I’m an Introvert and (Quietly) Proud

In my last post, I touched on being an introvert. It’s a term that’s been floating around for some time now, but I’ve only connected with it in the past year. Once I learned about what an introvert was, I felt like I discovered myself. Finally, I had a name for everything that I feel when I’m around people and when I’m not. I’m weird and different and amazing! And I’ve grown to love my introverted self!

Huffington Post and Psychology Today  have two great posts about what makes a person an introvert. Last year, I also discovered Quiet Revolution, a website all about introversion and how to go through the world as an introvert. I’ve come up with my own signs of introversion because I feel like I don’t fit every single characteristic.  Maybe you can relate.

  • I HATE talking on the phone. It’s not that I don’t love or care for people. It’s just I’d much rather spend time with you. I’d like to see you in person, hug you and connect over coffee. I also realize that I pick up the emotions of the other person even on the phone (more on that later). You can count on me sending emails and text messages rather than the phone.
  • I feel lost in a crowd and tend to stay in the outer edges. Whenever I go, I tend to sit where I feel most secure, which could be at the end of a row of chairs, in my own cubicle, etc. I prefer small, intimate gatherings at a lounge or quiet coffee shop. I feel safer and protected that way. Or I just stay home because it’s my happy place.
  • I get drained quickly with too much noise, smells and sights. I feel overwhelmed and can’t think. Then I feel worn out. I’ve learned to meditate to calm myself down and stay focused by listening to music, writing or relaxing.
  • I really DO love people; I just like connecting one on one. I focus my energies best when I’m with one person rather than several people at once. Group work can be tough for me because it takes a lot of energy to focus on the group. I can do group work, just infrequently and need to recharge right after.
  • I LOVE downtime. I can spends days without leaving home. Even with my two boys, I can relax with them, doing chores, fun activities and just playing around. It soothes me to be home in my sanctuary.
  • Small talk sucks for me. I hate small talk because I feel awkward. However, when I talk about something I enjoy, I can talk for hours. I’ve also realized that if I feel confident, I will talk more and will talk less when I don’t.
  • I don’t like confrontation, but will assert myself as needed. I don’t like to fight and living in NYC, I tend to avoid negative interactions with people. But, I will stand up for what I believe in and also protect myself. If it’s worth it, I’ll fight for it.
  • I’ve pushed my boundaries even as an introvert. Because I work in a field that requires me to talk to people everyday (crisis worker, hello!), I’ve become more of an extrovert. My work involves assessment and problem solving so I have to talk, connect and give recommendations. I’ve developed coping skills designed to help me get centered before meeting clients and providing support. I do my best work when I practice good self-care.
  • I love to write. Obviously, I have a blog. As an introvert, I’ve embraced the written word and love writing. I write better than I speak. Nothing works better for me than the idea that I can delete and rewrite what I want to say.
  • I love who I am. I grew up often feeling that I was weird and different and devalued (read: bullied) because I was weird and different. I love myself now because I know now that I’m amazing just as I am, introvert and all.

So if you ever feel weird and different because you’re an introvert, remember this – you’re unique and special because of your introversion. You can do amazing things with the gifts of who you are. Love you because there has never been and will never be another person like you ever again. You are amazing!

Getting to Know Me Better

One of the things I haven’t done in the 8 years I’ve been blogging is to share a post with 25 things to know about me. I’ve seen a few online and have been tagged a couple of times, but never got around to it. So here goes! Enjoy!

25 Things about Me (Plus 5 bonus facts)

  1. I am a single mom of two boys (15 and 2).
  2. I’m a New Yorker born and raised.
  3. I love reading historical romance novels.
  4. I’m an Introvert and an Empath.
  5. My favorite romance novelist is Johanna Lindsay.
  6. I’m a middle child and the youngest girl.
  7. I’m bilingual and read/write/speak Spanish.
  8. I tutored my father for his commercial driving exam when I was 8.
  9. I love freestyle music.
  10. I can dance salsa, merengue, bachata, waltz, tango, foxtrot and rumba.
  11. I took 5 months of ballroom dance lessons.
  12. I secretly want to be on Dancing with the Stars to advocate for mental health.
  13. I taught myself to play the guitar almost 20 years ago.
  14. I sang in a choir and played my guitar in church for 12 years.
  15. I used to be a lector in my church from ages 9 – 11 reading during the Spanish mass. (It was my mother’s idea.)
  16. I’m crazy for trivia anything and everything. Love reading nuggets of useless information.
  17. I’d love to be on Jeopardy.
  18. Writing is my second passion and I’ve kept a journal since the 5th grade. (Love my notebooks/journals).
  19. I’ve been blogging since 2008.
  20. I curse when I’m very angry.
  21. I took French in high school.
  22. I have a love/hate relationship with technology.
  23. I am a licensed mental health counselor.
  24. My favorite vacation was my cruise in 2008 and traveled to Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.
  25. I have an amazing memory.
  26. I have anxiety and do lots of good things for myself to reduce it.
  27. I’ve fallen in love with myself in the past two years.
  28. I pray everyday.
  29. Kids and pets are my favorites.
  30. I’m a curly sue and love my hair.

Thanks for reading!

April is Stress Awareness Month

According to BrownieLocks, April is Stress Awareness Month. But, what is it?

What is Stress Anyway?

The Meriam-Webster Dictionary defines stress as “a state of mental tension and worry caused by your life, work, etc.” Basically, everything can cause stress. School, work, family, world affairs – everything!

It can hit us at any time. When we’re going to take a test or running late to the office. It can happen to anyone of any age. Sometimes, that stress can be a good thing. It can help us focus better on the task we’re doing.

What are the Symptoms of Stress?

And sometimes stress can be bad. As a mental health counselor, I see how stress can negatively impact a person. In my work with families, I find that stress can come from all sides – home, school, our neighborhood, even the world.

When I’m stressed out, I get worried, jumpy, cranky, moody. I feel like my mind is racing and can’t focus. The Center for Disease control adds that common reactions to stress are: “anger, sleep problems, body pains (headaches, stomach problems), loss of appetite, etc.”

How can you manage stress?

Because my work as a crisis counselor brings me into contact with families with severe stress, I end up absorbing some of that. And I have to work stress out of my system. The Center for Disease Control offers a variety of ways to manage stress.

For me, managing stress is about being kind to myself everyday. I do a lot of deep breathing, writing, walking, laughing, drawing, etc. Everyday, I take the time to do things that make me happy before stress hits. It’s called “self-care.” You can and should do this for yourself as well.

Do what you enjoy that’s healthy for you. Sometimes it can be as simple as going for a walk or talking to a friend. Or it can be taking a ballroom dance class like I do every week (DWTS anyone?).  It is about taking the time to be good to yourself. Because everyday brings stress, but stress doesn’t have to beat you. You can work through it and have a successful day, everyday.

Put BICHOK

BICHOK – I learned this acronym years ago from a writing website. BICHOK means “butt in chair, hands on keyboard.” It took me years to understand what it really meant. That if I wanted to get something done, I had to sit down and do it. I finally did.

Make Time

I had been reading some inspirational blogs, productivity posts and others meant to inspire me to write. Because I’ve been having a difficult time just sitting down to get it done. Making time for it at home is super hard with a teen and toddler needing my attention as a single mom. I made time to read in the mornings and now changed it to writing time.

Just Do it!

So, when I have quiet time in the mornings, I looked for posts to inspire me to write. Instead, I found posts that make me think “These are the things I’d like to write.” But, I couldn’t write them if I did’t put my butt in a chair with my hands on a keyboard. Like NIKE says, I had to just do it. I had to BICHOK. And by doing so, I came up with three different posts for the blog all in less than 10 minutes. Not bad if I do say so myself.

What’s Behind this?

Sometimes when we take too long in doing something, it could mean that we fear it or really don’t want to do it. My avoidance of writing is fear. Fear that my words won’t mean anything to anyone or that if they do, I’ll have to follow them up with more words. As my friend Pauline Campos once told me, “just write for you. Do it.” And I did. It was her way of saying “BICHOK.”

Is there something that you just NEED or WANT to get done? Just do it. Do it for yourself. You deserve it. Shut up and get it done for the simple reason that you deserve to do something kind for yourself.

Stop, Look and Listen

It is easy to get caught up in negativity. We all do it, even me. Just yesterday, I missed out on precious “me-time” because someone failed to come through for me. As a single mom of two boys, “me-time” is very precious indeed and hasn’t been coming my way easily these days.

Stop

I was so upset that I had to stop. Everything had to stop. I stopped cleaning, stopped doing other things and sat with my feelings. I was angry, sad, frustrated and lonely. I had to really look at my feelings to acknowledge and work through them.

Look

I took out my journal and listened to my heart. Writing out all of those feelings. I poured them out onto the page. I asked God to let me have the right words to say when I next addressed the person who let me down or to just take my words away and let me say nothing at all. I cried as I wrote. I wiped my tears away, closed my journal and got back to what I was doing before.

Listen

The act of acknowledging my feelings in real time allowed me to work through them and let go. It allowed me to step back and release my anger so that later on when I saw that person, I could just be. I avoided what would have been a big argument that would have really upset me and my boys. We were all able to have a good night simply because I stopped, looked at my feelings and listened to my heart. Sometimes I end up holding on to negative emotions especially when the other person (or anything outside of us really) is someone I cannot change. I can only change myself. Period.

Why is it important to stop, look and listen?

I had to stop what I was doing because I was unable to focus in the moment because of my anger. I had to look at the feelings, sit with them and listen to myself for a little while. And it really was only a little while. 5 minutes, in fact. In that tiny bit of time, I wrote out my feelings, why I was upset and asked for help. In the end, this ability has helped me pass through difficult times rather than making them worse.

And no, it isn’t easy to follow this process. It takes time to practice something everyday so that it can become habit. Do it no matter what feeling you have. Stop, look and listen even when you’re happy, sad, excited, whatever. Do it everyday and it will become as natural as breathing. In this way, you’ll be able to zero in on your emotions, acknowledge and then release them.

 

Springtime is Renewal Time

It may not seem like it with snow coming down in early April, but Spring is the season of sunshine and renewal. It’s a time to start fresh or start over new plans for whatever you may want to change in life. For me, it’s starting over with my blog. Again.

Renewal happens Everyday

In nature, renewal happens every season. In the past couple of years,  I felt like I have been starting over a lot. every day, in fact. But, that’s how we learn and grow. Everyday is an opportunity to renew ourselves; to revisit our wants and needs. When we go through tough times or make mistakes. It happens. I think about my shortcomings and how I can learn and renew myself.

The point is every day is a new day to work on new dreams and goals. Everyday is a new chance for you to start over; to renew yourself. Your dreams; your goals.

Today, I encourage you to think about what goals and dreams you want to renew. What are you wanting to achieve for yourself? What will you renew today? I know I will.

By; Heiddi Zalamar

Renewal Time – Image by Author

 

Evolution: Heiddi 2.0

Evolution?

I should say so. After a year-long hiatus preceded by a two year hiatus, you figure why do I keep doing this to myself? Haven’t I figured out what I’ve wanted to do yet?

Frankly, no. Here I am a college graduate and bilingual licensed mental health counselor working with low-income families in New York City. As of 2011, when I received my licensure, I also accomplished my goals. Which is an amazing feeling and a proud moment for me.

Turning Point

But, with all my accomplishments and achieved goals as of 2011, comes what next? For the past few years, I’ve been trying to find out. I’ve reduced a lot of my extra-curricular activities such as playing guitar at my local church (12 years), paid blogging (6 years) and writing in general (too many years to count).

Self-Evaluation

I’ve been spending more time in self-evaluation mode while also prepping for the arrival of my second son, Benjamin who arrived on June 21, 2014. Yes, Andy’s a big brother now and I’m still the single mom of now two amazing boys. I’m a very happy mom.

While being a proud mom is great, I still have goals simmering within me waiting to be unleashed in the world. I’ve found that I need to set new goals and discover new passions.

IMG-20120607-00467

What I hope to share on this website is positivity and wellness – whether I’m writing about mental health or the simple things that bring me joy. I’d like to keep writing and sharing these with you.

The Heiddi 2.0 Evolution is here – will you join me?

Mental Health and Pregnancy

According to the Women’s Health Organization, the most common mental health disorders during pregnancy are depression and anxiety. Also, pregnant women with depression or anxiety are less likely to care for themselves properly. Stress during pregnancy can lead to complications during pregnancy and at birth. Continue reading

My Journey to Mental Health Counseling & Blogging

My calling to be a mental health counselor and advocate began years ago when I was in a local after-school program called “Unitas.” Invited by my 7th grade teacher, I instantly found an escape from the noise at home. I found a place where I was accepted as is and was called amazing.

I met a young woman there named Valerie (D.) who was a Fordham University student at the time. She was awesome! And she took the time to show a geeky, little girl with the nerd trifecta (bad hair, bad vision and bad teeth) – that she was awesome, too! Valerie was in Unitas for only a school year. I stayed on for 10 years.

When I left it was to go to work because I didn’t want to go to school. I realized later that I was looking to re-create my time in Unitas. I felt comfortable and confident in my abilities as an after-school counselor. I gained intrinsic value (as Doc like to put it) from just being there for others. Though I’d worked for years in the corporate setting, I was not happy.

During my pregnancy, I was depressed about my situation and was referred for therapy. It was then that I met Alma. For once, I felt like it was all about me. I thrived and grew in the process. And I was inspired.

And after having my son and losing my mother by my 25th birthday, I decided to stop looking for my calling because it had found me years before. I prayed on it and God made it happen. I ended up finishing my last year of undergrad at the Adult Degree Completion Program (ADCP) at Nyack College. It was there that a fellow alumnus told me to check out the Alliance Graduate School of Counseling (AGSC) because he felt that “it was meant for me.” He was right. (I need to thank him for that someday.)

Graduating in 2008 and earning my license as a mental health counselor in 2011, brought me so far. But, it wasn’t until May of 2012 that I’d found the job that was a good fit for me. My current job is at a small non-profit and has me working as a Bilingual Child & Family Therapist. And I LOVE IT!

Along the way, I picked up blogging as a hobby and now have blended my two loves (Mental Health  and Blogging) to advocate & educate others on Mental Health and Wellness. My goal is to mainstream Mental Health by writing and speaking about it as well as continuing my counseling work. This blog will help me do that. I hope you enjoy the ride. Thanks for your support!

Self-Care: Using Creative Projects

Self-Care is very important to me. I talk about it at work, home and online. But, I do that because I find that people just don’t take good care of their emotional and physical health. I find parents and anyone working with families tend to feel very stressed out. Taking care of yourself allows you to live happy and healthy.

Continue reading