One More

Trust, just one more time.

Love, just one more time.

Let someone in, just one more time.

And after that, do it all once more.

Tomorrow is a new day, just go one more.

You’ve got one hundred steps to go, let’s make it ninety nine.

This song is on my workout playlist, but it’s been an anthem of mine for ages. It’s helped me get back up after the emotional beatings I’ve gone through, reminded me that I don’t have to climb the whole mountain, just take one step in the right direction. One step at a time.

I don’t like being as sensitive as I am sometimes, but I’m slowly realizing that my greatest weakness, the thing that makes me the most vulnerable, also makes me strong, and is my greatest asset. Anyone with a heart can sympathize with others, but to be able to empathize is a gift. Yeah, it makes me more emotional, a bit more quick to tears than I would like, makes me easy to hurt. But it’s also a gift to others. I can shine my light into peoples lives with more ease than most. That’s awesome. It makes me special. I feel the most at home with myself when I let myself feel, open myself up fully and let people in. But it’s just so hard to do. The walls I built myself became a cage, and it’s a daily battle to get out.

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When I do manage to get out though, it’s the most amazing feeling ever.

Sometimes it’s just letting myself be silly around people, laughing, being relaxed, that just feels like a little sliver of heaven. Like I could just take that moment, seal it up in a snow globe of memory and revisit it whenever I was feeling down. I wish memories worked that way.

But, they don’t. Which is probably for the best. It keeps me determined to seek new ones, which is a tremendously excellent adventure.

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The Temperature of a Heart

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Ready for a super cliche, super typical, song stuffed post?

If you’ve never read my “bio”, it’s located at the top-ish area of this blog, it’s a tab labeled “Meet That Quiet Girl”. You’ll see a very brief explanation of who I am, just the tiniest glimpse into the scars on my heart from careless people who earned my trust, got me to let them in, only to prove every fear I had, and leave behind a mess for me to clean up. I’ve spent years of my life trying to take down my walls, let people see me for who I am, learn to trust again, be vulnerable, wear my heart on my sleeve sometimes because despite all it’s scars, it’s beautiful. I’ve been fighting, with God’s help, to keep my heart soft, to keep it from growing cold.

I’ve been back-stabbed, betrayed, left behind, forgotten, rejected. And I survived.

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I held my mom’s hand as she got a new IV put in, the day before she died. I watched tears stream down her face from the pain, but her hand was barely strong enough to grip mine. I watched the oxygen meter count down as she breathed her last breath. And I survived.

And last night, I looked into the eyes of someone I care about with every fiber of what’s left of my heart, and saw…emptiness. Listened to the words I was promised, assured, that I would never have to hear cross their lips. Seven years of friendship came crashing down around me, and all I could think was, it’s happening again. I can’t go through this again. I can’t loose you. I can’t survive this again. You promised me you were different, you asked me to trust you.. You lied to me.  

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How many times can a heart be broken before it’s beyond repair? God’s answer is that nothing is impossible in Him. And I know that to be true. I fight the old nagging voices, telling me that by now surely I must know that no one can be trusted. No one stands true to their word. A promise is a promise, no matter how much time passes, it remains.

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I don’t make many promises. “I promise” are words I use very rarely, very exclusively, because of this. And when so many have been made to me, and so many broken, it becomes so hard to trust.

I’ve never understood why heartbreak can cause actual, physical pain, but I assure you, it does. It feels like a sickening heat in the depths of my chest, at the base of my lungs, burning. A heat that chills your bones and makes your lungs shudder.

As I was at work today, feeling this, unable to focus on my work, my thought storm was interrupted by a compliment from the patient I was with.

“You know, you have such a kind spirit. A very soothing countenance. I can tell you’re a very kind and thoughtful person.”

Tears welled. How is it that a total stranger can catch me in my worst moments and see something worthwhile in me, yet the ones I let into my heart seem to find it so easy to leave?

Later, from coworkers today;

“You’re beautiful, you know.”

“Everyone needs someone like you in their lives, you’re such a genuine, kind, calming person.”

But I don’t feel like that person right now. I just feel deadened, chilled from the inside out. I don’t even feel real, as if I’m just a figment in someones imagination, and they’ve stopped writing my storyline.

These songs that I’m sticking in random places here are ones I’ve always felt connected to, with what I’ve been through. They always seem so relevant. And listening to them holds me back from letting my mind twist itself into an endless knot of frustration.

So, there you have it. A cliche, “my heart, ow” blog post complete with songs that support the emotional state of the blog writer. Oh so original.

Nevertheless, here it is. The temperature of my heart. Injured muscles feel warm to the touch, but my heart burns with ice. Maybe it will grow warm yet again one day… Maybe.

Little Life Lessons

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Have you ever held a hermit crab? If you’re like me, you may have been too grossed out by their spider-like qualities to particularly enjoy them, but I have held one, and there is something interesting to be learned from their behavior. (Just totally ignoring that they occasionally pinch the living daylights out of you.)

When you hold a hermit crab, they initially withdraw into their shells, protecting their soft bodies by using the hard exoskeleton on their legs to block the little door of their mobile homes. But, if you hold them gently, are quiet, and don’t make fast or sudden movements, they will slowly come out, poke their little heads out and become curious. After they’ve started to explore, you can then move more and be less careful of scaring them. They’ve learned to trust the ground (your hand) that they’re standing on and aren’t afraid to check you out and see what you’re made.

As much as hermit crabs kinda freak me out, I can relate to them a lot. When I meet people for the first time, I tend to withdraw, barely participating in the small talk they offer me, often feeling a bit claustrophobic if they try too hard too fast to get to know me. But occasionally I meet people who sense my hesitation and back off a little. Still engaging me in conversation, but doing so more calmly, less demandingly, and sometimes even literally giving me space by going and talking to other people before coming back to me. And I love it when I meet people who do that. It seriously makes me feel so respected and understood.

At work, I can fake extrovert like a pro. I increase my volume, I start lots of pointless small talk conversations, I use witty comebacks and ignore when people invade my space. But it wears me out so much. By the time the end of the week comes, when I do most of my social activities with other Christians and people I would like to be friends with, I’m just out of it. I don’t have enough energy left to be a fake-tro-vert. And really, if I have to fake being SUPER outgoing just to make friends, what kind of friends am I really making?

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to say “Look, I’m antisocial and rude and I don’t like talking but you should love me even though I refuse to talk to you.”
Heck. No. I’m very social, I love talking, I love people, I love being in social situations. I feel very badly when I have those days when it’s next to impossible for me to be truly myself with people, those days when people try to talk to me and I just don’t respond in a way that shows them how much I really do want to get to know them. It kills me. I lay awake in bed at night sometimes just angry with myself for being that way. I pray regularly that on days when I’m just emotionally drained, that He would sustain me and help me be that kind hearted person He’s made me to be.

I don’t want people to have to cater to my “social needs”. I want to be flexible and easy to communicate with. I want to be accessible. And sometimes, I’m not. And on those days, when God brings into my life those understanding people who can see through my hard, cold shell and say to themselves “I bet she’s a really cool person, she just needs some space and TLC.” Gah. I just love those people. I need friends like that. They rock. See, I want to be my best for everyone. But I’m way too human for that. I need people in my life who understand that I have days when they’re like “HEY, how are you!!!” and I’ll just say “Oh, good!” and don’t even ask how they are, not because I don’t care, I always care. But because I’m struggling, I’ve got ten thousand things going on in my head, my reply was an auto-response. Deep down I thought “I should ask how they’re doing too”, but I know that I’ve got too much going on to listen in a way that they deserve, so I don’t ask.

I don’t ask people how they’re doing to hear “Good, you?”. I ask only when I want to know how. they. are. doing. I don’t want an auto-response, I want a look into their life. So why would I ask you how you’re doing when I’m passing you in a hallway, with maybe 50 seconds of time to converse? What a waste of speech! I’d much rather smile and say “Good morning!”, a friendly greeting, but no obligation to express anything about what’s going on in your life when neither of us has time for that at the moment. Make sense?

Back to people who give me space… Sometimes, in that group, they may not see much result from the totally awesome respect they invest in me. But I remember them. Always. And next time, I will seek them out. Having shown me they are safe, that they aren’t going to try and pry me out into the open, I will seek them out in a crowd. They unwittingly become my anchor into the group. No matter how loud and demanding that group becomes, I know I can seek them out for a moment of peace. And if they spend one-on-one time with me, I will open up and talk and be social. I like to invest in conversations, and it’s really hard to do that in group settings. I don’t start conversations that I don’t intend to finish, but in groups, often times the topic will get lost as more people join in and make other remarks and it’s just… I can’t follow it. It’s annoying. Or someone will make a comment that make me curious as to why they feel that way, but before I can get a chance to inquire, the whole topic has evolved and moved on and it’s no longer applicable, so I just file it away for later. I think I freak people out a little, because sometimes I’ll send a text to someone, or come up to them and be like “So, this comment you made like two weeks ago during this group conversation, tell me more.” I’m not a stalker I promise… I just… I’m curious.. *toothy grin*

Anyway. That’s my piece on how I relate to hermit crabs. (I made hermit crabs way deeper than they actually are. 😀 ) Summary: I like real conversations, not small talk. I like one-on-one time best, but in groups I do enjoy listening and learning about people by observation. I’m not a hermit, I’m an tenderhearted person who genuinely wants to know you, but feels attacked when you try and force me out into the open. And lastly, to those of you who treat people like me with the kindness and genuine respect that makes us want to be ourselves, thank you. You make us feel like we can shine. It’s people like you who help us grow. You are the answer to our prayers.

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~TQG

One Good Conversation

All it takes is one good conversation.

Today at work, I found myself in a rarely seen or found place. My comfort zone! Alone in a room with an adult, married, Christian man whilst we both enjoyed our lunch hour. This coworker and I had not previously had an actual conversation, but I have overheard him talk about his wife quite lovingly, and we’re friends on Facebook, which was, combined, enough to make me feel quite comfortable.

Not sure how we got there, but eventually we got to talking about what we had studied in scripture, and he shared what he had been learning about how we are to handle grief and death, which lead to me talking about my mom.

I worked exceptionally hard to keep from crying, and managed, but just barely, as I talked about her and how she passed. But what really struck me what his reaction. He too was working hard not to cry, and I could see the tears welling in his eyes as he just sat and listened. Not many people take time to sit and listen these days. And when they do, it stands out to me. But even more than listen, he was feeling my words as I spoke them. That is a rare and often burdensome gift to bare. I know, because I share it, and it’s one of the reasons I literally can’t get very close with more than a few people at once. I just can’t handle it. I feel what they feel, and I can only feel so much before I burst.

Back to this coworker of mine. Our lunch hour ended, and we both gathered up our emotions and laughed a bit, and went our separate ways to the opposite sides of the building where we work. But the whole thing shed light on a struggle I’ve had just recently as I try to integrate myself into this new church group I’m in.

I’m not actually as bad at communicating as I keep making myself out to be. See, at this last group event I went to, I was the only girl on the speed boat (be jealous. Of the speed boat, not of me being out numbered by attractive guys, because that’s actually just overwhelming and exhausting) and though conversation is not readily required when going 35-60 mph over water dragging people on skis, wake boards or tubes, there are still plenty of moments when it’s really a good idea to say….something…. anything…. like, seriously. And I DID. Several times!! And I did, indeed, speak loud enough to be heard and somewhat acknowledged for having said something. But a conversation is a two way street. I can say as much as I want, but if no one picks up the topic and runs with it, it’s just gunna lay there on the ground and die a slow, awkward death. And my introverted self only has energy for a few well place conversation starters before it’s really up to them to come up with a new one. Don’t get me wrong, in a group setting, I can kill a conversation without even trying! It’s like a super power! I’m speaking of one-on-one conversations here, where I prefer to live.

Now, I did talk to people, and have good conversations. With a girl who later joined the boat, and her husband. I’m noticing that married men seem to be much more capable of conversation… Single guys however… at least, the ones in this group… man.

It only takes one good conversation, just one time when I feel like they are actually interested in talking and listening, and I’ll talk to them pretty easily from that point on. Not totally absent of awkward, but at least halfway capable of forming cohesive sentences. If someone would just take that 10, 15, maybe 20 minutes to get past that initial awkward, I promise, I have something to offer. It may be walled away, but behind the gate is a garden. And the greatest treasure is planted at the very center of that garden– my heart. I don’t mean this just from a romantic standpoint, my heart is who I am, and you don’t really get to see it until you take the time to try. Not saying it’s easy to get to, but it’s totally worth the trouble, and the path through the garden is actually quite nice.

I talked about this to my Dad recently, and he said to me, “The right guy will see that, and he will take the time to get to know you whether you’re awkward or not, he’ll see what’s hidden behind it and want to seek it out.” Man, I sure hope that’s true. Cause right now, it sure doesn’t feel that way.

~TQG

Please also enjoy this: “Introverts and the inner flame“, a very good little article that relates to mine quite well.

Awkward Silence

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Disclaimer: this is from Pinterest. I didn’t make it, I know nothing about the dude who said it, and I don’t have a tumblr nor to I visit the site. I just like this quote.

Today I had a moment of “awkward silence” with someone, and after I got home I saw this quote. It made me feel better about myself and my social foibles. Why do we feel awkward about a moment of silence? Must every moment of time spent with someone be filled with speech? And really, if someone avoids you because you’re sometimes “awkward”, are they really the kind of person you want to be around? After all, a friend that you have to be interesting around just to keep their attention, isn’t a real friend. We’re all boring, guys. I mean, really. We’re all very interesting too, if you take the time to appreciate each person’s own unique qualities and interests. We’re all awkward in our own way, we’re all awesome in our own way.

Anyway, I’m sort of preaching to myself here. Don’t think that all my “don’t be ashamed of your social problems” talk is me speaking from a point of confidence. It’s a huge weakness in my life, but I’m working really really hard to heal it, with God’s help. Getting there slowly but surely. Sometimes I just need to type up a little pep talk to myself. Maybe one of you needed one too. 🙂

The Gift of Personality Types

I learned something today about “highly sensitive” people. Not highly sensitive as in “Watch your step around her, you might look at her the wrong way and she’ll assume you hate her!”, but more like “Man, I don’t know how she does it, but she always seems to know when I’m upset about something, even if I try and hide it…”

HSPs often pick up on subtle non-verbal cues better than the average person, their nervous system is actually wired differently, which makes them highly sensitive to subtleties, loud noises, and can cause them to become abnormally overwhelmed in crowds. Yes, it can make us more likely to read into things incorrectly, more jumpy for no apparent reason, but no personality quirk is flawless!

I’ve been reading a lot about the differences between the extroverted and introverted personality types, and I noticed a rather annoying trend. I seems to be that most of the articles written on the subject are basically trying to communicate one thought universally: “Be gentle with introverts, they’re fragile” and “Just learn to accept extroverts loudness and lack of sensitivity”. And that’s just not true! Introversion is a gift, not a curse, not a disability, not hindrance. Extroversion is a gift as well. Not a “con”, not a trait to be kept under control to avoid “damaging” the poor little introverts.

If the world consisted purely of the socialite extrovert, where would the mystery be? Who would you go to when you just needed to sit and talk about your problems to someone and have them listen without telling you about all the times that “same thing” happened to them?

If the world consisted purely of introverts, the world would be too quiet. Amusement parks would be far less crowded, and we, as a nation of introverts, would be all locked away securely in our comfort zones with no way of knowing the adventure waiting for us out there.

Extroverts can be great listeners. Introverts can be bold and adventurous. We work together, as differing personality types, to bring out the hidden qualities within each other. As an introvert myself, I love spending time with my extroverted friends. They gently push me out of my comfort zone, their enthusiasm for trying new things is infectious, they draw me into a brand new world of experiences. I would have to ask them what/if I do for them exactly, but from what I see, I think I help them learn to slow down their pace. They have to work harder to learn about me and it slows them down and helps develop their patience. They learn how to take pleasure in discovering things about their introverted friends, rather than just receiving offered information, as is often the way extroverts get to know one another.

We’re not opposites, trying to get along. We’re two sides of the perfect coin, learning how to be better versions of ourselves.

Extroverts, don’t apologize for who you are. You give us the gift of adventure! Without you we might never climb the mountains of the unknown. Thank you for giving us that extra little push to greatness.

Introverts, don’t feel disabled by your struggle to let people in, those who really want to know you will enjoy every minute of the adventure of getting to know your heart. They’ll fall in love with your mysterious charm.

Let’s work together to bring out the best in each other.

Goal !

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My healthy journey has been a bit of a rollercoaster. From being over 200 pounds back in 2009 while my Dad was in Iraq, going through a gluten allergy and becoming a gym rat, I’ve come a long way. In January of this year I weighed in a 185lbs. Not happy with that at all, I decided to devote myself to drinking more water, exercising at least 3 days a week, and eating correctly. Both getting enough calories and the right kind of calories. I purchased a Fitbit ChargeHR, which has helped me SO much to gauge how much I need to be eating, and how my exercise effects my calorie intake.

Yesterday, my dad and I got a new scale (our old one broke), we split the cost of Fitbit’s Aria Wi-fi Smart scale. It measures BMI and body fat percentage as well as weight, and uploads your weight progress to your fitbit dashboard automatically whenever you weight yourself. And today I finally met my weight goal! Officially within the “healthy” fat % and BMI range at 167lbs!

So pleased with my progress. Exercise wise, I only do about 15-25 minutes of cardio (Usually elliptical, arc trainer or stair climber), and then about 25-30 minutes of weight lifting and calisthenics (Such as assisted pull-ups, dips, squats, incline crunches, bicep curls, and other various leg, back, and ab exercises). Doing hours of cardio is not the answer, ladies. Just FYI. Building muscle is the key. Muscle will literally burn fat for you while you sleep. It raises your metabolism, allowing you to eat more and burn more calories just by existing. And unless you’re taking steroids, it will not make you look bulky or manly, I promise. I do a lot of different kind of incline crunches and ab work, building my core up, and it’s helped define my waistline a lot! I’m very happy with it. 🙂

Anyway, my next step is to continue to lean out more, tone up my thighs and arms a bit, and continue to get stronger. My goal is to be able to do 2-5 pull-ups with no assistance. Currently I use about 85lbs of assistance, so lifting just under half my body weight. Working up slowly to more weight.

My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I want to be healthy, strong, and capable of whatever task He sets before me. Because he doesn’t always move the mountains that stand in your way, sometimes He wants you to climb them.

Until next time!!

~TQG

The Science Behind the Trials of Introversion

I recently found this website called Introvert, Dear, and they posted this blog post today that helped me understand my brain so much. At risk of “stealing” their audience, please don’t just read the quoted portion here, but also click on the link and visit their site, even for a little while. Thanks!!

A co-worker appears out of the blue and asks me a question. Her eyes and tone of voice say she wants an answer now. Her request is easy, but my mind is momentarily paralyzed.

I start sentences then stop them. I hesitate. I say words that are close to what I mean, but not exactly. I backtrack.

My co-worker — an extrovert who always seems to express herself effortlessly — looks at me like, come on, spit it out. I think, if only my brain would cooperate.

Why introverts struggle with word retrieval

When we’re speaking out loud, we introverts may have trouble with word retrieval, meaning, we struggle to find just the right words we want. We may come off sounding like we don’t know what we’re talking about, even though we do. In social situations, we may have trouble keeping up with fast-talking extroverts.

Our brains use many different areas for speaking and writing, writes Dr. Marti Olsen Laney in her book, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, and when talking out loud, information needs to flow between the separate regions. One reason why introverts struggle with speaking is that we process information deeply, which means information moves slowly between areas of our brain.

Another reason has to do with introverts relying more on long-term memory than working memory. Information stored in long-term memory is mostly outside of our conscious awareness. Like the name sounds, long-term memory contains information that is retained for long periods of time — in theory, information is saved indefinitely. Some of this information is fairly easy to access, while other memories are more difficult to recall. Contrast this with working memory (sometimes referred to as short-term or active memory), which is limited and retains information for mere seconds.

Again, like the name sounds, it takes longer to reach into long-term memory and pull out just the right word or piece of information. The right key or association is needed, which is something that reminds us of what we’re trying to recall. This, of course, slows down us introverts when we’re speaking.

If we’re anxious — which is how I felt when my intimidating co-worker approached me — it may be even more difficult to locate and articulate the right words.

Why it’s easier to express ourselves in writing

Introverts “often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation,” writes Susan Cain in her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Introverts may prefer text messages and emails to phone calls. Many of us keep journals or compose lyrics, poems, or stories, and some of us make careers out of writing.

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The reason for this preference once again has to do with how our brains are wired: written words use different pathways in the brain, which seem to flow fluently for many introverts, writes Laney.

What to do when your mind goes blank

Memory is complex, and it uses many different areas of the brain. Our brains store memories in several locations and create links between them, called associations.

To yank something out of long-term memory, we need to locate an association. The good thing is, most pieces of information in long-term memory were stored with several associations or keys for unlocking them.

“If we find just one key, we can retrieve the whole memory,” writes Laney.

When you struggle to remember a word, a piece of information, or even what you did over the weekend (because that question often comes up in small talk!), try these things:

Be still and relax.
Give yourself permission to be quiet for a few moments. Don’t let the other person rush you.
Buy yourself time to process things by saying something like, “Let me think about that,” or “Hmm, let me see…” Or, give a nonverbal signal that shows you’re thinking, like looking away and furrowing your brow slightly.
Let your mind wander for a moment and go where it wants. One thought may lead to another, and one of those thoughts may hold the “key” to unlocking the words you want from your long-term memory.
If all else fails, and words escape you, don’t feel embarrassed — your brain is doing what comes naturally to it, and that is to pause and reflect. If you’re being quiet, you’re in good company with other deep-thinking introverts: Stephen Hawking once said, “Quiet people have the loudest minds.”

Then, try breezing over any awkwardness in the conversation by using humor to make light of your tongue-tied state, or say you’re a little distracted right now, and you’ll get back to the other person later — by sending an email or text.

When an introvert is quiet, don’t assume he is depressed, snobbish or socially deficient. Laurie Helgoe, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength
Image credit: Deviant Art (Ezgi Polat)

VISIT THE SOURCE POST HERE!

Disclaimer: I have not read ALL their posts, nor have I read ANY of the books they recommend. Please don’t take this post as an endorsement of the books or of the content on their site, but merely an appreciation of this particular post. Thanks!!

Learning to be Lovely

Just a quick note, God is doing SO MUCH in my life through my church and the Young Professionals group, working on my heart attitudes. Especially on my opinion of myself. He’s using others to help me appreciate who He created me to be. Showing me what it looks like to let your inner beauty show, and how to like what I see in the mirror. I’m learning to love myself for the first time in so long I can’t even remember. And you can’t properly love others until you learn to truly love yourself, seeing yourself as God sees you: perfect and breathtakingly beautiful. Loving the journey He’s taking me on.