29. What people misunderstand about me

Day 29: What do you think people misunderstand most about you?

Let me give you a brief overview of what I told you about myself so far…

I am moody.

I have a tendency towards melancholy.

I overthink and worry too much.

I am honest, sometimes too honest.

I seem to lack genuine compassion or sympathy if I think you caused your own problems.

My life is all about structure, schedules, routine, practicality, organization, detailed planning, and control. I lack all sense of spontaneity.

I am stubborn and resistant towards change.

I am a clean freak. I don’t ask others for help, yet complain when I shoulder all of the work.

I am so highly motivated and hard working that I often make others around me feel bad.

I am a perfectionist with very high standards.

I don’t listen to the advice of others. I could care less about doing what others want me to do and fitting in.

I have a very intense personality, especially under stress.

With that being said, I can see how you could misunderstand that I am a drag to be around! I come across as shy at first, but I really am a lot of fun! Seriously!!

There is never a dull moment when you are with me. I am eccentric enough not to be boring. I am up for just about any new adventure. I have a quick wit and a great sense of humor. It doesn’t matter if we are friends or strangers, our table will likely be the one filled with laughter. I absolutely love making people laugh and play the part of comedian.

Just this week, my employee and I were reminiscing about our grandmothers. Just as she was on the verge of tears, I was able to bring her to tears of laughter. She said that she really likes that quality in me. I have the ability to have deep meaningful conversations about serious issues that end in tears of laughter..

I didn’t always play the part of comedian. Previously, I played the part of serious and overly responsible first born. My baby brother was the clown. The funny thing is that over time, our roles flip flopped. He has become more serious and I have become more of a clown. I am not sure how or why this happened…

I don’t know how it happened, but I am going to celebrate the fact that someone with an anal personality can be such a smart ass. Nothing but wise cracks here. Better keep it clean though…Ha ha ha ha… Just the clean freak in me, no pun intended!

Now get back to work!

 

14. Five strengths

Day 14: Describe 5 strengths you have.

1. I am extremely self-disciplined.

I used to get frustrated when others around me would exhibit a total lack of self-control by eating or drinking too much, spending money that they don’t have, or by saying things that they shouldn’t have said. I have little compassion for messes people get themselves into. I used to be judgmental, but found that these people are only hurting themselves.

Through this, I found that I have a rare gift. I have the ability to control myself and have strong self -discipline. That topped with an innate inability to relax, I have been able to push myself to do things I never could’ve imagined were possible. I’ve learned that I have inspired more people through my example instead of through my judgment of them. In essence, I think I have managed to turn a weakness into a strength.

2. I have a strong work ethic.

I will work hard until the job is done, without break if necessary. I am efficient with excellent time management skills. I can’t sit still and have learned to use this energy to be very industrious.  I will focus on the details of the task and break it down to manageable parts. I will give it everything and be very thorough. I won’t stop until the job is done up to my standards. I love the challenge.

3. I am very organized.

I live my life by rules, structure, and organization. I have the ability to analyze details, mull over things, and come up with some pretty good plans. I am great at problem solving scheduling conflicts. I have no time for spontaneity. My schedule is very routine and I like it that way. If something works, I stick with it. I am also very good at planning non-routine events, such as vacations. I am a walking calendar. If I plan something, I will take every detail into consideration and cater it specifically towards what others would enjoy. That makes me happy.

4. I am loyal.

If you are able to earn my trust, I will be your most loyal companion. If I tell you that I am going to do something, nothing will stop me from doing it. I would be willing to move mountains for you. I may not be your shoulder to cry on, but I will listen to you and keep your secrets. I will nudge you to get back on your feet again. I will protect you. I will fight for you. Even though you may not want this, I will try to fix your problems. I stay calm and collected in stressful situations. I am able to put my feelings on the shelf and make good decisions. I will tell you the blatant truth if you ask. Forget the small talk, let’s get into a deep conversation. I am eccentric. I love adventures. If you come up with an idea, I will be up for anything if my schedule allows. I have a great sense of humor and love to make people laugh.

5. I am independent.

I am not afraid to do things by myself. I would be willing to run a marathon with no one that I know beside me and no one to cheer me on. I don’t care what others think of me. I have no desire to be popular. I wear the kind of clothes that I like. I am not susceptible to peer pressure. I have no desire to be like everyone else. I refuse to be bossed around or controlled. Don’t tell me what to do. I will stand up for myself, those I love, and the principles that I think are right if I am forced to. I am not afraid to say ‘no’. I am not afraid of facing my fears. There is a lot of freedom in living this way.

13. Five weaknesses

Day 13: Describe 5 weaknesses that you have.

1. I worry too much.

I can’t seem to relax and let go. I am overly responsible. I take on the weight of the world. I try to fix things I have no control over. I over think and under feel. I think about everything, all of the time. I am not carefree.

2. I am stoic.

Sometimes I have no response to very good or very bad news. It makes people feel like I don’t care about them. It seems to take me a lot longer than other people to process my feelings. I am stoic, calm, and collected in all situations even when I shouldn’t be. When I am very upset, instead of letting everything out, I push others away and get locked inside of my head.

3. I am a black and white detailed thinker with high expectations of myself and others.

There is no middle ground with me. I give 100% or nothing at all. When others do not live up to my expectations, I have the tendency to want to cut them out of my life completely. I have a really hard time with the word ‘acquaintance’. Are you with me or not? I get bogged down with the details. I can’t seem to see the big picture. I get plagued with indecisiveness and trapped in my rigid structure. I am not spontaneous. I am a rule follower, but I make the rules.

4. I lack compassion.

I am not going to be the one that cries with you. I won’t hug you or get into your personal space. I am very critical of every sob story I hear, especially if it could be used to exploit others in any way. I will search the details for evidence that something is off. I am cynical and distrustful of the people around me. It takes a long time to earn my trust.

5. I find fault in others, but don’t want to see my own shortcomings.

I am very stubborn and resistant to change. I want to do things my way even if your way is better. If you accuse me of doing something wrong, I will deny it. Then I will take the long detailed list of your shortcomings and throw it in your face. Because, let’s face it, you’re wrong and I’m right! I am not confrontational, but won’t hesitate to stand up for what I believe is right. Sometimes I value my structure, rules, and being right over my relationships with others.


Seeing beyond the surface

Last weekend my aunt Jan found a body in the lake in front of her house.

I have always had a love hate relationship with my aunt Jan.

My aunt Jan is bossy, critical, and controlling. She demands that things are her way, she doesn’t ask.

When I was a young girl, we used to have family reunions. Every year aunt Jan would pressure me into playing volleyball with the family even though I told her I didn’t want to because I sucked. Then I would play horribly and she would yell at me for sucking. After that happened several times, I had a “negative attitude” by refusing to play.

Games were played by her rules. I remember a few years back being involved in a family board game when she just announced out of the blue that the game was over. We were right in the middle of the game! It really made me mad, but she packed up the pieces and put the game away.

Every year at Christmas time, she demands that Angel and I sing Christmas songs. “You are singing and you are singing right now”. It makes Angel rather angry. But for some reason, I don’t protest or rock the boat by being disagreeable despite hating being told what to do.

Aunt Jan is a clean freak.

Several years ago a few members of our family along with Jan rented a large tent camping site close to her house. In the early morning hours a freak storm popped up. We packed up our camping equipment then huddled dirty and wet in her garage. She would not let us into her house to use the bathroom because we were too dirty.

She recently hosted two bridal showers at her house. She told the guests that they were not allowed to wear spikes because it would wreck her floors. There was no clutter and not one item was out of place. She made it known that children were not welcome. Children make messes. Both times my oldest daughter (17) was invited, but my youngest (13) was not. My youngest cousin who is also a teenager was not invited. This caused a lot of hard feelings.

Unfortunately, my aunt seems more concerned about the state of her house than she is about her relationships.

You may be wondering, like my husband and daughter do, why I don’t just tell her off. Nobody’s perfect. For all of aunt Jan’s perfectionism she is far from perfect, but we love her anyway. Sometimes I need to look beyond the surface of what I see to what I know. For all of Jan’s negative personality traits, she has some really good traits too. 

Aunt Jan is one of the most compassionate people that I know. She has a big heart for those who are suffering.

Out of my mom’s four sisters, I think that Jan was the one that helped my mom through her hard times the most. She spent a lot of time listening to my mom. I could tell that she truly cared. She didn’t turn away when my autistic brother Matt had some of his darkest days like a few other family members did. I saw that she was there for my mom when she needed her the most. For that, I will always be able to overlook some of her annoying quirks. 

A few days ago, someone left flowers on aunt Jan’s doorstep. I can’t imagine how horrifying it must have been for her to find someone’s body in the lake in front of her house. When I was there earlier this month, the lake was cool, calm, and beckoning. It didn’t look capable of taking a life. 

Sometimes our eyes limit what our mind can see.

 

 

Hard to tame

Once, a very long time ago, I lived in wild and rugged terrain. I had an important job. I kept vigilance. I watched all day and sometimes at night too. Every little sound would wake me and cause me to take guard. I noticed every little detail in my environment for any change that could signify a problem. I noticed patterns.

I was a protector. My vigilance never stopped bad things from happening, but it may have forewarned others of danger or prevented them from being hurt. I wasn’t allowed the distraction of feelings, sensitivity, caring, or warmth to distract me from my post. A lot of other people had that job, but not me.

Then for a short period of time, I was removed from my post. I found myself alone. I thought that maybe I could finally be like everyone else. I wanted to be trusting like everyone else. But I couldn’t.

Then I found myself in an entirely different terrain. I was like a wild prairie dog trapped within the safe confinement of a zoo. I resumed my old post although I was no longer needed. No hawks circled. Few dangers threatened nearby day or night. But I found myself vigilant at my post. I was told that I wasn’t needed anymore, that I should take it easy or relax.

But any attempt to relax my guard caused me more anxiety. So I ran marathons around the inside edges of the wall. I paced back and forth so often that my path was beaten down. Even though I was no longer standing guard, I still felt like I was watching.

Then something else happened. I no longer wanted to be like everyone else. I found that being vigilant had purpose and meaning. My distrust protected me and those I care about.

Even in times of peace, a few people are needed to keep guard. Someone still needs to have a discerning eye to protect others from danger. I am that person.

Some animals are hard to tame.

Puzzling failure

I should’ve known when I opened the box and saw the glue that it wasn’t going to be easy.

I have one of those high strung intense type A personalities. So, yes, I find that I have a hard time taking it easy or relaxing. There is always something to clean or laundry to do. I have to actively seek out ways in which I can try to relax. Over the winter months, I try to relax by doing puzzles. It was something that I would do with my grandma years ago. 

This winter I did two puzzles. Well, that is not completely true. The first puzzle was moderately difficult just because 75% of the puzzle was green in some shade or another. I just wanted my second puzzle to be easier and more relaxing. When I opened the second puzzle, I found glue and instructions to hang the puzzle on the wall like a picture. That was puzzling to me. It looked easy. I dismissed it as tacky and started working on the outside edge. After having difficulty with the outside edge, I searched the box two more times without finding any extra pieces. It was a brand new puzzle, so there weren’t any missing. I finally had to rework the edge. 

After getting 75% done with the puzzle and wasting countless hours that I could have spent cleaning, I found out that the edge was still put together wrong. There were many pieces that matched in shape and design but weren’t right. I still was not finding a perfect fit in many edge and inside pieces throughout the puzzle. I came to the realization that I would have to take apart what I had already done and completely rework the puzzle.

In an impulsive fit of rage, I took my arm and swept the puzzle onto the floor. A jumble of obscenities and puzzle pieces flew across the room in an angry roar. Then I started throwing puzzle pieces into the box, which I threw into the garbage, which I threw into the dumpster that I took to the curb before I changed my mind. I felt like a complete and total failure.

I tried to commiserate with other puzzle friends. One friend is working on a puzzle that he separated into different containers based on puzzle piece shape. He works for a half an hour every night to find one piece. 

Oh, what a failure I am!

Then today I realized that I am not a failure. The puzzle failed me! It was supposed to bring me relaxation but failed to deliver. 

I did learn a few valuable lessons. First, never judge a puzzle by its box. Second, if you find glue inside the puzzle box it means that the puzzle is so difficult that you might want to hang it next to your diploma on the wall.

I am done doing puzzles for this winter. But I did find a few puzzle pieces while doing my spring cleaning today. 

Grace uncommon, part 16

Sometimes I think that Aunt Grace wanted me to like the things she liked. She wanted me to embrace her hobbies, instead I embraced her habits.

When Aunt Grace was sitting, she was knitting or crocheting. She always had a little piece of paper beside her counting her rows. She could look at someone and knit them a sweater in their size. She tried to teach me to knit, but I somehow always ended up with tight little knots.

In reality, I learned things that she tried not to teach me. Grace followed a very structured schedule. She woke up every morning at 6 AM. On Mondays and Wednesdays, she did book work. On Thursday mornings, she cleaned her house. On Fridays, she got her hair done. On Sundays, she went to church. Every week had the same structure. She was not a cleaning freak, she was a structure freak. I love structure.

She always spoke her mind. She wore a black onyx ring on her ring finger, a ring that is now in my possession that I sometimes wear. After eating, she always pulled out a tiny mirror and put dark red lipstick on her thin lips. Who doesn’t like dark lipstick and interesting rings?? Seems like I took on most of her habits and few of her hobbies. If we didn’t get along sometimes it was because we were too much alike.

Grace has been gone for eight years now. A few years after Grace passed away, my brother Luke had a baby girl. They named her Grace. Little Gracie always speaks her mind. She has an uncanny resemblance to Aunt Grace. She always begs me to put my darkest shades of lipstick on her. Sometimes I feel like Aunt Grace is still with us.