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INFJ – A dreamer and a doer

Someone sent me an interesting online personality test, and I came out an INFJ. I thought it was a surprisingly apt description of who I am, especially this profile, which calls me a “Counselor Idealist” – someone who has great compassion for humankind, but does well working at something like writing which requires solitude and close attention.

It goes on to say, “Counselors are scarce, little more than one percent of the population, and can be hard to get to know, since they tend not to share their innermost thoughts or their powerful emotional reactions except with their loved ones. They are highly private people, with an unusually rich, complicated inner life. Friends or colleagues who have known them for years may find sides emerging which come as a surprise. Not that Counselors are flighty or scattered; they value their integrity a great deal, but they have mysterious, intricately woven personalities which sometimes puzzle even them.”

As someone who is semi-secretly pursuing a creative life in art and writing, and hoping it someday touches people at a deeper level to incite thought and, ideally, positive change, I feel encouraged that I’m in good company with others who have this personality, doers and dreamers who have that “rare combination of vision and practicality” – Jane Goodall, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa – and at the same time discouraged that I have not tangibly lived up to my dreams as much as I imagine.

I bet Amelie would be an INFJ (if she were real), and I feel more like her so far, having fantasies of doing something meaningful, while currently only capable of shy observation and private creative benevolent pursuits. I’m trying to get braver about writing about what’s going on in my head, since that’s what I love to read most in other people’s blogs. At the same time, it’s a little lonely knowing only about 1% of the population thinks like this.

Any other INFJ’s out there know what I’m talking about? Take the test.

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Maira Kalman

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Maira Kalman, one of my favorite author/illustrators did a talk on TED (which is an exciting new find for me – it stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design – Ideas Worth Spreading, check it out!) back in 2007 about her book The Principles of Uncertainty. It’s great to get to see her in person just as lively, disjointed, seemingly random, yet remarkably wise and witty as her work. Her words and paintings always make me feel grateful for the simple things – color, everyday objects, dogs, the peculiarities of people, life.

She ends her lecture with, “I have enough. And that is absolutely true. I happen to be alive. End of discussion.”

Also check out her latest blog for the New York Times, And the Pursuit of Happiness.

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Terry Tempest Williams

Did anyone else hear Forum this morning? Michael Krasny interviewed Terry Tempest Williams, a remarkably eloquent conservationist, political activist and author, who I previously hadn’t heard of, but will go out and read right away. Her new book is Finding Beauty in a Broken World, the central metaphor being a mosaic, taking something broken and making it whole. In the interview, she describes creating a memorial in Rwanda, and says that in these economic times, “beauty is seen as optional, art is peripheral”, but there in the midst of all that brokenness and suffering, she could see “art as essential, a strategy for survival. Eyes that were turned inward, turned outward, and art became a sign of a revitalized life.”

She was passionate, convicted, and inspiring. Listen to her on the second half of Forum, or if you’re lucky enough to be able to go, see her at the Herbst Theatre tonight for City Arts and Lectures. I am going out and getting her books Refuge and Finding Beauty.

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20 weeks

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Halfway to the due date! Still doesn’t look like much, but I can feel flutters and tiny kicks every day now. Definitely feels real. Can’t wait to meet this little guy.

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Quote

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than it be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet.”  – Jack London

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Serendipity

When I was in high school, I painted a mural on my bedroom wall of big bay windows with a window seat looking out over the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. I painted a tree and buildings and made the neighboring building to the left bright pink and blocky. I grew up only a few hours south of the city, but in a completely different world – rural, agricultural, with little opportunity to experience the art and culture I craved – and from my few visits to San Francisco, I knew it was the place for me. My path there was windy as I ended up going to college in Santa Barbara, teaching art there for two years afterward, and only making the move when one of my students got into the San Francisco Art Institute and asked if I wanted to move up there with her (we had become good friends, since I was only 21 when I started teaching and was much closer to her in age than any of my “colleagues”). She said her family owned an apartment building and the rent would be super cheap. I leapt at the chance and it turned out that her family’s building was the very same bright pink, blocky building I had painted in my mural so many years before. No views of the Bay, but unmistakably where I was meant to be.

I’ve been thinking a lot about serendipity lately, how things have happened over and over again in my life to lead me to where I’ve dreamed of being, and sometimes even beyond my wildest dreams. I thought I moved to San Francisco to pursue Art – to make murals, and paintings, and write and illustrate books and be a part of a scene – and I started to when I first moved into that pink place in the Mission, surrounded by creative people who made me feel alive. And then I happened to meet my husband by another fateful twist of unexpected events, which detoured me down a path of deeper self-discovery, one that kept me too busy to create any tangible works of “Art”, but gave me the ability to appreciate things in life I’d never known were possible – love, mainly.

Now,  I wake up seven years later and realize serendipity has been working her magic all along.  I find myself once again living in the Mission, only this time with my sweet husband and a baby boy on the way who isn’t even born yet and has inspired me to paint a mural. And to keep on painting. Whenever I worry about what will happen next or how I’ll ever accomplish my dreams, I try to remember that I already have come so far, not by my efforts alone but by a guiding force in my life putting me in the right place at the right time. I am exactly where I’m meant to be and I can’t wait to see what serendipity has in store.