Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Personality types. Do we change over time?

I was listening to the Adventures in Imperfect Living podcast yesterday on my way home from work, produced by Greg and Jennifer Willits. I've been a listener for many years, I have always enjoyed their show. This week they were talking about a free online personality test, and I have to admit, it piqued my interest. I've heard about such tests of course, as we all have, I'm sure, but I've never taken one. I wondered if my personality would now test out to be somewhat of a change for me, since I have become much more social and much less shy as I've gotten older. So when I got home and was waiting for dinner to warm on the stove, I took the test. And you can too, right here. :)

The directions caution you to take your time and answer as you truly feel, rather than as you WANT to feel about yourself. But to me, the questions were remarkably easy to answer:

"You often get so lost in thought that you ignore or forget your surroundings."

*SNORT* "Um, YEAH! Strongly agree."

"You try to respond to your emails as soon as you can, because you cannot stand a messy inbox."

"There are people who aren't crazed by messy inboxes?!"

"You often feel insecure."

"Whoa boy. Can't click Agree fast enough on that one!"

"People can rarely upset you."

*wistful sigh* "If only that could be true..."

Well. :0

I am an INFJ-T, also known as "The Advocate." This acronym stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging, Turbulent. This is my little profile, if you are so inclined. Apparently, I'm quite rare. Read: WEIRD. Though Mike tested out to be the *exact* same personality type. We weird ones seek and find each other, it seems.

Soooooo, in simple terms, though much less socially awkward than I used to be, I am still an Introvert with a capital I. Whether that is good or bad, I have no notion, but there you have it. I'm still very much your introverted Catholic Librarian, but I enjoy talking to people more now. :0

What is YOUR personality type? Let's kibbitz in the comments.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A lot of mixed parenting emotions this weekend...

Hi all! I'm going into the most intense teaching block of the semester, but I'm happy to report that I'm doing a lot better today with stress management. And you all play a big part in that. ;-)

It was a sublime weekend, filled with apple picking, football watching, Mass attending, beer drinking, and general fall frivolity. And guess what else? For the first time, one of my children attended a...

SCHOOL DANCE.

*wide eyed look of terror*

Henry is in 6th grade this year, and as part of the middle school wing of his Catholic school, his class is eligible to start attending the monthly dances. Henry is an introvert like me, and I honestly didn't think he'd want to go. But apparently his friends were going and talking about it, and as we all know, that is a major impetus for school aged children. The dances are held in the school gym, extremely well-chaperoned and supervised, and are fundraisers for the middle school field trips at the end of the year, so it's not like we had a good reason to keep him home if he wanted to go. So we let him go.

Watching him jog off down the street to catch a ride with his friend whose mom was chaperoning, I teared up a bit. Henry hasn't been a "little kid" in my mind in quite some time. He's almost as tall as I am, and has needed to wear deodorant for a few years now. :0 But still. In that moment, heading towards what I knew would be a new (and potentially super awkward) social situation for him, made him seem so much smaller to me all of a sudden. I wished I could protect him from all that.

I am firm believer, though, in fostering independence in my children. It's good for him to experience and navigate certain social situations without me there, especially given his more reserved nature. It's a healthy and good thing.

I know they need parent chaperones, and I'm so grateful for the parents who do chaperone. I want to help out so that the kids can have this fun experience in such a safe environment, but...I don't want to chaperone. :0 Because I want Henry to have that independent time without me right there. I was a shy, introverted kid too. I know that it's good for him to experience some things without me, it's good for his confidence. It's different for all children depending on their personality, but given his, I think this is the way to go for him.

I mentioned this all to him on our way to Mass yesterday, that I wanted to help out, but I understood that he may not want me right there for an event like that. And do you want to know what he said?

"It's OK, Mom. You wouldn't like it anyway. It's SO LOUD there with the way the DJ plays the music. SO LOUD. You definitely wouldn't like all that noise." *small shudder*

This kid? Looks nothing like me. He's BLOND and BLUE EYED. :0 But there is no doubt about the fact that THIS IS MY CHILD! :0 Of my two children, Henry and I are definitely closer to being kindred spirits. Made me smile. :-)

How was your weekend, dear reader?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #67 - Sometimes, we all need a sick day...

Today, all technical things are working correctly *streamers!* and it's a cathartic episode of:


This morning I dwell on how we all *need* to take sick and vacation days at times, and why Jessie from Toy Story is an inspiration to me. Please join me!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
Are you also reading the Mother Angelica title? Praying the St. Therese novena? Seen Toy Story of Terror? We all find a way. ;-) Write in and let me know how you're doing!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Autumn Prayer Journal Curators, volume 1...

Hello my lovely friends. For what feels like the 250th consecutive day, I am having a work day in which I am despairing over a cup of tea in my office. Translation: things are very stressful here right now. The teaching load and sheer volume of student emails and urgently needed technical fixes across 15 classes are taking a toll.

I've been trying very hard to be positive while I'm at work, and guess what? I'm frequently failing. I'm super happy at home, which certainly helps, but the work days are still a bit painful to slog through. And so I thought today was a perfect day to whip out my prayer journal and try to work up some gratitude, sister! ;-)

So, here we go:

Inspiration - This week, I am inspired by my sisters. I am blessed to have two sisters, and both of them are strong, successful, kind women who have inspired me with their creativity and ability to empathize with others. I endeavor to always follow in their example.

Nourish - I have been using the Divine Office app on my phone each morning to pray Morning Prayer and I am really getting into it. My day doesn't seem complete without it anymore.

Spread Joy - Well, this is a tough one. :0 In fact, I left it blank in my journal until just now, because I couldn't think of a way in which I have spread joy so far this week. I have been struggling so hard just to stay patient. I have, though, been working hard to not let my grumpiness spill over to my interactions outside of my office. It's like my own work day misery has made me more aware of how important it is to hold the door for the next person, and thank the person who holds it for me.

Projects - I am working on a pair of socks for Mike that he is calling "the 70's wallpaper socks." The colors are burnt orange, yellow, a muted maroon, and brown, and he absolutely loves them. In a heroic effort to avoid Second Sock Syndrome, *halo* I finished the first sock and immediately cast on for the second. #winning

Involve - I have been building a cart of books over at Amazon in an effort to become more prayerful this autumn, and prepare for Advent. I have a St. Mother Teresa book in there, some prayer journals, and the new Catholic Mom title. I'll let you know the exact titles and if I end up ordering anything else next week. ;-)

Reflect - Lord, I know that I still have so far to go in working on my positive attitude at work. Please help me to center my thoughts on You, and to not let anxiety take root in my mind during the day.

End Goals - I need to work harder at the joy thing. Next week I endeavor to be more joyful during my work day, regardless of what crappy thing happens. ;-)

Do you have an INSPIRE for this week? Go ahead and leave your links or list in the comments!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Divine Mercy for Moms Book Club, over at CatholicMom.com!

Hello all! Just a quick note today about something I mentioned previously, and what has now come to fruition:

*drum roll*

The Catholic Mom fall book club!

http://catholicmom.com/divine-mercy-for-moms-book-club/

If you're a book club fan, this might be the perfect fall opportunity for you! Catholic Mom does a really great job with their book clubs. They start off with an author interview, then go chapter by chapter, throughout the season. You can sign up for emails letting you know each Saturday when the new post is up. And yours truly is participating!

The author interview and chapter 1 posts are already up. I authored the chapter 2 post, and it's going up this Saturday, September 24th.

*beams*

These chapters are quick reads, and you could easily get caught up in a quick-as-a-bunny manner. Then next week you can comment on my chapter 2 post and I'll write back to you. ;-) The book is available in both paperback and ebook form, eligible for Amazon Prime!

If you think you'll participate, let me know in the comments. I've joined in their book clubs in the past as a reader, and loved my experience!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Treasuring the dandelion moments...

Yesterday evening, after a very enjoyable day, I gave Anne a bath. She lingered in there for a bit like she always does, playing with various water toys, then demanded that I put her into a sleeper. She's a very demanding child. ;-)

As I was cleaning up the post-bath mess, she went downstairs in her reindeer footed sleeper. Mike was outside mowing the lawn, and I could hear Anne opening the door to join him.

When I peeked out the window, Mike was pushing the lawnmower through the grass, while Anne, reindeer feet stuffed into her Elsa and Anna sneakers, was plucking cherry tomatoes from our backyard garden.

After they finished, I could hear Anne calling me outside. I obliged her.

She's standing in our driveway, all sleepered up still, with 3 dandelions in her hand that have gone to seed. She thrusts one towards me:

"Mom. Make a wish. Then you have to whisper it to yourself so that no one else can hear you, then blow the fluff off the dandelion. If all the fluff doesn't come off, you have to take it off with your fingers."

#bossy

"All right, honey."

*I follow the instructions*

"What did you wish for?"

"For my job to make me less sad."

*Anne looks contemplative*

"OK. Here is another dandelion. Do you have another wish?"

"Um, sure, let me..."

"Never mind, I will give you a wish. Wish for...a balcony on our house."

"A balcony?"

"Yes. I see lots of houses with them. Up there on top of the house."

*gestures towards the second floor*

"Um hum, yes."

"Balconies. They are nice. We could stand on it."

"Yes, indeed. We could do that."

"So wish for a balcony Mom."

"All right."

*follow instructions*

"Good. There is only 1 dandelion left. I will make the last wish."

Well. Now that that is settled. ;-)

So there Anne and I were, both in our pajamas, standing in the driveway holding empty dandelion stalks, and I thought to myself that in the end, those are the moments I will cherish and remember. Not the 25 frustrating student emails that were waiting for me when I logged in this morning. Not how tired I felt after my recent work days with this chaotic new teaching routine in tow. I'll remember dandelion fluff and wishes for balconies. And thank God for that.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #66 - Autumn prayer journals & spiritual reading...

Technical difficulties abound this week, for our regular installment of:


Today I talk about my Fall managing stress series, and a spiritual reading component that I'm going to incorporate in. I hope you'll join me!

Welp. No video this week, this is a first! I have a new technical setup in my office, and I had the microphone settings wrong, so I recorded it with no sound.

d'oh!

I was having a good hair day and everything. :0 But I do have the audio. And I have the video fixed for next week, I promise!



**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
What do you think, autumn prayer warriors?! Are you in for some journaling and reading this fall? Let me know in the comments. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Autumn Prayer Journal Curators, what the heck am I talking about?!

Hi friends! I am back with you and energized to continue on with what I'm calling the Fall 2016 Managing Stress series. ;-) Today I wanted to flesh out the idea I mentioned earlier in the week about using blogging to aid in easing stress and anxiety, and building a stronger prayer life. And by blogging, I also mean journaling. And you and I can do it together! Here's what I'm thinking:

You may notice the cutesy graphic and title over at the left. ;-) I'm a librarian, so the "curator" part felt apt. What I'd like to do every week is keep a physical journal of various things that I want to use to improve my prayer life, and to keep a positive outlook on life in general. I have 2 *snort* prayer journals on order, but they won't come into play until next liturgical year. So for now, I just have a store bought, lined hardcover journal. This is for ease in jotting things down during the week. From there, I'm going to blog about these same things, to keep me accountable, and to share them with you. My acronym is INSPIRE:

Inspiration - Where am I finding inspiration this week?

Nourish - What am I doing to nourish my prayer life each week? This may stay the same from week to week, or change as I try new things.

Spread Joy - Coming from the Facey Curmudgeon over here, ;-) what am I doing to spread to joy to others this week?

Projects - This is the creativity piece. What am I working on in a given week that is inspiring me creatively?

Involve - How am I getting more involved in my faith this week, and trying to grow in knowledge and wisdom?

Reflect - A short reflective prayer based upon my experiences during the week.

End goals - What can I do better next week?

I like the idea of all of this making me more prayerful and grateful. This is all about being an exercise in growing in a positive direction as a person, and to maintain accountability. And YOU can join me. ;-)

I thought about creating a linkup each week for the fall, but frankly, I don't feel like it. :0 Plus, some of you may not keep a blog and may not want to start one. So, I was thinking that if you'd like to join in, you can:

(1) post a link to your INSPIRE blog post each week, if you have a blog. OR,

(2) Leave your INSPIRE segments in the comment section of each weekly post.

What do you all think? It cheers me up to think of having a simple, weekly formula for trying to be more positive, and to share it all with you. Would you participate? Let me know in the comments. :-)

There is also a spiritual reading component to our autumn cheerleading rally. I have a full out reading list (horray!) and will be going over that extensively on Tea Time this week, which I will record either tomorrow or Friday. Until then my loved ones!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Just a little window into my brain right now ;-)

This is actually going to be a multi-post series about my plans to manage stress this fall, I'm thinking. And can I SAY that I am LOVING blogging like this again? Let me circle back to that. In the meantime, grab your beverage:


But in a nutshell, this is what I have been struggling with lately:

Work.

:0

Work/life balance, to be precise. I don't want to dwell on it (because one of my goals for the week is to keep a more positive frame of mind), but I feel overwhelmed. I've experienced a big change at work, and it looks like this: I'm teaching 15, 1-credit classes, and that translates to 15 hours of teaching each week, with approximately 330 students. So, that's 330 potential emails to answer in a given week, and 330 assignments to grade. I'm not in any way saying that this is more onerous that what you all are dealing with on a daily basis. We all have our crosses to bear, this just happens to be mine right now. And because it is so different from what I used to be doing, I'm having a difficult time managing it.

Teaching is performing in a sense, and for an introvert, it's very exhausting. But I can handle that. For the most part. ;-) I've been really tired, but I'm making it. Here's the thing though: it's *everything else.*

My daily schedule is so frenzied between actively teaching, putting out small fires that come up during class with confused students and technology problems abounding, preparing for the next week's lesson plan, and answering more confused emails, that I feel like I can't catch my breath. And the emails go something like this:

"I'm confused. I know you told us where the outline was with the class schedule. But I've looked EVERYWHERE and I can't find it. Where is it?!"

*long time lapse while Tiffany composes herself*

"It's in the folder [on our course management system] labeled 'START HERE.'"

If only I worked in a Mad Men-esque universe in which I had a cart full of scotch and whiskey tucked into the corner of my office for just such occasions. :0 Being sloshed may improve my disposition in answering these emails.

Peeps. I spent 45 minutes with each group of students last week showing them step-by-step how to set up their ePortfolio for class. There is also a screenshoted handout with step-by-step instructions for how to set up the ePortfolio. And do you want to know what I find (not in all cases, but in enough) when I go in to grade them on whether or not they successfully created the ePortfolio?

"Let's see, John Smith, did he complete the ePortfolio setup? Wait, what?"

John Smith. Title of ePortfolio: Eng 105 INSERT YOUR LAST NAME HERE

I.Am.Not.Joking. I just...

*scream face emoji!*

Yesterday, I had a low moment. I thought to myself:

"Am I doing something wrong? Were the directions I thought were so simple actually INCREDIBLY complicated and I just didn't realize it? I am having a librarian identity crisis!"

The emails. So many emails. But it's not their fault I have so many students. They just want help for themselves, and they're entitled to it, and from a librarian who is kind and patient with them.

Usually that is second nature to me. But lately? Friends, I've been struggling, big time. Everything that I described above: the lack of time to collect myself during in-person teaching weeks, the frenzied weekly pace, the countless frustrating emails... they're all setting off my anxiety triggers. I feel anxious ALL THE TIME right now. I'm doing my best to act like my usual happy, calm self, but inside, I don't even recognize myself anymore. This Current Inside Tiffany is surly and annoyed all the time, and I don't like her very much.

I had a Come to Jesus session over the weekend. I discerned a few things.

First, this blog. Blogging was always fun for me, but lately? Even the lighthearted life-y posts have been difficult for me to write. I felt pressured when I wrote them, because there were so many other things requiring my attention at that same moment. Do I need to discontinue this blog as a result? No, I don't think so. Here is what I DO know:

I need more prayer in my life. I also need more positive thoughts in my work life. I need to be more prayerful and recollected throughout my work day, so that I can bring joy and ease to others, not impatience and irritability. Does blogging fit into this? It very much does. This blog started out as an online, public journal for me. It remains so to this day. It has only become stressful for me to write because I've been putting pressure on myself to write these long posts, and to maintain a very specific schedule. I used to blog more frequently, but my posts were much shorter.

Yesterday was an experiment. I set aside a short amount of time, had something on my heart, and used that window, and that window only, to blog about it. Bam! I finished it and off it went to you all. And I felt GOOD afterward. It was cathartic and joyful to write like that. THAT is how I will approach blogging from now on. You'll actually be seeing MORE posts for me now. They'll be shorter, but they'll be fun and they help keep me sane. Win/win.

I'm also feeling really excited and inspired about some ideas that I discerned on how to use this blog to also aid on the prayer and anxiety-easing front. BUT my writing window for the day is done, so it'll have to wait til tomorrow. ;-) Tomorrow is another day though, another blogging day, my friends! Stay tuned, because I think you'll like it. And you can participate too. ;-) Curious? I'll see you tomorrow!

In the meantime, who else struggles with anxiety? What are some of your coping mechanisms? If you feel comfortable sharing, I'd love to hear from you. *heart*

Monday, September 12, 2016

Finding peace in the chaos...

Good morning my friends, and I'm happy to report that I had a restful and refreshing weekend. Shortly after I recorded Tea Time on Thursday (special edition with Typhoid Tiffany :0) it became abundantly clear that I was not suffering from mere seasonal allergies. I had something much more virulent, and I was feeling pretty collapse-y as a result. But no rest for the weary, as with all 6 of us teaching in the exact same time slot on Friday mornings, calling in sick is really not an option this semester. So there I was Friday morning, teaching with a voice that could barely be heard above the rasp factor, terrible congestion, and a fever rash covering my neck, chest and upper arms that drew any number of alarmed stares. Let's just say that RESENTMENT was an emotion that I was struggling with as the week ended. By the evening, I could barely talk, let alone dance, and so going to rehearsal was out of the question. I was pretty surly as a result.

I took the weekend as a time of serious reexamination and reflection. I have a lot going on right now, it is true, but so does everyone else. I need to be able to deal with things better. Happiness isn't all external; it is a state of mind, and I need to adjust mine.

I came up with some ideas, which I will go into tomorrow. And my task is to carry them forward with me each and every day. I'm off from in-person teaching this week and next, but I still have many more teaching weeks ahead of me. I also have the grading monster to slay during these online weeks, plus lots of writing to do. I needed to find a way to balance all of the things I'd like to get done in a day (teaching/other work tasks, family time, writing, blogging, exercising, prayer) and so far, what I was doing wasn't working. I was getting things done, but I was miserably unhappy. I want a way of life that will allow me to treasure the small moments, and carry that happy place with me into the chaos of the teaching weeks. I also need some semblance of a prayer life to sustain my soul ALWAYS.

I have some ideas. Check back tomorrow and we'll chat. ;-) In the meantime, today is my September Catholic Mom day, and today we chat about holy reminders and prayer cards. I would LOVE for you to leave me a comment over at Catholic Mom!

http://catholicmom.com/2016/09/12/prayer-cards-holy-reminders-friends-heaven/

Until tomorrow my friends. I'm blowing a kiss to you all!