My Enneagram Type: Observer/Investigator

I have read about the enneagram personality test before and it sounded intriguing. I have now finally completed a couple different online tests and it seems very clear that I am unequivocally a Type 5.

Here are some characteristics of a Type 5 personality:

Alert

Aloof

Analytical

Cerebral

Content-focused

Curious

Disconnected

Focused on intellectual understanding

Innovative

Insightful

Intense

Isolated

Lonely

Minimalist

Not big on “small talk”

Observing rather than participating

Perceptive

Preoccupied with their thoughts

Secretive

Sensitive

Oh, it all makes so much sense to me!

***

At their best, Fives become visionaries, broadly comprehending the world while penetrating it profoundly. Open-minded, take things in whole, in their true context. Make pioneering discoveries and find entirely new ways of doing and perceiving things.

At their worst, Fives become reclusive and isolated from reality, eccentric and nihilistic. Highly unstable and fearful of aggressions: they reject and repulse others and all social attachments. Seeking oblivion, they may commit suicide or have a psychotic break with reality. (…) Deranged, explosively self-destructive, with schizophrenic overtones. (https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-5)

Hmm…

At least I am in good company: Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates,  Jane Goodall, Eckhart Tolle, Kurt Cobain, Thom York (Radiohead) 🙂

***

Need to keep reminding my Dear Husband that this thing with me, continuously wanting to talk about shit and analyzing and dissecting stuff is not really my fault. Apparently, this is air to me. I was made this way.

Now excuse me for a moment, I need to go investigate some more…

Maya Angelou’s advice for Dave Chappelle

Be angry.

If you are not angry, you are either a stone or you are too sick to be angry.

Now mind you, you must not be bitter.

Bitterness is like cancer.

It eats upon the host.

It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure.

So, use that anger, yes!

You write it.

You paint it.

You dance it.

You march it.

You vote it.

You talk it.

NEVER stop talking it.

Iconoclast: Dave Chappelle and Maya Angelou

***

I miss Maya Angelou. I want such a beautiful sage-mentor-elder-mother figure in real life.

Also, thank God for YouTube!

 

Chief Tecumseh’s words of wisdom

Tecumseh02I was flipping through my notebook, in which I keep various inspiring quotes, and was reminded of this text. It is attributed to Chief Tecumseh, but since I found it on the Internet and didn’t do any research on its authenticity, I feel like a disclaimer is needed here: I am not really sure those are his words.

But they ring true all the same.

 

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.

Trouble no one about their religion.

Respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.

Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

Not Quite The Beloved Community

hoodWe live in a townhouse neighborhood. It is quiet, clean, and really diverse, which we love. You will find a little bit of everything: Christian and Muslim, gay and straight, young and old, white and black, Asian and Latino, African and Eastern European.

I like that the neighbors know my kids and the kids feel safe there. I like sitting on my stoop and watching the little ones explore the woods in the middle of our expansive cul-de-sac, or playing hide and seek with other neighborhood children. We don’t have a dog, but many neighbors do and we all get our “dog fix” by playing with neighbors’ various pooches (of which there are many.)

Although our little townhouse needs some TLC (more like, a lot!) I like it all the same and our small garden with a few native plants attracts bees, butterflies, and an occasional hummingbird.

If it sounds like a perfect little community, let me just clarify that it is NOT. And I am thinking that a perfect community would be so easy to build and maintain if it weren’t for one thing: other people.

I love the idea of a close-knit community. I totally dig what Jesus was teaching to love your neighbor as yourself. I am all for that.

But living in close proximity to many other humans is HARD.

I may meditate and read inspirational texts all I want… yet, as soon as I step out of my house, my equanimity is severely tested. All my pet peeves surface and I just want to run for the hills.

There are those party people who were doing fireworks in front of our tiny townhouses and my daughter got burnt and stuff on our deck also had holes burnt through it.

There is the neighbor next door, ceaselessly dumping chemicals on her front lawn in hopes of once and for all conquering insect and weed populations (our yards are sloped so it all ends up being washed down onto our yard, which, to me, means a sad farewell to my organic tomatoes and basil…)

There are the clashing child rearing philosophies: those other parents, preventing their kids from playing with rocks and sticks in the woods in the name of safety and furnishing them with plastic guns instead.

There are the dog owners that will take their dogs for poop walks in others’ front yards instead of the wide open shared spaces that we have…

I am well aware that to some of my neighbors, I am THAT person: pretty much free-ranging our young kids, who keep dragging sticks, rocks, pine cones and other treasures to our yard. Cultivating a wild mix of glorified weeds where others would like to see neatly manicured boxwood plants (my milkweed and echinaceas are magnificent). Not keeping our lawn to the HOA precise specifications… (my husband does mow it, but there are occasional outbreaks of dandelions or clover. And I will not be persuaded to use herbicides, no siree!)

So, what do I do with this instinct to run away, buy a farmhouse somewhere far away and live peacefully ever after not disturbed by our fellow humans?

First, I do a reality check and realize that as much as I would like to pack up and leave, there is no way that this could work in terms of finances and jobs and kids’ access to various things that they need  (such as a decent school).

So, I go back to meditation and those inspirational texts…

It helps a little.

 

There is no time to hurry

Dali-Flickr-CC-e1309916926972“There is no time to hurry.” I heard this sentence somewhere recently and it reminded me of a situation.

One morning, I was getting my kids ready for preschool. It was a lot like most of our mornings. I was running around, playing the various checklists in my head on repeat, yelling at my kids, trying to get them fed, cleaned, dressed, fix their hair, brush their teeth, pack lunch, clean the kitchen, feed the cat, and get myself ready for work…

I got them in their car seats and buckled, when I realized that I had forgotten my glasses, so I ran back to the house to get them. When I came back, I realized that I had forgotten my coffee, so I ran back again to get that. Then, I realized, I forgot my kids’ folders… you get the picture. I did that maybe five times without taking the time to consciously take a breath.

When I finally sat behind the wheel and started the engine, my daughter said:

Mama, maybe next time we should get everything ready the night before…

This made me stop the crazy for a moment. Gosh, I thought, this whole morning, I did not take a second to as much as NOTICE my kids.

What am I teaching them by being in this constant frenzy of hurry?

Being a working mom, I don’t really have the luxury of taking my time with most of the things that need to get done so that we can all be fed and dressed in clean clothes, and live in a somewhat clean-ish house (the somewhat clean-ish is my aspiration, folks. It doesn’t always get to be that.)

It’s not easy to change these hurried patterns, but since I had this realization, I’m trying. To at least be THERE when I hug my kids good morning and goodbye. Or when I sit down to read them a story, I try to be present: be engaged and make funny voices that they like instead of just reciting the story while thinking about something else (I’ve certainly done that before).

I also notice that when I truly pause and become present when the kids are misbehaving, I am more likely to handle the situation in a way that doesn’t require immediate follow ups and they understand better what is expected of them.

It seems that when I stop frantically trying to get everything done at the same time, when I slow down and focus on what I am doing at the moment, I get better results. And that’s why this rings so true to me, folks: there is no time to hurry.

***

Also, I love this poem by Marie Howe:

Hurry
We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store
and the gas station and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.
Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?
Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,
Honey I’m sorry I keep saying Hurry—
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.
And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.

This might be controversial – does feminism make us cool?

coolI went back home recently. To Poland.

It was time.

I felt like I needed a break from work and home stuff and I kind of wanted to go on my own, but, at the same time, I knew I would go crazy without seeing the kids for a week. (Also, financially, things have not been that great and 4 airplane tickets to Warsaw were not exactly in our budget.)

So… I came up with the brilliant idea of a mother-daughter trip. Yay, me!

I loved it.

I loved being with Maya. (If you have a baby or a toddler and you think going places is just the worst thing ever, hang in there! It gets better.) When we boarded our plane, Maya saw the screen in front of her seat and gave me this halfway hopeful, halfway mischievous look as if saying can I just watch TV the WHOLE time? I smiled and nodded, knock yourself out, love.

But she didn’t just watch TV. Well, she mostly did but, we also had some quality time.

I loved being with her, amazed as she was at everything new before her.

In Poland, we saw a bunch of my old friends and my family. And boy, did I miss it!

I came back with a feeling of being… full. Whole might be a better word. I filled in on human interaction and a sense of belonging. On not feeling odd for a change.

And I was so glad that my daughter was there to witness that.

One of my friends asked me if Poland seems changed to me. Without thinking much about it, I blurted out that WOMEN here are amazing. It was a strange thing to say, but also precisely how I felt.

I SO miss being in a community of women. Especially now, that I have kids.

In the 12 years I have lived in the US, I have not met one American-born woman that I became close friends with. Sure, I met many people who are nice. People in the US are generally nice. And fine. But, for some reason, I have never established a connection.

I often feel like it’s me, my fault. I am socially awkward and hopeless at making small talk. Half of the time I have no idea what people are talking about as many cultural and social references are incomprehensible to me. Of course, I didn’t grow up here and I don’t watch TV. That’s part of the problem.

The other part is that I hardly ever feel seen or heard. This might be my self-centeredness talking. But I typically don’t feel like that when talking to women from other cultures and I have heard of similar experiences from my non-American women friends, so it feels like something is up with that.

Recently, Maya was invited to a friend’s birthday party. The family is Ethiopian. It was very different from other birthday parties we go to. I loved being in their home. We came in and immediately felt welcome. The mom gently guided us in and invited us to eat and drink. It’s not that she catered to us constantly, she left us to entertain other guests. Of whom there were many. It was the general sense of being noticed and belonging to this community of people celebrating the darling little boy. Later, the mom asked if we had enough to eat, and, without waiting for my answer, she took my plate and saying you have got to try this, she put a scoop of an Ethiopian lentil dish on my plate. And this just melted my heart.

There was this interchanging group of women congregating in the kitchen and whenever I walked in, the conversation didn’t stop awkwardly. The conversation continued, but whoever passed through was acknowledged by a look and a smile or a question if anything is needed. This, to me, felt like home.

I love women congregating in kitchens. I love women being attentive and open and generous and loving. It reminds me of mom and my aunts and home and I miss it terribly. And it breaks my heart that I am not able to recreate this for my kids.

When I lived in Poland, there were many things that I didn’t like. The ruling patriarchy and the church were huge factors. I didn’t fit in the constrains of that culture. I just wanted to do my thing but I knew that unless I conform, find a boyfriend, wear a pretty dress to church on Sunday, and keep my opinions to myself, I will always be ostracized by the general culture. Most women, like my mom, just went with the flow. Mom was not a rebel. Neither were the other women I grew up around. They were not going to change the status quo.

But among themselves, they were real people. And I miss real relationships with real people with feelings who let you feel things, too.

And I am not writing this to pass judgement or bash anybody, but the US has been such a lonely place for me. It is so hard to put a finger on this problem that I have. Because people here seem FINE. Perfectly nice and FINE. Just sort of separated by some invisible walls that I cannot break through.

When I hang out with our American friends, I feel like I often have to pretend, curb my selfness a little. And it might be a projection, but I feel like everyone is pretending. I learned very quickly to not ask any questions that might be too personal, to direct. I learned not to share anything about myself that’s too personal, either. I learned that emotions need to be held on a very short leash. You cannot seem too enthusiastic or too sad. You need to be cool. Otherwise, you will be received with silence or raised eyebrows. I also learned to not expect that that person you chatted with for a while will remember you next Monday.

I have been thinking a lot about this. And my one theory is that these modern women, in the process of asserting themselves and fighting for their rights, threw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

I hope that I will not be misunderstood. I am and have always been for equal rights. For everyone. And I like that this culture is trying to get rid of open sexism and misogyny. It’s a long road, but still, it’s better here than in many other places. Women fought and continue to fight for their rights here and that is a good thing.

But I also feel that in that fight, many women are losing something that’s real and precious and at the same time very powerful. Paradoxically, in this feminist fight, we might be losing our femininity (and I don’t mean femininity as prettiness).

I feel like in trying to prove our equality with men, we started acting like men. We muffled our intuition, suppressed the emotions, and severed ties with our sisters. To me, femininity is warm, inclusive, communal, generous, nurturing, intuitive, and empathetic. And being able to use these qualities to raise children and build comminities is powerful.

Instead, I feel like we became distant, self-reliant, competitive, and suspicious of other women. We lost the sense of sisterhood. We became cool. And also separated from each other and hurting and wanting to scream our lungs out to be seen by and connect with other human beings. Maybe that’s just me.

I pray that one day, I will be able to reach out to someone here, in this place I now call home, and break through, and connect like I did with those women I visited in Poland.