum of normal

Disclaimer: While I have encountered many people who are dismissive of me, I am also surrounded by awesome and accepting friends and family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generosity and gentleness with me.
Consider yourselves exempt from the “they” and “Americans” used in this blog post…if you’re still in my life, you’ve proved your awesomeness to me.

“That’s just not normal.”
This is an accusation I hear quite a lot; another version is “what a weirdo”.
I hear these from all over, leveled at different aspects of my life: my love of my CNA job, my quirkiness, and my admittedly unusual tendency to “pull away” after a date. It’s not that I didn’t have a good time, usually. It’s just, even if I really liked the guy, I don’t feel an overwhelming urge to spend every possible moment in his presence.
This has been a source of great confusion and frustration for both me and my dating partners. They’d see me as blowing hot and cold; I’d be unable to explain that I still liked them, even though I did not currently wish to see or talk to them. “Space”, to them, meant maybe a day. I kind of meant a week.
The relationship did not continue for very long after this.

And listening to my friends describe their relationships, I could kind of see where the guy was coming from (though I was still mad as hell from being pressured and called a weirdo). It’s just something that’s taken for granted: if you like someone, you spend more time with them. It’s practically a rule of American dating.
So why did I find dating to be so draining? Was it really so not-normal, this desire for space and reflection? And why was my mother, who is always ready to kick my ass if I need it, okay with this tendency? Time to find out.

I already knew my type on the well-respected MBTI personality test: INFP.
Introvert, intuitive, feeler, perceiver. Function stack, from dominant to inferior is Fi (Introverted Feeling), Ne (extroverted intuition), Si (introverted sensing) and Te (extroverted thinking).
I knew the name, time to find out what it meant.

Here’s what I found.

Some common traits include:
•Finds the typical American dating to be draining. Tends to withdraw after a date, even though they are still interested. Becomes resentful when pressured. Check!
•Have trouble smiling in photographs. Check!
•Friendly but does not have many close friends. Check!
•Often seen in health care or caregiver roles. Check!
•May have trouble over expressing themselves verbally but excellent writers. Hello!
•Tends to be “arty”. Okay, this is getting creepy…
•Devotes themselves to specific causes. Will become uncharacteristically harsh and outspoken if core values or crusades are threatened. All right now, who’s my stalker?
•Enjoys alone time and solo activities. Needs time to recharge after social interaction.
•Have a sense of adventure, but loves routine.
•Not driven by sense of monetary gain. Tends toward a Bohemian lifestyle.
•Seen as cold and aloof, but also sought out because they have exceptional listening skills. May feel like they are a “dumping ground” for other people.
•Needs more time to open up than other types.
•Does not like harsh criticism.
•Dislike conflict. Will go out of their way to avoid it unless they perceive that their core values are being threatened.
•While generally serene, they become highly irrational when upset. No transition between the two. Tends to be passive-aggressive.
•Tends to idealize romantic partners.
•Interested in humanities. Places great importance on deeper meanings, self-discovery and self-expression.
•Often indecisive. Has very strong opinions, though they do not always express them.
•Intense emotions. Often will not express what they are feeling until it reaches critical mass.
•Female INFPs not very concerned with fashion. Light on make up. Again, very Bohemian taste.

In short, I saw me on that screen. What I felt wasn’t relief. It wasn’t just finding that there are, in fact, other people just like me.
No, it went much deeper than that. What I felt was validation.
1) to substantiate, confirm.
2) to give legal force to.
3) to give official sanction, confirmation or approval to.

It was like the voice of God reached out through words on my iPad and said, “See here, you of little faith. I made you this way, did you think I didn’t know what I was doing? It’s okay to be who you are. In fact, it is required that you be who you are.”

So who am I?
INFPs are described as dreamers, idealists, sensitive, compassionate, creative, artistic, reflective, disorganized about everything except for our special causes, more concerned with authentic feelings than with hard logic. We are among the rarest of personality types, ranked at 4% of the general population (most rare type is INFJ, aka my mom, at 1%). We are the most misunderstood type. We’re among the most likely to have suicidal thoughts during our college years. We’re the second most likely type to report marital and job dissatisfaction. We’re among the least likely to suffer heart disease. We tend to flood the job markets of counselor, writer and artist. We’re creatures of contradictions: quiet until we’re talking your ear off. Aloof until we’re passionate. Reserved but nice. Perfectionists but incredibly non-judgmental. Extremely empathetic but loners. We don’t care about what people think of us until we suddenly care very much.

All this just goes to say that, no matter how hard we try, an INFP will never completely fit the brash, extraverted American ideal. Whether that is a good thing or a handicap is determined by your attitude. INFPs are not innately awesome.
We start out as stubborn children, quick to judge and eager to please. We go through a hell of an adolescence where our Fi and Te functions take up arms against each other. (Seriously. I thought my teenaged years were going to kill everyone around me.) We struggle to find our own truth, our own voices.
And then we arrive at phase three, where we either find balance within ourselves or we don’t. We either become what I call a victim INFP or a healthy INFP.

The victim INFP focuses on the negative. They look and see only weaknesses. There is a battle warring inside us at all times, a tug of war between Fi and Te tearing at our souls. The victim INFP gets stuck in this battle. They become, for lack of a better term, a Bella Swan: passive, depressed, bemoaning their flaws and blinded to their strengths. They see only what they are not, what they will never be: the American extroverted ideal. I’ve written before on what this, personally, feels like. It’s a dark place, confining but strangely enticing. If you go in deep enough, no beautiful, painful shards of light will ever find you. I think it’d be very easy for an INFP to become in love with pain. Addicted to misery. All you have to do is think “hey, I’m drowning anyway, why not open my mouth?”
But I’m not. I don’t want to become this kind of INFP. We’re the dreamers, so I’m gonna dream. I’m gonna carry a grappling line with me at all times, to haul my ass out of that dark place whenever I fall in. And I’m gonna teach my feet to be careful, so I don’t fall in the first place. I’m gonna be the other kind of INFP. (I feel like I should that No person lacks the ability to change. God gave us free will; we CAN use it to turn ourselves around. Just be because you struggled and lost once does not mean you are doomed and destined to lose again.

The healthy INFP embraces what makes them different. Other INFPs have expressed a great sense of empowerment after “coming out”.
Authentic INFPs learn to cultivate conditions that support our natural strengths: our dominant and auxiliary functions of Fi (introverted feeling) and Ne (extraverted intuition). They learn how to use their tertiary function of Si (introverted sensing) to listen to their bodies, often through a more Eastern, holistic approach to health and well being. They learn to integrate the often insidious Te through the authentic use of Fi and Ne. They find their niche. They’re dreamers, writers, artists, activists, caregivers, counselors, teachers. And yes, they’re loners and outsiders…but us INFPs, we bring the party with us. We might be sitting at a table alone, but the voices in our heads will never leave us. The questions will always keep us company.

P.S. Wow. Authentic truth is like whiskey in a wound: it stings badly but then everything’s okay. Hands down, this was the hardest thing I have ever written…not the best, but the hardest. INFPs, we’re usually so private about our inner-most feelings; putting this out for all the world to see is terrifying and empowering all at once.
Anyways, this is part one of an on-going series about life as an Authentic INFP. Coming up next, function stacks.

Categories: INFP | Tags: , | 17 Comments

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