Food for Thought

Although not my usual type of post, this speaks in volumes, and reminds me of someone I used to be. I’ve shared it in various ways on social media, I’ve shared it with specific persons whom I hoped would find truth, and I’m sharing it here as well. I hope it speaks to you.

Extrovert or Introvert?

How about both? A fellow blogger, Kate Crimmins, recently posted what I quote here as part of her post at Views and Mews by Coffee Kat (you can follow her at https://coffeekatblog.com): “An extroverted introvert – Yes there is such a thing. I get energy off of people but in large doses they make me cranky, irritable and homicidal. The past ten days social engagements have piled on top of each other. That’s a lot of being nice. Way over my limit. This past Friday was the first day without a scheduled people event. I was ecstatic. I don’t like to go too long without people interaction but I love my alone time. Next week is all about me, me, me!”

I’d never have thought up that label, but it fits me pretty well! If asked to choose, most people who know me would classify me as an extrovert because they have always seen me appear confident in social settings. (Note the word “appear”). My career in the hospitality industry made it necessary, so I learned to don that mask and perform well with it. Yet, and especially as I get older, I’ve never really had much tolerance for crowds. Even team-building exercises with a small group always made me uncomfortable. Yet I learned to be able to express myself because it was expected.

And yet, I feel very shy around strangers. Beyond the hello and nice to meet you line, I struggle to initiate a conversation. Fortunately, I learned early on the idea is to ask questions and get the other person to talk about themselves. And fortunately, most people are more than eager to talk about themselves. I can walk away from a conversation with a stranger and all they can tell you about me is that I’m a good listener. I’ve never liked to talk about myself except in private conversations with people I trust. I detest being the center of attention for any reason (even with friends I trust).

Even my Zodiac sign, which I don’t put much stock in, says I’m an introvert!

And yes, I like being alone. I like being alone a LOT! Like Kate, I need to feed off the energy of others from time to time, but I’ve become very content with my own self for company. My tolerance for crowds of people continues to diminish as I age, as well as my tolerance for high levels of noise.

And yet, if you read my blog, you find that I have strong opinions and the ability to put them into words. Talking is the sign of an extrovert, while listening is a sign of an introvert. And that’s why I’m so ecstatic to find out that I’m not the only one with some of both. Of course, in this case, talking actually means writing…performing these words orally for others would have me petrified!

So, from now on, I’m going to label myself as an extroverted introvert – or maybe an introverted extrovert – allowing myself to be some of each.

What about you? Do you clearly classify as one or the other, or are you also some of each?

If

The dictionary defines this two letter, one syllable word as a conjunction that introduces a conditional clause. The word if, as a conjunction, is impossible to use without a spoken, or implied, use of the word then. Every comment that starts out with an “if” will need “then” to imply the condition.

If, for being such a short word, holds upon its shoulders the millions of wishes that man makes. Think about it in this way: If I were richer, then __________. If I were smarter, then _______. If I were prettier, then _________. If I were thinner, then ___________. Every one of us has used this conditional clause, and sadly, it is most used in a personally negative way. We use the if/then as a way to point out our shortcomings – all the things that we perceive would be better in our lives “if only” something were different.

But seldom do we take any necessary steps to make the changes to make the condition of this phrase possible. And yet, each of the things about which we lament are possible, if we are willing to put some effort into achieving them.

Ah, but isn’t it much easier to somehow blame it on the universe that we haven’t achieved them rather than take personal responsibility?

What IF we changed the structure of those phrases? For example, “If I were more careful with my spending, then I could be richer.” “If I took some additional steps in learning, then I could be smarter.” “If I worked on my wardrobe to make it more stylish for my figure, then I could be prettier.” “If I paid close attention to my food intake and tried to be more active, I could be thinner.”

But that’s the hard way to do it. It’s so much easier to lament on things we wish for in our lives that we are not willing to put effort into achieving.

I want to challenge you. The next time you have an “if only” thought, reverse the wording as I showed you, then decide if this is really a goal you want to achieve. If so, go after it! If you’re not willing to make steps to change the “if only” thought, then quit wasting your time and energy focusing on it!

Also, quit wasting your time on thoughts of “…if only I had, then _______________.” You can’t change the past. But the past doesn’t have to be your future.

More Technological Trauma

If the saying is true that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, then I should be able to lift – oh, at least the rear-end of an old VW Beetle by now!

I have been procrastinating, for well over a week, about changing out the SIM card to switch my cell phone service from Sprint to xfinity Mobile. On the surface, it seemed like an easy task, but you know what ‘assuming’ does. Part of me wanted to wait until my upcoming visit with my beloved brother, but a little part of me wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

The beginning was easy, all done online. I got all of the information ready, even digging out the old scratchy notes I took from when I first contracted with Sprint. These notes provided me my Apple icloud address and security code as well. Off I go…. breezing through providing the right information for my billing from Sprint so it could be verified.

Success! Now it’s time to activate the phone by changing out the SIM card. A little tool was provided, and it took me several attempts to get the part of the case open, but I finally got it done. I was careful to focus on the exact layout of the old card as I took it out so I’d be sure to put the new one in the same way. Closed the little door and restarted the phone.

More success! I was feeling pretty empowered and proud of myself!

I now understand the phrase, “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.” After turning the phone back on, I got an “Activation Lock” screen requiring my Apple ID and password. However, I kept getting a message telling me that the ID or password was incorrect. Since this is my only Apple product, I knew I had the correct ID. I finally got on the laptop and went to Apple support and changed my password. That didn’t work, even after restarting the phone.

I wouldn’t go through every detail of what transpired next…suffice it to say that I was on the phone with the new carrier, who couldn’t help me. I chatted (after a 20-minute wait in queu) online with Sprint to verify that my phone was, indeed, unlocked. I got onto Apple support. $50 and 2-1/2 hours later, between my initial agent and a specialist, we were finally able to get the thing unlocked!

So, was I successful? I guess the answer is yes… as long as I don’t think about the $50 ($10 of it was a bonus I was able to tack onto my review of the initial agent), who was so patient, or the fact that I spent 4 hours’ time to make myself successful.

I’d thought about doing this more than once during this fiasco!

On the bright side, I’ll be able to enjoy the time with my brother this week without us having to deal with this task. And, on the bright side, I’ll be saving $40 a month average with this switch, so with the costs to get it done, that means I’ll break even the first month before I start saving $40 a month.

Now, all that is left to do is call Sprint and cancel. Again, I don’t like not having the option to cancel online, but it’s one more phone call…. And then, all of the technology I planned on upgrading/changing will have been completed and I won’t have this stress in my life for a while!

I remember the days when THIS was stressful and time-consuming!

The Little Green Man

When I was growing up, in addition to my siblings, parents and an occasional odd pet, our house was inhabited by a little green man. Now, in all of my years of living there, I’d never seen him, nor, I suspect, did anyone else. But I recall clearly, when something was broken/spilled/etc. and my mother asked which of us had done it, to which we all replied, “Not me!”, she would sometimes say that the little green man must have done it.

It didn’t take us long to realize, as we got older, that mom had merely decided that, whatever ‘crime’ had been committed, it wasn’t worth dragging the truth from us. I do remember a time when, asked of us who had done something, my older brother defiantly answered, “The little green man”. That got him a smack in the face!

I’d largely forgotten about the little green man for years. But lately, not only do I think my home might be inhabited by its own little green man, I’m beginning to think he brought some friends along who are inhabiting my body!

Every so often, I walk into a room, something catches my eye, and I ponder, “Now how did that get there?” Other times, I swear I know exactly where I left something, only to return and find that it is NOT there! Obviously, a little green man is sneaking around and moving things when I’m not looking!

And my body! Surely it must be filled with little green gremlins with odd senses of humor! How else can I explain the physical twinges of pain that come and go in an instant when I am perfectly still? How else can I explain that sudden urge that pulls me to the freezer at odd hours of the night and demands that I eat several large spoons full of ice cream? And since I mentally make a list of things I want to accomplish each morning, then find my body craving a nap before I’ve started, can’t that surely can be contributed to the tiredness of those same gremlins who had me standing in front of the freezer in the middle of the night?

Was my mother right? Do all homes have a little green man who resides within their walls? And maybe, just maybe, are the little green gremlins invading my body a punishment for those few (especially compared to my brothers) times when it was me who had done something bad and not the little green man? Is this the karma he wished on me those times I let him take the blame?

I suppose I’ll never know…

Once Upon a Time…

…there was a gal who had always enjoyed writing. She had written articles for the humane society, articles that were published into pamphlets for a psychological practice, and multiple poems (which were never published). Many of her bosses liked her ability because they could give her two or three sentences and she could make them into two or three paragraphs, at least enough to make a letter an adequate length to send.

In her life, this gal had a man enter who was able to be an earthly muse, encouraging her to write, encouraging her to ignore syntax, grammar and punctuation and just let words flow. With him in her life, words poured – sometimes only a sentence or two, sometimes paragraphs that seemed to go on for an eternity.

When he left her life, she stopped writing except for what was necessary. It seemed obvious to her that it was his energy and presence which allowed her to turn words into glorious visualizations. Without his energy, she couldn’t draw two words together in a meaningful way, much less into a sentence or paragraph that spoke from her heart.

Several (many) years later, she stumbled across a printed version of those many words – and they moved her so much that she decided she wanted to share them. They were, indeed, glimpses into not only her mind, but her heart and spirit as well. She tucked those pages away, not quit knowing if she was willing to be vulnerable enough to share them.

When her beloved brother started blogging, she thought that a blog might be a way she could share these words, share the thoughts and create the same visuals she got whenever she read them. Still, she put it off…

One day, a content creator who does wonderful vlogs made a comment to his audience to “quit saying it and start doing it.” That phrase struck her, and she realized that the time was right now or never. She knew she could easily share the pages of words she had written in a way to make for several posts.

And this blog began. She named it “Ramblings and Ruminations” because it felt to her that what she had on hand fit that description. The first entry was on April 3, 2019. She thought she’d only have these pre-written words to share, but suddenly saw that she had a lot to say. Some of it was opinion, some of it was helpful hints, some of it was advice.

I wanted to share this story with you as a way of honoring 50 posts now available on my blog. The “ramblings and ruminations” portion is only 4 of those 50. I guess she was right – she does have a lot to say! In fact, I believe I can say with authority that “once upon a time” doesn’t only exist in fairy tales!

This journey, while still in its infant stage, has changed my life in so many ways. By blogging and reading others’ blogs, I’ve re-energized my personal growth journey, which hadn’t seen much activity since I retired. It has brought – and continues to bring – many ways in which I’ve become much truer to my authentic self. I’m learning to love myself for who I am and I’ve quit trying to be who I think others want me to be. This part of my blogging journey has been the greater gift.

Still, as I continue to share in my blog, I hope I’ve brought insight and help to those who read it. Being vulnerable continues to make me a little anxious, but it helps me to focus my attention on those who accept the “real” me and stop spending energy trying to hide the real me.

To my readers and followers, thank you for following me as I ramble through a lot of subjects, writing whatever is on my mind that I think is worthy of sharing. I am honored by your presence. And here’s to another 50 blog posts!

The Pros (and Woes) of Technology

I admit that I am, for the most part, self-taught by what I can do on a computer. I am old enough to vaguely remember manual typewriters, easily remember electric typewriters and even remember using a DOS prompt when computers first came out.

I also admit that I am limited in what I do with a computer. Emails, limited social media, online games, online banking/bill paying and, of course, blogging take up 99% of the time I spend on it. Having said that, I probably easily average 4 hours a day sitting in front of this screen.

I wrote an earlier entry about my anxiety of changing over to a new laptop and how it was so much easier than I ever could imagine. And I was proud…until the day I needed to print something and couldn’t get my printer connected properly. Of course, I contacted HP support online (only slightly better than having to do it by telephone!) and spent quite some time with Vincent, the agent. He logged into my computer and ran a whole bunch of programs while I watched – fascinated – on my screen. Eventually, he found that, in the short 3 weeks I had been using the new laptop, I’d ended up with multiple viruses! Seriously? I don’t download anything from anyone unless they are very trusted. I don’t even open spam mail, whether it shows an attachment or not. I could not fathom how I could have several unknown origin viruses in, again, just 3 weeks!

I learned that some viruses can come into your modem without needing you to do anything. This was not good news! (Of course, that explains why I go through laptops every 3 or so years!) All of those brand-name firewalls you purchase can’t fight these – the only way to do it is to block them right at the modem from ever getting through.

Long story short – I paid about the same amount for one of those firewall programs to have a program installed onto my laptop that protects the modem from the viruses. I chose the 5-year plan (imagine me having the same laptop for 5 years!) and it includes 24-hour phone access to this agent for any reason my computer decides to not function.

Is it working? I can only assume so, since I haven’t had any issues of any kind since it was installed. I told Vincent I would be calling him back within the year to run the same program he ran that showed the viruses. I want to see a screen before me that says “no viruses found”!

I am also going to admit that I am even slightly more inept when it comes to cell phones. Again, I’m old enough to remember rotary phones – desktop and wall-mount – with the long stretched out cords. I thought I was “big stuff” when I got the bag phone, technology’s first attempt at a cell phone. Now, I have a cell phone with all kinds of programs and stuff, and I use it for texts 99% of the time, and the other 1% is to get information I need to find right away when I’m not at my laptop. I use less than 2GB a month total.

So, is technology more pro than woe? In so many ways, it makes our lives so much easier. Information about anything can be found on the “world wide web” with just a few keystrokes. Checking in on and seeing what your family and friends are up to is easy with social media. Online shopping and its conveniences has many perks. Paying a bill is streamlined when you don’t have to write a check or pay for a postage stamp.

But I am concerned that society has become so tied to the internet (through whatever means – cell phone, computer, fancy wrist watch) that human interaction becomes unnecessary. Brick and mortar stores are continuing to close – or go bankrupt – as online shopping becomes the more preferred and convenient way to purchase things. Even the postal service continues to lose money because we don’t send mail in the quantities that we used to.

And we don’t talk to each other anymore! Communication is handled through a text, or if the message is more complicated, through an email. Not to mention that we are paying such close attention to our phones that we don’t even bother to acknowledge a person walking by us, much less offer them a smile or a simple “hello”. We are becoming a society so involved with the pros of technology that we don’t consider the woes of the loss of human contact!

And, at least to me, the biggest crime is that, when we are in moments of human interaction, we’re so keenly aware of what ever signal our device gives us to announce activity that we divert our attention, even if only for a moment, to see what it is. Nothing says, “Wait, this might be more important than you are” in quite the same way!

This society needs to find a balance if we are going to continue as humankind. I’m not against technology – it makes many things more convenient in my life – but, as I always tell people, “I do not live on my phone”. My phone is on a charger in my bedroom and honestly, I check the weather with more consistency than I do anything else. As for the computer, I can only say that I have no desire to actually learn how to do more on it than what I have taught myself to do. My balance comes from spending quality time with my beloved brother (conversation never stops), time with my bestie, Joanne, and her family, and my commitment with the same bestie for lunch once a month that’s just our time. Those things, plus the other fun things we find to do together, plus hanging out with people my brother knows whenever I visit him, make sure that I am keeping human interaction a priority in my life.

How are you at keeping a balance between human interaction and technology?