introvert · special needs parenting

Has Social Media Changed The Meaning of The Word “Friend”?

I’ve always kept a tiny circle of friends. When I was younger I felt insecure about my relative unpopularity. It seems I’m somewhat of an acquired taste.

Add to that a family with complicated needs and working at home, and if I get out with a friend a few times a year I’m lucky.

If you look at my Facebook, though, it’s a whole different story. I have a hundred or so friends that I encountered through an adoption related discussion board about 12 years ago. I’ve actually met fewer than half of them, but I consider every one of them good friends, and some quite close.

Then I have a broad group of people who have some kind of connection to Down syndrome, special needs pare ting, or some type of disabilities with whom I’ve connected over the years. And, of course, childhood cancer connections.

Throw in people from high school and a few jobs, and my latest additions of fellow writers, and my list of Facebook friends belies my claim to be an introvert.

The funny thing is, with rare exception, I feel like I know these people well. In fact, when I have met the people with whom I’ve developed online friendships, the transition has been seamless.

Maybe this means that I spend too much time surfing social media, and I won’t argue that. I will say, though, that for the socially anxious introvert, the advent of socializing through my phone screen has been revolutionary.

Even before social media came along I demurred when invited to any gathering. If it is a large group or there’s alcohol involved, there’s not much chance of me attending a get together.

But now, especially through groups and private messaging, I am able to have meaningful discussions, connect with like minds, and enjoy a form of interaction that enriches my life without finding a non-existent babysitter or using up my energy on tedious small talk.

While many find social media a simple distraction or time killer, I suspect that many, like me, find a way to fill a void that had previously been insurmountable, and do so unapologetically.

introvert · Uncategorized

Will That Be One Lump Or Ten?

Phone calls vex me.

Assertiveness is toward the bottom of my list of personality traits.

I would rather streak across the Super Bowl football field holding a neon sign over my head than confront anyone about anything ever.

But part of adulting is doing all of the above. And I do them often. In order to manage my home and family, I have to make uncomfortable phone calls, and with the high needs of my kids, I would bet those come more often than average.

For me, a socially anxious introvert, to move past this and be a somewhat effective human being, adult and parent, I developed a hack. The one social skill I actually do possess is the ability to find something my conversation partner will talk about. And in so doing, I throw in a handful or two of sugar, (or sometimes ten). I am great at getting people to feel good, or at least better about themselves, and getting a chuckle out of a mediocre joke.

For example, yesterday I had to call my son’s doctor three times for the same issue. Each time I spoke with a different person, someone who had contributed nothing to my frustrations. It would have been misplaced at best for me to act out the annoyance on person 3, who was doing her best to solve our problem, but at the same time, I was to the point where if the job didn’t get done right a supervisor would need to get involved. Yet I was acutely aware of the fact that if I was a jerk, things would only go downhill. So I started joking.

In my experience, at least two thirds of the time that you’re on the phone with a customer service representative, they will mention that the computer is slow. This is pretty much a freebie. I make fun of the computer, and suddenly we’re allies.

Then I thank them for just doing their job, even if they haven’t done it yet. There’s a good chance that the person I’m talking to has had a few frustrating conversations already that day, so if I can be the one that makes them feel like what they’re doing is worth it, it is that much more likely that they’ll get the job done quickly and well.

Then I find a reason to compliment them. This completes my trifecta.

I get great results with this formula, and hopefully leave the person I speak with in a little better place than I found them, which is a goal of mine in virtually every interaction ever. But the bottom line is that I do it for me. It’s a coping skill.

Having a set formula for phone interactions not only gets me the results I’m seeking, and gives the person I speak with a boost, it’s the ticket to dealing with what might otherwise derail me. I remind myself before dialing just what my steps should be, and having a plan empowers me to have an effective conversation.

It works in person too.

dog

8 Reasons Dogs Make The Best Friends For Introverts

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I am deeply introverted. Like I have never once gotten to the point where I felt like I spent too much time alone and maybe it was time to socialize. Like, no matter how much I like or love you, I will have second thoughts about going out. Like, if you gave me a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere with woods nearby, I might think it was heaven. 

I could wile away endless hours alone, well, as long as my dogs are there. 

Dogs are highly social animals, so why would I be able to tolerate so much together time with them?

  1. No small talk. Ever. 
  2. They’re hilarious. I laugh my head off at my dogs endlessly, which is a mood lifter. 
  3. We can go hours with no interaction. 
  4. They’re never upset with me. As many introverts are, I’m a highly sensitive person. I avoid conflict and disharmony whenever possible, and my dogs never create any negativity. 
  5. They don’t watch TV or use electronics, so they create little noise pollution. 
  6. Their soft, supple warmth fills my soul. 
  7. They wait patiently for me. (Even when I’m in the bathroom).
  8. They can’t eat chocolate, so my stash is safe!

 

writing

“It Was a Really Peopley Day Out Today”

That’s my answer when my husband asks why I am totally spent, killing brain cells by crushing candy with a glazed over catatonic appearance.  

It’s been a peopley week. 

I’m pretty sure the peopley-ness has exceeded my threshold. Because when that happens I turn into a pile of oxygen recycling warmth on my chair.  And that’s where I am right now. 

I have dinner to make, Christmas stuff to organize, and a giant to-do list that I’m ignoring.  

Peopling sucks me dry. It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just that the the stimulation of people requires enormous energy from me in a fundamental way.  Every noise, every sight, every smell, every sensation, they all take little nibbles from me (especially the noise, exponentially the noise). I don’t even notice them they’re so small, but the cumulative impact is dramatic. Before I know it I’m but a shell. 

And now that I’m home, it’s time to pull out my charger and plug in. 

My chair is my charger, and quiet is my outlet. I’m plugged in and trickle charging. 

It might take all night. 

dog · running

The Year’s First Snowshoe Excursion 


I love running (especially trail running), I love hiking, I usually like bicycling, and throw in an occasional video for variety, but snow shoeing has got to be my favorite exercise. 

Last year stunk for snow shoe conditions, I don’t think I got out at all, so I was all the more eager to go when the snow started piling up this weekend. Hannah popped upstairs late this morning and suggested that I take off; I didn’t let the door hit me on the way out.  I might have been premature as conditions were less than ideal, but was loathe to dismiss the opportunity. 

We have trails right behind our house, easing my access so that I can literally walk outside and go.   Abbi was just as eager as I was, and if possible, she took an even greater enjoyment out of it than I did. 


Pictures don’t do it justice. The solitude and peace of being in the woods in the snow is palpable. The white coating over everything insulates noise, smell and sight, making for an idyllic kind of quiet that is nearly impossible to obtain in any other setting. 


I found myself longing to become lost in it, and fell down into the downy fluff in surrender to it.  An angel or five later, the exploration resumed. Though I’ve tromped these trails hundreds of times in the 15 years we’ve lived here, each season, and even day by day there are new discoveries to be made, and it was with sheer delight that I did so. 

The wind kicked up momentarily, showering me in clouds of snow displaced from the trees above. I found myself reaching for my phone to catch a picture, but instead I paused to tune into my senses and savor the moment.  I’m a bit sorry I can’t share it with you, but wouldn’t trade the otherworldly moment for a photo. 

Yes, snow shoeing is a workout, and according to my Fitbit, a darn good one, but it’s greater purpose is the restoration of my soul that the abject solitude grants, the physical benefits are just for show. 

Uncategorized

Am I the only woman in the world who will never watch Gilmore Girls?

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So I hear that Gilmore Girls is a thing.  In fact, my social media feed is a bit of a black hole of Gilmore Girl marathoners who are going off the rails because they’re excited about watching upmteen hours of whatever it is that the Gilmore Girls do.

What is a Gilmore Girl?  I’m lost here.  I feel like I should at least know, but no matter who they are or what they do, I’m certain that my life is entirely complete without them in it.

Same with Amy Schumer, I recognize the name, but I’m pretty sure that if she knocked on my door I wouldn’t know her from Amy Poehler, or anyone else for that matter.  In fact, I had to Google to find more than one current celebrity I could name.

I simply could not care less.

Except at that point in every conversation with anyone anywhere when pop culture comes up.  “Do you watch ______?”  when I say “No”, the person asking proceeds to run through an extended series of similar questions, trying to discover common ground, which I sometimes allow, and sometimes derail immediately.

And then we have literally nothing to talk about.

I feel like a pariah.  A mood killer.

Am I the only one who doesn’t Netflix and chill?  I sure feel like it.

I turn on my television about once a week during the fall to watch football, otherwise it’s dormant unless my husband is home.  I have no interest.  I don’t even know why.

Could it be that I spent all my television watching hours in my youth as a depressed introvert that spent entire weekends glued to the tube?  That’s the joke I make about it anyway.

Please tell me there’s someone else, somewhere who doesn’t know or care about Parks and Rec or Modern Family or Parenthood or anything else that all my peers so dearly love.

Unless you want to talk about alternative rock music, that would be alright.