Perfect you

my niece Amanda (humoring me by trying on funny hats at the Goodwill in Biloxi)
my very fun niece Amanda (humoring me by trying on funny hats at the Goodwill in Biloxi)

I’m leaving New Orleans tomorrow afternoon to go back home. In my last post, I talked about the feeling of loneliness and disorientation that I had felt during those first few days of the trip. In my case, the feelings weren’t coming from being alone, but more from being almost constantly with people (even those I love). I crave fairly large periods of alone time…it is during this time that I recharge my internal batteries; physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Walking through the streets of New Orleans with my brother and niece, I could see them come alive as we stopped to watch and listen to street bands and performers. I, on the other hand, was much more drawn to the quiet interiors of places like the St. Louis Cathedral and the Voodoo Spiritual Temple.

The older I get, the more I realize how vital it is to know ourselves. I’ve had countless conversations with people who have spent all of their lives thinking that there was something wrong with them for not being “more outgoing”. Even as small children, they were told to go outside and play (instead of staying inside reading a book) and often the message was, “there is something wrong with you if you don’t act like everyone else.”

When I was much younger (in my teens and early twenties) I didn’t like to be alone. I was constantly planning parties and get-togethers. When I turned 30, I got sober and found that I didn’t even know how to talk to people. I had no idea who I was. I’d always assumed that I was very outgoing, and so when I took a Myers Briggs personality test and came up a strong introvert, I was shocked and insulted. I thought it meant that I was a social misfit. I subsequently learned that being “introverted” was simply a way that some people (including me) processed life and life experience.

After spending 9 days with two people who see the world in their own unique ways (and who are much more extroverted than I am) I feel in awe of way that we are all so different, and how this is so perfect.

Today I plan to celebrate the perfection that is me. How about you? Would you care to join me?

p.s. I did go into the pool yesterday ….without my swim suit*


“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences”. Audre Lorde


* The B and B I’m staying at has a swimming pool is “clothing optional”

23 thoughts on “Perfect you”

  1. I just recently found your blog and it is not only timely for me, I live in New Orleans (Algiers Point, across the river from the French Quarter) and I live in what used to be a bed and breakfast. I too discovered later in life that I am an introvert and require lots of time alone. Just wanted to let you know that your blog is really so nice to read.

  2. Mary, I go swimming nude all the time! But it’s in my pool with a privacy fence…I guess that doesn’t count. Good for you!

  3. How simply wonderful that you got yourself to try the clothing optional side of life. Good going!! It always feels good to say yes to life. This gave me such a great feeling, this morning.

    I hardly ever comment on your blog, Mary, but know that I simply adore reading all you have to write. You are simply inspiring. Sally and I always say we had to get in touch with our Mary to handle certain parts of our lives. And that’s you!!! Thank you for all you do.

  4. Dear Mary, Well it’s quite poignant (and kinda cosmic too) that you decided to take your so-called introverted self into a nude swimming experience! Hah! I find that my alone time is absolutely essential in not only helping me feel at peace and one with my self, but with the rest of my world too. The times I spend in quiet reflection and/or meditation make me the kind of person I want to be when I’m not alone. When I’m interacting with others, both people and animals, my alone time has refreshed me so that I can be my authentic self, my loving, patient, kind and forgiving self. Your trip to New Orleans sounds like it was fun, uplifting and quiet packed with awakenings!

  5. It sounds like you are having a wonderful time! I am a long time extrovert who, in the past 10 years, very much values my private time. Solitude for me, especially outside in nature, soothes and heals and replenishes my spirit. The energy I get from being alone is equally important to me as the energy I get from being with others. I need both. Though, it wasn’t always that way. That said, my husband, very much an introvert, is the most grounded and centered person I know. And, now that we are retired, I am seeing/enjoying that more and more. I find myself attracted to a person’s light…and each of us ‘stokes’ or has our inner light ‘stoked’ in different ways and whatever way it is…it is perfect. I love your post Mary…here’s a haiku I recently wrote after a quiet solitary walk…

    Light matters to me.
    Star, moon, candle, day, mine, yours.
    Reflections connect.

    An early welcome home to you! XOXO

  6. Dear Mary,
    Synchronicity at work, I think…………I am reading Pary of One, the Loners’ Manifesto by Anneli Rufus. I found it online at my library. Its very interesting and insightful for me. Also at a certain point in life, wisdom demands its time. I am learning I must slow down for these periods of reflection, being constantly moving to prove I am not lazy is falling away.
    It has been so nice to follow your travels and life as a woman of many gifts and talents. It has helped me to know you are wise ,well and your wellness and spirit demand down time too. All the very best to you and your adventure.

  7. I have felt “on the outside looking in” all of my life, until perhaps ten or fifteen years ago. I finally realized that’s how I am put together and there is not one thing wrong with that. Being with people generally saps my energy, unless it’s one on one with a kindred soul. Bigger groups (evven two or three people) have the efffect of making me withdraw and shut down. It might be nice not have that initial “OH, NO” feeling when we are invited to some social gathering, but I get through it. Then I come home and literally soak in the peace and quiet. I love reading your blog and like some others, I don’t comment much but I am always here, absorbing your words, as well as all the comments from other readers. Thanks to each one for sharing your life and wisdom with me, with special thanks to Mary for providing this platform.

  8. Mary, you are not alone in your thinking, feeling, being . I too, although not anti social need time alone. The older I get I enjoy reflecting ( now that I have somewhat controlled the inner critic) . I hope the reflection you saw at the pool was of acceptance and freedom . Good for you ! Xo

  9. Ah, Mary…..I think I must have taken you over and you are really writing about me and my needs for alone-time! Seriously, this is me, and always has been, and I have ALWAYS felt like a misfit because of it.

    I am grateful to have finally reached the point where I can be honest and say that what you see is what you get. I am only just now honoring the “who and what” of me, and it brings such peace.

    I don’t think, however, that I am free enough to skinny-dip. You GO, girl!

  10. Mary, your blog is a form of written communication. I am in a visual form of communication. But it is always interesting to see how well or how often we can communicate in our different ways and you do it very well. But what I found most interesting in the last posting before this was how much your struck a chord in your readers and how vital this felt to them and to me. I think, in itself, that you’ve explained more fully your POV (Point of View of that post) brings out other aspects of how we feel and how we are, certainly but the responses to your last piece of writing was significant and in that alone, I feel, needs to be acknowledged and honored for what it was and is. When I am removed from my home base, I am rudderless for a few days until the inside of me catches up with the outside of me. I am likely an introverted extrovert, I love having someone in the house that I’m comfortable with but I am not good on lengthy conversations or sitting for long having them. I’m always on the move inside the house, doing something in my studio or elsewhere. To sit and ‘chew the fat’ isn’t me. I often think my husband must experience a fair bit of loneliness because of that because when people do come into the house (friends, not B&B guests) he gets into lengthy conversations with them. In your former posting, I felt you’d struck a very significant and interesting connection many of us have felt and it was almost a relief for me to read the responses. I didn’t feel that I was such an oddity after that.
    Sandy P in S. Ontario, Canada

  11. For all of those introverts out there, I highly recommend the book “Quiet, The Power of Interoverts in a World that Can Not Stop Talking”

  12. About 20 years ago I took a trip to Japan and went to a Japanese bath house, am still amazed that I actually did this and it makes me giggle to remember it. Like they say, “When in Rome….”

    There’s much I can relate to in this blog, from the Goodwill shopping expedition to needing lots of alone time. Thanks, Teri, for pointing out that not being in perpetual motion doesn’t translate to lazy. It took me a while to actually feel this even after I believed it cerebrally.

    I’m the Sally Sue referred to, she’s my good friend and coworker, and we have our “what would Mary do?” conversations, and congratulate each other when we actually pull off “a Mary!”

  13. Sounds like you have had a rich time in New Orleans. I identify w/ needing solo recovery time no matter how much you love your companions. I find busy cities the most stimulating for both living souls and those who have been “gone”. Not ever having seen pictures of you as a younger woman, I think your precious niece resembles you..she is darling and makes a fine leopard. Safe travels tomorrow☆

  14. Sounds like another wonderful adventure. New Orleans is amazing. Naked swimming is the best way to challenge the introvert in you. I am a “closet” introvert myself, so I can relate to your post. Thanks again, Mary.

  15. Carol E. expresses my thoughts exactly. The “OH, NO” factor is a characteristic of our family. I do struggle with those who are frequently challenging us introverts to ‘get out of our comfort zones.’ I challenge them to get out of theirs and to spend some quiet hours in a library or a quiet church, or a day by themselves. I need to be careful, however, when I’m alone not to fall into brooding. I think of the Yes lyric, “Don’t surround yourself with yourself,” and try to be alert to drifting from the rejunvenating power of solitude and into loneliness. What a great quote – thank you.

  16. Oh Mary, what a powerful ‘ps.’ that was, and it made me giggle….

    I’m the introvert to my 9 year younger extrovert sister and for most of our lives we’ve struggled to find a way to be together in a meaningful way. Right now we’re trying to mourn together our father’s death (me quietly and by myself during walks with my 3 dogs, my sister speaking to everybody about it) and in this morning’s email (before l read your blog) she said that finally, at 46 she won’t push me anymore to be someone l am not – wow. And then l opened your blog – no such thing as a coincidence, right?
    Always a great start to the day, to sit with you for a few minutes, quietly 🙂

  17. I think I am your twin sister of another mother 🙂 … i used to get put outside all the time…i fooled them I just climbed up the apple tree and read a book till someone came to find me…my life used to be chaos that i couldn’t control so I steep myself in beautiful silence…hope you had a wonderful time 🙂

  18. I am definitely an introvert. While I don’t like being alone all the time, I do crave and treasure my alone time. I used to think there was something wrong with me too, but now I understand it is just who I am.

  19. Brave you for going to pool in your Birthday Suit! I enjoyed this post. I’m in my 3rd 6-week session of a wonderful class called “Unwrapping the True Self.” We are a group of 10 ladies who wish to be who we are and be an example for others. We often talk about how grateful we feel that we live in a generation where this is more acceptable now – to speak out and be who you are. You are leading the way too, Mary!
    PS: I love being alone! I loved my many years of traveling locally to schools and libraries with my work with Frankie – but I’m most happy when I am home. I am an introvert who learned how to be social is how I would describe me.

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