November 3, 2015

Rambling Thoughts: Introversion, Food and Anxiety

Gypsy - my cat - the most introverted of our three cats
I've had a conversation with two different friends in recent weeks (both self-identify as at least mildly introverted) - the conversation stemmed from my personal observation and belief that people who are very extroverted/social do not or can not comprehend those of us who are NOT social and prefer to not be in groups of people in a social way.  It's as though they believe something is wrong with us and that if we would just try harder and do more/different/insert-this-particular social thing(s), we would enjoy it.  My personal experience is that this is not the case.

There have also been many, many conversations with my long-suffering (but mostly equally introverted) husband about this sort of thing lately.  I am so very thankful that he shares my love of being at home.

Recently I'm finding that my personal threshold for social things has lowered sharply.  And by lowered sharply I mean plummeted off a cliff to a bottomless cavern of "NOOOOOOO!"

We started attending our church a little over a year ago.  During this first year we have really tried to stretch outside of our comfort zone and do things.  We've attended meetings, functions, pot-lucks, game night, and even managed to have dinner with other families a few times.  Most of these things have been what I would consider a high-level success.  Meaning I didn't hyperventilate or cry or cancel - even when I was stressed out about attending, etc.

In spite of my gut reaction (mostly fear and dread) to an announcement or invitation, I have tried to be brave and go and do.  At this point, I am considering that perhaps that exerted effort was not wise on my part... or that quite possibly I have reached the expiration of my '12 month free trial' of social interaction and there is no 'renewal' button.

The friends we've been making and the people at our church are lovely and wonderful.  They are truly kind and friendly and I honestly do enjoy them  - in limited doses and one-on-one situations.  Really! Coffee visit with one or two?  Absolutely! No stress & no problem.

When it gets more complex than that - my food anxiety begins and my social aversion kicks in.  I don't really like food - well... I like some foods... that I make, that don't involve too many ingredients together, and things touching each other, and absolutely ONLY are things I can identify and have eaten before.  Or things that are only chocolate or ice cream in familiar flavors.
If things combine more than a few people AND food, I am instantly well outside my comfort zone.  This zone feels like it is shrinking daily right now and it is seriously looming as a perfectly valid reason to consider a move to an isolated place and become a hermit.

It is a very difficult thing to try and let people know that I really do want to be friends, but only in very small and controlled situations can I be mildly social & comfortable enough to not put on a mask of 'everything is fine' but I am panicking inside.  I'm struggling to figure out how to obey the command of scripture to put other's needs (to be social, to eat together, etc) ahead of my own need to not have an anxiety attack and cry in public.

I'm sure there is a balance some place, but I haven't quite figured it out yet.  Clearly much more prayer is needed and perhaps a considerable amount of coffee and chocolate as well.

Blessings on the journey~

August 18, 2015

Garden Lessons

The above photo is a quick snap of the entrance to our perennial flower garden out back.  It came with the house and we had no idea of the size or scope when we bought the house in the middle of winter a few years ago.  There are tons of flowers that bloom from early spring straight through to fall frost.  It's lovely and terrifying and I have a love/hate relationship with it.  I am not a gardener.

Over the last 10 or so years, Steve has humored my efforts to grow some vegetables each summer, first in Merrimack and now here.  Last year I had a small-ish garden by the house that quickly got out of hand and ridiculous.  This year my darling husband lovingly built me three raised beds out behind the house and I did a bunch of reading on the internet about square foot gardening and how to plant and what to plant, etc., etc.  Let me just say that one should never believe everything you read on the internet.

It's now mid-August and the raised beds have been a great success and I have been amazed and slightly horrified at how BIG things grow and how fast they get out of hand.  I am STILL not a gardener and it is very apparent when one sees how crazy things are in my beds.

Summer squash and butternut squash - crazy!

Tomatoes escaping cages

Cucumbers up and over the trellis and taking over where the lettuce used to be

Peas and beans now intertwined and way taller than all the poles

A tangle of green that makes picking like a hide-n-seek experience.
 It has been nice to have fresh produce but next year I think I am planting WAY LESS and will hopefully manage to keep up better and use up more. Though the chickens are definitely enjoying the extra stuff we can't eat and I've also been able to take a bunch of fresh veggies in for our garden tithe at church several times as well as share with friends and family.

Each year I learn new garden things... and I am fairly certain I will never be a 'real' gardener, but that is okay... dabbling is sort of fun and yummy at times.

Blessings on the journey~

July 21, 2015

Pierced by the Word - a book

Recently I started this small book as part of my morning time with Jesus.  I'm also reading (again) through the Gospel of John but this time I'm using Steve's ESV version study bible.  What a big difference to have that slight change of wording and all the extra study notes on the scriptures!

The book by John Piper is really excellent and I'm mulling over blogging it as I have other materials I've read.  I'd probably have to re-start it to make some notes, or I can just wing it.  Each 'chapter' is very short - just 3 pages or so, but the material is EXCELLENT!  I really enjoy John Piper's teaching and his easy to read style.  The book is available many places obviously, but here is the amazon link just to make life easy.

Blessings on the journey~

June 26, 2015

Right now ... (a thankfulness post)

Right now I am thankful for the truth of scripture in our lives.  God's word doesn't change and His truth endures forever!
Hand-made sign that now hangs in our living room.
I bought this years ago in support of a mission trip - scripture supporting the spread of Jesus.

Right now I am thankful for the quiet sounds of chickens pecking around outside and 2/3 of our cats watching them from the window by my desk.

Saffron (Orange) and Gypsy (Black)
Right now I am thankful for Steve's job that provides for our family and allows him to work from home two days each week.  Also for the jobs the kids have that give them spending money, hard work that teaches them things and builds their muscles as well.

Right now I am thankful for ....

  • my washer/dryer and the ability to do laundry daily if needed.
  • clean, running water and electricity that are reliable
  • air conditioning in summer and heat in winter
  • my gardens and the ability to grow things - both to eat and just to be pretty
  • my family and that we laugh together
  • ice cream
  • always having projects to work on and the ability to do so
  • friends who share my life
  • our Pastor and his family that are becoming dear friends
  • our church that is growing us in many ways
  • vehicles that work reliably and are safe
  • grown children that come to visit fairly often
  • teens that are respectful, responsible, smart, fun young adults
  • pets that add love and fur to our lives
  • every good gift that God bestows
Right now I am thankful that I know beyond all doubt that I serve a Savior who loves me and will never leave me.  That God is Sovereign King over all things and holds our future secure in spite of the changing winds of this life.  

Right now I am thankful... and that is a very good thing indeed!

Blessings on the journey~

June 8, 2015

A Vacation in Photos

Almost all of these were taken by my amazing husband Steve - except for any of the two of us together - Jess takes those for us.
Our family vacation to Washington, DC lasted less than a week.  We arrived Saturday afternoon and left early Thursday morning.  In those few days we covered a LOT of ground!

Arlington was Ben's 'must see' and it was a moving experience for all of us.

The street where we stayed in Columbia Heights

Ice cream on the front steps.  It was summer in DC already!

Library of Congress was Jessica's 'must see'

Supreme Court

Mount Vernon - a great morning out here that even included a cruise on the Potomac

Me and my girl

Me and my boy

National Cathedral - amazing!

May 22, 2015

Back from Vacation

We're back!  Not that most people even knew we were gone... which is, of course, on purpose. :-)

We took the kids down to DC for almost a week and came back yesterday afternoon.  It was VERY nice for all of us to sleep in our own beds last night!

The photo is of a hand-painted replica of part of a stained glass window in the National Cathedral, which may have been one of the high points of the trip for me.  What a beautiful and amazing place!

Once I have more photos pulled together, I will post a bunch and tell some stories about our trip.  It was a great vacation and a nice capstone event to our school year for the kids.  Hard to believe we are now heading straight into summer vacation!  Woot!

Blessings on the journey~

May 8, 2015

A Few Weeks Makes a Big Difference

Here in NH a few weeks can bring VASTLY different weather.

This entire week we've seen temperatures in the mid to high 70's and even flirting with 80.  The big flower garden has been thoroughly mulched for the first time since we've moved here (in an attempt to keep down at least some of the weeds) and lots of things are poking through and the daffodils are blooming out happily.  I've dug out a bunch of thistles - which I've decided are the garden equivalent of ticks in the bug world - just evil and nasty looking!
The chickens are getting lots of outside run-around-pecking-things-madly time and are laying bountifully. The garden seedlings I've started are all mostly sprouted and Steve is plotting to build me a few raised garden boxes along the fence line.  So much activity in springtime!

Blessings on the journey~