me and the Myers-Briggs types


I’m an introvert.
But I don’t approach the outer world in any way fitting the Myers-Briggs definitions of cognitive functions, I think.
Here’s how I see the world/ how the world presents itself to me:

  1. everything is in a heartfelt value.

I see/perceive everything more or less connected to my heart. This has little to do with love for people (which is a trait of Fe in the Myers-Briggs personality typing).
Trees, clouds, birds, sounds, traffic, light, smells. Everything comes in, directly, and has an emotional value. There is nothing I see/notice that has not an emotional value. I feel everything in relation to myself.

This makes for an often overwhelming experience in the outer world.
Add to this my HSP and/or my adrenal insufficient cortisol to deal with stressors and you can imagine that lots of things I see in the outer world are hurtfull. I’m not talking about pitiful puppies or shocking news, no, just the flapping of treeleaves is enough to hurt me. Seeing a hare in the field. Which is why I spend a lot of time inside on beautiful Summer days.

by Andreas Krappweis

But without these extra hindrances seeing the world like this makes for a grand human experience!
What happens is that I -me, my identity, my ego- dissolves: I ám the cloud, the forest, the sounds, the traffic, the puppies, the leave.
It is all interconnected and all in a heartfelt way. Wordless.

But there’s nothing sage-y or profound or visionary about it. Nothing cerebral going on. Nothing that requires meditation.
Actually, it’s quite down to earth and real and self-evident. It’s just dirt and pebbles. I become the dirt and pebbles.

by Martyn E. Jones

Does anybody recognize this way of being? Am I a freak?
I have not yet encountered anybody who echoos this experience.
I can think of no use for this function in terms of career or job or worldy manifestation. It’s all private and without words, how could I put it to use for the benefit of society?

For years I have consciously restrained this experience, for fear I would lose my mind. I still do. But it is how I am, who I am, how I function.
Today I wonder if by restraining this natural automatic way of being, I have not driven myself to a bit of madness. Control freakyness. Or driven myself to illness at least.

I have no idea how to connect that way of experiencing the outer world to any of the cognitive functions proposed by Myers-Briggs.
Do you have an idea?

It should be one of the Introverted Intuition types:
INTJ
INFJ

or one of the Introverted Thinking types:
INTP
ISTP

or one of the Introverted Sensing types:
ISTJ
ISFJ

or one of the Introverted Feeling types”
INFP
ISFP

The second letter determines how the person experiences the impulses from the outer world.
They all use their second letter different, as influenced by their third letter.
Here’s a quick overview.
You’d say I gravitate towards Fe: feeling the outerworld. Only the theory states a preference for cultivating interhuman harmony. I have no interest in that. It would be rare for me to put myself into service of another person’s happiness.

So am I a hermit extrovert?
A non-social harmony seeker?
A lazy ass thinker?
A lovable freakfreak?
Am I what more than one person has called me: Luna Lovegood??

If I could chose my first two letters in the Myers-Briggs system it would be IF..
An introvert bleeding heart. With no desire to rescue kittens or unhappy people.
This is not allowed because your second letter should be confined to either an intuitive/cerebral or to a sensing way of perceiving the world: N or S.

My third letter would be N, because that’s how I organize my internal world, I’m an IFN.

I take all these heartfelt things from the outerworld and I combine them into conceptual structures in my head. I’ve got a theory for everything. Everything has a place and a role and a reason and consequences and influences and I see them all whenever I think of any one thing in particular. I see webs of connections. Elaborate system architectures.
I like to dwell in these structures. I live in them.
I use them when I go out in the world and take action (fourth letter) but I have not yet specified how I do this.

Well, I probably don’t understand the Myers=Briggs system right, the way I mumble this all up.
But one thing’s for sure: when I perceive the world it’s in a code of the heart. And I, the ego, can dissolve in doing so… ok two, two things are for certain. One: I wear heartgoggles to see the world. Two: my ego can dissolve. Three: internal structure is in concepts and theories.
Three! Three things are for certain!

An alternative to Jung’s personality types

skip intro, go direct to the alternative
DUALITY
The thing with Jung is that he uses that way of thinking that’s exemplary of the 20th century: duality.
Something is this or that. Red or blue. Warm or hot. Right or Wrong.
Not both. Not a third option. Never parallel things. In the 20th century a non-duality way of thinking was the uncomfortable indecisiveness concerning Schrödinger’s cat. Later on quantum physics and string theory worked with non-duality thinking but they were novel and unsettling. Over all, thinking in the 20th century was pretty much 2D.

pc by Harry Fodor

Jung’s theory of cognitive functions and the personality types that Myers-Briggs based upon them illustrate this dual way of looking at the world.

Extraversion or Introversion : E or I
Sensing or iNtuition : S or N
Thinking or Feeling : T or F
Judging or Perceiving : J or P

(bold letters are used as shorthand labels to identify the 16 types of personalities such as INFJ or ENTP. With this types you can do battle in the office or determine which career fits you well. Or you can make money trying to explain them to people.)

EIGHT COGNITIVE FUNCTIONS; 16 PERSONALITY TYPES
Everyone can be described into four letters: ESTP, ESFP, ISTJ, ISFJ, ENTP, ENFP, INTJ, INFJ, ESTJ, ENTJ, ISTP, INTP, ESFJ, ENFJ, ISFP or INFP
The first letter of all these types illustrates wether someone prefers to spend time outside or inside their head. The second illustrates how they receive information from the outer world. The third one how they process that and the fourth one with what attitude they approach the outer world. (summarized very bold and crass. Follow some of the links here to really familiarize yourself with the theories and the how specific a lot of these common words are being used)

Let me emphasize that there are no wrong or right types. No preferred approaches. Someone one who has an introverted attitude is not more noble than someone who prefers extraverted fun.

The first function, after the attitude of preferring to live an introverted life or an that of an extravert, determines the bulk of your personality. Let’s say 75%.
The second function, the auxillary, adds another 15%. The rest is added bonus and there are some nice theories about them and how they can help you to become a more whole person.
In reality there are 8 functions, we all have all of them. But the first two make up 90% of who/how you are.

THERE’S MONEY IN PERSONALITY TYPING
All in all, Jung was not very clear what he talked about in detail. This makes for various interpretations and possible extensions of his thoughts. Some clever people have build upon his base of thinking, the Wiki page gives a nice overview.

The most used typing in both career choosing and personal growth is Myers-Briggs.
The added uneasyness I have with Myers-Briggs typing, on top of that 20th century habit of duality- is that it also alternates strictly between extroverted and introverted functions when it sifts through the eight functions for any type.
If your first letter is an I your second letter will be an extroverted function. Your third an i again. Your fourth an e. All the way down to the eighth cognitive function.

WHAT AM I?
My problem was I couldn’t find my type. I didn’t pay a consultant but did online tests and read about it. But couldn’t find the type that rang true to me. Or even to my friends.
I was an INFJ? No, an INTJ? INFP felt good too, except I don’t care much for other people who are needy.

I’m fairly sure I’m an introvert. But after that…

The online tests are not very subtle either. Understandably since they want to give results fast. They do tend to hog together in areas. Most Fe (extraverted Feeling) is interpreted as having other peoples feelings at interest, making them feel in harmony.
I have no interest in that. I do have an interest in harmony, but it’s more global in scope. More sjamanic. That’s another interpretation of Fe. Or isn’t it?

MY ALTERNATIVE: 3×3
After some introspection and researching the basic ideas of Jung I’ve come to the conclusion I work differently than both Jung and Myers-Briggs suggest. Starting with the fact that I don’t live in a world of dualities, where metaphorical coins only have two sides.

pic by Leszek Soltys

I have devised another system and I’ll just blurt it out here, as a conversation topic.
My system works in threes.
Now, I’m by no means convinced that a trio-system offers more freedom or modernity than a dual system… but then, I wás born in the last century and going from 2D to 3D was something of a big thing back then.

It does offer an alternative way of Jung’s thinking (although you can never be sure, the dude was quiet diverse and laid back in his thinking) about how people order their inner world and how they perceive the outer world. This is what I want to share with you and discuss.

A third caveat I want to make is that it thinks about people’s minds in the old fashioned ways of collecting impressions in the outer world and then organizing them in an inner world.
This vision is probably dated in a next century, if it isn’t already. It certainly is when it is explained using temporary techniques: “your mind is like a computer, processing data”. Or, in last century techniques: “it’s like a filing system”. Or “there’s a little man inside your head, a captain of sorts.”

Anyway, let’s start:

INNER STRUCTURING
MY FIRST QUESTION IS: HOW IS YOUR INNER WORLD STRUCTURED?
What do you find in the little drawers of your mind? What do you thínk?
pic by Oliver Gruener

I think there are three fundamentally different ways people organize their inner thoughts/things/impressions. Everyone can use all three of them but I’m guessing one is prevalent over the others, it’s the one you use automatic.
The three ways are:

  1. data, you have a collection of data. You remember how a certain car looked. You know how much bed partners you’ve had there. You recall the vivid remembrance of a particular fun swim/hike/bunjee jump/party/icecream
  2. feelings, you have a collection of feelings. You know much you love your mum. You’re specific in the way you love pink dresses (or hate them). You remember how you felt when you had sushi for the first time. And how it still hurts when so-and-so said that-and-that. You feel strongly about parking rules and people violating or enforcing them.
  3. concepts, you have a collection of concepts. You have an instant image how a combustion engine works. You have a theory about why you’re on this earth. You know the role of bugs in the world. You can decipher office politics without effort.

We all have all three ways of structuring things inside. But one of these goes automatic. Effortless.

I’ve described some examples in each category and I tried to capture different flavours within each category. I’m not describing three actual people, I’m describing three sorts of people. Within each category there are many different people.
Please don’t think concept people are scientists or feeling people are emotional women or data people are thrill seekers.

(For me it’s concepts. Everything inside me is connected into a bigger picture. Even my love for my mum and how great the hotrod looked we once had are placed into a construction of meaning. The love for my mum is connected to theories about children and parents; human life on earth; interhuman connections; being a child; dependencies between humans; growth as a mother etc etc. Lots of concepts and constructions and the love for my mum is anchored in all of them, in different ways and with different aspects highlighted. All simultaneously.)
(I am dumbfounded about office politics. I do know about combust engines though.)

GOGGLES TO THE WORLD
MY SECOND QUESTION IS: HOW DO YOU PERCEIVE THE WORLD?
What glasses do you wear through which the outer world comes to you?
What do you séé?
pic by Lisa Ghaith

Again, I think there are three ways of seeing things. Again, we all use all three. But one of them is automatic. Effortless.
I propose the existence of the following glasses we wear when we are met by the outside world:

  1. Senses. “I collect sensory experiences. I see objects, colours, textures, speeds, action, fun rides, horse breeds etc. I see them all, I’m very observant.”
  2. Values. “I rate everything I see. Everything gets a thumbs up/down (moral value) or a heart/dislike (empethic value). Things in the world are instantly related to me.”
  3. Meaning. “I see everything as it is connected to their bigger pictures. I see how things are joined and associated. Things are related to other things, I see conceptual.”

You notice the similarity between the trio from the first question and the last. And you notice I do follow the Jungian idea of an inner world that is structured a certain way and varied ways of perceiving an outer world. He/Myers-Briggs has the third step of interaction with that outer world, manifesting oneself in it, but I have not come that far.

The first trio -the internal organization of the mind- differs from the last trio -the way we see the world- and people don’t often fall in the same categories in both cases. In fact, I think there may be 9 personality types based on this arrangement.

1. There are the people who collect sensory experiences in the world.
They then may structure these experiences data-wise or feelings-wise or concept-wise. (1A,1B,1C)

2. There are other people who assign values to everything they see. 
They construct their collection of values either data-wise; feelings-wise or concept-wise. (2A,2B,2C)

(for this group I made a distinction between values that are assigned based upon morals (which I deem to be learnt, acquired) or based upon their bleeding heart (empathic).
I see this distinction in the same way as I see the various “flavours” a sensory-collector has at her disposal: colours; tastes; rollercoaster rides etc.
The concept-seeërs also have distinctive categories such as scale; level of abstraction; social impact; spatial organization; global thing.
It’s just that I found it necessary to specify the moral value assigning. Because I’m an empathic value assigner.)

3. The people who see meaning when they look upon the world may structure their collection of meanings data-wise or feeling-wise or concept-wise. (3A, 3B, 3C))

It will not be often that a data-collector also structures his experiences data-wise. It may just as easily be one of the other two ways of organizing internal gatherings.

AN EXAMPLE TO ILLUSTRATE: A GLASS OF WATER
photographed by Thiago Felipe Festa

Here’s a glass of water. Three people look on it, they have three different ways of perceiving the world.

The sentient person sees the glass and notices particular the sparkle on edges of the glass:

sensory-glass

Here’s how she might stash that information, depending on which type she is.

  1. data : I store it with all the other sparkles such as the discoball at that party and the glitter on the lake last Summer. Nice memories!
  2. feeling: That’s a good sparkle! or “I really enjoy sparkles”
  3. concept: it’s the light reflecting, like rainbows. In rainbows light reflects withín the drop of water

A value-giving person sees the glass and assigns a value, let’s say she approves of this glass of water. Both on a moral and on a heart felt basis:
value-glass
Here’s how she stores that value depending on her nature:

  1. data: another good glass of water! I’ve seen many.
  2. feeling: it’s so good when there’s a fine glass of water around. It’s one of the small things in life that gives great pleasure.
  3. concept: this glass of water is illustrative that we have a good drinking water supply system in this country.

Now the meaning gathering person sees the same glass of water. To her there may be a symbol superimposed on the image: H2O (the chemical notation of water).
concept-type
She stores this information depending on her preferred internal structure:

  1. data: H2O, H, O, O2, HOOH, O3, He
  2. feeling: imagine the force with which H and O clash together to form H2O… I feel it.
  3. concept: I think of the cycle of oceanwater evaporating over land, failing in rain, filtering in the ground, seeping into streams, rushing in a rivier to the ocean.

With this I’ve described 9 ways of sorting an impression.

THE THREE DIFFERENT QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK WHEN THEY WERE THEIR GOGGLES:
Once more I’ll try specify what distinction I make in how people take in the world:
the sensory person asks: “what is it?”
the rating person asks: “how do I feel about it?”
the conceptual person asks: “how is this structured?”
(“hoe steekt het in elkaar?” in Dutch)

It’s just the way their glasses work.
They then go on and sort their impression and they can do this in very different ways, unrelated to the glasses they use to see the world.

I’ve got another example, about driving in your car. But for this I have no time left to add clear explanations or drawings. Or even write it out, it is way past my bed time.

I’ll add it soon. In the mean time I’d love to read your thoughts or comments.
Anna

took my Kayak for a spin

Today I took my handmade kayak to the water for the very first time.
It was the one thing I chose to spend my energy on. We carried it to the stream and I had a 10 minute paddle. The first bit was Very Wobbly since my kayak has a flat hull. It’s an East Greenland type: fast, small, swift and excellent for cutting through waves. It lies high on the water, with little gravity to stabilize it.

Kayak

On a flat Dutch canal, with a kayaker who’s been severely wobbly for some time now, it was quite an experience! I trip over sunshine beams on a good day so you can imagine how non-co-ordinate I was, kayaking for the first time in 7 years in a high performance and skittish boat I had never paddled before.

Just 30 seconds out on the water and I had to row back ashore. I was trembling and close to tears with excitement and with the trouble of keeping the kayak from tipping over. But after a little breather it went better.

When kayakking these kind of boats you somehow have to detach your torso from your lower limbs. Your legs are for locking the kayak and making it an extension of your body. This is really how it will feel: your lower limbs will have the shape of a kayak. Walking is forgotten, you are now all about slicing through waves, surface tension, setting a course and undercurrents. A different language with different references. And you won’t think twice about it.

Your torso is for paddling and looking ahead and for calm breathing. When you paddle correct your torso turns, from left to right, and it’s a wonderful motioned rythm. I didn’t get to experience that today but I will later. I remember it from the fjords around Bergen, Norway, and it’s a most wonderful rythm. It connects the spirit.
I did find the calm breathing. And as soon as I “detached” the torso from the legs, the kayak became stable.

This kayak I made back in 2007, in a course in Norway under supervision of Anders Thygesen, the Kayakspecialist.
He has various ‘patterns’ for specific uses: long daytrip-kayaks or swift cutting through the surf-kayaks and many more.

They are all tailormade: first length is determined, based on desired main use of the kayak and your length.
Then you sit in a “toile” and exact notes are made of where your feet should be met by a beam (this is where you put pressure when you use your paddle) and how far back the entrance should be and how wide. Then it’s noted where your knees are supposed to meet a support beam (this is how you keep a kayak stable, you lock in. This is how you can roll a kayak back up when you’ve gone under).

My support beam is made of a vintage piece of oak from the forest the Danish King planted to make tall ships centuries ago. I love a bit of peculiarities in any handmade thing. Anders promotes this too. He invites you to name your vessel too.
You can just see a bit of that characteristic oak beam, in the roof of the entrance.

Kayak

No screws or pins where used. They are all handmade wooden dowels.
The “ribs” were bend using steam (after laying in a Norwegian stream nearby for a night). This is the bit Anders does for you, he does this by eye and the whole hull has to be one whole, shapewise.
The fabric is regular heavy canvas, painted with some weatherproof paint. It’s the last bit to go on. First you make it into some sort of glove by sewing shut the sides and then it is pulled tightly over the frame. This takes about 5 blokes, all pulling.
Then you sew shut the last flaps and shape it properly around the tips. The seam stitches vary from flat fell and various others.
In the end a hole is cut in the middle and the entrance is made: placing the round wooden ring (this is the only bit that is glued, this and the paddle. All other wood parts are held together by dowels) and attaching the canvas to it.
Then the canvas is treated with linseed. That’s the reddish colour you see on the canvas at the inside of the wooden ring. The outside is painted with paint. (white) and I put a green coat over when I got the kayak back to Holland.

Some of the stitches used:
Kayak

These are all traditional Inuit methods and skills. Only the canvas is not original, it would have been seal skin. Using the same stitches though.
It was a wonderful experience, building it. I so much like materials and hand skills.

I hope later on this year to make a little trip up the canal with the kayak. I’ll clean it a bit. Put in the waxed ropes that lay over the deck and that hold the paddle (and the reserve! Never get lost on the water without any paddle)

It was lovely, having it out again.
In the city I have a full fjord gear: clothes and tools to deal with paddling in life threatening cold waters of the north. But in these Dutch waters I won’t need them. I run more of a risk of botulism than of hypothermia here.

I would love to make and attach a “skirt” to it: a piece of cloth that is attached to your waist and goes around the wooden entrance hoop. This will be a watertight seal and when you tip over your kayak will not fill with water.
You could tip it back, upright again. But this requires a special “flip of the hips” that I have not mastered yet.
So when I flip over I’ll have to swim out of the kayak, turn it back up, try and empty as much water as I can, crawl on the deck, empty more water, get inside, get to shore, dry myself, change clothes, empty it and have a lie down.

It has been a couple of hours since I took it to the canal this morning.
Of course, when I got back home I crashed. This is called PEM. Post Extorion Exhasution (I’m so tired I can never remember where PEM stands for). It’s when ME or CFS people crash (long) after they’ve been physical active. This has to do with the mitochondria not working properly and not being able to replenish energy after it has been used.

I’m happy to report that after two hours of laying flat and only being able to hum or moan I was able to eat something and spend the last hour writing this (a cognitive activity).
An illustration how my resilience os growing.
I might even be able to go outside and enjoy the Spring day for a bit.

Either way: I spend all my spoons on kayaking today and I am chuffed!

How to enjoy perfection

When something’s perfect it nurtures a deep need in me. It’s not an “Oh, that’s nice” kind of thing. It’s a fundamental, existential kind of thing.

Especially when humans are involved in the creation of perfection I experience a deep and total sense of happiness. Fulfillment even.
On such occasion I feel the full extent of being a human myself, of being part of a society and of the advancements that come from dedication, attention and precision. I feel very connected to the person who put in the dedication and created perfection. It’s like a dialogue and I am actively participating, even though all I do is observe or notice.

A perfect meal. A perfect performance. A perfect art work. A perfect wedding. A perfect urban project. A perfect piece of writing. A perfect scientific experiment. A perfect political summit. A perfect cup of coffee.
When things are just right, it gives enormous pleasure.

Seeing how things could be perfect is a trait many people have.
“If they would just….”
“If only they had….”
Wether it be crafting supplies or politics, if “they” would only aim a little higher, co-operate a little better, think things a little more through!
Then the world would be perfect.

I have a personality type INFJ (or INTJ) that revels in these traits. Both the need for perfection and the habit of seeing things in the big picture.
I think in broad concepts. I see the world as a whole, where everything is intertwined. Where everyone is connected. Both from the present and the past.
Reality gets me very frustrated because it’s nitty and in gritty nature and things seldom end up júst right.

When I was young I wanted to fix the world. “Just give me the reigns and I will wash this puppy clean!”
Minister of State, that was going to be me. (I was oblivious to the nature of politics, a game I don’t play well.)

When my brother died unexpectedly reality came right to my doorstep en kicked me in the shins. (and smeared poop all over my door and set my house on fire)
I was not having it. I would not accept a world where my brother would just die at age 19, from a natural cause. (myocarditis from a flu virus)
So I didn’t. I sat there, arms folded, glaring at reality, waiting for it to behave.
It didn’t.
Slowly I learned that life is not perfect and that I am no player in its match.

Now I still see many scenario’s in life that would lead to perfection, or at least a diminishing of human suffering, if only “they” would do so-and-so.
But I’ve learned to bear the frustration that “they” will do not. And that that’s ok. Because that is how life works. And reality.

I now try to identify and cope with trends I see and that will affect my life.

For example, around me the landscape changes. Nature will have less of a place. Animals will disappear. Silence will never return.
People are building things, operate factories, drive cars and trucks. This is life.
I would love for it to be different. But that’s a dream that’s never going to be.
So instead I will view my cabin and its little patch of nature as a little getaway form the city. No longer shall I compare it to the vast nature reserves of Norway or the landscape of historical Netherlands. When I instead compare it to the little post stamp gardens from the city, it feels so much better. I appreciate the bird species, the various bees, the hares that live around my cabin.
I appreciate what is, not what could have been.

Another example: the changes in society. People now live faster. They decide quicker whom they like, whom they dislike. There’s more shouting in the streets, less talking to the neighbour. There are more crowds and more unsanitary behaviour induced by crowds. Even entertainment is influenced by the larger number of people it serves: big plastic prevails. If it looks the part it’s good enough, it doesn’t have to bé the part. Illusion is magic enough.
As a society the Netherlands have long lost their trait of tolerance and hospitality (if we ever wore those badges rightfully).
Perhaps we need to because this country is growing fuller and fuller. When people live close together, social attitudes change, no doubt.

Instead of moaning about the good old times when you could leave your bicycle unlocked (and so many things were wrong behind closed doors) I could take an interest in the humanity flux. Observe it. Theorize about it. Pretty much like Desmond Morris did 50 years ago in The Human Zoo.

I could look at Japan and New York, to get an idea where the Netherlands could be heading. And what gems emerge in those two settings that might grow here too.
Gems in the sense of urban structures such as small vegetable patches on rooftops. But also in the urban society where new communities rise, gathered around subjects old-country-people could have never imagined. Dungeons and Dragons, Graffity and Skateboarding are some of these subjects I remember from the 20th century. I wonder what would be the current things.

But let’s go back to my desire to enjoy perfection.
Over time I have learned to curb my desire for perfection in the big things of life.
Life and death; politics; economical progress; education system; world health etc.
They are well and good out of my reach. And thinking I could define perfection in any of these subjects would amount to megalomania.

Then there are the slightly smaller things where I personally still have no influence over and where perfection depends more clearly on the action of specific people.
Fashion; TV-series; music industry; craft supplies; husbandry; media coverage; internet behaviour; monetary art appreciation; genetic manipulation of crops and animals etc.
I do well to stay away from expecting perfection in any of these areas too.
I could think about it though, how perfection would look like in any of these areas. But it would end up in frustration because it never will.
Better to realize the imperfections whenever I deal with any of these scenes and work with them. Remember that the paper lies exaggerates so don’t get worked up about something stupid or insensitive it reports. Realize forum users are just people, the majority of them good hearted (albeit a bit clumsy verbally). Get your crops from a farm far away from GM crops.

But I still have that craving for enjoying perfection. I would very much like to experience perfection in my life. It makes me feel alive.
So I turned to subjects that are under my control.

But I’d be a fool if I strived for perfection in the big things in my life. Career, marriage, my body, friendships, other things that are close to the heart. These are just the things that will cripple a perfectionist if she focuses on any of them.

Because these are the things that will never be perfect.
And these are the things that will need more time and energy to get to perfection than any human can invest.
Stay away from trying to make these things perfect.
Enjoy the kinks and wrinkles in them instead, they are illustrations of how reality works. Noticing and “forgiving” the imperfections lets you personally off the hook too, there’s no need to demand perfection from yourself in these areas. Just like you do not demand perfection from your friends, your colleagues or they way your body operates.

So I decided to feed my perfection-hunger in the small things of life. The things where 20% effort gives 80% result and the last 20% result do not require an 80% effort.
Things that do not matter if they are imperfect.
But when they are perfect, I enjoy them sincerely. The full bouquet of attention to detail, dedication and an expert sense for proportions, colour and material is to be noticed and enjoyed.

It’s like fine art. But with humble subjects.
Japanese martial arts, including the arts of Sumi-é and Ikebana, come to mind.

A perfect cup of tea.
Stroking the cat just right.
Arrange silver ware on the table perfectly.

I’m not talking about “enjoy the simple things in life”
I’m saying: “Scratch your perfection-itch with the small stuff. And get to work on the big stuff. Sweaty, fallible work.”

In my life I have chosen like this:
I’ll strive for perfection in cups of tea and hobbies and once in a while Japanese food.
As art and design need to be perfect in my mind, which is a personal opinion that I cannot defend nor escape, I have assigned them the label of “hobbies”. That means I get to play around and aim for perfection but results in reality are not mandatory. Public recognition as an artist is off the table. (I’m astounded, I just reach this conclusion, writing this paragraph)

Getting results, getting public recognition (for my sweaty and imperfect work), will be on the subjects that I enjoy doing but that do not wear the yoke of perfection (for me). They are writing (both scientific journalism and little stories) and illustrating (of those stories).
So that will be my job. (wait, what?! astounded again. This is it?)(It sounds like it.)(It’s logical.)(I’d love it.)

I know all this thinking is a roundabout way for organizing ones life. Who else thinks like that? But that’s the way I’m wired and that’s what works for me. I need some sort of conceptual structure of life, me and the world I live in. Some concept of how to interpret the daily hours for me to live in happily.
I blame INFJ:

INFJ’s always need to have a cause. People with this personality type always want to know that they are moving toward a worthy goal and may feel disappointed and restless if this is not the case.

You say it like it’s a bad thing…

Anyway. If that’s my trait, and I concede it is, I need a way to work with it. I think I’ve found one.
But I also may be an INTJ, I’m not sure. I do have mayor extroverted thinking going on and I don’t recognize myself in the airy, floaty image of INFJs that is often presented.
Either way: Introverted Intuition for the win!

When feelings are lies.

I came out of a dangerous depression. Which was caused by a lack of vitamine D, that all important hormone.

Even though I knew the depression had a chemical cause it did not hurt me any less. My ratio was no match for the powerful feelings.
It even went so far that I was not to be trusted to be by myself any more. The restrains on suicide had been eroded. And I am an efficient person.

The depression had been building from the start of January. By the start of February it was bad. I was like a caged animal. I knew something was wrong but I could not figure out what. I changed everything around: my stress levels, my diet, the methylation, the HRT, the place I slept. Nothing worked.

By the end of February it was becoming dangerous.
Just two days before I was to have myself committed or killed (yes) I thought of the vitamin D. Just gave it a shot.

I took one extra pill of 25 mcg, on top of the one I take every morning.
45 minutes later the depression lifted.

I was shocked.
Flummoxed.
Relieved.
And then outraged.

Later in the day the depression doomed over me again. Another 15 mcg of vit D took care of that.
This happened the next day too. But each time the depression lifted.
Within a few days I got rid of the depression all together.

I am still very angry. Because these kind of emotional rollercoasters take their toll, both physical and mental. Not to mention how much being depressed hurts, all those days of struggle, all those individual minutes of misery. And the dangerous level this one got to was really scary! I had left that level years in the past, it is not good for moral to have it resurface.
How it could have been avoided altogether. If I had just thought about it.

In October my doctor had told me to half the dose of vit D because my blood levels were now perfect: 85 where 60 to 80 is desired. Over the Summer I had brought it up from 52 by supplementing 50 mcg per day.
So I tapered down to 25 mcg and this is what I took all Winter.
Forgetting Winter eats vit D. As does the methylation I started. And forgetting I got the initial low level of 52 while supplementing 25mcg every day for months.

If I only had thought about vit D sooner.
But I was so fixed on those blood levels. They say too much vit D will show the same symptoms as not enough…

Now I know: MS people gladly aim for blood levels of 100.
Me, with various cell processes siphoning away the hormone and at least one receptor out of commission, should probably not go by blood levels at all but by cell functioning.

Anyway. It’s been two weeks. It was Monday the 3rd of March that I took the first extra vitamine D and had my lightbulb 45 minutes later.
Since then I’ve topped up and the depression has been gone for a solid 13 days now.

pic by Julien Osotimehin

I’ve found my optimistic self again. (it’s weird, being enraged and happy at the same time)
And in those two weeks I’ve also put in two days of solid work: research and writing.

I’m still working on a technical report to be used in the court case to stop the manure plant from being build in the field next to my cabin.
I’ve put in a solid six hour day of working at my desk. Twice.

This bids well for the future. If I can work one day a week I can do something I love: work on paper. Perhaps write my fairy tale musing. Or illustrate.

I also allocated other hours fairly well and kept stress and worries out of it.
But I have not found the time yet to sit and do that thinking exercise I wrote about in the previous post. Still having to set priorities and still not doing that too well (choosing hours of surfing over a walk or constructive thinking)(still: should’t beat myself op over things)(shouldn’t)

In the mean time it also has become Spring and my senses enjoy the sounds and smells of that. The warmth of the air. The colours. The call of the Lapwing.
My emotions run high, pulsed by the birds in my patch of woods and the way my cat jumps and runs through the grass.

I do not know what to do with these feelings. They are strong. And they evoke memories. Of Norway. Of dreams I had. Plans. Strong emotions again.

Probably nothing, there’s probably nothing one has to do with these feelings.

Last night a sense of urgency arose. That I need to get writing/illustrating soon. Because my life is flashing by. I’m already older than many (all) people who have careers.

I know this is rubbish. Nonsense. I suspect there’s a chemical in play here too.
But still, my ratio is no match for feelings.
So on my new search I go, looking for the element that causes urgency and a feeling of midlife crisis. I suspect Lithium (which shortage makes me feel a useless human being) or the Vanillin in some cream puffs I had yesterday (which excess makes me wired and sensed of doom).

I know for sure that thése kind of feelings are not the right kind of feelings. They are not the ones I get from Spring, love, beauty or shocking news. Those are real. But these, these are chemical feelings. They are not genuine. They are not me.

(in other news: I just slept two days through the night. After eating raw steak for dinner. This might not be a coincidence…)

pic by Makio Kusahara

PS
let me say that in no way I think that depression is caused by lack of vitamins, hormones or sun light. Depression is a serious thing, not something that is easily cured.
It’s just that in this case, my case and this particular depression, I knew it was chemical. I felt it. I knew it in my bones. But wether it was from hightened stress levels (due to court case manure plant) or something I was wrecking with the methylation or sleep deprivation I could not tell.
This depression, of me, in this time frame, had a chemical cause. This says nothing of depression in other people.

It is a horrible thing to suffer from depression. Or feel suicidal. Hang in there. Just busy yourself with living through the next 30 minutes. That’s all you need to do. Just the next 30 minutes. That’s something you can do.
After that: survive another 30 minutes. No more. No less.

the will to live in a doomed world

I have a pretty clear view of where this country is heading, what with all the urbanization and increasing of production and population that’s been going on. When one just elongates existing trends from the last 30 years it gives a good idea.
Add to that the tendency of mankind to do things because they’re possible (in stead of what’s desirable) and it is clear: more roads, more buildings, more people, more houses, more traffic, more noise, more pollution in the Netherlands.

pic by Roger Waleson

Less animals, less patches of unkept nature.
Especially with the tendency of the Dutch to do everything thoroughly, optimalized and regulated.

This future is not a bad thing. It’s just a thing that will happen.
It is no good to cry over the loss of panda’s and silence and funny little frogs. These things are happening and these things are to be expected. Because we are who we are and we do as we do.

pic by Margan Zajdowicz

It is not my aim to sit here all gloomy and doomy and cry my eyes out, no matter what the tearjerking nature documentaries or accusing reports are trying to accomplice.

It is my aim to come to a mental attitude that aknowledges these processes and premisses and finds a way to exist happily within them. I just need some time to sit down and think about this properly. Apply my mind and find the nuggets.

SOME ASPECTS I SUSPECT IT WILL INCLUDE:
Within this future I feel there will be a chance to witness the unexpected beauties that will develop from the new situation. Like we never would have expected LOLcats and the joy they give when we first thought about internet and its implications.

lol by Mandy Julian

In the same vein there will be unexpected new things come into existence in a more urbanised world. Already the city birds sing harder than their country cousins. Certain bugs can exist thanks to the city warmth.

Humans can get involved. There’s already something called “Guerilla Gardening”. I have done so myself, throwing poppy seeds all over town to grow some flowers.
There will be other things.

pic by Michal Koralewski

A second thing that will pop up in this exercise of thought will probably be the embracement of shrinkage. I cannot shield the square mile around my cabin from urbanization and heavy industry. But I can shield my little patch of woodland. I can optimize it for animals. And I can find joy in sitting in the grass and seeing a bee emerge from the bee hotel I made and enjoying the flowery herbs I sowed.

I also expect there will be a word or two about human culture. Therein may lie the way to happily spend time and feel forfilled as a human being in an urban world. Or at least be amazed at what’s possible and how intricate it can be.

It will be something that’ll be lost to future generations too, just like our polar bears.
In the same way we no longer appreciate the intricate meanings of a gift of flowers a couple of hundred years ago. They were like lettres! Also in art the chosen flower was a communication.
Or the way women tied up their head scarves. There was so much meaning in that. It was a form of communication. For all the community to see.

Opera.
Myths.
Literature.
So many meanings, implications, reasons for public outrage or private chuckles in these expressions of culture are now lost to us.
And so will ours in the future. Internetmemes, ’80s music, action figures and films. Their meanings and communications are now gone or fleeting.

But joining in, becoming part of a contemporary cultural tribe, might be an answer to the feeling of doom one gets when realizing how the world as you know it is changing and that things get lost.

Other answers are denial, distraction or numbing (that last one by using drugs).
These are not my style. Although I use distraction a lot to manage the stressors I feel. When it is not the time to deal with them I use distraction a lot (aka watching movies or solving a difficult puzzle)

My style will be to identify what changes are to be expected in my country, in my environment, in my lifetime.
Then I’ll try to identify what attractive options I have to feel good about living in this world at this time. I expect at least these three aspects to be involved: trying to predict and spot unexpected opportunities budding from the new situation; embracing life on a smaller scale; looking at human culture for existential delights.

Art is one expression of human culture that delights my mind and spirit:
pic by Winnie Lee

Art: scribbling to explore shapes

These are the scribbles I made.
I know they’re nothing.
But I am showing you them because they are everything:

Scribbles

These are two figures by Bonnard. I sketched them pretty soon after I returned from visiting his work in Amsterdam. I love how the countoures of the dress and the hand of “dog lady” echo’s in the shape of the dog. The sheer and shared dog happiness is bursting from the page.

The “cat lady” also echoos shapes the cat has. In her dress, in the leaves around her.
These are things I revel in. Shapes, contours, echoing, relations.

Here now follow the scribbles I made this morning, trying to catch animal shapes from the internet (as I am convinced Bonnard took his cues from photographs) with the same freedom and happiness Bonnard used:
Scribbles
Scribbles

I’m a cat person but dogs are easier ;)
Dogs have limbs and ears all flying about and being flappy, literally illustrating their mood and their zest for life. Cats are more contained balls of fur, with ears at impossible angles. Their expression is more in the face. Which are not drawable at all.

So.
My sketches.
It takes a lot to show these on the internet. They are so easy to be criticized.

But I want to show:
a – that art begins with harmless scribbles, without fear of doing it right or wrong, without self criticism. Just scribbling away, having some fun.
b – that I have to come back from a long distance. Usually a page and a half of these kind of scribbles is just the warming up for an artist. But this took me two hours. And this is all I have and also the best I could do. This is where I am at the moment, with my brain, with my ability to concentrate. It’s not pretty. But I am not ashamed of it.

I think I may like to document how I slowly work my way back to making art, here, on this blog. Share it with you.
Yes, I think I’d like that. That we may together see how things come together for me. How all that talk and thinking about shapes translates in actual art study and expression.
This blog as part of my artist’s notebook? Because I love notebooks…

Monday: Spring, Art and Methylation

Today is Monday. I just went for my daily little walk and the air was soft. Spring! The birds were calling it too.
Suddenly I remember Spring and Summer. The smell. The joy of just being amidst green grass. Bugs flying about. How could I have forgotten that feeling?

It’s the same in the Fall. In Fall there’s that first day when suddenly you remember how it is to have cold in your body. Being cold. Somehow you forgot about it in Spring and Summer.

Today was that day for me: Spring! With that smell.

Today is Monday. Last Wednesday and Thursday I had switched to another pill for Methylation Cycle Protocol. Untill then I had been taking Methylcobalamine (mB12) and Folinic Acid. Both processed forms of the foods that are so good for you: vitamine B12 and Folate. Both of which I do not process well in my body cells due to mutations in my genes. (MTR and MTRR to be specific)(to be totally specific: I’m homozygous for MTR A2756G and for MTRR A669)

I had been taking 1200 mcg of mB12 and about 800 to 1200 mcg of folinic acid (the pill Leucovorin). This fired up my methylation cycle nicely. My cells suddenly started using “B12″ and “Folate” and started detoxing.
On Wednesday I read about another form of already processed folate: Metafolin (brand). The nutriënt Folate goes through numerous steps before the cell is able to utilize it, about 12 of them. Folinic acid is the third step and Metafolin is the last. Making Metafolin the form easily absorbed.

So on Wednesday I took a pill that combined mB12 with Metafolin. I had already noticed I’m quite vulnerable to the folinic acid and thought I’d safe my body the trouble of converting it.
Thursday too: 1200 mcg of mB12 and 800 mcg Metafolin (this is pretty much the correct ratio although I think it’s empirical found, not theoretical)

Boy.
By Thursday evening I was stark raving mad. Very hormonal. Desperate. Tired of life. Convinced it was all to no good anyway. Convinced I had thrown it all away, that I was useless and that from here on it would only get worse. Life.
Luckily I know what this is. This is toxification of the brain because the body cannot process the toxins fast enough and/or there’s die-off. Here’s a good description of how it works.
I breathed through it, cognitively. I took extra Valerian, extra HCL and extra Progesterone.

On Friday I took a break from Methylation. I had that workshop Enamel the next day and wanted to rest up a little. During the day my good spirits returned. I got energy. I even withstood the bout of stress that the legal papers about the manure plant brought. Double Progesterone got me through the night.
On Saturday I took no Methylation. I did the workshop just fine. Was utterly tired afterwards and just about made it home.
On Sunday I took no Methylation protocol. I was soooo tired.

But a curious thing happened while on a break from Methylation. Art happened.
On Friday I studied online about enamelling. Found lots of art. Thought about them a bit.
On Saturday there was a piece of copper plate waiting for me to saw into a shape. This was possible because I was the only participant in the course, there was time for me to learn the techniques and deeper details. Usually they work on preshaped circles or squares. Now I got to saw.
Inspired by the workshop and having to make various pitstops on the drive home I got to think about shapes a lot ánd got to draw them on parking lots along the motor way.
Sunday I could do not much more than lay in my bed and surf and learn about enamel and think about shapes. About art! It all started humming! A lot of the old fascinations with shapes and contours and counter shapes came back. All the stuff that intrigued me when at the Art Academy. And before!

There was a small bout where I thought out a masterplan to become a professional enamelist.
But soon I realized this was one of those crazy, ambitious routes my mind takes when it wants control and assertance. (why this not english? you understand what I mean nonetheless, I hope)
So I shut down that train of thought and focussed on what ties this to my other fascinations: shapes, contours, countershapes, spaces. All my old friends.

I am ASTONISHED that this all came back to me yesterday. That it’s all still there.
It came together with the eagerness to explore. To sketch. To draw. To look. To explore with paint and fingers and scissors and colours.

Today is Monday. This morning I spend my golden hour thinking about shapes and sketching. I feel an artist again. I feel like me again.

But today is Monday. I have started Methylation Cycle Supplements again. I need to get rid of all the toxins that have built up in my body for decades. I have entered detox state again.
But at half the dose now. 500 mcg mB12 and 400 mcg Metafolin. (together with all the other nutriënts needed for this protocol: Mg, Mn, Se, I, Li, Zn, Mo)

I think this will kill the artist in me. No, not kill. Put to sleep. Wintersleep. Alive. But silent.
Soon I will enter brain fog again. Hormonal state even. Then all I can do is muddle through the day, eat my soup, take my supplements, take my walk and shed the toxins. Untill it goes better.
It will go slower at this lower dose. But I may be in a better mood.

All in all. Monday.
Spring is promised.
Artistry too.
If I can keep doing it slow, keep to two things a day, I will get there.

PS because I like it when everything makes sense I’m putting this link here, it explains why people with ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome need days (or weeks) to recuperate after a tiring day/event.
Especially the alinea below the middle called “Explanation of the Fatigue Problems in CFS Patients”. With all the talk about ATP.

For me recuperation time used to be three months. Then two weeks. Now two days. (6 if my gut health is involved, say with gluten)

By now it’s Monday afternoon and I can report that it seems my body has dealt with the detox of today. (I take my supplements in the morning, together with a very hearty breakfast brunch lunch). I feel the energy picking up. My brain is turning to art once again, I might do some reading. Who knows, another scribble?

a bit of everything

So I lie awake again. 200 mg Progesterone has nothing on me.

I also did two days of extra string methylation, this causes me to lie awake too. Even though I try to get the detoxification started as early in the day as possible, it still causes high noradrenaline in the middle of the night.

There are various sorts of B12 and of Folate stuffs and the last two days I took the most easily absorbed forms: Adenosyl-B12 and Metafolin.
This sends the Methylation cycle spinning.
I’ll be taking a break today
because sleep is everything

and tomorrow I’m taking a course in enemailling! Really looking forward to it.
I’m driving there myself, it’s about an hours drive, in my own squirrel mobile.
I’ll need food and salty water and ear plugs and a place to rest after I arrive.
Later today I will make some ganache and I plan to dip rice waffles into it.

In other news my right shoulder still hurts. I cannot knit, crochet, spin, felt or type in any constructive way.
I also cannot lay on the couch comfortably. Or find a position to sleep in at night.
So today is the day I am addressing this. Need some new attitudes for as long as my shoulder needs to heal.

  1. don’t hang in the couch any more. Go lie flat on your bed when resting.
  2. can no longer fiddle with hands when resting (knitting, writing, drawing) so it’s going to be something else: reading, snoozing, singing -learn overtones?-, solve thinking puzzle, listen to an audio book, …
  3. stop typing. Take a break from Ravelry, PhoenixRising, emailing and blogging. Find another way to take notes (doodle them? record on tape?)
  4. sit up straight when you sit, walk when you don’t. My big muscles are weak, I wanted to fortify them but something prevents this at the moment. Shouldn’t let them deteriorate further. Am enjoying my daily walk.
  5. I pull up the shoulder, emotional cause. I want to hide in it, embrace myself. Gotta find another way to hide and embrace. Sew up a sheep’s fleece? wear a cape?

So that’s my day’s work cut out for me.

On top of my daily job: to allow my body to rebuild itself. I can’t tell you how much effort it takes to keep my brain from chattering and interfering all the time. And methylation and PMS only make this worse. It’s a good thing I’m not on coffee or in the city because I’d be rocking!

Talking about city, it’s such a strange thing and I’ve been wanting to talk about it for weeks now. But when I’m in the city I’m all about art and culture and have this urge to paint. I even brought all my brushes and paints etc. with me to the cabin!
Haven’t touched them since.
When I’m in the cabin I’m all about slowing down, embracing the moment, breathing, enjoying flowers, birds and trees.

I couldn’t tell you which of the two is the true me. The city girl is more active, feels more alive. The nature girl feels more at peace,authentic.
They’re both me, I guess. Wanting to distinguish and assign values…. that’s soooo 2013 ;)

It makes me think though, about humans and our progress through time. Progress as: “look how we stumble along, the path we’ve followed and a reasonable projection of it into the future”.

I see the landscape around the cabin getting more cultivated by the day. Animals are driven back into little patches to live in. The patches get lost.
It’s the way nature documentaries have been tugging at our tear ducts for decades now: all doom and gloom. I do not wish to go that way.
Because there’s nothing to be done about it. This is how the human species stumbles forwards. You might as well curse the sun that’s about to rise tomorrow, again, aaargh.

I do feel a longing within to being in landscapes that involve no other humans. It’s probably a build in thing from the past, like 10.000 years and longer ago.
And a nice glug of sentimentality, of romancing living as one with nature. Oh, how I dream of living with the reindeer people somewhere in the North.
If there’s one thing documentaries about tribes or Survivor Man shows it’s that living in nature is no picknick. And you can’t do it alone. Man is a people lover.

So. I’m trying to get to grips with this pouting over Holland’s nature getting smaller by the minute. As if there was ever real nature left.
Well… some. I remember walking in the heather fields of Drenthe with my grandmother. Even though heather fields were maintained by shepherding people they have done so for a 1000 years and have been an ecosystem.

Anyway. There’s no use cursing at the sun or wringing your hands because human messes up his environment. The thing is to resign to the era you’re assigned to. I still live in a world that has some wild polar bears and tigers. The memory of a farmers country is not far behind me in these parts of the land.
In the city it’s only a short hop to the 16th century and life at that time. History is everywhere and it’s an inspiration. And it’s interesting to think about the things those people thought they were loosing. “Oh no! The oxen will disseapear!”
“No more tinder fungus for us, not now everyone has got that modern way of making fire!”
“in my time, we all carried our drinks in pigs bladder… what’s with this modern nonsense?”
(I’m just pulling these out of sleeve, not trying to be acurate or anything)

It makes sense to predict that urbanization will progress. Nature will be driven back.
I look at Japan for examples.
It will bring many interesting urban culture things that I cannot even begin to imagine. There will be lots of niches. And a few of them will be taken by animals who find a new way of living.

gotta stop typing, gotta take my walk.
sorry, no energy left for pictures. I can show you one of my coffee table: