I didn’t wear makeup to go to my car; Stories of Adulthood

One of the reasons I hate living in an apartment is that as soon as you walk out of your nice, cozy, PRIVATE home, you’re in PUBLIC. The door is the only buffer. Contrast that to a house, where you have this nice buffer zone of a garage and a yard, and a street, more or less. Unless you live in a bizzaro place, you don’t have people outside your house to see you should you need to get something you left in your car or take out the trash or whatever.

Not so in an apartment. Now, used to be I’d worry about my presentation all the damn time. I’d put makeup on if I knew I was getting food delivered, and put on real clothes instead of sweat pants, and generally look like I hadn’t rolled out of bed. Because, after all, everyone CARES so MUCH what I LOOK LIKE.

The nice thing about getting older (and wiser… *sips coffee*) is that you begin to care less and less about what other people think. Taking a leaf from Sarah Knight and her F*cks Budget, I’ve realized that I want to spend my F*cks wisely and less liberally. And giving a F*ck about what I look like just isn’t as high a priority as, say, writing.

And let’s be clear, not putting on makeup is a big deal, when you’ve worn it every day since you were sixteen and then had a real bad flare up of adult acne when you were in Taiwan and now have the scars and shame to prove it. So makeup = armor = me being okay. But not anymore.

The other day, I’d left something in my car, to get back to the title story, and my car was parked a level above me in the parking garage. I did not put on makeup to go get the stuff. I did put on pants, because decency, but wore slippers and didn’t brush my hair, either. Yes, I was one of those people. Pretty soon I’ll be wearing pjs to Walmart. No, I won’t. It was a step in the self-love department, not the giving-up-self-hood department.

I even saw someone coming down the staircase, and they said hi. Not, oh god how could you show that face to the world, but hi. How nice. *snark intensifies*

Being an adult sucks on a lot of levels, but today it sucked a little less as I accepted myself for myself a little more. Thanks, self.

Hello, I’m a Feminist.

Dangerous. Subversive. Radical. Selfish. Sensual. Worldly. Evil. Shameful. Shameless. Foolish. All words used to describe feminism in my circles.

Growing up, feminism was a bad word in my community. Church, family, and friends alike treated the word and people who identified with it as either criminally naive or just plain evil.

It was in this atmosphere I grew up, independent, fiercely sure of my own worth and intelligence, but also firmly aware of my place in the world.

I’ve been a feminist for a while, but it took me quite a long time to accept the word. Accept, and them embrace.

At first, I was careful. I believed in equality, I stressed. Not women’s superiority, so it wasn’t really feminism. Never mind that I had never done a lick of research into feminism. Never mind that the only things I heard about feminism were from its opponents. Feminism was a bad thing. Like liberalism. Destroying America, and the family, and worldwide faith.

So in the beginning, I was careful. Not real feminism, but equality. Women could do anything. They just shouldn’t do…certain things. It wasn’t right. 

But that didn’t mean we were unequal. Nope. No way. Oh, dear young self. Dear many, many younger selves who are stuck in this loop.

I am feminist now. Adamantly so. I take issue with how women are portrayed in media, how words associated with the feminine are used, and how the idea of the female has been relegated to a secondary status in almost all areas of life.

I’m not starting a lecture. I’m not going to get in a debate or list all the ways women have been subdued or oppressed. It’s not my time for that. For now, for the first thing, I’m just declaring what I am. I am a feminist.

Don’t Box Me In: The Other Kind of Introvert

The world is becoming a safer place for introverts, by and large. There are books written about us and for us. There are websites dedicated to showing us love and support. Even the word is far more common; it’s weirder to meet someone who isn’t familiar with the whole introvert/extrovert thing than someone who is.

By and large, it’s incredible.

However, we still need more education. The public has gotten used to dividing the world up; putting people in either the pajama-crazy, cat-loving, noise-hating, book-reading, glasses-wearing introvert box or the socialite, color-wearing, wise-cracking, fun-loving, more-friend-having extrovert box. The problem is…there are lots and lots of boxes. How many people are in the world right this moment? Google told me 7.442 billion. So there’s… let’s see, how many boxes? 7.442 billion. For one thing, everybody is unique. Introversion, extroversion, dog people, cat people, sweater people, weird people (see what I did there?); every distinction just serves to help us find those similarities. But they don’t define us. For introverts, it can be really hard to deal with people’s now rampant ideas about introversion. Yes, society knows that we don’t enjoy parties all that much and love meeting up separately in our homes and every other awesome mug and t-shirt slogan out there, and they may even know we’re not really shy, not all of us. But so many don’t. So many people look at an introvert and still expect certain behaviors. Many introverts don’t fit comfortably inside the introvert box.

Take me, or any INFJ. We love connections, by and large (that phrase again, I must love it). So we don’t hate small talk. Sure, we love the deeper stuff, but we know small talk builds relationships at first. I like engaging with coworkers over stale coffee. I like smiling hugely at the cashier even though I don’t speak her language. I like nodding and gesticulating to people who don’t speak my language. I’m boisterous in public. I used to prance on stage in front of my students. I use huge gestures and look like an idiot and crack jokes and use funny voices. Lots of extrovert things. And yet, I’m an introvert.

A while ago I read this post by my dear blogger friend and fellow INFJ Lani, who mentioned an article on the four kinds of introverts. Huzzah! I thought. This woman gets it.  (I ended up taking the quiz, naturally, and got fairly well balanced on all four kinds, more heavily into social and less so on restrained. Again, I am NOT shy.)

Fortunately, I don’t see this yet, and I hope I never do, but I feel the sticky foreboding of introvert shame. You aren’t introverted enough. You go to parties! You can’t be a real introvert unless you shudder and abhor the very idea. You don’t like cats!? How dare you listen to sad music and read poems. That sort of thing. It’s not here yet, and I pray it never comes. We don’t need that.

That being said, we introverts need to continually put our voices out there. Keep blogging. Keep writing books. Keep being different than everyone else, including the other introverts. Yes, it’s nice to have a community, but let’s not be a cult. Let’s help the world realize that there are just as many kinds of introverts as extroverts and ambiverts and people at all.

Blessed be the weird.*



*Which is an amazing book, by the way.

Be Yourself: TED Talk Review


Have you ever heard the phrase “just be yourself?” I’m positive you have. If not said directly to you, then in a book or on TV, always given as advice on how to overcome shyness or anxiety. How to survive at a party or on a first date. How to make friends the first day of school. How to ace an interview.

But in this talk, Caroline McHugh points out that being yourself is hard work. And nobody is “just” anything. Just implies that it’s so easy, so little, so meager to be yourself, when really it’s the journey of a lifetime to even figure out what that is.

Yourself is hard work. Yourself free of others’ expectations of you, of your own expectations, of how you were raised and the people who surround you, is hard. We need to give a little more grace to the process and a little more honor. Being yourself is the goal in life, and if you can say that you are yourself unabashedly, that’s a cause for celebration.

McHugh also invites us to ask not what our life expectancy is but what do we expect of life. She points out that that is a much more interesting question and one that will help us uncover who we are.

Who we are, in being ourselves, is well represented by an hourglass. At the beginning and the end of our lives, we are the best at being ourselves. Kids run around and play and goof off with very little awareness of themselves or what people think, and we all know the stereotype of the elderly being crotchety and outspoken. What I love is that McHugh says that when you realize you have more summers behind you than in front of you, you become more honest because you just can’t be arsed to care about anybody else’s opinion.

The bit in the middle is more problematic, when we’re squeezed by society’s pressures and have to accommodate and adapt and live up to other people’s expectations.

In the middle of her talk, McHugh dives into her idea of an interiority complex, presented in contrast to the inferiority and superiority complexes. An interiority complex is entirely unrelative to others.  It’s a vantage point and orientation where you have no competition. Contrast that with the idea of superior/inferior mindsets that depend on others to exist (superior – I am better than those around me, inferior – I am worse than those around me).

Remember what Jill Scott said about queendom (paraphrase): “Mine can never compare to hers and hers can never compare to mine. We all come with our own strengths.” This is such an important mindset to have, and one we try to teach ourselves and our students and our kids, but again and again we find it so difficult.

When you think about your identity, you’re not your thoughts, you’re not your feelings (because who’s feeling them), you’re not what you do, there’s something underneath it all that is the real you. Growing up, growing old, growing out; it’s all a way to figure out what that person deep inside is.

McHugh mentions the blue sky, which caught my attention because it’s such a prominent idea in my meditation practice.  The sky doesn’t’ boast or complain about it’s weather, it knows the impermanence of the storms and the sunsets and the permanence of the blue sky.

I think the advice of this talk can best be summed up in these words; don’t live someone else’s opinion of you. Find it for yourself and be honest. Be you.



The Multipotentialite Writer: Multipotentialite Series

When I discovered I was a multipod, I realized that my tendency to pick up interests and drop them ad infinitum was not a deep character flaw but simply a characteristic.

It was liberating to realize there was nothing wrong with me.

But it took me a little longer to realize that my identity as a multipod has meaning for my writing as well.

I write like a multipod. What does that mean? Well, currently, I have several projects I’m working on; fantasy/folklore, horror, memoir, and this blog. I also have a lot of ideas for other kinds of stories in various genres.

There is an internet full of writing advice, and I’ve read many, MANY books on writing in the past few years. Most of it tends to have the same problems for multipotentalite writers as conventional career advice does for multipotentialites in life.

Finish what you start.

– Most advice

As multipods, we’re told to stick with one career, one passion, for life. That’s being debunked as we speak by awesome people like Barbara Sher and Emilie Wapnick (go Puttytribe!), but there’s been so little on multipotentialite writers.

Finish your story, even if you don’t feel like it, or it’s not what you’d envisioned, or it didn’t go the direction you thought. That’s what I read and saw in dozens of places. And it always, always made me feel guilty. Yes, I have finished stories. I think there is incredible value in finishing something, to know you can and to develop the ability to finish a story to its end. I felt hugely accomplished when I finished my first novel two years ago.

But is it always the right thing to do? Is it worth it to keep working on a story you fall out of love with? Writing advice is a bit like dating advice; you’ll stop feeling it, but you must still commit and work at it. That’s what love is. Yes, I agree. That’s what love is. Is that what writing is?

I love metaphors as much as anyone, but in this case, I don’t think love and writing match. Just like I don’t think love and careers match for multipods. The whole “soul-mate,” one-for-life kind of things works for love. I believe in monogamy. I believe in working out a relationship with someone you love, especially when the going gets tough.

I don’t believe in a career soul-mate. Not anymore. It doesn’t exist for a multipod, who will move through careers and passions and interests and must do so. 

It also doesn’t exist for multipod writers. I have at least ten stories going. Conventional wisdom would have me finish each story before moving on to the next one, or, as some less narrow views have expressed, have two projects going that are very different, so if I experience writing fatigue with one I can still keep my writing edge by working on the other. But I’m not allowed to work too much on the other until I’ve finished the one I’ve set my mind on.

It’s bad advice for multipods. It just is. As in life and all our passions, we must be allowed to move between things. We must be allowed to go as far as we need to and let something go when it’s time.

I used to look at all my unfinished stories as black marks against my credibility, but now I see them as stepping stones. There are stories inside me that must come out, and sometimes I have to circle around to them through other stories before I can get to them.

I’m circling around my point as well.

The point is; if you are a multipotentialite and a writer, you will have many projects at once, and you will bounce back and forth between them, leaving some unfinished. And that’s okay. That is natural for you, as natural as bouncing between interests is.

Once I realized what was happening, and that I was feeling the same guilt with my writing as I once did with my interests, I had a real ‘aha’ moment. I decided to allow myself the freedom to write whatever I wanted, as long as I was hitting my mini-habit goal of fifty words a day.

I made cards like the Rotating Priorities Board, one for each writing project, and taped them to my wall – there to switch around as my feeling dictated per day. Now, I can look at all my options and go with the one I’m feeling most in tune with that day or week. And usually, it’s not a case of five minutes here, then five minutes there. I really don’t think that could be productive. But I have found that some weeks I’m really into blogging, so I write a dozen or so posts. That’s great because there are other weeks when I just want to work on my story, and I have those blog posts already ready to go.

And then some weeks I just need to journal, so that’s my writing.

But no matter what, I’m always writing, and I’m fulfilling my need. It’s just not in the same way as other writers; writers who, like the one-career-for-life people we see, can dedicate years and years to a single book. We think we should look like them. We think we should have the same kind of writing attitudes and work desk and schedule that they do, and as multipods, we forget that our multipod identity extends even within our interests.

I’m here to tell you that as a multipotentialite writer, your writing journey will look different, and that’s okay.