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

Stepping Into Independence

Independence. Everyone has to go through it sometime or another. Now, it’s kiddo’s turn. And I’m petrified! Kiddo’s a pre-teen who will be 12 in a couple of months. He’s been asking for more independence – to walk to school alone, a cell phone and an alarm clock.

So far, I think I’ve done pretty well with the adjustment. Err, maybe not. We’ve been working on this since last May. Kiddo’s still not walking to school alone, though we’ve got it to 60% alone. At first, it meant dropping him off at the corner closest to the school and watching him cross. Then it was the corner before that (which was a straight shot to the school so I could still watch him). Slowly, we ended up around the corner.

The school sits at an intersection and from our house, it is a zig-zag pattern. And we live in the South Bronx. Don’t get me wrong – it has improved a great deal and there’s a bigger police presence than ever. But, I’m realistic. I know where I live.

With guidelines on how to walk on his own, plus using it as a way to modify his behavior positively (ie if he screws up, I walk him all the way to school; devastating to a pre-teen), I’ve been a big girl mature mom and let him go. Independence is a PITA, but it’s a part of growing up. Only I’m the one feeling the growing pains. Sigh. On to the alarm clock.

Parenting: Credit Where Credit is Due

Parenting is a very tough job. Parenting while in a relationship and feeling alone as a parent is even tougher. Everyone knows that, right? Nope. There are people out there who have no idea what it is like. There are some men out there who don’t acknowledge everything a mother does for her child. One man who used to be that way is Austin Blood.

In his post about the chaos of fatherhood, Austin had the courage to admit that he used to be one of those men (like my son’s father) who left parenting to the mom (more like ran away screaming) and continued on his merry way. Austin scored bigger points with me by acknowledging how amazing his ex-wife was (and is) as a mother. His words had a profound affect on me as I read his post during my lunch yesterday.

As I sit here writing while kiddo sleeps, my eyes tearing, I feel Austin’s appreciation. For roughly 10 years, I felt alone as a parent – running around doing everything to make sure kiddo had everything he needed. Sure, kiddo’s father pitched in sometimes, but I held the reins (had to or things wouldn’t get done). After 10 years of feeling like a single mom, I made myself one by breaking up with kiddo’s father.

For the last 3 years, kiddo’s father has been like Austin – having to figure things out on his own without “the blissful days of yore” of having me around to do everything. When he’s on kiddo time, my ex has to figure out pick-ups (we’re affected by the school bus strike here), meals, homework…EVERYTHING. And after 3 years, kiddo’s father isn’t willing to say how amazing I am as a mother to his son. I hear it from my family, friends and co-workers. But, not from kiddo’s father. In fact, I had to tell him a few weeks ago (via text because sometimes we just don’t talk ) that he should be thankful for the mother kiddo has because I’m a damned good mom! But, Austin said it for him.

Thank you Austin, for being man enough, adult enough to give us moms the thanks we deserve. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Raising a Book Critic: Advice to Writers

Happy first Tuesday in January readers!  Today’s bit of advice to writers comes from kiddo. Kiddo’s full of surprises this morning. One was his critique of a kid’s book. As I’m sitting at my home computer desk, trying to keep my eyes open (yes, I know it’s 8:30am), I’m reflecting on his critique without naming the book here out of respect for the writer.

Add raising a book critic to my resume. I’ve been encouraging kiddo to read more (indeed, my tweeps know all about that). And since he was up and dressed early this morning, I egged him on to read before school. Except, I chose a book that he didn’t like after 20 pages. I asked him what he thought was going on with the book. Here is his advice to writers.

Get to the point. With a great cover that had me interested in reading the book, I thought kiddo would go for it. I was wrong. He told me it was the 7th book in a series. Kiddo was bored with the recap of the previous books. He was waiting for the book to get interesting. He kept trying to read it and now he won’t look at it.

Keep it simple. Kiddo didn’t understand the point of the story because he was too busy being annoyed by the backstory. He didn’t like all the previous history. Yes, it might important for the writer’s vision for the book, but without writing for the readers, especially kids, it’s very hard to reel them into the story.

Improve your writing or else. The writing didn’t work for him. Kiddo said he wouldn’t finish the book. And he’s not. It doesn’t matter how much I sweet talk him, cajole him or threaten to Gangnam Style at his school – he’s not having it. And I’m pretty sure that if he saw another book by the author, he wouldn’t think twice about rejecting it.

Writing is a tough gig. Being critiqued is even harder. You spend so much of your time making it perfect only to have a pipsqueak (like kiddo) tell you it’s not good enough. And it will sting. But, it will also help you become a better writer. I’m not saying that bending over backwards is necessary, but knowing who your target reader is important when you’re writing for that reader. If you follow the steps above, you’ll have a dedicated reader sharing his favorite books with his pals. Have a great Tuesday!