Why Sharing a Home is Hard for Introverts

When I saw Why Is It So Hard for Introverts to Share a Home on IntrovertDear, well, just say, it really struck a chord. As regular readers know, I’ve been struggling with this, like many, since Covid because now hubby and I are both working at home instead of just me. And let me say upfront that he is the only person I can stand spending this much time with. Over 26 years now. Longer than any roommate (really didn’t enjoy roommates), longer than my family of origin, longer than my first husband. We are so compatible.

When we first got together, we often stayed in because we didn’t want the wait staff to interrupt the flow of our great conversations. Our 1-week honeymoon in Maui wasn’t enough time together, so we booked a Caribbean cruise 7 months later. And traveled extensively since. Often shorter trips because you can do more of them. Stretch those vacation days with weekends.

We ended up moving cross country several times and one of the things I enjoyed the most was the cross country drive because we got to spend so much time together. Each move was such an adventure!

But having said that, I’ve been struggling since he started working at home full-time during Covid. He’s now got ongoing full-time remote status. I knew retirement was coming one day and I worried how I would handle that. But we’ve had to face this nonstop togetherness before retirement. At least in retirement, he could always go off and walk on the beach, but, then, I’d want to go, too – lol!

The thing is, I didn’t really like being at home alone all day when he worked onsite. It would have been great if he could have come home in the early afternoon after I’d had my alone time. Feast or famine, I guess.

We’re making a conscious effort to do some things differently. He goes off to his home office as if it’s onsite. I try my best not to pop in, but I still do that, so that’s on me.

I’ve been taking my solo walks by just gathering my things and walking out the door. No big announcements, no stopping in his office first – lol! We’ve streamlined our lunches – sometimes together, sometimes apart. I often get up at first light and sit out on the screened Lanai overlooking wide open spaces, sipping my coffee – totally glorious!

I’ve yet to do an artist date (was supposed to go today but didn’t or haven’t… yet). I don’t really want to drive off. I love my studio too much. Will have to work on this. Plus, we need to set aside some alone time on the weekend, which can easily get overlooked.

All in all, it’s been a pretty good week. I haven’t enjoyed my studio as much as I’d like because I was busy rearranging furniture and getting some things set up. I’m looking forward to working on my projects in my studio next week. So much to catch up on.

Until then…

 

Introvert vs Extrovert, East vs West

As an Artist, an introvert, there are 3 things Julia Cameron says are musts:

  1. Morning pages
  2. Walks (alone)
  3. Artist dates (alone)

So not only are we now both working at home together, but we’ve been walking together, too. So lovely to walk and chat together. That’s a nice thing about having him at home. I do so enjoy his companionship.

Monday was not a work day, but we went out for a walk together and crossed paths with one of the neighbors he’s chatted with before. She and her dog were in front of our house just as we were crossing the street to go home. Naturally, we had to greet her and chat. Or, at least, he did. And then there were introductions to be had, because I hadn’t formally met her before.

She said, “Oh, you like to walk?” as if that was an odd thing to do. As if walking was something you did for your dog.

A wave would have been enough for me. We could have kept walking on our side of the street and turned around to cross over to our house later. There was no rush to go home.

Then there’s that other neighbor, the one I call Nancy, although her name is not Nancy. Everybody knows Nancy. As soon as somebody moves in, boom, she pounces on them. She must watch from her front window.

“What’s your name? What’s your last name? Where are you from? What are you going to do with your backyard?” Everybody’s trying to avoid Nancy – lol!

So now, not only do I have to be strategic inside the house, but I need to plot and plan my steps outside the house. Not what an introvert wants to do. It doesn’t work well with the whole automatic thing to avoid decision fatigue.

Walking alone should help. Nobody really approaches me when I’m walking alone. If I cross paths with someone, we smile, say, “Good morning” and keep moving. That’s my style. That’s energizing.

The challenge for my husband is that he needs interaction and that’s probably been difficult for him working at home. Not having those work encounters. I love how friendly he is. That people like him. So personable. His great sense of humor. Dry wit. How he comes alive joking around with people. That’s what drew me to him when we met at work in Silicon Valley.

That’s why we gave him the front bedroom for his office. He can see what’s going on outside, he can pop out and chat with someone when they’re outside. In fact, he’s gotten to know several neighbors, all bonding together in a brand new community, exchanging builder stories and what’s going on with their house. They all seem to be from up north (as is he), as is so often the case in Florida. They bond over that, too. They’re chatty people. That’s what they do out here.

The West is more independent. Even if you do chat briefly with a neighbor, there’s no fear that it’s going to become a problem. There’s no feeling of claustrophobia. There’s no need for strategy. You know you’ll part and carry on with your independent life.

Nobody asks if you like to walk. Of course, we like to walk. That’s what we do there. Nobody asks what your plans are for your backyard. Nobody even asks your name or certainly not your last name or where you’re from. That may sound cold, but that’s what I’m used to. That’s what works for an introvert.

This house gives us all the space we need, but now I feel claustrophobic outside the house and when I come inside, I feel claustrophobic inside the house. As if all of that togetherness outside has barged its way inside, too.

There’s always the nocturnal life, popular with introverts. So here I am, up at 4 am, writing this blog post. I usually wait until first light to get up. But if I get up now, do a few things, starting with morning pages, I can sneak out and go for a walk once the sun comes up.

So that takes care of morning pages and solo walks. I haven’t mentioned solo artist dates, though. That’s because I haven’t been doing them. My excuse is that I don’t really know my way around here–we’re still exploring together. But he’s encouraging me to get started with my artist dates. He thinks they will really help me feel like I do know my way around here.

I’ll let you know how it’s all working for me.

 

 

First Blog Post for 2023: Decision Fatigue

Okay, so making a resolution to stay off YouTube, Twitter, and my blog was totally impractical. I think I should be making a reverse resolution: to connect more on YouTube, Twitter, and through my blog, because these are the 3 ways I connect with people online.

So I’m browsing my Twitter feed and I see this video from Producer Dojo on “Decision Fatigue” and I’m thinking, “Bingo!” Hubby and I have just been discussing how I can automate my day more like how I used to when I had the house to myself. Working with another person around changes everything. And I’m the root cause of a lot of it. I can be quite chatty, in spite of being an introvert. We’re close and we can both be chatty.

And I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking our lunches. Ack! This must come to a stop. I must get back to automation, doing my own thing during the work hours as if his office is offsite. I also need to get out of the house and explore this new town of ours. But what I miss the most is having the house to myself. As an introvert, if I have to leave to have some alone time, I’m not really alone “out there,” am I? lol!

This is definitely one of the challenges of our Covid era world. Covid may be over in some people’s minds, but its effects are quite lingering and some changes are here to stay. Some things are not going back to how they used to be.

But as Producer Dojo says, eating the same thing every day, wearing the same thing every day frees your mind up to be creative. And now that the holidays are almost over (when will they end?), I need to finally get a routine going.

Best of 2022 and a January Resolution

The best professional move we made this past year was in selling our home in Las Vegas and building one in Florida, even with all the blips and bumps. The main reason is ever since Covid, hubby has been working at home full-time and the house we built in Vegas pre-Covid did not suit us.

It wasn’t that it was so terribly small (1470 sq ft) by California standards–I would have loved to have had a home like this when we lived in California for over 25 adult years (not counting my childhood)—it was that it was spread out on 2 floors and the downstairs had very little room–not even a dining room or area big enough for a table.

Upstairs was better because we had a nice-sized master and two more bedrooms over the garage–one as office for him, and one as studio for me–right next to each other. So there wasn’t a lot of privacy for his meetings and my recordings. It was just too tight for an introvert like me. No escape. 24/7.

But now he has a really nice-sized office with double windows in the front of the house. I claimed the “flex space” on the other size of the hall next to the garage with a small window, kept all dark and clubby with changing colored lights. And even the cats have a fully-decorated room for their litter, toys, tree, couch, and dresser.

So professionally, and personally, this has been a victory for us. And with Disney and beaches within a short drive. Just like how I grew up in Southern California.

On this last day of 2022, I haven’t really set many goals, mostly to focus on music and to hybernate from social media for the month of January. The intention is to refrain from actively participating on YouTube, Twitter, and maybe not even a blog post. All to prepare for FAWM ’23 (February Album Writing Month), not only musically, but emotionally, psychologically, and all the interaction that FAWM entails.

Happy New Year!!

My “Wilderness in a Corner Office”

My latest Steven Pressfield email has landed in my inbox, spurring a response to his “Wilderness in a Corner Office” blog post.

You can have a great career, a loving spouse and family, the respect and envy of all who know you … and still be in the Wilderness.

You’re in the Wilderness if this career/family/respect is for a calling that is not yours, that doesn’t arise from your truest self.

In a way, this is the most excruciating form of Wilderness because you’re in hell and you know it, yet you get no sympathy for your suffering, even from yourself. In fact, if you dare to express your misery (even to yourself), you are looked at as an ingrate, a cream puff, a weenie.

You’re not. Your wilderness is real. Your suffering is real. And your peril is real. – Steven Pressfield

What hit me is that while technical writing was once my “wilderness in a corner office,” writing fiction has now become my wilderness. It is no longer the dream, if it ever was. I was motivated, for sure, to write every novel, novella, and short story I wrote. And it was a step in the right direction from technical writing. But it wasn’t my final destination.

My desire for writing has been dwindling ever since I came face-to-face with my real desire, which is all about music. My original audience is gone, if *my audience* means the people who propelled me to write those stories in the first place. That need to be heard, especially by those people, was real but is no longer a thing.

So instead of continuing to work the 90 Day Novel exercises, which may be part of what’s killing that desire to write, I need to focus on music. So much to learn. The more I learn, the more I learn that some things can’t be learned. I’m absolutely terrified to keep trying! Who am I to make some noise and call it music? I absolutely do not feel good enough!! Just writing this is scaring me.

But I absolutely love it! And if I must put my ass where my heart wants to be (ala Steven Pressfield), well, music is absolutely it! For more motivation, I can read my novella, She’s Not That Good – lol!

And every time I see this sitting on my desk next to my mic, well, I feel the nudge to press on. Terrified or not. Because the fear tells me how important it is. Like the first time I auditioned for a solo part in my high school choir’s spring program. I was absolutely terrified, but I knew I absolutely had to do it. And I got the part. I’m still that girl.

 The problem is that as soon as I make a pronouncement such as this, my muse starts whispering stories it wants to hear.

Dead Week

I was just bemoaning to my husband yesterday about this “dead” week that really begins for me Christmas afternoon. My regulars aren’t online, I don’t feel any energy to write or create music. I can’t even revel in enjoying the time off because I’m no longer taking on technical writing projects and am now pursing my art (music and writing) fulltime, so my time is my own.

Sounds great, and it is most of the time, but not at Christmas. In fact, it’s all quite depressing. As one exJW said on Twitter, she didn’t grow up with these traditions so she doesn’t have that bonding with it. She tries to celebrate Christmas but there’s something lacking.

Exactly! For me, in my early years, my mother wasn’t that strict and so I sang Christmas songs in the school choir, ate goodies, and even had gifts, although not on Christmas – just somewhere near Christmas for deniability in case her mother stopped by. So that meant no tree, of course, or any decorations. My mother hid the presents in the hall closet until the big reveal. She was quite clever with her wrapping – some looked like elephants or other shapes. She really did love doing that. She would have loved having a real Christmas.

I admired the silver Christmas tree the neighbors across the street had and all of their Christmas cards strung on the wall behind it. Until it all came to an end when my mother decided to go all in with the JWs when I was 16.

As I grew older, I watched the movies or went to Las Vegas or Disneyland or somewhere festive over Christmas. That way I could enjoy it without “celebrating” it. Deniability.

But what JW doesn’t sneak a peek now and then? How can you help not see and enjoy some aspect of Christmas? Actually, I think it was all more fun back then, when I was sneaking a peek – lol!

So when I got Austin Keon’s email this morning called “How I’m Spending Dead Week,” well, that’s it! That’s the perfect name for this week. In fact, Austin credits Helen Fitzerland’s “All Hail Dead Week” post. Brilliant!

Looks like I’m not alone, whether you grew up celebrating Christmas or not.

 

 

Holiday Writing: The Truth Will Set You Free

First of all, let me tell you why I’m thinking more about writing than Christmas right now. It’s not that I don’t love Christmas, I do. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to work at it.

I grew up in a Jehovah’s Witness family and celebrating Christmas was forbidden. I didn’t really start celebrating until I left the Witnesses in my early 40s. That truth really did set me free. And now here we are waiting for our small Christmas celebration with plenty of space to fit in some writing.

So while going through the 90 Day Novel (Alan Watt) exercises for my next book (officially starting January 1st), well, this caught my eye and I couldn’t help but have a little chuckle:

“The truth will set you free. But first it will kick your ass.” – Unknown

For everybody who’s ever come face-to-face with a truth that’s rocked your world so big, you had to rethink your whole life, you know what I’m talking about. But it’s those truths that provide fodder for your art.

So whatever truth wants to be set free and whenever it wants to be set free, well, I advise this: “When you pray for truth, pray for the strength to handle it.”

Happy Holidays!