If you’re wondering why I haven’t visited in so long, it’s because I’ve moved! My blog is now attached to my website for easier access. Come on over — the welcome mat is out! Here’s the link:  http://wakingdesire.com/myblog/

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Christina: I think this Q&A is a great idea. I wasn’t sure how to submit my question, so I’m using the comments, I hope that’s okay. First of all, I really enjoyed your book, Introvert Power. It opened my eyes to the ways our world is constructed to unintentionally favour the extrovert. I was interested to see that you are an actor as well — me too! So, here’s my problem/question. I have never really mastered the art of auditioning, and I have begun to wonder if this is because I don’t respond well to the curve ball that is thrown at me in like 90% of auditions. (Could you sing a different song? Or “Start from here, not here” or “Could you do it with an accent?”). Even though in rehearsal I take direction well, I don’t seem to be able to do it nearly so well at auditions. My impulse is to go away and prepare and then show what I’ve prepared, not come up with something different right there in the moment with a table full of judges watching. Could you comment on different strategies you’ve come up with to deal with the inevitable audition curve ball?

Laurie Helgoe said May 22, 2009 at 1:33 pm 

Hi Christina — I’m sorry I’ve taken so long to reply. So many events intersecting in my life: a graduation, a death, expansion of my Book It! consulting services. Life. But I love your question and relate to your dilemma. Yes, actors are often introverts, and introversion can actually be an asset on stage — we are good at “digging deep” to develop our characters. But auditions. I suggest practicing the curve balls, as odd as that may seem. Have a trusted friend (preferably an actor who can simulate the experience) fire off various requests and practice responding. Still, it’s hard, and sometimes the best response is an honest one: dramatize your anxiety — when asked to for a different song, try singing your anxiety. Letting it out can disarm and soften your audience, and you may be applauded for your creativity. All for now. Break a leg! Laurie

Crystal: I am an extrovert married to an introvert, and I feel very lonely at times.  My husband tends to prioritize other things before me. Sometimes I understand this, but there are other times I wish he would hear what I say and ask of him.  I would mean so much to me to just get a hug or to be held for awhile. He comes from a family that  aren’t touchy feely so that puts me in a pickle at times because I am!  Or even if, for no reason, he would say he loves me — I don’t know the last time he has said it on his own without me saying it  first.  These little things would do so  much for me and my day. I know he loves me, no doubt about it.  But saying it is nice, and feeling it is wonderful.  He uses the introvert thing on me all the time and sometimes I feel it’s an excuse not to be a  loving husband.  The dog does nothing and gets more out of him than I  ever could. I’m jealous.  When we first married he couldn’t get  enough of me. Now I don’t know what to think, he wants his privacy and time alone more often. Until recent years I didn’t know what  introverts were.  He researched it.  Being the extrovert is hard. I’m  talkie, talkie and more of the hugger. I say what I feel.

I question how on earth I got involved with an introvert sometimes  when 
I’m blue and down about our relationship. I have a lot of time my hands and I do need other things to fill it, I do understand that.  But at the end of the day I would love just the 2 of us connect the way a husband and wife should I guess.

Is there anything you can tell me that might help with this  introvert?  I feel I’ve done everything he’s ask of me I feel it’s my turn: “I understand you, you understand me kind of thing.” I feel like  an introvert these days, craving his attention and being left alone  too much, even with him in the house.

Thanks for listening. To me this a puzzler.

Laurie: I do think it’s hard being an extrovert with an introverted partner. My sister is an extrovert and has an extreme introvert for a partner, and his need for ample time to himself is a huge challenge for her. I don’t have an easy answer except to not be intimidated, and to keep your needs in the mix. If he needs time to himself, you can be understanding while expecting the same — ask him to come up with “couple time” for you. Do know (and this is hard) that it’s not personal. He is probably withdrawing from other social stimulation (e.g., from work), but unfortunately you get the brunt of it. It may be wise to give him time to himself for a bit after he returns from work, but to expect sharing time after — or take turns (because you probably want to share right after work). Finally, the reality is that we can’t get everything we need from our partners, and sometimes you’ll be better off talking with a friend who craves interaction like you do.

Though I-E relationships can be challenging, the stretch required for
understanding each other ultimately strengthens the relationship — just as
stretching complementary muscles strengthens the body.  And anyone in an I-E relationship knows it IS a workout.

Hello Fellow Introverts and Curious Extroverts–                                                                                                                                                            I am getting more and more requests for tips on asserting introversion in a “extroverted” world. (Note that this is NOT actually an extroverted world. See INTROVERT POWER or the comprehensive research in the MBTI Manual; Introverts outnumber extroverts!)  Thanks to Crystal for suggesting I put up an Introvert Q&A. Though she made the suggestion in February, I did follow through…
                                                                                                                                         Rozanne: Every year for the past five years, my in-laws treat the whole family to a trip to Disney World. It’s an incredibly generous gift but I really struggle with it. We are leaving on Saturday and I find myself getting more and more anxious as departure gets closer. My husband’s family, including my family, are all extroverts. This trip we have my father- and mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and her husband and three kids, and my husband and me and our son.
 
I have to be honest and say I feel completely overwhelmed at times during these trips. The noise and crowds bother me, and I’m expected to be on the go from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed. If I beg off and say I need a break, everyone wonders what’s wrong with me. My husband also prays on my guilt by implying that I’ll be missing great moments with our son (he’s five). I hate to miss those moments but I don’t know what else to do. My ideal Disney World trip would be to sleep in a bit and wake up slowly, then visit one of the parks for about 3 or 4 hours, and then come back to the hotel and lounge by the pool reading.
                                                                                                                                             Laurie: I do have a suggestion: be honest with your husband about your ideal version of the trip. If he plays the guilt card, ignore it and get back to the point. He is talking about what you’ll miss/what your son needs, but he is really telling you what HE wants. Try to get your son out of the conversation — it’s not fair to speculate about your son’s needs in this situation (perhaps what your son needs is a well-rested, energized and happy mother). Ask your husband what parts of the trip he most wants you to be a part of, and prioritize those. Remember, Guilt is a master distractor, making you focus on everyone’s needs but your own. Don’t get sucked in. If you take yourself and your needs seriously, your husband is more likely to take you seriously. Don’t back down until YOU are in the conversation.

When Life Happens

February 14, 2009

By now, I would normally have shared my 2009 resolutions, which usually evolve over the month of January.  But after I signed off of this blog on New Year’s Eve,  welcomed 2009 with my little family and sank into bed, things spiraled off course.

Today is Valentines Day, and I just figured out my New Years’ resolution. Well, I should say, LIFE gave me a resolution – just one, and that was enough.

If you’ve followed my blogs for awhile, you know that New Years’ Day is my  favorite holiday (okay, it’s tied with the day after Thanksgiving): cleared of the demands of December, I relish the clean, blank space inviting me to reflect, open my mind to new possibilities, and plot my resolutions.

At the dawn of New Year’s Day, I was robbed of my blank canvas. Instead of enjoying the freedom to map out my course, I was held captive by the possibility that I would lose someone precious to me — someone who had the better part of his life ahead of him. The details are not important, because he came through it, and so did we.  Today he is the healthy, sunny, smart, sweet and confident person he always was.

But something has changed. I have tended to see life as a given, and any threat to life as an interruption. But after coming so close to losing him, each day he is here feels like an addition. Extra. More. I enjoy and savor his presence, grateful for the simple reality that right now he is here.

New Years’ Day threw me completely off.

So, not by any planning of my own, my New Years’ resolution became this: to remember, when I look into the eyes of someone I love, that at this moment, he or she is with me, and I am blessed.

Maybe I’m not so behind after all. It’s Valentine’s Day — the day we set aside to celebrate the ones we love.

My wish for you today is that you feel the presence of those loved ones, whether you have a romantic date, tuck your kids into bed, or share a quiet evening with your adoring pet. Take a mental snapshot of your loved one and say to yourself, “at this moment, you are with me, and I am grateful.”

Happy Love Day,

Laurie

P.S. Check out Movies We Love and other treats at my site, www.wakingdesire.com.

 

I just returned from a treasure hunt in my old loft, and found my reflections from New Year’s 2007 and 2008 (we are on the horizon of New Year’s 2009 — I’m seeing the sun set through my window) So, I’m reflecting on my reflections: a thoroughly YIN thing to do. Here are the entries:

 

From 12/31/2006

 

I am excited to launch my blogsite just in time for the New Year! Visit often: I’ll talk about that elusive thing called desire–that feeling inside that lets us know we what we want. That feeling often gets pushed down by the demands of life, often to the point where we don’t recognize it anymore. Here’s a space where desire reigns! What do you want out of life? Who do you want to be in 2007? As a perpetually-optimistic Sagittarian, I love making resolutions. Usually my resolutions are just the next step in my process, but there’s something attractive about a clean slate, the energy of the new, the pure potential represented in the New Year’s baby. I’ll be reflecting and resolving over the next week or so, but here’s what I’ve got so far:

1. I’m working on a radical form of self-acceptance: taking pride in my quirks. After all, it’s the quirks that get listed in the “reasons why I love you” on any romantic comedy. I want to love the fact that I often stay up too late, that I really care about the details, that I have no sense of time and fight time boundaries whereever they pop up.

2. Along with #1, I am embracing my introversion. See Surviving the Mosh Pit for more. [NOTE FROM 12/31/08: I didn’t know then that INTROVERT POWER would be on the bookshelves today!]

Happy, Desire-filled New Year!
From 1/6/2007
Good morning! Here’s what I’ve come up with over the past week:

Resolution #3: To stand firm in who I am, even if that leaves me alone.

I finally solved the mystery of why I’ve been having serious leg pain over the past several months. I’ll save you the boring details, but during the months of complaining (mostly internally — I am an introvert after all), occasional spells of crying, sleepless nights, talking to doctors and getting test after test with negative results, I came close to concluding I was a hypochondriac, “focusing on the negative,” “overly sensitive,” blah, blah, blah. What I’ve discovered is that I have a gland that has gone crazy and is taking calcium from my bones and depositing it into my blood. Not good. But If I hadn’t seen that one more specialist who happened to notice my high blood calcuim levels, I’d be on a fast track to hell.

The lesson? Trust what I know. Throughout, I knew this was not “normal aging” or my imagination, but the feedback coming my way was “I was fine.” But I’m not blaming the doctors or anyone else — I am the one who best knows my body, who best knows me.

I think back to the time I nodded in agreement to something a news reported said, even though I really didn’t agree. He printed his opinions as mine!

Or when I was pregnant and contracting and told my midwife my pain was at level 9 (on a scale from 1-10) — she said “It couldn’t be” and I agreed that I must have been exaggerating. She ordered me a sedative and told me to go to bed. By the time I got to the hospital the baby was coming out! (It worked out in a weird way — my “labor” was very short.)

Lessons take awhile to learn, but I’m getting more comfortable NOT being in agreement. It’s nice to agree — everybody is in harmony and all — but it’s not nice to abandon who we are. I resolve to be in harmony with ME. If this resolution fits for you, you are welcome to borrow it!

From 1/8/2007
Happy Monday! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not usually big on Mondays, but today was a good one. Here’s something I learned today: January was named after Janus, a Roman God with two faces, one that looked backward and one that looked forward. That’s what I enjoy doing in January: looking back and reviewing, and looking forward and opening myself to new possibilities. Janus was all about openings, new beginnings, doorways.

I also discovered that Monday means “the moon’s day,” and was sacred to the goddess of the moon. The moon is often associated with wisdom coming from the unconscious. How would our Mondays be different if we didn’t jolt ourself into consciousness, alarm clock blaring, artificial light glaring, and we brought our more subtle creative wisdom into the work week? I’m sure there’s a resolution in there, but for now…

4. A Very Practical, Un-lofty Resolution: To put new addresses and phone numbers into my little green book as soon as I receive them. For you, this may mean programming numbers into your phone, but the idea is the same. I spend needless time trying to track down contact information that I scribble on a piece of scrap paper, telling myself I’ll put it in my book “later.” Just thinking about commiting to this one small discipline has already reduced my stress level!

Happy Moon Day and all-hail Janus, Laurie

From 1/6/2008

Happy Reflection Time! If you’re an intuitive introverted optimist like me, you probably relish stepping over into a New Year. It’s the time after the overstimulating holidays, after the parties and gatherings, when we get to stay in, chill out and cuddle up—and think. Here’s some of what’s been cooking in my internal loft:

· “Taking care of things.” We use this expression frequently, but don’t often pause to consider what we’re saying: taking care. I have a history of neglecting self-care when it’s boring or inconvenient – ordering new glasses, fixing broken stuff, finding the right product for my hypersensitive skin. Here’s an example: I spent hours last night hunting for a toothpaste formula without fluoride, which gives me a rash on my chin (look it up – it’s pretty common!). There are about a million different kinds of toothpaste formulas—sensitive, whitening, super-platinum glow with diamond sparkles—but I found NOTHING without fluoride, at least for adults. I finally purchased some “training toothpaste” for toddlers in Fruit Splash. I ultimately did discover an adult formula without fluoride, and I had used it successfully in the past without realizing why: Tom’s of Maine “natural antiplaque tarter control plus whitening” toothpaste, the peppermint one. Thank you, Tom.

Anyway, my hunt for this toothpaste is the very kind of thing most of us avoid doing because it’s a huge hassle. And when we do invest time in “taking care of things,” we often think about all of the other more important things we could be doing. This leads to another theme in my head:

· Taking or Giving? If you’re on my subscriber list (if you’re not, sign up at wakingdesire.com), you received a blessing I sent, taken from a letter by Fra Giovanni. The essence of his message: take heaven, take peace, take joy. In this context, “take” refers to “taking in” or “allowing.” I have been reading the words of another wise monk: Brother David Steindl-Rast, whose article, “Learning to Die” is a masterpiece. You can read it yourself at his site: gratefulness.org. Bro David notes the language we use regarding time: we take, spend, borrow and even kill time, but we rarely talk about giving time.

So, I’d like to think of my toothpaste expedition as a generous gift to me, a gift in the service of care and love. I gave time to something that needed time. I now deliberately substitute “giving” for “taking” when I think about time. Try it – it feels SO much better.

· The Ultimate Care Challenge. After about a year of dabbling in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, I started 2008 with the conviction to employ his ideas. WOW. This guy knows what he’s talking about. This isn’t your typical time-management program with priorities and goals and schedules. For me, this is a book about “taking care.” It’s not easy, but it’s also not oppressive. The basic idea is to put together all your piles and cluttered ideas and thoughts in your head and—clear two whole days for just this—go through every piece of paper, every idea and decide what the “next action” is. The next action may be to find a phone number or to ask somebody a question. The trick—and this is really tough—is to NOT PUT THE PAPER BACK IN THE BOX, to not skip over to something more interesting. WOW. I have been doing this (you’d need to read Allen’s book for the whole system) and, I tell you, taking care of those pain-in-the-ass items feels so liberating—and so loving.

As I reflect, it was the pain-in-the-ass responsibilities that helped me bond with my babies: the late night vigils, the diapering, clipping tiny fingernails. Giving is evidence of love, and giving time to your own care helps you feel loved and worthy. Resolve to give yourself the pain-in-the-ass care, not just the fun kinds of care like movies and popcorn (though these are important, too). Barrel through the resistance, your impulse to put it off. Feel the love.

Take—rather, give—care,

Laurie

And from TODAY, 12/31/2008
The sun just set on 2008. No parties for me, just dinner with the extended family (not too far extended, which is good) and watching revelry on TV and being glad I’m not out in the cold rubbing bodies with strangers. I’ll probably sneak off to write in my journal, and before bedtime, will begin my looking back and forward process (well, it has already started, but I like to look at my thoughts via writing). So, I’ll share what I come up with as I go. But as I look back, I realize that my resolutions of the past two years are still a part of me, and still evolving. That continuity is comforting.
Wishing you rich reflections and loft-y visions in this time between time.
Love and peace,
Laurie

Poetic Dictation

December 6, 2008

Thank you for your kind comment, Cris. I love poetry and, for me, the times when words flow most freely — the times when I have to sit right where I am and put pen to paper — these are the times when I feel poetic. It is as if a poem is already formed and I am taking dictation. I have a clear memory of places where I was compelled to stop, sit and write: in the shade of a tree in residential St. Paul, MN, on a bench at the Mall of America, in the tall grass of a meadow in rural Wisconsin).

My most poignant experience of poetic dictation happened for me from a dream state: It was early morning, when dreams are most intense. In this particular dream, my sisters and I were gathered and the eldest of us was reading a letter from my mother. (In reality and in the dream, my mother had died over a year prior.) As my sister read the letter, I held the words in my mind and, as I began to wake, sleepily grabbed my notebook and took dictation. Here’s the message my mother, a very traditional woman in her life, gave to her daughters:

Move on girls. Don’t get caught up in what others say you should be or do. Just move on. Be free. The distracting voices will work at you. Just move on. Love, but stay detached. You are not those voices. You have your own voices. Yours are quiet, but wise and capable of silencing the masses, of inspiring awe. Move on girls. Your time has come.

Thank you, Cris, for bringing these memories to mind.

Practical note: I am very grateful that I had pen and paper available when the words came. Anne Lamott suggests keeping index cards and a pen with you at all times. I like tiny notebooks when I’m out and about, and I always have a journal by my bed.

Woolf and solitude

November 9, 2008

First, thanks to Dan for sharing your karmic connection to INTROVERT POWER, and how reading the book affected you. It was a joy to write, and to hear from readers brings the experience full circle.

These days, I wish I could write to Virginia Woolf and tell her of my connection with her work. It hasn’t been an easy connection. I read Mrs. Dalloway a few years back and slogged my way through, often lost in the internal dialogue of her characters. I was inspired to tackle her writing again after reading a wonderful book by Woolf scholar Danell Jones, The Virginia Woolf Writers’ Workshop.  Jones artfully wove Woolf’s actual words into a single writing course, allowing me to feel as if she were speaking to me. Woolf’s quotes are so beautifully quotable, that I was inspired to read To The Lighthouse. The intricacy of the inner worlds of Woolf’s characters can be daunting, but there is such beauty and wisdom and humor — and truth to be discovered, that I found it well worth the effort. I was particularly excited by the way Woolf captured the joy of solitude. I underlined many quotes, but I’ll limit myself to those that come from the mind of Mrs. Ramsey, after her children had gone to bed and she is alone:

“…it was a relief when they went to bed. For now she need not think about anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of–to think; well, not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others.”

The darkness is not a depressive darkness, a reality often missed by light-dwelling extroverts. Mrs. Ramsey’s thoughts continue their narrative:

 “..it was thus that she felt herself; and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures. When life sank down for a moment, the range of experience seemed limitless…the core of darkness could go anywhere, for no one saw it.”

Now that’s introvert power, that freedom we feel in being removed from external stimulation and expectation.

What if we thought of these dark days of November, so often associated with depression, as a time to sink down, to allow our thoughts free reign, and to experience the adventure of limitless vistas?

And while you’re at it, sink into a book by Virginia Woolf.

By the way, it’s 5:34 pm and already dark. Party time (introvert style)!

Best, Laurie

Introvert recovery

October 22, 2008

Cathe — great to hear from you, and I hope you enjoy my book! Your question, “How do you recover your introversion when you were raised as an extrovert?” is essentially what I take on in Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength. The good news for introverts who simply want to be introverts is that we don’t really need to DO anything. For us, it’s more about NOT acting like extroverts, NOT hurrying up or speaking just to make noise, NOT apologizing for wanting to be alone/saying “no” to parties/avoiding small talk, NOT buying in to the values that don’t represent us. It’s about what I call “meditating in the mosh pit” — taking our introversion into the world and being quieter, more thoughtful representatives of society. 

Keep in touch!

Best, Laurie

Ebb and flow

October 11, 2008

I’m finally living it. I’ve been preaching about allowing the ebb, but now I’m really feeling it. The ebb is the inward-turning force, the impulse to pull away, go within, grieve, reflect, sort, and seek clarity. We often fight the impulse, trying to flow when our bodies pull us backward and inward. But I’m feeling the back and forth more regularly now, the easy flow of creativity, followed by the pulling back into my fears and vulnerability, emerging into clarity and power and leading to the next wave of productivity. I’m making friends with the ebb and noticing how it fuels the flow.  Try it — it’s a great alternative energy source.

I’m flowing now, so I’m on to the next writing project…

More later, Laurie

Movie Meditation

October 1, 2008

Tom, so glad to hear that you indulged in an afternoon movie! I love to hit on a private screening — that midday, midweek showing that nobody else can make. Soooo sweet. And sitting there, letting the movie soak in, watching all the credits…extra sweet.

stuff i like

September 27, 2008

Just returned from the movie Ghost Town— very sweet, funny. Ricky Gervais was wonderful in his role as a hopeless misanthrope who somehow becomes loveable. I savor a meditative walk after exiting the theatre — tonight it had just rained and the air was fresh and the sky ablaze with pinks and blues of a still-bright sunset. Reading — for novels, I recently enjoyed Midori by Moonlight by Wendy Tokunaga. It was a late summer beach read, but indulged my lust for Japanese culture, exquisite desserts, and believable romantic comedy.   

All for now…Laurie

Hideouts

September 25, 2008

Katy, your description of Ava’s hideout (in response to Hello World) had me salivating! It is so wonderful to hear from a mom who nurtures her daughter’s introversion, supporting rather than discouraging her desire for quiet and solitude — in style!

It took me years to claim my need for solitary space. As I look at around my home office/haven, I see reflections of me everywhere — my walls are the palette for my personal collage: movie posters, cut out images from magazines, postcards, preserved fine art puzzles (have a wall of these!), photos of friends and people who inspire me, quotes, words, just stuff I like. Here’s to the radical idea that an adult, too, can have a room of her own.

I’d love to hear more about the lofty lofts out there!

Laurie

Loftwarming

September 20, 2008

Hey again: I think I like the new digs. Let me know what you think. There’s always the beauty of a blank page, a new space, unknown possibilities. Speaking of possibilities, I have read that happiness is tied to the sense that things are getting better, the feeling of having planted bunches of seeds and knowing that at least some of them will sprout–but also, at least for me, the not knowing–not knowing when, which ones will take, or what exactly what they will look like. I love to plant and forget. When I was little and lived in rural Minnesota, I “planted” a box of treasures in the snow, knowing that I would forget about it and then find it again in the Spring. Now I plant myself: submitting, applying, pitching, offering, inviting — and then see who and what responds.

Plant future surprises, and be happy.  

Come on up and tell me your loft-y thoughts.

Later, Laurie

Hello world!

September 20, 2008

Hi. I’m checking out this new loft space to see how it feels. Still have Laurie’s Loft, but had to close the “comments” function because of that intrusive and parasitic phenomenon in our online culture called SPAM. It’s been nice and quiet, but I miss hearing the legitimate voices of my visitors. So welcome to my new and expanded-for-comments loft.

Why a loft? Because I’m an introvert and I like having a hideout. But also because I like to have a vantage point. And I think of a loft as a cozy but also hip and casual place where we can drink tea and color in coloring books if we want. If you haven’t done the latter lately, I highly recommend it. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting on the floor with a box of 64 or more Crayola colors and a coloring book filled with nice, simple drawings. The boundaries are clear, the task is finite and the results are tangible. Try it soon.

Hope you enjoy visiting.

Best, Laurie