Jumping into July

I absolutely cannot believe it’s nearly July! Of course, with the new month, comes another round of one of my favorite challenges: The Comment Challenge! Hosted by the lovely Lonna at FLYLef and the amazing Alicia at A Kernel of Nonsense, the challenge is held monthly and pairs bloggers who then spend the month commenting on each other’s posts. It’s a great way to meet new pals and fellow blogging/bookish buddies!

I discovered today that my July commenting partner is Melanie from Novel Descent – hi, Melanie! 😀 As always, I’m really looking forward to following Melanie’s blog, getting to know her, and to spread blogging and bookish love with her! 

This round, I decided to be ambitious. Generally, for this challenge I pledge to comment on a minimum of five of my partner’s posts, but this month, I’m hoping to comment on at least ten of Melanie’s posts! Hopefully, like with last month, I’ll be able to generate enough content for Melanie to actually comment on! 😀

Love, Maggie

Warm Weather Comments

Hey, y’all! It sure has been a while! Hopefully, my blogging block will come to an end shortly! With the Summer Comment Challenge, hosted by Lonna at FLYLef and Alicia at A Kernel of Nonsense, starting June 1, I’m praying for inspiration so my partner will have posts to actually comment on! 😀

I participated in the winter comment challenge as well this year – I absolutely adore this challenge! Not only does it connect bloggers with similar interests, it opens up doors to make new pals! I’ve pledged to leave a minimum of five comments on my partner’s blog this round.

I discovered today that my commenting buddy this time is Bella from Bella Blogs Because Books! A big shout out to Bella – I look forward to visiting your site and offering encouragement and sending happy thoughts! 😀

Love, Maggie

Purple Rain

*I originally wrote this post as part of the Blogging from A to Z 2017 Challenge. Unfortunately, I dropped off in the middle of the month-long challenge. So, against my perfectionist nature, I’ve decided to go ahead and publish the posts I did get drafted, as I am proud of them, out of alphabetical order.

Prince’s epic ballad, Purple Rain, has always been one of my favorite songs. Even though it’s already a long tune, I wish it were even longer – I love it that much. Purple Rain already had a special place in my heart, just because I loved it, but when I had my first ever dance with my now husband, it became even more special.

It was 2008 and Elliott and I were on a date at a Nashville bar, where his drummer brother had a gig that night. I remember having an absolute blast – we were with Elliott’s awesome sister and her husband. There was even a point where I got sick from drinking Long Island iced teas like an idiot and I slipped off to the bathroom. Yes, when I returned, I continued to drink, like an idiot.

Luckily, I didn’t get sick again that night. Like The Grinch, my heart grew a million sizes when the band, dubbed Moderately Sauced, played Purple Rain. Elliott and I jumped up and hit the dance floor. Moderately Sauced had an amazing female lead singer – let me tell you, she is one of the best vocalists I’ve ever heard and her rendition of Prince’s classic is really beyond explanation.

Elliott and I, who both knew every word to Purple Rain, – which is shocking in itself, as I don’t know the correct words to hardly any songs – serenaded each other as we slow danced among the throngs of other Purple Rain lovers on the dance floor.

Looking back, I knew subconsciously that I would marry Elliott the first moment we met. At the time of that dance, however, the deal was solidified and the idea of a future wedding entered my consciousness. Lo and behold, we got married in 2011 and our first dance song as husband and wife was, you guessed it, Purple Rain!

We had a deejay at our wedding reception, so we danced to Prince’s voice and it was magical. However, due to the length of the song, the two of us gliding around the dance floor for eight minutes got a little old. I recall glancing at our guests as we danced and most of them seemed to be screaming in their heads for Purple Rain to end already. The beginning of our dance was great, but after about four minutes, we all had lost interest!

I just now thought of the connection between the party decorations and our first song – the accents and most of the flowers were in shades of, what else, purple! Even the wedding cake had purple features.

Of course, anytime I hear Purple Rain now, not only am I overcome with sadness due to Prince’s being dead, but feelings of intense joy outweigh the grief. As I have two amazing, life-changing memories to attribute to Purple Rain, all I can do when I hear the song is belt it out with all of my heart.

Love, Maggie

Why I Blog

*I originally wrote this post as part of the Blogging from A to Z 2017 Challenge. Unfortunately, I dropped off in the middle of the month-long challenge. So, against my perfectionist nature, I’ve decided to go ahead and publish the posts I did get drafted, as I am proud of them, out of alphabetical order.

I honestly can’t pinpoint exactly why I started blogging. I do know that I wanted a space on the Internet to decorate and play around with. At first, I blogged about random things and just tested the waters for a while. I even had a site dedicated to touting awesome links on the web – the well quickly dried up for that blog!

I also have had so much fun making up sweet blog names! Two of my favorite past blog titles were The Novel Orange and Joy is Yellow. I began writing mostly about books and bookish endeavors after creating The Novel Orange, which, I quickly figured out, sounded like a book blog.

I remember getting so very excited when the idea for a bookish blog dawned on me and squealed with delight when I discovered that there is an amazing blogging community. I adore playing on Twitter and following bookish feeds and, of course, I’m obsessed with Goodreads.

I’ve met some awesome fellow book bloggers through shared literary love, but that certainly doesn’t mean my blogging journey has been easy. I have definitely made blogging blunders, most of which were pointed out by others. Please don’t get me wrong – I appreciate constructive criticism, but my feelings do get hurt when perfect strangers call me out for mistakes in rude ways. But that’s beside the point.

The great thing is, that after wallowing for a bit in my hurt feelings, I have an uncanny ability to re-frame situations I’ve found myself in by looking at the bright side and learning from my experiences.

For instance, I unintentionally ripped off a super popular blogging event, about which word traveled fast and I ended up being confronted by the creators of the original program. I recall reading the email sent to me by an event originator and feeling a hot chill travel through my body. I pondered running away from the Internet altogether and never showing my face in the blogging world again.

However, I decided against hiding and confronted the situation head on, after freaking out a little. I replied to those I had copied, explained myself, and basically fell on my sword – taking full responsibility for what I had done. Luckily, I was able to mend fences with said bloggers and even got to participate in their amazing project.

I’m still so proud of myself for owning what I did and turning an embarrassing incident into a major learning opportunity. I now know to contact bloggers who host projects, etc. that are similar to an idea of mine and I know to do my research as opposed to diving in headfirst.

While I’ve been justly confronted by a handful of bloggers for blunders, I have also been what I consider bullied due to personal opinions and beliefs – politically. I felt so ostracized and blacklisted after the Presidential election, especially on Twitter, that I rashly shut down and lost my original book blog, The Novel Orange. I let myself be harassed out of doing something I love – blogging.

However, I decided to not let the haters win; I actually got a bunch of likes when I announced on Twitter that I had closed The Novel Orange, which was very upsetting. I couldn’t believe that what I had believed to be such a wonderful online community had turned on me.

I was inspired to step back into the book blogging arena through support I received from kind bloggers who empathized with me. Now, these people whose kindness I was showered with are from both sides of the aisle, politically speaking. Let’s just say that the experience showed me who the real awesome bloggers are – the ones who aren’t judgmental.

While I’ve been through a few rough patches while teaching myself about the blogging world – and learning online etiquette – I feel, cornily, like a phoenix risen from the ashes. I’m still here and I’m not leaving again.

I also co-blog with Lila and Claire at The Bookkeepers’ Secrets – let’s just say that co-blogging is a blast! Lila actually reached out to me during my own personal presidential scandal and totally encouraged me to rejoin the blogging universe. I will forever be grateful to that sweet girl, whom I have never personally met, but who is obviously amazing!

While I’ve seen both the many positive – and few negative – aspects of blogging, I’m so thrilled to still be part of the community. I look forward to continuing to evolve as a blogger, writer, and reader while sharing in my experiences with you, my readers. 🙂

Now that you know a bit about my blogging background, I’m going to briefly break down the reasons I adore blogging.

  • The blogging community as a whole is so very welcoming – I feel like I’ve found the missing part of my tribe – the appendage that shares in my loves of reading and writing. I have met some amazing people through opening up to the online world, and I’m so glad I took a flying leap and did so!
  • Through blogging, I am able to write, which is something I’ve loved to do as long as I can remember. I love sitting down and letting my creative juices flow either through my pen or keyboard.
  • Since branding myself as a book blogger, I’ve had the opportunity to read some amazing books, as I was introduced to the fabulous NetGalley and similar sites.
  • I’ve been introduced to some amazing people via blog swaps and some swaps I’ve discovered through Twitter. I seriously treasure the time, thought, and care that has been put into each surprise swap package I’ve received, although I worry whether boxes I’ve sent are perfect! LOL! However, I really enjoy gifting to others and I have such a blast connecting through swaps!
  • Bookish Twitter chats were a chance discovery and I adore them.
  • I love to spread the love as often as I can by visiting, reading, and commenting on blogs. Getting comments on my own blog is amazing, but I especially like spreading joy and encouragement.

Blogging involves essentially letting oneself go – to free fall into giving personal, sometimes not accepted, opinions. Blogging involves opening oneself up to both praise and criticism, which can be difficult. I’m not normally one to put myself out there, I was the kid in school avoiding eye contact with teachers so as to hopefully avoid being called on in class, which usually backfired.

As I get older, I uncover my voice more and more, freeing my thoughts and releasing them into the public forum. My grandfather always touted the importance of lifelong learning and I’m still taking his advice, seeking to learn as much as possible and hone my skills as well as harden my backbone.

Love, Maggie

Nicholas

My family always had cats when I was growing up. Mom and Dad had two cats when I was born, Nicholas and Alice. Mom has told me of precious memories in which Alice would lay across my baby body while I was being bottle fed. I guess that’s when my connection with cats began. I adore dogs too, but we didn’t get our first, Molly, until I was in high school. Now I’m technically a cat and dog person, but cats will always hold a special place in my heart.

While Alice moved in with my grandparents when my family returned to Tennessee from West Virginia, Nicholas stayed with us until he passed away at the ripe old age of 18. He was a quirky cat. I remember being little and at the time Nicholas was a fat cat. Apparently, due to being nervous, at least that’s how my parents explained it, Nicholas incessantly licked every bit of fur off his stomach – he had a bald belly!

We have a bunch of old pictures of Nicholas just hanging around, lounging, with his tongue sticking out of his face. Mom and Dad also have told many a tale about that cat, who probably really had nine lives. For example, Nicholas was outside, near the road, while my grandfather got the mail. By Granddaddy’s account, a creep driver swerved to hit Nicholas, who survived.

Nicholas lived with my grandparents for a short time with Alice. My Mom has a story of Grandmother driving by our home with Nicholas, whom she tossed out the car window while saying, ‘Nicholas wanted to come home!’ and then sped off! Apparently, Nicholas drove Grandmother nuts because he always tried to run into the house. Alice got to live out the rest of her years with my grandparents, as she loved being an outside cat.

Another time, Mom recounted driving away from home one day. She said she glanced in the rear view mirror and ‘saw fur flying’! Mom instantly pulled over and there was Nicholas, on top of her car, with his claws dug into the top – perhaps it was cloth back then – holding on for dear life. That was at least the second life he used up!

There’s also a story in which Nicholas walked across the canopy of my parents’ bed as they slept one night. He ended up falling through the fabric canopy and landed, claws out, on Mom and Dad! Another time, when he was a kitten, he actually peed on my Dad while he was asleep in bed! Nick went to the vet for neutering the very next day.

When I got a little older, I would dress up Nicholas in my doll’s clothes and put jewelry on him. I could tell he wasn’t fond of playing dress-up, but he tolerated me. Essentially, I grew up with that cat – I remember him living with us at each home we were in, in every state. He slept with me at night every now and then, he liked to spread himself by sleeping somewhere different each night. I remember sitting in a rocking chair with him in my lap. I couldn’t stop wiggling for whatever reason and he literally kicked me with one of his hind legs, basically telling me to be still.

It’s interesting to me how animals seem to intuitively know when they are near death. Each cat we’ve had that was outside at its time of passing has simply wandered off into nature to peacefully die, never to be seen again. That’s what our Nicholas did. I remember our neighbor kids finding bones that were small enough to belong to a cat in the woods near their backyard. Assuming they belonged to Nicholas, I scooped them up and buried them in our backyard – that’s how much he meant to me – he deserved a proper burial.

To Nicholas, my first black cat and beloved buddy – I love you, always and forever.

Love, Maggie

Mister to Miss

I immediately burst into tears when, about three years ago, I heard the news that my husband’s male cousin had come out with his decision to transition into a woman. I didn’t cry out of disgust, disappointment, or judgment. I began to cry because I could somehow feel a pin prick of the pain our loved one had most likely lived with throughout his thirty-something years.

I grieved not only for him, but with him, from a distance. I cried out of happiness that he chose to reveal his true self rather than take an easy way out through either suicide or continuing to live a lie. He was married – I have fond memories of the wedding, easily one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever attended.

We saw him for the last time during the summer of 2013; he had already begun the early stages of transitioning, but no one, not even his family, save his wife, knew. I remember noticing that he not only looked different at the time, but he acted differently. He was more effeminate, nervous, awkward, yet still the pleasant, hilarious person he always was.

I left his home in 2013 knowing that something was happening with him, I just had no clue what it was; I thought that perhaps he was having marital issues. I had no idea just how deeply his circumstances and emotions were running.

He always worked two or three jobs at a time under the guise of paying student loan bills. In truth, he was working so much to save money toward financing the change he was preparing to make. When he came out to his immediate family – my husband and I heard the news from my sister-in-law, via letter, we were all shocked. As the news set in, a lot of things began to make sense. Hindsight is definitely 20/20.

Now she is living full-time as a woman and she is beautiful. She is beautiful not only on the outside, but she is still just as beautiful as she always was – except it was obvious she was so much more comfortable in the skin she always knew she needed to be in.

While she has endured her fair share of struggles that I could never begin to truly understand, she is a true inspiration – a courageous person who had the nerve to attend her high school reunion as she really is. She was embraced by her former classmates and has received an outpouring of support from those who love her.

It hasn’t been a completely easy transition for her family, who never knew of her long hidden, suppressed feelings. I salute her bravery – she was in her mid-thirties when she came out. She easily could have continued living the lie she’d led for three-and-a-half decades. However, she chose happiness instead.

Upon meeting her for the first time, I was undeniably nervous. What if I burst into tears and cried in her face? What if I acted funny, even though I didn’t judge her choice? What if I made her feel uncomfortable? What if I blurted out personal questions? Fortunately, none of these things happened when I was introduced to her. It wasn’t a meeting after all – when I saw her, it was as though she was who she was meant to be all along; our interaction was as natural as before.

While he was awkward, nervous, jittery, and obviously carrying heavy stuff in his head, she is confident, happy, and exactly where she needs to be. Her confidence radiates and inspires me to be a better person, to be brave enough to be my true self as well.

Love, Maggie

A Literary Journey

While I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I first started reading, I do know it was at an early age. I had collections of Dr. Seuss books, fairy tales, you name it, I probably had it – and still do. I recall reading by the light of the hallway outside my bedroom when I was supposed to be asleep.

One summer, maybe after second grade, we were given sheets of paper on which to record our summer reading progress. When I turned in my paper that fall, I had filled it front and back; I don’t think any of my classmates did this. I can still see the look on my teacher’s face when I handed in my paper.

I was all about reading all through elementary school – I couldn’t go without having a book to read and would immediately choose new books to check out of the school library after taking an accelerated reading test on whatever I’d just finished reading. I remember a particular shelf in the school library that was filled with such books by Judy Blume, Beverley Cleary, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, to name a few. That was my favorite shelf and I probably read every book contained within the bookcase to which the shelf belonged.

I loved challenging myself to read ‘big’ books as a kid. I read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park in fifth grade and adored it. I felt like a big shot reading it during class breaks! I even won the first place trophy for having earned the most accelerated reading points from the time I was able to take tests, maybe in third grade, through eighth grade – it was always a competition between a few of my classmates and I and I would do my best to read fat books offering at least twenty points a pop.

By the time I hit high school, however, I stopped reading independently. While I had the opportunity to read a bunch of awesome books for classes, I had begun getting to the point of being unable to concentrate enough to read at all. I would reread paragraphs and entire pages due to my inability to really absorb myself in stories.

Many years later I figured out my reading habits had drastically changed as a result of being hit by intense anxiety and depression and other things happening in my brain. I was a junior in college and experiencing severe depression. I remember trying to do readings for classes and not being able to retain anything I had just read. Everything was daunting and I missed reading so much.

I feel like I’ve missed out on so many books because of my mental illness. Fortunately, I am now able to concentrate on reading. Being able to actually focus on words now has shown me just how deep my depression ran before I sought help.

I’m proud to say that I’m once again obsessed with reading and have a TBR list at least a mile long! Once again I absolutely must have a book or my Kindle with me anytime I know I’ll be sitting in a waiting room. If I don’t have a book on my Goodreads currently reading shelf, I feel lost!

I’m so grateful that there is aid for those suffering with mental illness and that it is so widely available, even if the quality of care isn’t totally up to par. I’m lucky to have found an excellent psychiatrist whom has helped me return to my old self through a mix of medications and therapy.

I guess this post serves as a pseudo public service announcement: if you adore books but are unable to concentrate on words and retain plot points, you may be depressed, like I was. I was so glad to find out what had caused my years-long reading slump. I’m even more glad to be able to say that chapter is over.

Love, Maggie

Knots

Dread. Sweaty pits. Beet red. Burning up. Dizziness. Shakiness. Tongue tied. The urge to vomit. 

Anxiety.

Anxiety has ruled my life as long as I can remember. As a child, I went through phases of intense fear of things like being kidnapped, death, being the center of attention, and thunderstorms. I even had – and still have – anxiety about my anxiety. I’m also a shy person, making my anxiety worse, or perhaps causing it, or both.

Being a hand-wringing, anxiety-ridden child, I would get intense butterflies in my gut and would basically have to talk myself out of having panic attacks. When I was training to be a lifeguard as a high school sophomore, I dreaded training all day at school, even though I did well and ultimately passed the class. In training, we had to swim 500 meters before starting anything else. For some reason, this aspect of training made me so nervous, that is until I started swimming. I was able to be alone and let the world go, clear my head and prepare for the lifesaving lessons coming up.

I seem to almost thrive on my anxiety. While I am now on medication to help ease my worries, I lived with my anxious feelings for 19 years without medicine. I was weird about taking psychotropic drugs until I turned at least 18 – that was a whole other irrational belief. I’m 34 and my psychiatrist finally figured out a good medication cocktail that works for me about five years ago – I’m much better now, but I can definitely tell a difference when I do, or don’t, take my daily dose.

When I was a freshman in college, I was a member of the rowing team. I walked on as a novice and dreaded every practice and race, but once we got started with our workouts, etc. my nervousness would dissipate. Obviously, I have found a connection between exercise and the assuaging of anxiety, which of course has been medically proven. Once I got my endorphins moving, I could conquer the world. Until then, I made myself literally sick with worry.

Throughout high school and some of college, I would wake up nervous as hell for no good reason and I would vomit. Every morning; like clockwork. My mom even took me to see a gastroenterologist, who rudely and adamantly accused me of being bulimic. I laughed in his face – he was so smug and sure he was correct. I’m still angry about that appointment. He was a jackass.

Finally, after years of suffering with a perpetually upset stomach, a nurse practitioner figured out I was in the throes of anxiety. She prescribed me some medication to get me through the days until I could see my psychiatrist again. I noticed an immediate change and suddenly everything made sense – I was having somatic symptoms.

I am proud to say that I no longer vomit due to my nerves every single day! Yay! 😀 I did go through high school trying to hide my sweaty armpits. I was a nervous wreck throughout my teen years and constantly worried about my peers either seeing my soaking pits or smelling the stench. I wore tons of deodorant and showered prior to school, but could not stop the sweat. The same nurse practitioner who diagnosed the reason behind my upset stomach knew that my sweating was due to anxiety as well. Thank goodness the sweating stopped once I started medication.

Sometimes I thrive on my anxiety, but it also holds me back at times and causes me to procrastinate A LOT. When I was in school, I’d wait until the last minute to start projects and I would usually kill it and make A’s. When I was in a graduate program, I waited until the night before a tough take-home test was due to start. I sorely underestimated the time it would take me to complete the essay answer-type test. I guess that’s why my teacher gave the assignment weeks before. Oops.

I stayed up all night and into the next afternoon working on my answers. Somehow, I managed to be the only student in the class to make a perfect score. I was floored. Apparently, in my anxiety riddled, must do this now phase, I figured out how the teacher had set up the test – it was all based on assigned readings, which I hadn’t read previously and had to skim the night I finally filled out the test.

So, through surviving near-crippling anxiety, I have learned to function and kind of cope. I thought being anxious was just a part of my life, that I wasn’t meant to be cool, calm, and collected. Thankfully, through therapy and medication, my anxiety is under control and I’m like a different person than I was 15 years ago. As a person who was once afraid of taking medication for a psychiatric imbalance, I am now a major proponent of prescriptions and therapy.

My anxiety often revealed itself as irritability. I would lash out at those closest to me and would pretty much be a bitch. I figure people from my past think I’m aloof, but I don’t care about what those people think anymore. I remember this asshole girl in my senior class telling people that I had “issues”. This really hurt at the time, although it was true. I’m not going to dog that particular girl, but I feel like I got the last laugh by seeking to heal myself and solve my “issues”.

Just to illustrate how bad my anxiety can be, I often dread making simple phone calls. I hate calling anyone besides my parents and husband; thank God for texting and email! The thing that usually holds me back from doing simple tasks such as talking to people, is that I dread doing said task for hours. Usually, sometimes after days, I’ll bite the bullet and make that phone call. Stuff never seems to go as badly as I anticipate, especially conversations. I have had some unfortunate telephone talks with hateful strangers, as I’m sure many people have. I think I also have a fear of calling others outside my neck of the woods because I’m afraid people who live elsewhere won’t understand my accent.

In a nutshell, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) a few years ago. The diagnosis came as a relief – I finally had an explanation and a way to treat my problem. I know I must be a pretty strong person to have lived with the anxiety I have for such a long time. While my anxiousness really never fully goes away, my medication is a lifesaver, as is my doctor.

My advice to anyone experiencing symptoms of anxiety is to reach out for help. I understand that asking for aid can be nerve wracking – it was for me at first. The key to overcoming any psychological issues is seeing a doctor, preferably a psychiatrist, but, hey, my nurse practitioner helped me hugely. I’ve also found that writing helps me so much – it helps for me to put my anxious thoughts on paper or to escape by blogging.

To all of y’all out there who are anxious – I understand and you are not alone. You can seek and receive help without stigma; it’s worth it. Life almost wasn’t worth living while feeling intense dread nearly constantly, but I see the beauty in life much more now and I want to live and experience all kinds of things. I may not be spotted speaking in public much, but I will certainly have a smile on my face and will live my life to the fullest.

Love, Maggie

Juveniles in Like

Dating before I met the love of my life at age 24 was weird and basically nonexistent. Looking back, I did a lot of flirting but was generally placed in the friend zone, as I was really one of the guys. A particular boy that I liked called me after I left him a drunken voicemail and told me I was still his ‘boy’. I was always flattered to be considered a true friend to my guy pals, but it sucked when I had a crush on one of them.

Like I think most people do, a boy with whom I grew up and I had mutual crushes on each other for years. However, both of us were too shy to make a move. I remember a strange incident where this uppity girl in my class actually told me I was related to this boy who liked me; before that, I was clueless about his crush. I honestly think her pushing him to believe we were somehow cousins kept him from approaching me. Plus, every time he got up his nerve, said girl would physically pull him away from me. Sabotage!

When I went to high school, my dating life was definitely nonexistent. My childhood crush actually sent word our freshman year that he still liked me. But, by then, after our years of dancing around each other, I was ready for him to approach me himself, to be confident that I would say yes. It never did happen, but things worked out how they were supposed to – we both have our own families and remain friends to this day.

I had so many crushes, especially as a teenager. I was also really picky and got grossed out pretty easily, unless I really, really liked someone. I remember thinking this guy in my history class was beyond cute – until we passed each other in the hall and he snorted snot through his nostrils so loudly I almost threw up. That was the end of that crush!

I thought a bunch of upperclassmen were cute, but I was scared of them! They all seemed so old when I first started high school – like they were already men and I was still an innocent girl. None of them paid much attention to me anyway. As a freshman, I had a huge crush on Robert, a junior who ran cross country with me. I remember melting once when he rubbed my head and tousled my short hair. Quite naturally, someone divulged my crush to him and he responded, “that’s okay.” I almost died!

I’ve had quite a bit of unrequited love in my life, both on my part and that of others. It always seemed like boys I had placed in my friend zone, as I couldn’t see myself ‘with’ them, would fall in love with me – their words, seriously. I attracted guys I wasn’t interested in romantically. I just couldn’t bring myself to date someone I didn’t really like that way, so I went through my teenage years without a steady boyfriend. I even asked out my own prom date, a friend who I figured out at the dance wanted more, which made me sick – he was my buddy.

I discovered that guys who like girls don’t like being called their buddies. Sometimes it felt like guys who liked me thought I owed them something, that there was no way we could just be friends. This fact always bugged me and, quite frankly, pissed me off. I had a hard time making girl friends in school, so I gravitated toward boy friends. Let’s just say that I spent a lot of time on my own.

I’m certainly not complaining about my lack of dating experience prior to meeting my now husband; things worked out just as they should have for me, romantically speaking. I always had a sense that the first guy I seriously dated would be ‘the one’ – and he was. I remember the first time I met him, on Thanksgiving Day 2007. We locked eyes before speaking and I thought ‘there he is’ – like I just knew he was it for me. He told me later that when we hugged for the first time that he smelled his beloved deceased Granny and he took it as a sign.

Meeting my husband is one of the best things that has ever happened to me – we’re best friends and I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. Being with Elliott makes me happy that I waited to get serious with anyone – it just didn’t feel right with anyone before I met him. I went through phases of worrying that I would end up a lonely, old spinster. Thank goodness things worked out the way they did – I just had to be patient and it paid off. 😀

Love, Maggie

INFP is Me

Every single personality test I’ve taken has given me the result of being an INFP – introverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving – or a diplomatic mediator. I cannot agree more with this perpetual result; I’m definitely an INFP. I’m proud to be an INFP, but it’s also hard sometimes, as it seems like everyone else out there is SO much more outgoing than me. I have struggled with my introversion my whole life – a virtual pendulum swinging between ultimate confidence and total self-doubt.

Only four percent of the population can be pinpointed as INFP personality types, which blows my mind; I genuinely thought the amount of others similar to me would at least be in double digits! Feeling misunderstood has also comprised a big part of my life, which is typical of an INFP, but this is sometimes hard to deal with. I find it difficult to find like-minded people – perhaps because of that dang four percent!

My intuition has been very strong for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, I often evil-eyed men who made me uneasy and refused to accept attention from adults whom I did not know. My mom dubbed my intense scrutiny of grown-ups as my ‘creep alarm’. My creep alarm still ticks today! While it can take a while at times for me to really see people’s true colors, my initial sense of them – even if I ignore it – usually turns out to be correct.

Shyness has been a part of my inherent being as long as I’ve been alive. While I think most people realize I’m shy, not an asshole, I wonder if others believe I’m aloof? I have no control over what others think of me though, so whatever people see is what they get. I try to manage my bashfulness by smiling and greeting others and I’m attempting to stop avoiding people I know when I see them in public. I don’t know why, but I get anxiety often when I see acquaintances – I’m always scared I won’t know what to say if I can’t just wave and move on.

I read once that introverts have rich inner lives – I’d definitely say this is very true for me. My imagination is insanely vivid and I can entertain myself very well. Reading and writing are of course great outlets for me too. However, I do like to be social, usually with close friends and family and occasionally at a party or a concert. Like most introverts, I have to unwind after social events of any sort, even holiday gatherings with family. Recharging by myself keeps me sane.

I feel deeply, to the point that I can actually feel my heart ache in pain for others or with grief. For instance, on the anniversaries of the deaths of loved ones, my heart will seriously hurt, even if it doesn’t register right away what the date is. My mom told me a while ago about her reading that research has proven that there are brain cells, cells of memory, in the heart! Crazy, I know, but this fact makes so much sense. My heart and mind are very connected.

I have intense empathy almost to the point of being crippled in my own life and focusing on the hardships of others. In addition, I can be gullible and I’ve always had a heightened awareness of my being possibly tricked by creepy people. I’ve had some close calls – when I was in college in Knoxville, I went to a park to read and got freaked out fast by this lone guy who kept watching me. I ended up pretty much running to my car after he walked away from my space, only to see him returning, with something in his hand, smiling maniacally. Perhaps I jumped to conclusions and let my morbid imagination get the best of me, but I’m just glad to still be here.

Being empathetic is definitely positive, but I can’t help but sometimes think life would be so much easier if I were a sociopath. I know that sounds really weird, but if I was devoid of true emotion, I wouldn’t worry so much about others or give a shit in general. I do know that I am blessed with the empathetic qualities I do possess; it’s just draining to feel so deeply all the time. In turn, I am easily deeply hurt when my trust, which isn’t easy to get, is broken by so-called friends and others. This fact caused me to put up walls many years ago and I’m definitely a really hard nut to crack.

I feel that I am very perceptive, which I think goes along with intuition. While I can be fooled at times, I am generally really good at reading people, especially their facial expressions, body language, and the vibes they emanate. I can feel tension and anxiety from others intensely; I also can tell when someone is being completely fake. I haven’t called out many people on their harmful intentions, I just take solace in knowing what I know and steer clear.

When I can’t read someone, like my stepmother-in-law for instance, it bugs me. I can’t seem to get into her head at all – sometimes I wonder if she’s even a person. Maybe she’s a robot? My senses get thrown off when I’m with her. She’s either one of the kindest people ever or a low lying vindictive bitch. I just can’t decide and I don’t like it. Being in the dark regarding others’ true intentions makes me very uncomfortable.

In a nutshell, I’m an introverted, intuitive, sensitive, and perceptive gal. I’ve heard of people I knew throughout my childhood commenting on how much I’ve come out of my shell over the years. I have gained confidence in myself and supplement my personal growth with therapy and appropriate medication for the anxiety I often experience. Now I’m curious as to whether the majority of INFP personalities are also afflicted with extreme anxiety and/or depression? Hmm…something else for me to research while I have quiet time!

Love, Maggie