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!

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.

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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

Single’s Awareness Day (February 14)

Love

Love

Single’s Awareness Day is upon us. And if you don’t know what that means – Valentine’s Day. Courtesy of a fellow people-rescuer therapist (thanks Jae!!!), I’ve learned a new way to look at an old holiday. As a single working mom, I’ve found it very difficult to go out and date. Not only do I have kiddo, I also work full-time as a child & family therapist and write on the side. So, my time is somewhat limited.
Since last September, I’ve been aware and appreciative of my singleness. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel lonely once in a while, but I’ve been extremely happy being single for the last five months. Though it’s going on three years since I’ve officially been flying solo.

In seeing how many people around me (family, friends, etc) have dating and relationship issues and the drama that goes along with that, I’ve also noticed my relief that I don’t have to worry about someone else’s feelings, thoughts, wants or needs. I am happy that I don’t need to go all out for Valentine’s Day for a partner. Kiddo, of course, but that’s the usual.

All I can say is that I am very aware of my singleness and am so glad to have it. Happy Valentine’s Day all. May you receive all the love your hearts can stand. Cheers!

photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

Losing My Virginity at 35?

My massage

My massage

Yes, you read that right. Losing my virginity at 35. How is this possible??? You’re a single mom, Heiddi! WTF??? It was amazing!

The mood was quiet and romantic with small candles and soft instrumentals in the background. I was SO nervous! I mean, it was my very first time. I had no idea what to expect, what to do or what to say. But, then he came in.

Softly, he whispered to me, “Heiddi?” “Yes?”, I reply. “You want it firm?”, he asks. “Yes, please be gentle with me, it’s my first time.” “Ok, just relax.” Lying face down on the massage table, I held my breath for awhile and then let it out as he began working on my stressed out shoulders.

As a belated Christmas present, my fabulous cousin (thanks V!) took me to my first massage ever. She knew that I wouldn’t go out and get one myself. So she made the decision for me and got me an appointment at the Perfect Spa.

I drank green tea as I filled out an information form giving my contact information, medical history (yup, they wanted to know all of that) and my preference in massages (soft, firm or deep tissue). I asked my cousin if they also wanted my bank account number, fingerprints and credit report. She laughed, but seriously they wanted a lot of info. I didn’t even fill out that much the first time at a new doctor.

After filling out the booklet information sheet, I was led to a small room with candles and music playing in the background. I began hyperventilating worrying the minute I asked if I was getting a female masseuse and told that no, it would be a man. I thought I needed a brown paper bag after further learning that I’d have to strip down to my skivvies and get under a thin, white sheet.

Though it was unnerving in the beginning, I relaxed after two words “Just relax” from the masseuse. My mind raced as he went from body part to body part, getting the tension out from my stress-filled muscles. Btw, my stress spot is my left shoulder just below my neck.

Going from my neck down to my legs and then asking me to flip over (I freaked out again), he continued massaging my arms and legs avoiding my lady parts (thank goodness!) and ending with a pat on both shoulders. “You’re done. You can get dressed now.” I thanked him and smiled as he left the room. I stretched out like a lazy lion. So content and blissfully peaceful. Then it was time to go back to the real world. Sigh. At least I got myself a gift card for a future massage. It won’t ever be like my first time, but I will keep this amazing memory with me always!

Be sure to check out Perfect Spa at their website and Facebook page. Let them know Heiddi Zalamar sent you.

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photo credit: dMap Travel Guide via photopin cc