Saturday, September 29, 2012

God Made Me An Introvert

Photo courtesy of jkt_de.
Have you ever been made to feel defective because God made you an introvert in an extroverted world? I sure have. I've been told I need to "get out more", be more "sociable", stop being so quiet in a public setting. You say it, I've probably heard it.

And just for the record, being introverted doesn't have anything to do with being AFRAID of people or social situations. Yeah, I've heard that one, too. Fear/phobia is a whole different ball of wax from being an introvert. Fear is SO totally fixable. I'm not talking about that.

For a while, I actually listened to such ignorant advice, thought they were right about there being something wrong with me. In the process, I didn't honor the way God made ME. It cost me dearly in terms of health, though I really didn't understand why at the time. Recently, the answer to that "why" has come to light.

Science is showing that the brains of introverts and extroverts are actually hard-wired differently. There are differences in the way our brains handle acetylcholine and dopamine (two important neurotransmitters) as well as the workings of the blood supply. Don't fret or fear. I won't go into a full-blown science lesson about it, though I am tempted since science was my first love and probably will remain so for the rest of my life.

Introversion isn't about temperament, personality, or fear as some like to accuse. God actually made introverts PHYSICALLY different from extroverts. He made us unique. Imagine that!

Being an introvert affects every area of my life, including writing.

Normally, social settings with large numbers of people make me a nervous wreck. The longer I have to be in them, the worse my nervous system reacts. Needless to say, being a true introvert on top of having neurological issues, I don't like crowds. I end up jittery for hours. NOW I understand it's because of the dopamine overload crowds cause in the brain. (Something extroverts thrive on, but introverts suffer under.) Worst I ever had, I couldn't sleep for three days because my nervous system got so overcharged. Sounds like fun, right? Not! Because of the accompanying jitters, I couldn't even use the time constructively. Talk about annoying. If I can't sleep, I at least want to get something accomplished.

In small groups, and one-on-one, I'm perfectly fine. In fact, I thrive in those environments, particularly with people I actually have things in common with. I don't have many close friends, but the real friendships I establish run very deep. I'm definitely a quality over quantity type of mentality when it comes to relationships.

A couple of interesting sources of information are:

So I've learned to work with the way God designed me. Instead of going against the flow, I work WITH my body and the hard-wiring of my brain. I no longer try to force myself to fit a social mold made by others who simply don't "get it" that God doesn't intend for all of us to be social butterflies and people-people (couldn't help myself). Society most definitely needs its share of those, but I'm not one of them. And that's okay.

As an introvert, I spend a lot of time in my own head. I think a LOT. About myself, the world around me, my faith, "what if" scenarios, you name it. I'm also an absolute research nut (not something common to all introverts). I'm a deep thinker and couldn't stop myself from doing it even if my life depended on it. I also have a very active imagination. All of that translates into an avid love of reading and writing.

Interestingly, writing in some social settings can actually be good for me (I know other introverts who can't do what I do). I have learned to channel the energy it creates in my brain in a constructive way. Being creative and in my own head, so to speak, buffers the dopamine-producing effect of being in a crowd if I write. I can control the effect crowds have on me to some degree plus use it constructively. If I have the opportunity, that is. It's not feasible in every situation.

So, is there anything wrong with me being an introvert? Not on your life. And I no longer let people make me feel defective or broken because I'm not an extrovert like them. Society needs us introverts as much as it needs extroverts. The church does as well. We are merely different, neither better nor worse than the other.

God made me this way for a reason, and a purpose. I consider introversion to be one of the gifts, just like the talents and spiritual gifts God has given me, that make me a unique creation.

Are you an introvert? Do others make comments or ignorant judgments that make you feel damaged? Don't listen. Find peace in who you are in Christ, in the incredible creation God has made you to be. Let go of your fears, insecurities and brokenness, including the ones that come from people judging you for being born an introvert. And remember. They don't know any better.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, embrace the freedom He promises, including the freedom to appreciate your God-given talents and gifts, including those inborn ones like introversion/extroversion. Be who God has created and gifted you to be, serve the purpose He had in mind for your life before you were ever born. Don't let the ignorance of the world keep you in bondage.

Are YOU honoring God by being the person He created you to be?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Writing Lessons of 2012 - Pt 2

Photo courtesy of Jade on
Last time, I shared what I've been up to over the course of about the last year as far as writing and editing. So what has all this writing, editing and tracking madness taught me, you may wonder. Well, here it is in a nutshell:

1 - I'm capable of far more than I ever dreamed possible. I've spent years selling myself short, doubting myself and my abilities. The Lord has used the last year to show me He's gifted me far above what I ever imagined. But, I have to choose to utilize those gifts. He won't make me do it. But you know what? I'm much happier, content and at peace when I go with His flow instead of my own.

2 - Stretching is a good thing, regardless of the outcome. Being stretched isn't all that comfortable, particularly when we aren't sure about the outcome. Will we succeed? Or will we fail? If you're anything like me, going into something without knowing you can have victory over it can be a very scary thing. But if we don't try, and risk failure in the process, we go nowhere. If we stretch and fail, did we make progress? I bet we did, and we probably learned some stuff in the process. So stretch for that goal even if it feels just out of reach.

3 - I need to be kinder to myself. I tend to set way more reasonable goals for others than I do for myself. In fact, the goals I've often set for myself weren't just unreasonable, they were often unattainable. Funny contradiction to what I wrote above, isn't it? Not really. At least, those of you who are perfectionists probably recognize the dichotomy of ideas there. (See my posting about Flylady and writing if you're curious about more on this.) It's okay to set a goal and give myself permission to not meet it. If I don't make my writing or editing goal for any given month, the world won't end.

Come to think of it, if the world does end because I don't make my goal, YAY!!! I'd certainly trade this life for eternity with the Lord. Wouldn't you?

4 - I put this last, but it's hardly the least important. In fact, it's a doozy.

I work best if I work WITH my body and brain instead of against it. Not exactly a startling revelation, I know. But maybe not as obvious as you would expect. Sure, I have to make sure I get up and move around when I write a lot, or my back and shoulders get REALLY unhappy about too many hours in front of the computer. And I have to make sure I don't get so involved with my writing that I forget to eat, go the bathroom, get things to drink, etc. You know. All those mundane things life requires. But I'm talking about more than that.

With all the writing I've done in the last year as a result of ACFW's Novel Track, NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, I've noticed definite patterns and trends to the way I work. Not just to writing or editing, but when I do best with both. I have struggled with Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka S.A.D.) for a good portion of my life. (Contrary to popular belief, yes, you can struggle with this even in sunny Arizona, depending on the severity of the case. I don't even want to think about living with it in less sunny climates. It's bad enough as it is in Arizona, thank you very much.) As a result, I've spent many years dreading the onset of winter with the shorter days of sunlight. As I tell people, "Winter and I are not friends."

But I think this winter will be different because the last year has taught me something valuable. I do my best, and most productive, writing during the winter months. Who knew!?!? I've realized with all the tracking I've done this past year that my creativity flows much stronger and clearer during the winter. Summer? Bah! Oh, I can write during the summer, as proved by two successful Camp NaNo adventures. But it's not the same. In winter, the ideas flow fast, easy and feel like a flood at times like opening a faucet fully. In summer, it more resembles pulling teeth. With a spoon and no anesthesia. June, I struggled. July, I took a break (sort of anyway). August, I struggled.

Here's the interesting thing. Only writing is a struggle in summer. Editing is no problem. The opposite is true in winter. Editing in winter feels like trudging through half-frozen mud.

Which brings me back around to the S.A.D.

S.A.D. affects brain function and the brain's use of neurotransmitters and such. It's not there just in winter, as is commonly believed. It's there all year-round, affecting different parts of the brain at different times of the year. My brain shifts gears with changes in the seasons. When it does so, things that are easy part of the year became hard in another part. So writing in winter? Easy. Writing in summer? Hard. Editing in winter? Hard. Editing in summer? Easy. I'm not saying it doesn't require work when something is "easy". Anyone who has ever written knows even when the ideas really flow, it's work. But it's nowhere near as difficult to get it done when they're flowing as it is when you have to drag them out the rooms of your mind kicking and screaming.

This is what the last year has taught me, above and beyond everything else. My brain is hard-wired a certain way. And I need to learn to go with the flow, work WITH the cycles of my body instead of against it. God created me this way. Though at times I'm baffled by this and wonder what He was thinking, He knows best. I just have to accept it and learn to roll with it.

So what have I learned this year? To recognize the gifted woman God has made me to be and appreciate His wisdom in making me the way He has, even if it doesn't make much sense to me at times. To be more patient with myself when I'm unable to make goals or meet my own expectations (particularly if they're unreasonable), but to keep setting goals and stretching for them, even if the outcome isn't what I hoped for.

But more than all of that, for the first time in my life, I'm looking forward to winter. I can hardly wait to see what this coming winter holds as far as writing.

Another photo courtesy of Jade on

So what about you? What have you learned about yourself this past year?

Monday, September 17, 2012

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program . . .

Sorry. Couldn't help it.  he he

I wanted to share this interview with Eleanor Clark regarding the release of her ebook "Sarah Jane: Liberty Torch". Oh, and just so you know, this book is available for FREE today. Check it out if you can.


I’m excited to welcome author Eleanor Clark. She is celebrating the release of her e-book, Sarah Jane: Liberty’s Torch. The resounding theme in this book is, “Let Your Light Shine.” Young readers learn to be a good witness in this exciting story, which focuses on the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty. Through the character of Sarah Jane, readers learn to shine brightly.

With that in mind, author Eleanor Clark offers her top five tips for how children can be great witnesses for the Lord.

Let Your Light Shine Tips:

1). Obey your parents. There’s truly no greater way to be a good witness than to be obedient. Letting your light shine begins at home.  When you disobey, it hurts God’s heart and also sets a really bad example for your brothers and sisters. It also sets a really bad example for your friends.

2). Care for others. When your light is shining bright, you will care even more about others than you do yourself. That means you will care when they get sick, when they have a need, when they’re hurting. You will go out of your way to show them how much you care by praying for them and offering to help.

3). Develop a friendship with those who are unfriendly. It’s not always easy, especially when people treat you rudely. Make a decision to be a good witness to them. Go out of your way to be kind, no matter how difficult it might be.

4). When you’re in a tough situation, ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” If you follow His example, you will always be a good witness.

5). Don’t hide your light under a bushel. In other words, don’t be afraid to let people know that you have a relationship with the Lord. They might make fun of you when they find out you’re a Christian, but if you stand your ground, they will learn to respect you. And who knows. . .you might just lead them to the Lord by setting a good example.

Shine bright for Jesus!

Set in 1886 when the Statue of Liberty was dedicated. Ten-year-old Kimberly Dawn is trying to figure out what it means to "be a good witness," but is quickly discovering it's not as easy as she'd hoped. Her grandmother shares the story of Sara Jane, a youngster from their family who traveled from Pennsylvania to New York to see the Statue of Liberty in the late 1800's. Through the life of this remarkable little girl, Kimberly learns what it means to "let your light shine."

Sarah Jane, Liberty’s Torch is the fourth book in The Eleanor Series. You can find the other three books by following these links:

Here’s how you can stay in touch with Eleanor and learn about her upcoming releases:
Eleanor Series facebook page:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Writing Lessons of 2012 - Pt 1

Photo courtesy of Jade on
That heading makes this sound like I'm going to talk about all the "rules" of writing I've learned about (many of which I've learned to take with a grain of salt), but nope. I've learned some much more valuable lessons in the last year than the "rules" of writing.

First, I'll start with some background. This week and next week, I'll share what all of it has taught me.

It actually started in November 2010. Yes, I said 2010. Two years ago. I found out about the madness of NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don't know about this writing "competition", check it out. It'll either make you nuts or spur you onward in ways you never imagined. Being a WriMo writing a NaNovel is an entirely new adventure, and the forums provide some incredible encouragement, support and contact with other WriMos. But I digress.

I unofficially joined the madness of NaNoWriMo for November 2010. I say "unofficially" because I didn't bother to sign up and actually track my daily counts on the site. I kept track of it unofficially on my own computer. I doubted I'd be able to meet the 50K goal, but I made it with 1K to spare. Imagine my shock. I could actually do it!

So I officially joined the site and eagerly waited for November 2011 to roll around. I had no idea what I would write for the event, but I knew I could do it, and I wanted to participate. As November 1st drew closer, I realized two things:

(1) I knew what I wanted to write. The story had been in my head for a couple of years, and it was time to write it.

(2) My parents were coming for a visit over Thanksgiving, so I'd have to be very careful to meet my daily goals or I'd likely fall behind and not make goal. As a result, I determined to meet my 50K goal, if at all possible, before their arrival the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

I wrote over 75K that month. Started AND finished that book! I had no idea I could do that.... My brain resembled mush at the end of the month, but it was so worth it.

Then came December. I joined ACFW at the recommendation of a couple of writer friends (thank you, Carol and Janice!). And I discovered Novel Track. Not only did they have a Writing track that happened on a regular basis, they had an Editing track as well. For those, you set your own goals rather than have it set for you like with NaNoWriMo.  (# of words written for NTW. # of pages edited for NTE.) Since I knew what I was capable of writing, I jumped in starting that first week of January, and with the exception of July, I've participated in one of those tracks every month this year.

In January, I wrote an entire novel PLUS a novella (~40K), and worked on another project besides. My most productive month ever. In the months to follow, I finished some incomplete projects.

Then came June - Camp NaNoWriMo - related to NaNoWriMo but set up differently. Instead of November's free-for-all, I found myself sharing a virtual cabin with 5 other writers. I was able to keep 2 of those cabinmates for August's Camp as well. Again, 50K goal for the month. I started a new series in June and continued it in August. I began with the intention of a 4-book series. But an idea for book #5 hit me yesterday morning. So 5 it is. I made goal both months. By-passed it actually.

August is winding down. September is just around the corner. I plan to use September and October to edit a couple of those completed projects, assuming plans don't get changed, as sometimes happens.

November rapidly approaches as well, with another NaNoWriMo. I already know what I'm writing for that month.

So what has all this writing, editing and tracking madness taught me? Tune in next time for the answer to that question.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Bane of My Existence...

Photo courtesy of Clarita at

We all have pet peeves, things that get on our nerves. Some of them REALLY get on our nerves and make us walk that line that says we want to hurt someone if they don't knock off whatever they're doing.

But those aren't what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the thing that has done more to hold me back, stifle me, discourage me, and just royally kick me in the teeth when I'm already down and out. What is that one thing?


That need to do everything absolutely PERFECT the first time. To have everything perfectly laid out, perfectly in line, perfectly organized, perfectly done the moment we walk away.

For those who haven't struggled with it, you may think "What's the big deal? It just makes you want to do your best." If only it were so simple. And so innocuous.

If I believed I could succeed, I'd jump in with both feet, generally with unreasonably high goals and expectations (i.e. perfection). Sometimes I'd actually succeed, despite myself. Often, however, I'd end up flat on my face in failure, and wondering why. Of course, this self-defeating cycle only fed the flip side of the coin. If I didn't believe wholeheartedly that I would be absolutely perfect at something, I wouldn't even try. Why bother? It'd be better to spend my time and energy on something I at least believed I could succeed at.

The more I set myself up and failed, the more I learned what I COULDN'T do. Rather counterproductive and self-destructive.

Then I met Flylady. Other clutter-bugs likely know who I'm talking about. She taught me something very valuable. Whatever I do, it doesn't have to be perfect.

I know, amazingly simple concept, but that was mind-blowing for me. You mean, I don't have to do everything perfectly? Wow.... That opened the door to changing the way I look at my whole life. I don't have to be the perfect housekeeper, wife, daughter, friend. None of us is capable of perfection anyway.  (I can hear some inner perfectionists screaming in protest, but they're wrong.) We can only do the best we can in keeping the house clean and ready for company.

And our "best" changes daily depending on schedules, responsibilities, health issues, unexpected issues, and a host of other things. My best today may not be my best tomorrow. I may be able to do even better tomorrow, but then again maybe not. And that's okay.

You may wonder what in the world a housekeeping aid like Flylady has to do with writing. Well, I'll tell you. She teaches us to do something every day and not worry about perfection. That translates right into my writing. So what if what I write today is total garbage? I can come back and fix it later. That's called editing, and all writers have to do it to some degree or another. It's extremely rare that a first draft of anything gets published. So, write, write, write. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just write, and do it consistently, whether in small amounts or big ones. And I no longer worry about whether it's publish ready in the first draft (which it never was anyway). Wrapping my head around this simple perfectionism-busting concept has freed my writing in ways you can only imagine and I never dreamed.

So what about you? Are you allowing perfectionism to hold you back? If so, take a lesson from Flylady! Send perfectionism packing!

Perfectionism is not your friend or ally. It's your worst critic, your worst enemy, and a great deceiver. Put it in its place!

Or is there a different bane on your existence other than perfectionism that's holding you back, lying to you about yourself, and keeping you down? Or worse, kicking you when you're already down?

Oh, and by the way, my house still isn't perfect and never will be, but you know what? That's okay.