The Four Tendencies

Here we are again! Another several months..err.. years… have gone by and I am here ready to write again. So soon. LoL.

I have been listening to a podcast for a couple of months now called Happier, with Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft, and I became really interested in the Four Tendencies, the concept and book by Gretchen Rubin.  (My friend Olivia had posted about Power Sheets by Lara Casey back in 2015, and when I searched for the podcast app for “Lara Casey”, the Happier podcast came up! Just thought I’d mention that in case you, like I, need to know how one stumbled upon something, and because Power Sheets are awesome!)

In summary, the Four Tendencies is a framework for categorizing people based on how they react to expectations. I really enjoy personality studies, and while Gretchen explains that the Four Tendencies focus only on this one portion of personality, I feel like I understand myself infinitely more than ever before.  In my humble opinion, I believe that I am a pretty self-aware person, and in many circumstances I am able to truly identify the roots of my emotions and behaviors. However, self-aware as I am, Gretchen has given me the framework to understand myself even better, has given a name to people just like me, and has broken down the strengths and weaknesses in the workplace, in friendships, in romantic relationships, and in a parent/relationship for each tendency. It is honestly eye-opening!

The Four Tendencies are Upholder, Obliger, Rebel, and Questioner. Upholders meet inner and outer expectations, Obligers uphold outer expectations and resist inner expectations, Rebels resist both inner and outer expectations, and Questioners uphold inner expectations and resist outer expectations. Got all that?

I am an Obliger all the way.  The motto Gretchen chose for Obligers is “I’m counting on you to count on me”.  Meaning that Obligers are great at following through and meeting expectations that are presented by something or someone outside of themselves–a job,  a spouse, their children, a deadline, etc.  Obligers are NOT great at meeting expectations that come from within.  I knew from the second that I read the description of obligers that I was one! I can’t count the times that my obligerness has played a part in a decision I’ve made, whether it is career or relationship oriented.

People like me can and should create outer accountability to help us accomplish the things that we say we want to do, yet consistently fail to.  This situation has recently played out in my life, so I wanted to share! For years and years, I have loved language. I have a degree in French, understand moderately well and speak the basics of Spanish, and have had a desire to teach ESL for at least half a decade.  Throughout my single adulthood, I had plenty of excuses for not getting into ESL. No time, no money, no experience, etc. After we got married, I had yet another nudge from God that I should do this, topped off with several logical reasons to give it a go.

So I signed up for an online certification course that cost about $1000.  I thought this would really get me going, you know? I’d be so motivated because I had that outer accountability of having to take a test, plus the fact that we were spending a good chunk of money on it, and Enrique wouldn’t be too impressed with me if I abandoned the plan. Well, turns out that tests for online classes are SUPER EASY, because, well…. you just look at your notes as you take the test.  So in true Andrea Fashion, I procrastinated A LOT, passed my tests (still have two more courses to go), and learned some… but overall,  let’s just say I’m glad I have all the printouts from the courses, because I can’t recall much off the top of my head. Not to mention that I have never actually TAUGHT ESL. (The certification includes courses for beginner teachers, but most seem geared to teachers with at least a little experience).

Enter Goyo, my husband’s Best Man, BFFE, and the other half of the Mex-Neck Bromance. Goyo’s girlfriend Lauren mentioned to me that he was wanting to go back to the literacy center (where I was considering starting to teach as a volunteer last fall, before the S hit the F in our lives, if ya know what I mean), or to get a tutor to help him to practice his English. I thought about it for a couple weeks or so (wouldn’t want to be premature), and told them that I would love to be an English helper! So far, we have had two or three lessons. We had an initial meeting, where we just assessed the goal and I sort-of came up with a plan.  We have each had to cancel a session, but guess what happened.  Unlike even the online certification course that I paid money for, I got a fire lit under my butt to figure out how to give one-on-one English tutoring/instruction because SOMEONE WAS COUNTING ON ME! Revolutionary I tell ya. I went to the library, checked out $233 worth of books (my receipt provided that fun fact), and spent over an hour planning for our second lesson. And let’s be honest. . . I was also reviewing English grammar and parts of speech. (Enrique always asks me “Why, baby?!” in regards to certain English pronunciation and grammar, and I don’t usually have an answer). This was really exciting to me for two reasons- 1) I am finally taking the itsy-bitsiest step closer to being Ideal Andrea in dipping my toes in the ESL ocean, and 2) It’s OBLIGERNESS IN ACTION!

I could go on, but I won’t. I’ll just say,  Five Stars for the Four Tendencies and the Happier Podcast, for personal growth, and for friends providing an opportunity to help each other out. 🙂

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think on these things

Disclaimer: I wrote most of this draft in January and just came back to see that I never finished it!! So much for the record (see below) 🙂

 

I’m about to set a record here- 3 posts in one month!

I don’t really have a ton to say here, other than I am feeling pretty optimistic about life right now (and secretly I want to set my record-haha). I am still getting used to Bluffton, still a bit sad that I can’t see my friends all the time now, but I don’t want to waste (more) time being sad and complaining – out loud OR in my mind- about where I live when people ask me how it is going down here.

One of my favorite books is The 4:8 Principle.  My friend Jane Ann introduced it to me, and it’s one of those books that I should just put on a yearly rotation and make sure that I revisit often.  The book is based on a scripture: Philippians 4:8, which says:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

In a nutshell, think about the good things. I’m not saying to be in denial about real circumstances or live in la-la land and act like hard things don’t exist in life. But don’t dwell on negative circumstances and thoughts, or even worries about the future.  Easier said than done right?

If we think negative things, aren’t we going to live a negative life ? For example,  if I say to those around me, “well there’s not much to do here, and the beach is really far away”, it’s going to be a self fulfilling prophecy!  After telling myself and my friends that time and again, I start to really embrace that belief as truth.  I may resign myself to not making any friends here because there’s “nothing to do”, and start believing that the 30 minute drive is not worth the amazing breeze, the smell and sound of the ocean, and the feel of sand beneath my feet at the closest beach.

Honestly, I didn’t even know until a few years ago that the things that we think are a CHOICE.  I believed that my thoughts just happened- consequently my attitudes just happened, and I was at the mercy of what my brain wanted to do and how it wanted to see things!

Now, it’s been a while since I’ve read the book, so I don’t recall the exact steps that we have to begin taking in order to control our thoughts. But the point is, IT’S POSSIBLE!    One example I do remember from The 4:8 Principle is this: imagine you are at the circus.  As one act ends, the tent darkens and a spotlight illuminates the gal walking the tightrope.  All eyes are on her, focused on the spectacle. When her act is over, the tent brightens, and everything else in the ring has been completely changed and set up during the tightrope act.  What you didn’t see as you watched the gal walk the tightrope were all of the crew, dressed in black, hurrying to disassemble the old props and put the new ones into place.  Why didn’t you notice? Because the spotlight focused your attention on something other than what was going on in the shadows.  Focus.

The thoughts that go through our mind don’t just happen to be there. We get to choose the things that we hold in our minds, the things that we focus on. Let’s face it, we are ALWAYS inside our own heads.  It not easy to control our thoughts, or pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, if you will, but that awareness of the choice we have is actually life-changing. Does it take practice? Definitely. Are negative thought patterns and habits hard to break? Absolutely! But in my very limited experience of this process- stopping a negative spiral, speaking words of truth to myself, replacing those negative thoughts- I have seen enough of a change in my own attitude and mental health – and  therefore my trajectory in life!- to say YES it is worth the effort!

My favorite to-do list

Last year was a wonderful year.  2015 was the BEST. It was a big one, and a busy one.  I moved out of a house I loved (traumatic!) because my dear friend and roommate Austin got married, I got engaged, planned our wedding, left a city I have lived in and loved for ten years, and got married.  Four of my closest friends also got married, two got pregnant (and one gave birth last week!), and another gave birth to miracle twins! It was such an eventful, busy, happy year for many friends in my circle.  Needless to say, between wedding planning and my THREE moves, I didn’t have as much time as usual to be social, have fun with my local friends, or keep in touch with my out-of-town friends.

I didn’t make New Year’s Resolutions this year, because I like to really think about it and consider changes I want to make in my life, and not make impulsive, overly ambitious goals without a game plan, only to fail within a few weeks.  This year we were really busy with Enrique’s family being in town, and ringing in the New Year in Orlando (hooray for Disney!) that I didn’t make the time to do it.  I did get my first set of Powersheets by Laura Casey that I am planning on starting this week.  My Make It Happen binder is going to be my whole year resolution, not just the new year resolution.  Anyway,  I know that one thing this year will hold for me is more communication with my friends.

I have those days or weeks when I get to feeling out of sorts, or lonely, or thinking that my life is not much fun, I will realize that I haven’t seen or spoken to my friends in too long! And when we do get together, or Skype, or even talk on the phone, I feel so much happier.  It’s such an elementary principle that you would think would not be hard to remember: talk to your friends= feel less lonely.  Once when I was reminded of this yet AGAIN, I thought, I am going to write down the names of my closest friends and place it in a visible spot, so when I have a minute, I will just give her a call and say hi.  It’s an odd thing in a way- do I really need to have a to-do list to call my friends?! Apparently so!

This quote from It’s a Wonderful Life came up today on my timehop from five years ago (one of my favorite apps): “Remember George, no man is a failure who has friends”.  In the past, I have not had a great track record of keeping in touch with folks who are far away, with the exception of my immediate family. Even then, I feel like I am out of touch sometimes.  I have made the statement “I’m just bad at keeping in touch” as if it’s something I can’t change, or that I should just accept and deal with the consequences, but I know that is not the truth.

I always read those articles that interview people nearing the end of their lives, where they talk about what they would do differently if they could have a re-do. I am a huge fan.  Part of the reason I like them is that it confirms some things that I think I know about life. But like my grandpa always said, in principle, I know these things!  But in practice they are not always acted upon.  So for some reason, when someone who is on their deathbed, or at least who has outlived many friends, is quoted as saying, “I wish I had kept in touch with my friends”, or “I wish I had put more time into my relationships”, it really kind of smacks me in the face! I mean, our days are numbered here!

I have so many amazing individuals in my life and I know people are the absolute most valuable things here on this earth. I am determined to make my relationships a priority this year.  Maybe it could be taken as an insult- that I have to make a to-do list in order to keep in touch with important people in my life. But it’s not as much a to-do list as it is a visual reminder that I am rich in the things that matter most.

 

At least I am consistent. . .

…in how often I write a post! Apparently I get the urge to write a blog post about once a year, in the winter. Ha! So much has changed since I first started this blog, though it is not recorded here 🙂 well, once a year is better than never, right?

I read other women’s blogs, and I think, “I could do that”! And then I don’t. What the heck. I suppose it is like other goals that I’ve had. When I picture myself carrying out said goal, I am doing it successfully, obviously, and I’m loving it, all sorts of other amazing things going on, and I’m having such a great impact on those around me.… but I don’t actually have a PLAN or a concrete measurable goal in mind. So it never happens. And then one day I think, wow, I was so excited about (fill in the blank) when I had the idea, and then the excitement just fizzled away, partially because I didn’t take the time or make the effort of PLANNING to accomplish it. The story of my life.

My husband and I were actually just talking about that last night, on a broader scale, and it got me down for sure. I have struggled with the consequences of being a “laid-back” and “flexible” person all my life! At any given point in my life, I haven’t had TOO much of a plan, or thought TOO far into the future (besides when I married my love). The problem is, as I have grown up, lived with roommates as an adult, and gotten married, I realize that I’m NOT actually as laid back as I once thought I was! Sure, I still don’t really plan too far in advance, but I also REALLY like to have things done MY WAY and have a really hard time with spontaneity sometimes, to the dismay of my husband. So maybe I’ve been using the wrong words to describe myself this whole time. Maybe I am actually just pessimistic, or lazy, or scared, or a control freak, not very bright or . . . a combination of all of those things!

Maybe it sounds like I’m being hard on myself, and I know if you’re reading this mom and dad, that you’ll be quick to tell me how great I am 😉 But this is something that I’ve struggled with quite a bit, specifically when it comes to my (lack of) career achievements. In college, I studied what interested me, what I was good at, what I got excited about. I did study abroad because it was something I had wanted to do since I took my first French class in ninth grade. I took a trip to Cuba to learn about the diplomatic relationship between the US and Cuba and it’s effects. But I didn’t make a plan. I didn’t do any internships. I didn’t volunteer in related fields. I didn’t go to grad school. I KNEW (as much as any 19-21 year old KNOWS anything) I didn’t want to teach French or be in business. I wanted to help people, make the world a better place. I thought, who wouldn’t want to hire a gal who loves people and just wants to help others, who doesn’t need a big salary, who isn’t picky about what she’s doing as long as it’s something productive? Well, a lot of people, apparently. Every time I am job-searching, I think, WHY didn’t I just get an education degree to go along with that French degree, just to be prepared? WHY didn’t I get a business degree to go along with that International Studies degree so that I could have a practical way to put that liberal arts degree to use?

What-ifs and regrets about the past are tricky. This morning I woke up crabby because after that conversation last night, I laid awake worrying that I’m not doing anything important and I’ll get to the end of my life regretting many missed chances.  But Enrique believes that I need to use this frustration as a motivation for my future.  Use the energy that I put into feeling sad/mad/regretful/disappointed into brainstorming, making a plan, and achieving my goals.  So that’s what I’m going to do. One of the many ways I’ve seen that two are better than one. And that’s the truth 🙂

Way way back

Welllll…..almost a year has gone by since my second and most recent blog post! I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had in fact written more than one post ! It is definitely fun to look back and see what you’ve written in the past, though obviously that doesn’t amount to much as far as this blog in concerned.  I did however keep up relatively well with a daily “journal” that I found on Pinterest.  For every day of the year, you have a notecard that you write the events of your day. Sometimes one sentence, sometimes a near endless list of the events that transpired that day.  I kept up with it for about 3/4 of the year (with the help of old text messages that helped me remember what I did those days I skipped over). You can continue for as many years as you have room for on that notecard and Voila!!  You have your own DIY Timehop (which incidentally I recently discovered and fell in love with)!  So far it has been fun to look back to the events of last year and remember all of the fun things, the transitions, the new friendships I made.  So, wish me luck on keeping up on my cards!!

Clean

As you may know, I recently read a book called Clean.  In a nutshell, it is about eliminating toxins from our bodies that we encounter through our foods and environments and replacing them with the nutrients that heal and rebuild our insides.  I was HOOKED on this book.  The author, Dr. Alejandro Junger, explains the amazing functions that our bodies perform with the fuel we feed them.  He also explains the damage that we do with the food we eat that are not so healthy.

The idea is that the food that we consume now is far from the food our bodies were made to digest.  The addition of preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, genetically modified produce, chemicals, and sugars just to name a few, has caused an increase in obesity, disease, and cancer; if we’re not affected by one of these issues, most of us likely encounter food allergies or a number of other health problems of which we can’t quite determine the cause.

In my mind, Dr. Junger’s book can be summed up in two main points:

1) We need to eliminate toxins in as many areas as we can (a majority of them occur in our diets) and replace food that lack nutrients with fresh and nutrient dense foods!

2) Our bodies need sufficient rest from the work of digesting food to allow the natural detoxification process to occur.

So, after a few days of working on incorporating the Elimination Diet, and being derailed by (free) brownies and pizza at work, I had received my Vitacost goods and was ready to start!!

Unfortunately… it’s time for me to get ready for work. To be continued! I know you’re on the edge of your seats 😉

Shhh… do you hear that?

…It’s the winds of change.  Today marks the end of a three year chapter in my life-my last day working at Starbucks!  The past two weeks have been a time for me to look back and see how far I have come since my first day as a barista. If you’re asking yourself how far that could really be, I can assure you, it’s enough to prompt this blog! I won’t get into it ALL now, but it’s my reason #1.

Despite my record as an inconsistent and aimless journal-er (there’s got to be a better way to say that), I realize the value in having written word to look back on. You know, the value of the moments when you re-read to what you wrote a month ago, a year ago, or longer, and you think, wow, I was SO smart/ crazy/ hopeful/ brave/ clueless back then! I love that moment when you learn something about yourself, about someone else, or about the world around you. To me, those moments and lessons are ingrained in us even more when we have the words in front of us instead of just thoughts in our heads. So my primary reason in starting this blog is as a record for myself.  I have high hopes that I will be more consistent, if not more concise in my writing.

Secondly,  I generally try not to engage in online conflict- political, religious, or otherwise.  It seems to me that any given comment or opinion thrown out to 650 facebook friends is bound to offend SOMEONE, and my rational is this: if I write something HERE that offends you, and you are actually reading this right now, you are probably either a blood relative or a very close friend, and you will love me anyway 🙂  Unlike the 658-wait 657- of my closest Facebook “friends”.

Thirdly, I think blogging is cool.  I love the community that is formed by people expressing themselves in this form.  I think it’s so great how every blogger has his or her own interests and experience. The bonds that are formed when one person finds some reflection of themselves in another are so cool.  Like C.S Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one”.

And that, my friends, is why I decided to start writing. The end 🙂