May 2014 Features

A Studio of One's Own

Virginia said we needed a room of our own,
And I recalled that advice to this date.
But I didn’t know what kind of room she meant,
We need a room where we can create.

We may have a master bedroom,
We may have a spa-like bath,
We may have a high-tech office,
But we need a room to help us find our path.

It doesn’t have to be a big space,
An extra bedroom would be great,
To turn into a studio,
And there we can create.

Photo of the Month: Tulip Time

Tulips in their various stages—from just opening to just past their peak—remind us of how life unfolds, day by day.

  Asheville, North Carolina, April 2008.   (Photograph by Michael Riddle. )

Asheville, North Carolina, April 2008. (Photograph by Michael Riddle.)

Book Review: Quiet

If you consider yourself to be an extrovert and you’d like to understand the introverts in your life better, Quiet by Susan Cain is an excellent resource. And if you consider yourself to be an introvert, this book can help you to understand extroverts better, and to deepen your appreciation of your own personality. In Quiet, Cain looks at characteristics of introverts and extroverts and she presents a variety of research studies on these personality types. She also interviews numerous people, ranging from residents of Silicon Valley to students at Harvard Business School.

Cain talks about how there are no universally accepted definitions of introverts and extroverts. She discusses definitions that are consistent with the work of psychologist Carl Jung and that include the following observation: “Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.” She goes on to discuss various ways in which introverts and extroverts tend to differ. She states about introverts, “They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation.” Regarding extroverts, Cain observes that they “think out loud and on their feet; they prefer talking to listening” and they “rarely find themselves at a loss for words.” She also mentions that there is an introvert-extrovert spectrum, as it’s not the case that everyone is either completely an introvert or completely an extrovert.

An important point that Cain makes is that introversion is different from shyness. She writes, “Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating.” Another notable point in the book is that studies indicate that between one third and one half of all Americans are introverts. She includes many examples of famous introverts, such as Rosa Parks, Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein. Cain wraps up the book with two chapters that are chock-full of useful advice. One chapter is about “How to Talk to Members of the Opposite Type” and the other is about “How to Cultivate Quiet Kids in a World That Can’t Hear Them.” Quiet is an engrossing book whose impact lingers long after you’ve finished reading those final chapters.

4 Tips for Summer Travel

In May, many of us are anticipating summer travels. Here are four tips that might come in handy:

 "To Bring" list

1) Making a short list of items that you definitely want to remember to bring with you on a trip can be very helpful. Most of us won’t need a comprehensive “packing list” for the typical trip, but jotting down a few things that you don’t want to forget, such as a camera, can be worthwhile.

2) You may also want to jot down a few key phone numbers and then bring that list with you while traveling. If anything happens to your cell phone during your travels, at least you’ll still have those key numbers available.

3) When you travel by air, you may want to bring a beverage with you when you board the plane, especially in the summer when it’s easy to become dehydrated. On some short flights, there may be no beverage service at all, and on other flights you may have to wait a long while before you’re served a drink. If, after you’ve gone through security, you purchase a bottled drink to bring on the plane, you’ll know you’ll have a beverage available when you want it. (You may also want to bring a healthy snack, as it seems like every year it’s becoming less common for snacks to be included with beverage service.)

4) Lastly, one of the kindest things you can do for yourself when you travel is to expect delays and to be prepared for them. There are so many ways to use a smartphone or tablet while experiencing a travel delay; having some printed material to read can also be nice, if you want to take a break from looking at a screen. It’s easier to get through a delay if you have plenty of interesting activities to engage in while you are waiting. Also, if you can build time into your itinerary to allow for delays, that can result in delays being less stressful when they do arise.

Word of the Month: Patience

In the book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn describes patience as “a remembering that things unfold in their own time.” In some situations, the unfolding takes longer than we would like. For example, when we’re traveling and a delay arises, we might feel impatient because we are eager to get to our destination. While that’s understandable, we can try to bring awareness to the situation and realize that when we’re impatient, we’re usually not appreciating the present moment. If we try to make the best of a delay by focusing on something fun like reading for pleasure or something productive like getting caught up with email correspondence, that can lead us to feel more present, more patient and more peaceful.

On some occasions, when we feel impatient, we’re able to take reasonable steps to try to shorten a delay or waiting period. When we’re stuck in a traffic jam, we may be able to find an alternate route. Or if it’s been a week since we sent an email to a company and we haven’t heard back, it can make sense to contact them again. But in cases where there is no good alternative to waiting, patience can make all of the difference with regard to the quality of our experiences.

It’s interesting to consider how technology and patience interact. On one hand, we can find ourselves expecting instant replies to emails and texts and expecting packages to arrive at our homes in a day or two—those expectations would seem to lead to less patience. On the other hand, because of technology we have so many ways to occupy ourselves while we are waiting, such as by using smartphones and tablets, and that would seem to make it easier to be patient. In our 21st century lives, impatience seems to have the edge in many situations. By remembering how valuable patience can be, we can appreciate how things unfold in their own time and we can appreciate more of the moments of our lives.

See May 2014 article

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