Monday, February 27, 2017

Personality Quizzes

I love taking personality quizzes. They're kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. A semi-addiction.

I'm fascinated by the various theories on how to explain our personalities. From True Colors to the Myers-Briggs test, I take test after test to try to determine who I am.

But, there's a problem with this: I am very complicated. I don't fit into a box. I've been accused of doing this on purpose, because I'm a middle-child, and middle-children call attention to themselves in this way. I think that's partly true, but there's more to it.

I have my own personality theory, namely that there are four types of personalities in the world: Simple/Simple, Simple/Complex, Complex/Simple, Complex/Complex. The first word describes the you that you present to people, and the second word describes the real you. In a nutshell, S/S people are what-you-see-is-what-you-get. S/C are the passive-aggressive ones who act one way to your face and a different way behind your back, because there is a lot more going on inside them than they let you see. C/S are people who try to seem different and unique because they feel so unimportant. They want to seem complicated to push people away, but really need to accept who they are for themselves. C/C are the people who seem complicated and also are complicated. Lots of reasons behind this: abuse or trauma, extreme intelligence, wide array of worldly experiences, mental illness, etc.

I'm no psychologist,  but I've been analyzing people that I know for the longest time, using this and other personality tests. It's helped me make sense of the world. Why does this person not like me? Because he's orange and I'm blue. Why do I fight with my husband? Because he's got strong Thinking skills, and I'm strong on the Feeling scale.

I would categorize myself, in my own theory, as C/C. I'm complex. I'm difficult. I'm extremely hard to love. My poor husband. And parents. And siblings. And children. And friends. A problem that anyone with anxiety, depression, OCD, bi-polar disorder, manic-depression, etc. has is separating their personality from their disability. This is one reason I put myself in my own Complex/Complex category. So, because I'm working through an identity crisis here goes some synopses and results of a couple of personality quizzes.

Love Languages

Overview- According to author Gary Thomas, there are five love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and gift-giving. Most everyone in the world has 1 or 2 very strong love languages, or ways that they feel love. The problem in relationships, he says, is that we often choose a mate who speaks a different love language, so we are not fulfilling these needs that we may not understand or know that we have.

Results- Every time I have taken this quiz, I have 6, 7 or 8 on each category- none more than 1 or 2 points above another. I don't have a love language. I used to think no one did, and the idea of love languages was the dumbest idea I had ever heard of. Now I understand that they are real, but do not apply to me. I love words of affirmation, unless I feel like they have ulterior motives behind them or that I am being patronized. I love quality time, until I just want to be alone. I love physical touch, until I just need you to get away from me and let me have my space. I love acts of service, until they make me feel like I'm lazy. I love gifts, until I learn how much you paid for it and get mad at you for spending too much money.

No wonder Brandon gets so frustrated with me- he literally never knows how I will react to anything.

Five Factor Model 

Overview- Personality psychologists believe this is a pretty good description of the broad traits or general areas that go to make up a person's core personality
  • Extroversion - Energy, enthusiasm, sociable
  • Agreeableness - Altruism, helping others, affection, friendliness
  • Conscientiousness - Control, will, constraint, dependability
  • Neuroticism - Negative emotions, nervousness
  • Openness to Experience - Originality, culture, open-minded, intellect
Results- 
Extroversion
  39
Agreeableness
  38
Conscientiousness
  37
Neuroticism
  35
Openness
  41

I scored high on each of these five categories, which is not necessarily a good thing. Scoring highly in extroversion means I have a lot of energy and enjoy most social situations. A high score in agreeableness means I am a friendly, cooperative, trustworthy person. Scoring highly in conscientiousness says I am well-focused, methodical and organized. A high score in openness represents a love of art and an open mind. All seemingly positive, until neuroticism. A high score in this category shows that I am more emotional and insecure than most.

All five strong personality traits apply. Sounds like complex/complex to me. I am typically those first four mentioned. Then when I get emotional and insecure, everything flip-flops: I don't want to be in social situations and I am exhausted with zero energy, I am mean, rude, hateful, aggressive, lazy, messy, distracted...

Again, my poor friends and family. They never know when that emotional side of my personality will come out and take over the rest of me.

I encourage everyone to take these (REAL) personality tests about themselves. Not the silly Buzzfeed ones, or those on bait-and-click sites, but ones with real psychology behind them. I think it is highly beneficial to know yourself, even if you are complex/complex. Go to these websites to test your own personality, and see if you agree with the results:

Love Languages- http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/
Five-Factor Personality Model- http://www.personalitytest.org.uk/
True Colors- http://true-colors-online.com/
Myers-Briggs Indicator- https://www.mbtionline.com/
What Animal Are You- http://animalinyou.com/

It's hard to feel like you don't know yourself because, in my case, my personality is so complicated, because mental illness gets in the way of how I think and feel. Yet, I feel it's essential to try to understand the way you are, whether you like yourself or not, whether you want to change or not. Especially if you are finding yourself in a spot in life than you aren't happy with. Stop blaming others and look to yourself. Are you the cause of your own unhappiness? Who are you? How do you think, act, feel, love? Helping yourself can help all those around you, as well.

I should tweet this to Taylor Swift. Poor girl thinks it's all the boys' fault that she can't find love. #knowthyself

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

IKEA Fails and Silver Linings

This is IKEA, in all its Swedish glory.

This is my favorite store. Besides Target, which I can go to everyday, of course. But, IKEA is like Disney World. It isn't feasible to go every day, because a)it's too far away and b)it's too expensive. But oh boy, it's amazing.

On Friday, Brandon and I finally decided it was time to upgrade our bed. We had been sleeping on a queen for 9+ years, and while he still weighs the same as he did when we got married, I've grown a bit. Add two children who each like to join us in bed 3-4 nights out of the week, and you have one cramped bed with one grouchy husband. All this lead to one thing: we get a new, beautiful, brown, king bed that will fit our needs and match our bedroom furniture.

So, we planned it all out. The trundle bed in Peyton's room (and probably the mattresses, too... I don't really want to think about that) was 21 years old. It was shaky, rusty, and there may or may not have been duct tape on the legs. That bed was going to go. Brooklyn's twin bed would get moved to Peyton's, Brooklyn would get our queen bed, and we would get a king. Brooklyn is the oldest, and when it comes down to it, it's  Brooklyn, who enjoys playing with her ponies and stuffed animals, versus Peyton, who likes to run "super cat speed" and hit baseballs off the tee in his room. Which one needs less floor space to do what they enjoy? Hence why Brooklyn has the queen.

Shopping at IKEA is quite an ordeal. Even with the shortcuts, it's a maze to navigate, and you keep getting distracted by adorable details, or look on the map and think, "we're not that far from the wall shelving and media units, so let's just go take a look", as if you weren't going to be spending enough already. And the thing about IKEA, if you've never shopped there, is that you see what you like on the showroom floor, then travel downstairs to pick up your boxes of the items you want to purchase from the warehouse. That also means that you are responsible for putting all the pieces of your furniture together when you get home. No problem, we got this.

Ha. We did not have this. But, I get ahead of myself.

We picked up every piece we needed: bed, bed slats, center beam, mattress, storage drawers, two night stands, checkaroo. We also purchased the finishing touches- king sheets, duvet, queen duvet for Brooklyn, comforters for both, checkarino. We didn't forget a thing on our list. Not even a 6-pack of cinnamon rolls, WHICH ARE FOUR DOLLARS AND HUGE AND DELICIOUS, SO DON'T LEAVE IKEA WITHOUT THEM.

On the way home, we called our friends, Kevin and Darcey, to see if they would come over and help us build all our new furniture. Building and moving furniture is like a huge jigsaw puzzle, and we weren't about to work on it on our own.

We start around 5:00 pm. We get Peyton's room fixed up, we move the queen to Brooklyn's room, we're dusting, vacuuming, eating dinner, building, and doing laundry all at the same time. Around 10:00 pm, Brandon huffs into the garage, lifts up a box, and yells.

IKEA fail #1: Turns out, we bought a queen bed. And turns out, Kevin and Brandon built said queen bed, without realizing it until it was fully built.

Result: Brandon and Kevin broke down the bed, boxed it back up, and Brandon and I slept on our king mattress on the floor in our bedroom. It wasn't a total failure of a night, though. At least the drawers and nightstands got built (silver linings are a must in this story).

On Sunday, Brandon and I dropped our kids off at Landon and Aja's house. It was date night. Shogun Japanese Steakhouse was on the menu, but so was a return trip to IKEA. We give a time-frame of 5-8. We should be able to do IKEA and dinner in that time, right? We get to the store, return the queen bed, head back to the warehouse to pick up our KING bed (and BOY were we careful reading those labels), and proceeded through checkout.

IKEA fail #2: Turns out, we were so busy looking at the SIZE of the bed that we forgot to check the COLOR of the bed. Literally seconds after checking out, Brandon looks at the boxes and says, "Is that black?" *sigh* Yes. Yes it is.

Result: Brandon headed to the warehouse to look for brown kings, and I started the return for the black king ("Hey, return department, remember me? I was here 5 minutes ago with a different bed to return..."). Brown king beds are kept in the back, so we have to wait roughly 30 minutes for it to be picked out and brought to us. We laughed, because third time's the charm, right? Brandon bought me a slurpee to ease the pain. Silver lining. By the time we get the bed loaded in the truck, drive home (it was starting to rain, so we needed to get it inside ASAP), and then headed to the restaurant, it was 7:45. Brandon said, "Well, we're ready for dinner... at the time we were supposed to be picking up our kids." Oops.

Oh well. We got our king bed, it was brown- we were ready to go. We put the kids to sleep on Saturday night and Brandon and I got to work putting our bed together. Man, we were getting tired at this point. One step left.

IKEA fail #3: Turns out we had picked out queen bed slats, too, and we were too dumb to check those the night before when we realized we had a queen bed.

Result: We pushed our bed frame into position in our room, and amazingly still had enough room to place our king mattress on the floor in front of it. I told Brandon that we are never moving, because I can't imagine ever finding a bedroom as big as ours ever again. Huge bedroom=silver lining. Brandon suggests we get four king mattresses and make our room one giant bed. I disagree.

Monday was President's Day. Thank you, Mr.'s Washington and Lincoln. I needed a third day to complete this one-day project. Brandon worked, the kids and I trudged to IKEA for the third day in a row. At this point I feel obliged to tell you that it is an hour and a half round-trip from Rosenberg. I returned the bed slats ("Hey, same girl from the return department, remember me? I was here last night with two bed returns. Yeah, I don't know how to buy stuff, apparently.") and picked up the correct ones. Brooklyn and Peyton helped me put the bed together, and we were finally finished.


I don't want to think about the mileage we put on our cars, or the number of tolls we passed through on the beltway, not to mention the actual amount of money we spent to get this project completed. I just want to think about my cozy bed. And the airlines miles I earned on my credit card. Free plane tickets to the real Disney World= silver lining.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Grief

"There is such a thing as good grief. Ask Charlie Brown." - Michael Scott, from "The Office"



There's your one bit of humor for this post, so buckle in.

My sweet Sasha cat was euthanized on Wednesday. She had stopped eating and drinking completely. Even turkey, which had always been her favorite food. She used to run into the kitchen every time a package of deli meat was opened. I got to hold Sasha as our vet administered the shots. It was so quick, and then she lay lifeless and heavy in my arms. I sobbed. I wept uncontrollably for about five minutes, and then I left. I picked up my son from my husband's school, I picked up my daughter from her school, I came home and took a shower. Because I kept hearing my friend Brittnie's words in my head: when you are grieving, you have to do the next normal thing until you start to feel normal again. She wrote it in reference to the loss of a child, so it feels silly to compare. Still, grief is grief, and when you've had a pet for over 13 years, it hurts so much when they are gone.

Knowing that someone is going to die is both beneficial and stressful. A year ago, when Sasha first went into renal failure, I started explaining to my kids that animals don't live as long as people do. I told them they didn't need to think about it all the time, but that Sasha may not be around when Brooklyn started kindergarten. August rolled around and she was still here, so I told them Sasha may not be around at Christmas. Christmas came and she was still here, so I told them she might not make it until Brooklyn started first grade. I never knew if I was talking about death too much or not enough. There's a fine line when dealing with death and children: you don't want to surprise them, but you don't want them to obsess over it either. Last week, I let them know that Sasha was going to die soon and we needed to say goodbye. Everyone deals with grief differently.

Brooklyn, tender-heart, started crying. She put on a mask and pulled a jacket over her head so no one  could see her cry. We talked about how it was alright to cry. No shame in it. She drew a picture of  Sasha to help her grieve.
I love Soshu. She is gowing to diy.
She spent the entire night on Tuesday asking me if she could come with me to the vet. She asked for details about how Sasha was going to die and she wanted to be there. I couldn't imagine it being healthy for a 6-year-old to see her family's cat put to death. I told her no, repeatedly. I held her while she cried until she fell asleep. She drew another picture the next day at school, and her teacher wrote me a note about how sad Brooklyn was all day about Sasha. She cried Thursday morning when I offhandedly mentioned that I thought LB (our other cat) was looking for Sasha. Brooklyn can go from joyful to tearful in a matter of seconds.

Peyton, copy-cat (no pun intended), pet Sasha and told her goodnight and goodbye without a single tear. While laying in bed with me Tuesday night as Brooklyn cried, he fell asleep on my other shoulder, crying and saying, "I don't want Sasha to die". He never shows sadness unless Brooklyn shows it first. He's four. It's hard for me to know what is genuine sadness, what is him just needing a nap and being a brat because of it, and what is him copying his sister in what he thinks he should be  doing. Thursday, he asked to hold  a picture of me and Sasha while we were in the car. He stared at it so intently, solemnly, and then held tight while glaring out the window. Who knows what thoughts were in his head.

Me, cat lady, fought back tears all week. My heart was in my throat every time I came home, woke up, or walked around the house after being in the same place for too long. I just couldn't bear to look for my cat and find her dead somewhere. I kept close tabs on her and had to focus my energy on keeping my anxiety at bay. I pet her, I held her, despite her stench. She was dehydrated so she couldn't clean herself, and her kidneys had all but stopped functioning, so toxins were just building up in her body and pouring through her skin and breath. All the way to the vet Wednesday, I talked to her. Do cats have memories? Who knows. I don't know how animals brains work, and if they remember people, places, or events. Nevertheless, I relayed some of my favorite memories back to Sasha- how she got locked out of mine and Chelsea's apartment in College Station, how she scared Buddy at my parents' house in Plano, how she got sick in Houston and hid from the vet on my shoulders in my hair, how she and her first cat buddy Latte used to play around in Build-a-Bear houses, and how she rode home when I first got her in my purse. She meowed at me the whole time I reminisced, like we were having a conversation. I had read sometime before that animals can sense our stress, so it's important to stay calm when they are being euthanized so they can be calm too. I have never practice so many breathing exercises and prayer techniques in my life. I talked to the vet about her life. I talked to Brandon. I told stories to my kids. And here I am writing about it.

Brandon, logical husband of mine, stayed strong for me and the kids, but showed his sensitive side by posting a collage of old photos of him and Sasha. They bonded in college, and she's really the only pet he's ever had. Still, rather than cry, he remains reasonable, reminding me that it was the right thing to do, that we loved her and gave her a good life, but we didn't need to draw out her death.

Forget that this is all about a cat. Do you know how you grieve? I never used to believe in love languages, but now I get them. Maybe there are grief languages, too. Some people are like me and Brooklyn, who need to digest sadness through words, pictures, tears and memories. Some people are like Peyton who only show sadness when others do first, who feel emotions, but don't wear them on their sleeves. Others are like Brandon, who, instead of grieving, see the reason behind everything and spend their time making it all make sense, rather than crying. It's interesting to see it play out, and I'm learning how to deal with each person in my family in a time of grief.

So, if you made it to the end of this post, thanks. There are no profound thoughts or words of wisdom today. I'm just processing the loss of a friend.

Sasha and me, 2003

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ohana



Where do I begin?

I've been a mess lately. Struggling with depression and anxiety, coming to grips with the difficulties of marriage, trying to understand how Christianity and politics can coincide, having a general identity crisis, and fighting feelings of loneliness and friendlessness.

When bad things happen to other people, I feel them extremely close to home. In 2015, my friends, Brittnie and Brandon, lost their child at 20 weeks pregnant. I attended a funeral for a 6 ounce baby boy. My friend, David, went through an unexpected divorce this past summer. People I know are being diagnosed with cancer, alzheimers, and I have a very difficult time compartmentalizing their struggles from my own. Call me a bleeding heart, but other people's hurts hurt me. There aren't many baby boys I look at without thinking of Chance. I went to my own brother-in-law's wedding and wept, not for his and his new bride's joy, but for the pain that divorce caused and is causing for David and his kids.

Compassion is called for, but my personality and mental issues take it to an unhealthy level sometimes. (I filled out a questionnaire at Peyton's doctor's office last week, and had to circle "yes" under "any mental illness in the family?" Ouch. Pride shattered. Oh well. Get over it.)

I also have a tendency to speak without thinking (those who know me well realize how much of an understatement this is). Especially when I'm feeling depressed. Instead of becoming sad, I fight with sadness, I fight back the tears, and become hardened on the outside, rude and hateful to everyone who comes in contact with me. I recognize it, often times even when it's happening, but it's like watching myself in a movie, and I can't change the script.

I wrote about this happening in my last post. Remember? The one where everyone asked if I had gotten a nap because I was in such a crabby mood? I eventually had to remove myself from the room to be with children who wouldn't talk to me, so I had a chance to cool off and not be such a b*%$! back.

There are so many things I don't like about myself. I wish I was slow to speak and quick to listen. I wish I was slow to become angry. I wish I didn't get so hot-headed. I wish I had more patience for people. I wish I could be meek and gentle. Instead, I'm wild, I'm stubborn, I'm outspoken, I'm loud, I'm boisterous, I'm inappropriate, and I get myself in trouble for it (Hi, Dad. I'm sure you're reading this. You and mom did as good a job as you could raising me. I'm just difficult. Love you).

Regardless of my flaws, I've managed to gather the greatest group of friends imaginable in what we call our "first family". Funnily enough, Brooklyn refers to her cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents as "second family". I guess that's what happens when your friends live in Houston and your extended family lives in Dallas. Our children are growing up with friends who act more like siblings and cousins. We have a support system here in H-Town that we never could have dreamed of before.

Two of these friends had planned a camping trip for our two families for this past weekend. I knew a weekend away with them would do my heart good. I was excited.

They, their three kids, and another sweet friend rang our doorbell on Thursday night, leaving these on the doorstep:



How cute. Our sweet friends are excited for our camping weekend, too!

Then the doorbell rang again, and they all walked in.

Me: What's with the binders?
Landon: It's work-related.
Lauren: Did you see what's in their (Mickey's and Minnie's) hands?
Me: Yeah- Disneyland tickets. But they're not real.
Lauren: Aren't they?

They went on to explain to our kids that we couldn't all go to Camp Allen, but that they would still get to spend the weekend with their friends. Mommy and Daddy couldn't go with them, though.

I'm still dumbfounded and clueless as to what is going on. In fact, things are very blurry from this point on. There was a lot of questioning, figuring out how we had been tricked and how long this had been going on (Lauren: The lies go deep!), and there was definitely a lot of laughing and ugly crying. The binders were, in fact, our itineraries for the weekend: plane, car rental, and hotel reservations, tickets to Disneyland, tips on which rides to do in which order, and the sweetest note I've ever read.

My people. They knew how much pain I was going through, and therefore, how much Brandon was going through, too. And they knew what to do to fix it. Not by sending us to Disneyland or Hollywood. By knowing us, and loving us.






I won't lie: I cried when Stitch came out during this show. I wasn't expecting it. I haven't seen this movie since I was a teenager, and I would never have called it anything close to my favorite. Except now it holds a special meaning,

Landon. Aja. Lauren. Aaron. Lauren. Brady. Wendi. Wade. Rachel. Matt. Jenna. Matt. Brittnie. Brandon. David. Kaleena. Raleigh.

I love you all. I will never be able to repay what you gave to Brandon and me this past weekend, and I love you because I know that you don't expect anything in return. You are my ohana. Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

I'm *THIS* Many!

Sometimes I can act like a total child.

I recognize it. Totally owning it.

My friends know it, too.

I went to a friend's house on Sunday to work on a service project decorating and stuffing bags for foster children in the area. After asking how I was doing (I wasn't great), not one, not two, but many of my friends asked the same question:

"Did you get a nap today?"

I had not.

Had I napped, I would have been in a much better mood. No matter what is happening in my life, a nap makes it better. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol to escape situations, but I choose sleep as my drug of choice. I wake up and it's like my entire day has been forgotten. Everything that bothered me before I slept has disappeared.

And the fact that I have friends who know this says what about me, exactly? *sigh* #mypeople

I'm *THIS* many! I am a full-on child. A 30-year-old woman shouldn't need a nap to function or be in a happy mood, right? In my case, wrong.

In a Facebook quiz that wives were giving their husbands a couple of months ago, I asked Brandon, "What is my favorite thing to do?"

Brandon's answer? Sleep.

YES. He knows me so well.

This was the same quiz that he revealed to me that I smell like Cheerios, but that's neither here nor there.

Like he's one to talk! This guy turns into Oscar the Grouch without regular meals. If that man doesn't eat lunch by noon or dinner by 6, beware. And now I will pick my 6-year-old up from school asking if she's okay, and hear her respond, "I'M HANGRY!" ...You're a monster, you mean. Thanks, daddy.

I write this, having fallen asleep with my children 4 nights in a row. At 5:30 this morning, I found myself still in Brooklyn's bed next to her, with Peyton sleeping in between my legs, and a cat snuggled up on my chest. That's a twin bed, mind you. Of course, Brooklyn, genius that she is, tries to convince me to sleep in her room with her because 'twin' means two, so her bed actually should fit both of us.



Being child-like  is often beneficial. It allows me to think like the kids I am around all day, understand their feelings, and be a playful companion. It's the reason why I got my tattoo when I was 19. 18? 19. College freshman. It's two stars; a map to Neverland, where you never have to grow up. (And yes, I still love it. No, I don't regret it. No, it didn't hurt. Yes, I would like more. No, I don't have any other tattoos. No, I don't plan to get any more, because Brandon says no. :( I think that covers all tattoo questions.)



Life is too hard to be an adult all the time. Sometimes we need to take time and play (and nap).