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your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
Sherrie
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
D.R.
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
C.M.
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Megan

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Introverts Not Meant to Live the Cookie-Cutter Life?

similar-houses-of-a-cookie-cutter-suburban-queens-neighborhood-in-new-york-city

The latest school newsletter says 1600 new homes are expected to be built in our district over the next four years. I can picture them all now with their neutral exteriors, 1/4 acre lots and deckless backsides. Builders plow trees and pastures under daily as new subdivisions unnaturally claim the natural space. There are 30 kids in my daughter’s fourth grade class. Traffic piles up every weekday morning starting at 6AM at the corner stoplight.

I see breathing space disappearing.

My neighbors have high paying jobs, 2+ children, big houses, multiple cars, boats, ATVs, cabins, pristine yards and schedules reamed with activities, appointments and to-do lists. For many this is a dream come true.

I can’t help but think, “Lemmings”, but … I am in line headed for the cliff too.

Children: The great integrators

I once saw a letter in an advice column where an introvert said he didn’t want to have children because they integrate you too much into society. That was a light bulb moment for me.  I like to integrate at my own pace into selective realms of society.  I didn’t realize society was so all-consuming. I didn’t realize kids have so much pull.  I didn’t realize I wasn’t meant for the cookie-cutter lifestyle.

My ex-husband and I chose the house the kids and I currently live in based on the school district, distance from his (high paying) job, the large rooms and fancy amenities, the beautiful yard, woods and trails, and the family friendly neighborhood.

It is all lovely but there are appearances to maintain. You are expected to volunteer at the school regularly, keep your house showplace clean, keep the yard golf-course perfect, and redecorate/update the house every few years. And if you could stay fit and join the country club that would be great too.

brokencookieIt’s a lot of entanglements and doing for an introvert. I’m genuinely grateful for all these gifts but at the same time a little tired of my possessions possessing me.

I feel like a broken cookie.

Venturing out to be a free-formed cookie

The time has come for us to leave our grand over-sized home.  Since the divorce I no longer have the energy, resources or desire to keep up this big place. This is my chance to go rogue and stop the cookie-cutter living but…

Now my kids expect a four bedroom home with three plus bathrooms, an amusement room, a big yard, a dog and a boat. They want X-Boxes, laptops, Ipods, pads and phones, Netflix and Amazon Prime. They want to attend suburban prize-winning schools (only because their friends go there) that consider the family home an extension of the classroom. They want to play sports with 3-5 practices a week. They want multiple vacations, trips to Target and sleepovers. They want their lives full of things, activities and people just like everyone else in the society they know.

More simple and more  meaning

I want space to live.

I want a just-big-enough home near water or a woods with a small yard or a large yard that nobody scoffs at if it turns a little brown from lack of rain. I want writing space for me and downtime space for my kids (be it their own bedroom or a basement to escape to). My own private bathroom would be nice, at 43 I think I’ve earned it. I want cabin-floor-plans2neighbors but not necessarily a subdivision. I want to know my neighbors because I run into them on the walking trail or we’ve shared a drink on their porch not because I can see into their kitchen or because I’ve had to talk to them about their dog barking or 7AM lawn mowing.

Or I want an apartment or condo with little to no maintenance within walking distance of cafes, parks, and coffee houses.

I want to work independently with a flexible schedule weighing in as more important than a big paycheck. I want to love what I do, take my time doing it and work hard. I want large blocks of time to focus, concentrate and dig deeply into the subject-matter at hand. I want few interruptions and a quiet but communicative environment. I want to connect with others but not regarding “fires to put out”. I want to create something wonderful not break something down. The more people I help the more productive I’ll consider myself. I want to live to work, not work to live (in a cookie-cutter existence).

Relationships, intimacy, connecting, oh yeah

I want meaningful conversations with my family, friends and partner. I want time for intimacy, self-discovery and leisure. I want to connect deeply not begrudgingly or superficially. I want to be less busy and more available for the significants in my life.

I want more internal peace and less external noise.

I want time after school to sit with my kids at the kitchen table and talk. I want to hum to music as I make dinner and help them with their homework. I would love to eat dinner together. Watch movies together.  Read together. Play board games together. Travel together.

I don’t consider rushing the kids from point A to point B or activity A to activity B quality living. I’ve witnessed my children melt down from the stress of overload or mentally zone out because they’ve focused for hours on their homework or spent their whole evening running from one event to the next. Hell, I’ve melted down from overload and zoned out from too much forced thinking and doing. I’ve seen them ridicule each other for not participating in sports or not making it into the gifted and talented program.  They are on the treadmill, can’t get off and won’t let others off either.

Is this how it is everywhere?

I realize the after school/work hustle is the norm anymore.  Even my small idyllic hometown in Michigan runs families ragged with school activities, Walmart trips, sports practices, church participation and social expectations.

It seems like it is NEVER Ok to slow down. To say no. To retreat. You must plow forward, get it done, meet expectations. You must have, do and keep up rather than let go, be and rest.

Everyone gets burned out but is this way of living especially problematic for the introvert? Is this a lifestyle based on extroverted ideals? How do we quiet the machine?

If you liked “Cookie Cutter Life” then you may also enjoy:

Video: An Introvert Wakes Up, Slows Down and Starts Living According to Her True Nature (space2live)

An Introvert’s Love Affair with Solitude: Will It Always be Taboo? (space2live)

Confessions of an Introverted Parent (space2live)

Turkeys Vs. Target: Space Vs. Convenience (space2live)

About the Author:

46 Comments

  1. David Wagenfeld August 24, 2017 at 9:26 am - Reply

    WOW! You just described exactly what I have been thinking and yearning for all my life. I am feeling the pull towards that life more and more lately.

    • Brenda Knowles August 27, 2017 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      I hope you answer the call and move toward a life that makes you feel at ease.

  2. […] Introverts Not Meant to Live the Cookie-Cutter Life? […]

  3. Bob August 24, 2014 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing, Brenda! Your experiences and insight are so welcome to your fellow introverts. Can’t imagine how you handle and cope with the lives of five children. My ex and I had two and I always felt overwhelmed. They are both adults and living their lives quite well.

    I am fixing to resign from my job as a city shelter veterinarian, relocate to a cooler climate, and figure out what my next path will be as far as a career. Thankfully, I have a introvert life coach helping me figure it all out. Exciting and scary as hell!

    With people like you championing introverts, myself and many other introverts are seeing we are not freaks and there are places in the world for us. Thank you!

    • Brenda Knowles August 24, 2014 at 7:55 pm - Reply

      I’m so thrilled you find my writing and championing helpful.:) I have to admit I only have 3 children but some days it feels like 5. So many personalities and interactions to absorb and process.

      I’d love to hear a little about how your introvert coach is helping you. What particular practices do you find beneficial? I’m always looking for ways to help my audience.

      Best of luck in your next life phase!! Such a cool time of growth and exploration for you! Pay attention and take it all in.:)

      • Bob August 27, 2014 at 12:08 pm - Reply

        Not sure where I came up with five children…

        I’d been working with Michaela Chung. Consisted of exercises designed to focus on my strengths, desires and goals. Very illuminating. We would Skype weekly and discuss my assignments. Michaela is very intuitive and provides advise based on her personal journey to where she is now.

        I have done an about face and will now be staying where I now work. This came about after a change of managers. They new manager is the polar opposite of the old one. I am very optimistic he will help us realize our potentials. As I was not clear of the new path I was taking, this comes as a relief. And Michaela’s coaching actually made it clear that I was no ready to blindly jump onto a new, unlit path.

        Look forward to you future postings and wish you well!

        • Brenda Knowles August 28, 2014 at 6:52 am - Reply

          Wonderful to hear Bob! Love that you are finding clarity and so cool that Michaela’s intuition and experience are helping. All the best to you! Exciting times.:)

  4. Raquel August 6, 2014 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t relate to this post more! I am constantly feeling as though the hustle and bustle is never ending and I’m the hamster in the wheel trying to keep up with it all. I want to find meaning in my work but be able to do it at my own pace. I want to create more space and live life at a slower pace. It’s even harder in a big city. But little by little I’ve been carving out “me” time. Time to just sit and read, watch the rain, listen to music or just take a nap. Although this helps to recharge my battery and gives me energy it sometimes makes me feel guilty because I know others are doing 20+ things while I take my nap. But at the end of the day it’s worth it and keeps me energized and sane ;). With time I hope to find the right work, partner and lifestyle that allows for this pace and flexibility. Thanks so much for your articles. I always enjoy reading them and they’ve helped me further understand my introversion.

  5. […] Introverts Not Meant to Live the Cookie-Cutter Life? […]

  6. Miriam February 20, 2014 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    This statement does a excellent job explaining my choice to not have children: he didn’t want to have children because they integrate you too much into society.

    Nearly every single one of your posted writings has a sentence or two that seems to scream at me: “Read that again” or “Isn’t that the truth”. I love these moments of clarity and enlightenment. Thank you!

    • Brenda Knowles February 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      That sentence was a lightbulb moment for me too even though I already have 3 children.;) Happy you find moments of clarity in space2live. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  7. Luna September 21, 2013 at 2:39 am - Reply

    How uncanny that I’m reading this post the exact day I’m thinking and acting on these things. I enjoyed reading your post Brenda. It further confirms the fact that attachment truly does weigh you down in life. How many of us can just uproot, within a day, like the nomads once could with ease, and go pursue life some place else, some place healthier and better for our well-being. Not many of us can. For the past few months I’ve been assessing what I own. I realized that if all of it were to burn in a fire, I’d probably not be that sad. So I’ve read a few books on minimalism, have tried to de-clutter what I can, and today even sold a beloved Beagalier dog who will be much happier in a larger house with children. I don’t have a large house, or children at the moment, and my desire to travel and have freedom to move around without attachments was the selling point for me. Right now, I miss Archie terribly (which shows how much attachment I created!) But I’m happy that he will be happier, and better suited to a new set of people.

    I can feel the heaviness and longing in this article, which I can definitely identify with. If you haven’t already, try reading a few books on minimalism when you have the time. A good way to alleviate the feelings of attachment is to gather up a big pile of things and donate, or throw them away. This will open up a space to live in your life.

    All the best, and thank you for a terrific article.

    • Brenda Knowles September 22, 2013 at 9:54 am - Reply

      Thank you for your thoughtful sharing. I admire (and envy) your ability to move towards simplicity. I have read a few things on minimalism and have a good friend whose business is based on downsizing and de-cluttering your mental and physical space. They do home cleanouts and donate all the usable goods to those in need.

      I would love a simple apartment with little to no maintenance. As an introvert, the energy savings from not taking care of household fixes, would be wonderful. I would love to be free to travel and read and strengthen relationships.

      Attachment. Sigh* I have more attachment to people than things. Selling your dog was a bold move. Bravo to you for realizing the benefits for you and him. I don’t have a lot of excess things. All the work I am going through now (dust settling from divorce, selling of complicated house) will hopefully lead me to the most streamlined life I can lead while my kids are still at home.

      I always enjoy hearing from you Luna. So much of what you write resonates deeply with me.

  8. […] Introverts Not Meant to Live the Cookie-Cutter Life? […]

  9. […] Introverts Not Meant to Live the Cookie-Cutter Life? […]

  10. […] The latest school newsletter says 1600 new homes are expected to be built in our district over the next four years. I can picture them all now with their neutral exteriors, 1/4 acre lots and deckless backsides.  […]

  11. oawritingspoemspaintings September 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    at the same time a little tired of my possessions possessing me.
    I liked that sentence! Your post makes perfect sense, we all aspire to the life and home you described. Personally it’s my dream home, space without being a slave…
    Thanks for this lovely post!

    • Brenda Knowles September 8, 2013 at 8:52 am - Reply

      Yes, space without being a slave. Let’s simply our exterior worlds and expand our interior worlds.:)

  12. charlestolman September 7, 2013 at 7:22 am - Reply

    I have followed your blog for sometime now and with this posting I can see a way that we can move forward. First I want to thank you for your postings, they are very much in line with where I am and where I believe many many people are.

    For me the whole issue is about being conscious of the inner life and not letting its humanity get swamped by external pressure, because what is life for if not the inner human?

    It sounds to me like it is time to be connecting up with like minded folks and making progress collectively, perhaps in small local groups? This post has certainly inspired me to find a way to do so locally here in the UK. My perspective is that life is running away from us because we are not consciously holding the space. So a lot of the negative effects on my introversion are because I have not stood up and said “Enough!”. I have now made a step to reduce my working hours to 4.5 days a week, just one small step.

    Your post has now given my thinking an extra impetus to see how we can band together with like minds and stop getting engulfed by this unconsciously created societal machine.

    Thank you – and take care of yourself.
    Charles
    PS: Perhaps another subject for a Nic Askew film?

    • Brenda Knowles September 8, 2013 at 8:48 am - Reply

      I agree. The inner world is where humanity lives. It’s where compassion and creativity originate. I am very fortunate in that I have been included in and had a hand in creating a few small, conscious and sensitive tribes here in Minnesota. They buoy me and help me use my voice to hold the space I need. I want to do that for others. Kudos to you for creating a work schedule that is in line with your nature.
      I would love to be a part of a larger movement to slow down and savor. Thanks for reaching across the pond to connect with me. Let’s strive for space and the enrichment of the inner world.
      I’m always game for another Nic film. He is definitely an individual I want to learn from and emulate.
      Thank you for getting me fired up Charles.:) It is time to introduce a new (old?) way of being.

  13. R. Osborne September 7, 2013 at 6:43 am - Reply

    I live in a large metroplex always heralding an ever growing (burgeoning) population. What used to be farmland and prairies are now being leveled for the subdivisions with big, ugly, cookie-cutter homes thrown up on tiny plots. Definitely quantity not quality. Then there are the requisite shopping centers to complement them. WIll need more schools. What seems to be ignored is our ever-shrinking supply of drinking water both from too many people and a never-ending drought. More is not better. There are far too many people on this planet of limited resources and, despite what some might say otherwise, global warming is a reality and, as we sap the planet, will only get worse. Without drastic measures to curtail its demise, life as we know it will disappear. Of course the non-human animals will be the first to perish as we destroy their habitats. It can only be seen as bleak. Pessimistic? Maybe. Realistic? Probably.

    • Brenda Knowles September 8, 2013 at 8:32 am - Reply

      I think we live in the same place except, so far, we haven’t had a drought/water issue. I was naive. I thought more people were making a conscious effort to conserve our resources, beautiful gifts of nature and space but it does appear the consuming machine is still raging. I do feel a grassroots effort in the wind to slow things down. This could be because I have found more mindful, introverted and sensitive people in my social circles in the last few years. Now, if we would all use our voices to be heard. Meaningful over materialism.
      Here’s to a more spacious way of living.:)

    • Brenda Knowles September 8, 2013 at 8:34 am - Reply

      P.S. you might like the comment from charlstolman.

  14. on thehomefrontandbeyond September 7, 2013 at 3:50 am - Reply

    It seems that the introvert is always the one to have to make the changes, to live up to everyone else’s expectations–yet we live by, dream by, and need our own time–time that is ours–you said it so well–we want a depth in our relationships, time for them to develop, and time to stop and smell the roses as they say–rather than clip them and put them in a vase, captured and dead

    • Brenda Knowles September 8, 2013 at 8:18 am - Reply

      Interesting point that it seems like the introvert is always the one to bend. Is that just our nature? Avoid conflict therefore go against our preferred way of being? Perhaps this is our era to rise up and be heard.:) Introduce the world to a new way of living. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  15. elizabeth2560 September 7, 2013 at 2:52 am - Reply

    You raise some interesting points in this post which branches away from the pure introversion / extroversion differences but rather underneath underlying values, beliefs and attitudes. We lived on 17 acres with plenty of space for the children and they had the delights of a childhood full of cubby houses, tree houses and near-by forests to explore; away from the bustling city life. Nevertheless there was the frenetic extroversion activities that swamped most of our family time with rushing here and there and who knows where to work, school, friends, activities, community projects, entertaining, sport, sport, sport and more sport. I stood firm throughout for family meal times together with family conversations at the dinner table, and quiet reading time before bed. It was the two areas that filled me with the greatest joy and the children now hold as part of their happiest memories.

    They (now aged 32, 20, 27 and 25) do not now care about the toys and computers and games that they had or didn’t have. It is not the things that they remember. It is the family times that they remember – both the busy activities and the quiet times.
    But I personally treasure the quiet times.

    • Brenda Knowles September 8, 2013 at 8:15 am - Reply

      Thank you Elizabeth for showing me how both worlds can co-exist. I want to get more quiet reading time in place in our home. We have gotten away from that. We used to read every night with each child before bedtime but then they (the boys mostly) didn’t want to read as much and didn’t want to read with their parents.
      I grew up “out in the country”. My mom used to drive me into town every day so I could play at my friends’ houses. I always wanted to live in town but now I see what a lovely retreat I had when I returned home. It was quiet and I could see (and feel) wide open spaces all around me.
      I’ll stand firmly for meal times and conversation too. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement.

      • elizabeth2560 September 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm - Reply

        All the children are now grateful for their childhood in our country sanctuary (even though in their teens, at times they resented this). Good luck with your decision on this important step 🙂

  16. andygj66 September 7, 2013 at 12:56 am - Reply

    Summed up so beautifully and so perfectly, once again. Thank you.

    • Brenda Knowles September 7, 2013 at 8:05 am - Reply

      Thanks Andy. Sweet to know my personal story resonates.:)

  17. Red Fox September 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    Little Boxes.

    Society is insane. It is Capitalism consuming us. It will only stop when we all die or kill each other. We must resist.

    • Brenda Knowles September 7, 2013 at 8:02 am - Reply

      There is a fair amount of insanity out there.;) Materialism wears me out. I have an intense need to be real and materialism seems to be all for show. I’ll admit I like my Apple products and the occasional new pair of jeans or earrings pick-me-up, but mostly I’m searching for meaningful connection. May we all find that.:)

  18. ilona fried September 6, 2013 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    Bravo! I have learned to say no and retreat, although I still suffer self-doubt in the process, wondering if maybe I could have squeezed in another event or gathering. Hopefully one day I will be able to honor myself without second guessing my decisions.

    • Brenda Knowles September 7, 2013 at 7:57 am - Reply

      I have a friend who simply says, “That doesn’t work for me” when invited to an event he is not interested in attending. He doesn’t add anything else. At first I thought it sounded rather cold, but now I see it as a beautiful thing. People that know him don’t take it personally. They know he just needs a lot of time to himself. I hope to get to that state where I am not judged, but understood.
      You are on your right path. Keep being true to yourself. Thank you for sharing.:)

  19. Angi September 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    Why is it we realize this about 20 years too late? I am so over the cookie cutter life-style and some areas of our life are not. But there are still some things that I would like to let go of or just do differently. Baby steps…

    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts on this blog. I feel like someone out there gets me and makes it not so lonely.

    • Brenda Knowles September 7, 2013 at 7:50 am - Reply

      There are aspects of my cookie-cutter life that I enjoy. I do like volunteering at the school, just not all the time. I do like our beautiful trails and woods behind our house. I think it’s the constant doing and striving for perfection that wear me out the most. I need for it to be OK to let go, relax, be imperfect.
      I give you permission to let go of the things in your life that are not serving you.;) I am doing all of my transforming in baby steps as well. I know others who have just leapt into change, but baby steps suit me. Thank you for sharing. You are definitely not alone.

  20. Francie Stoutamire September 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Your description of the neighborhood you live in makes it hard for me to breathe.
    I successfully maneuvered our son through school, while going through menopause, working, and taking care of my aging parents. It nearly killed me.
    It would have helped so much to have understood why I found all the stuff, and the doings, and – egads – all the parties so exhausting. I did chaperone one bus trip when he was in the high school band, took me days to recover, while all the other parents apparently enjoyed it. Now I know, as an INFJ, very strong IN, and a Highly Sensitive Person there is nothing wrong with me, I am just wired differently than most of the rest of the world.
    It took me 45 years to realize that everything the world was telling me was wrong with me, are actually my greatest gifts. I am glad for you that you are discovering that earlier.
    I am now retired, he is grown, just finished his PhD and home searching for work {SIGH}. I am ever so much better at requiring quiet and space, and have a pair of good headphones at the ready when needed. Even my very introverted husband knows to leave me alone when I am wearing them. 🙂
    We live on a quiet court, with long-time neighbors who are no more into status than we are. Over the years we have converted our yard, which backs up to woods, into a bird and butterfly sanctuary. No grass, as close to natural as possible, a refuge for both humans and creatures.
    Your writing is exquisite, I always identify with your posts, even if I do not always respond to them. I hold the vision for you to find a home that is equally a refuge for you, and for your children.
    Blessings.

    • Brenda Knowles September 7, 2013 at 7:43 am - Reply

      I am an INFJ too, although I have turned up as an INFP occasionally as well. I can feel the exhaustion the menopause, son in school, aging parents period of your life must have caused. I battle that now with 3 children to raise with an ex-husband who doesn’t understand or validate my temperament. I am so grateful that I have discovered the way I am wired. The awareness helps me be less critical of myself and more selective in my choices of companions and activities.
      I hope to find a scene as serene as the one you have created on your quiet cul de sac. I know it is possible. I know how to surround myself with nourishing people. I will endure and find ways to be a nurturing mother and peaceful, loving spirit.:)
      Thank you for your encouraging comment. I truly feel and appreciate it.

  21. Zen Greenway September 6, 2013 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – e.e. cummings

    My mother gave me a piece of paper with this quote on it and I carry it in my bag. Unfortunately, I believe cummings is absolutely right. The only way I’ve found to really be myself is to resist the pull of the group, whether it’s a family group, friend group, or society in general. I have to fight those feelings of guilt and inadequacy or be condemned to live forever in a graceless state, always trying clumsily to please someone else. Other people will never stop judging me, so I have tried to learn that their judgment is not as informed or important as my own. It’s hard and it never stops. But it’s worth it. I hope you continue to go your way. You matter.

    • elizabeth2560 September 7, 2013 at 2:36 am - Reply

      Hello Zen Greenway. Do you know for sure that this was EE Cummings who wrote that quote? I have seen it attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson but that is not to say that is necessarily correct and I am having difficulty tracing the actual source (ie poetry book it was first written in).

      • Zen Greenway September 7, 2013 at 7:38 am - Reply

        According to WikiQuote, it’s from e.e. cummings’ 1958 A Miscellany (it looks like the title of the piece is A Poet’s Advice to Students).

        • elizabeth2560 September 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm - Reply

          Thanks for that. I have found many quotes misattributed and it is often hard to find the original source

    • Brenda Knowles September 7, 2013 at 7:25 am - Reply

      Oh what a lovely message. Thank you. I will take all you said to heart. I love the quote by e.e. cummings. Your mother gave you a sweet gift with that. Guilt and inadequacy are the most nagging consistent feelings I find myself battling. I will remember your words when confronted with other’s judgment. The extra difficult part is that it often comes from within my own home. Still I will persevere. Thank you.

  22. kellydd3 September 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    This is so affirming! We recently bought our first home and it’s clear we haven’t met others’ expectations in our decision. I’m constantly being asked if we’ve joined in on any neighborhood barbecues or deck parties yet, and it’s assumed I must have a giant yard because we moved to a suburban area from the city. Female acquaintances ask me about our “master” bedroom and closet, and look confused when I tell them our house is over 100 years old and that the “master” is 12X11 – actually smaller than the bedroom we shared for 9 years in our Chicago apartment. The “big back yard” I’m supposed to have is actually a very small, poorly landscaped postage stamp, fenced off from our neighbors. I live in a town, not a subdivision. There are almost no children in our neighborhood, because it seems people with kids want to be around other people with kids. We wanted an old house with warts and character, not a giant new-build that looks exactly like the one 4 doors down. Those houses are lovely and clean and spacious – I have plenty of friends that live in houses like that – but they are not “us”, and the neighborhoods that contain them are absolutely not us. We live close to our town center and enjoy walking to the shops and festivals, observing and taking it all in before walking home and enjoying a glass of wine – alone – on our front porch. I was starting to think we’d done it wrong. Reading this makes me feel so much better!

    • Brenda Knowles September 7, 2013 at 7:17 am - Reply

      It took me 43 years to learn to do it the way that feels right to me not the way that is expected. It sounds like you are doing it perfectly for you.:) I love the wine on the porch scene. Enjoy your home.
      Thank you for reading and sharing.

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