Conversations with Myself: Do I know who I am?

Ice Cream Sundae

We all know the world we live in is made up of all different kinds of people. There are those who are humble and prefer to remain invisible and there are those who walk around filled with their own sense of self importance (the Narcissistic types).

In Psychology there are many assessment tools used to identify personality traits used either to match people to compatibility with a particular job or people in relationship with others or each other.

When doing a Google search on assessment models, I came across this one which I thought you might find interesting . . .

SCARF model of self assessment
The SCARF model of self assessment gives you insight into the five domains of the SCARF model, and indicates the importance each domain currently has in your life.

Understanding which of these five domains are key drivers for you increases self awareness as to why you (and others) behave the way you do in certain social interactions. Knowing more about your own reactions leads to better self regulation and gives you more options when dealing with other people.

The five domains are:
S = Status (people need to be recognised)
C = Certainty (people need to know how and when you are going to respond)
A = Autonomy (moving away from threats and toward rewards)
R = Relatedness (mutual relatedness and respect)
F = Fairness (to be fairly treated – works both ways)

The five domains of this model will help you to:
• Understand your own reactions and those of others
• Better regulate your emotions
• Better communicate your needs to others
• Make choices more suited to your own preferences

If status is your biggest driver, you are naturally competitive. You love winning but hate coming second. If status rates high in your life, you might need to watch your natural competitive spirit. You might find yourself continuing the argument simply for the sake of winning. Or you might easily be bored if the challenge is missing. You might need to remember to ‘just be.’

You are however motivated by a good contest so look for ways to bring this into your working and personal life. Competition is the norm in sales environments, the legal profession, and sporting clubs. Focus on areas where you have natural ability and can continue to improve.

If certainty is your biggest driver, you like things planned well in advance and you don’t like last minute changes. You have a natural affinity with systems and processes. You are a list person and often find yourself the organizer in social and work situations.

With certainty as your biggest driver, be aware that you may naturally limit yourself from doing new (and therefore uncertain) things, even those that could be good for you, like learning new tasks or travelling. You may also react very strongly when people leave things to the last minute or constantly change their mind. Remember they are not doing this just to annoy you!

To feel more reward and less threat with certainty as your key driver involves asking questions to make sure you are clear on expectations. Don’t wait for others to come to you.

When autonomy is important, you like being in the driver’s seat. You like calling the shots and don’t like being told what to do or how to do it.

Be aware that you may say no to things simply because they are not your idea. You may also need to remember to give other people the opportunity to choose from time to time!

If autonomy is your biggest driver, find ways to create more choice, even if you have to stick within defined parameters. Ask for where you can have clear autonomy so you can exercise this. And watch out for tasks where you have to follow other people’s orders precisely.

If relatedness is your biggest driver, you find it easy to remember things about other people. You always make the effort socially and hate it when others don’t. You find it easy to connect with others and love doing things that make others feel important and special.

When relatedness is your biggest driver, be aware that you may expect more from your friends and colleagues that they can give. You may find yourself easily offended when people don’t respond to invitations or get back to you with answers.

To increase reward and reduce threat around relatedness look for opportunities to connect with others who are important to you. This could be joining a sporting team, organizing an interest group, or phoning family at a certain time each week. Watch out for long terms situations that isolate you from others – such as working on your own.

If fairness is your biggest driver, you are happy if beaten by a better player but hate someone who cheats the system. People who jump the queue really get under your skin, but you’ll sign up to a roster that ensures everyone contributes equally.

When fairness is important to you, you might find yourself always speaking up for others when sometimes it’s okay just to let things slide. Fairness tends to dominate all areas of our lives, so in your relationships make room for other feelings such as simply caring for others.

To create more reward and less threat around the domain of fairness, look for ways to get involved. Knowing how decisions are made, or having a say in the process will help. This might be through a career in HR, social justice or policy creation, or getting simply joining in at a community level.


Conversations with Myself: Words to Inspire You . . .

Bee Floating

Maybe God wanted us to meet the wrong people before meeting the right one so that when we finally meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for that gift.

Maybe when the door of happiness closes, another opens, but often times we look so long at the closed door that we don’t see the one which has been opened for us.

Maybe the best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch and swing with, never say a word, and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you’ve ever had.

Maybe it is true that we don’t know what we have got until we lose it, but it is also true that we don’t know what we have been missing until it arrives.

Giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they will love you back. Don’t expect love in return; just wait for it to grow in their heart; but if it does not, be content it grew in yours.

It takes only a minute to get a crush on someone, an hour to like someone, and a day to love someone, but it takes a lifetime to forget someone.

Don’t go for looks; they can deceive. Don’t go for wealth; even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you smile because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright. Find the one that makes your heart smile.

There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real.

Dream what you want to dream; go where you want to go; be what you want to be, because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough hope to make you happy.

Always put yourself in others’ shoes. If you feel that it hurts you, it probably hurts the other person, too.

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.

Happiness lies for those who cry, those who hurt, those who have searched, and those who have tried, for only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives.

Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss and ends with a tear.

The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past, you can’t go on well in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you are the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

Please send this message to those people who mean something to you, to those who have touched your life in one way or another, to those who make you smile when you really need it, to those that make you see the brighter side of things when you are really down, to those who you want to let them know that you appreciate their friendship.

And if you don’t, don’t worry, nothing bad will happen to you. You will just miss out on the opportunity to brighten someone’s day with this message.

Conversations with Myself: Having nun of that!


We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.
Mother Teresa

Thinking back on my childhood, I remember always having a great fascination and admiration for nuns. The few nuns I came across and the pictures I saw in magazines and newspapers, they always looked so calm and serene. I wondered what it must be like to be a nun and wondered if I would ever be able to live a life under vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to God. Would I ever be able to dedicate my life to serving one Almighty God, leaving mainstream society and live my life in prayer and contemplation in a convent?

In my early teens, I started giving this some serious thought seeing as I had grown up in church. My maternal grandmother was a devout Baptist so I spent my time with her going from one church prayer meeting, mother’s meetings, choir practice, home Bible study/prayer group etc, sleeping on the church pews or with my head on her lap, while waiting for her to finish with her duties.

When I questioned my mother about the life of a nun, she said that besides a nun having to be completely dedicated to God, she must be a virgin and must be committed to continuing to live a life of chastity for the rest of her life. According to my mom, you would not be accepted into a convent if you have had sex already (even if it was only once) and definitely not if you have already had a child or children. You would also not be accepted if you have been married before. Would I be prepared to do this? Never get married to a man and have children of my own? Mmm . . . some serious thought needed here!

One day I had an opportunity to find out what it was like in a convent and grabbed the opportunity with both hands. An aunt of mine (also a devout Baptist at the time) needed to visit someone at a convent regarding reading classes they offered to the community. Before my aunt could say another word, I firmly planted myself in her car and off we went.

Entering the convent was eerie to say the least. The silence hit you like a ton of bricks. We had to walk as quietly as we could, speaking only in whispers – we happened to arrive at the convent when the nuns were all in their rooms busy with their “quiet time” (praying, reading the Bible and meditating). Initially I thought: “ok, maybe it’s not so bad. I can do this” but by the end of our visit, I seriously had second thoughts about this. I did not doubt my faith, but I started doubting my ability to live in silence for a large part of the day and night. I would have no problem with leaving mainstream society to live my life in prayer, meditation and Bible study but the silence would kill me. I am generally a very quiet person , not loud and outspoken, but I do like a certain amount of “noise” around me and the silence I found in that convent that night, scared me.

Leaving the convent that night, I thought about my experience often. I tried to picture myself living in the convent at different times of the day. I would thrive in the way life is structured there – time to eat, time to sleep, time to work in the community and be of service to others, time for prayer and meditation and reading the Bible – yet it was the time of total silence that scared me. Why? Why is total silence to earie for me?

I’ve never thought of myself as being scared to be alone, on the contrary, I quite like my own company and being alone. I think what scares me is being in such a large building with so many people, and yet having total silence. That does not seem natural to me. Then there is the whole process of becoming a nun. Have you ever thought about the process one needs to follow to become a nun?

On the day you enter the convent, there is usually a welcome celebration with family, friends and the community to begin this phase of your life. This phase can last from six months to two years. It’s a time to discover living the life of a nun is really for you.

You will bring the rich experiences of your life and live with a community of Sisters, in a neighbourhood setting near one of the ministries. You will share prayer, household responsibilities, enjoy meals together and participate in leisure activities, including community celebrations and events. You will begin working in a ministry after having a discussion with the Vocation Director about your unique gifts and talents and the opportunities available such as Health Care, Outreach to the Poor, Human or Social Service, Education, etc. You will also have time for spiritual development, retreats, workshops and travel for community events.

During this time, you will receive guidance in methods of prayer and will learn more about the spirit of Bon Secours and the meaning of religious life to broaden and deepen the understanding of your relationship with God, with your ministry, with others and the world.

When you are ready to move on to the next phase of formation, the novitiate, you will have a discussion/meeting with the Candidate Director and make a request to the leadership team.

In this two-year Novitiate phase, you will begin a privileged time when the community offers you the opportunity to study, ponder and assimilate the spirit of the Gospel, especially the vows, and the spirit (charism) and mission of Bon Secours. It’s a time of deepening your relationship with Christ, during which you, the novice, and reflect on the grace and responsibility of your personal consecration to Him. You will spend your Novitiate with other novices. One year will be spent in intense study and spiritual preparation. The second year allows you to integrate into your life what you have learned about Bon Secours, the vows, community, ministry, etc. The Novitiate programme will include classes and instruction that will give you a deeper knowledge and understanding of your life as a Sister of bon Secours. You will also be able to study sacred scripture prayerfully so that the Word of God may become a motivating force in your daily life and work. You’ll study the mysteries of Christ in the Church, the principles of religious life, the vows as well as the history and spirit of Bon Secours.

The Novitiate phase ends with you formally requesting to make the temporary profession as a Sister of Bon Secours. Your vows are made during a Liturgy celebrated with the sisters, your family and friends. At this time, you receive the Bon Secours sign of commitment that all professed Sisters wear.

Temporary Profession of Vows:
This is an exciting time when you live your life and mission as a Sister of Bon Secours, participating fully in vowed membership, ministry and/or academic preparation. You will be learning how to balance the challenges of living in community and more fully integrating your deeper spiritual awareness and understanding God’s calling into your daily life and ministry.

You will live as the Sisters live. You will make time for prayer and reflection. You will share household duties with the other Sisters you live with including cleaning, shopping and cooking. You will work daily in your ministry. Evenings and weekends may find you relaxing at home, attending an event that relates to your ministry or participating in a community celebration or gathering that may mean travelling to another community for a “Come and See” Vocation or other event.

You will attend the General Assembly when all of the Sisters come together annually to discuss where they are as a community and where they are going. You will have time for retreats and will be encouraged to attend workshops and take classes in theological and scriptural studies, spirituality and human development, or advanced curriculum to augment your chosen profession.

Temporary profession by vows are always made or renewed for a clearly determined period of time, usually until final vow. The total period of temporary profession is not less than three years, nor longer than six. It is a balanced period of living community life, ministry, prayer, and study as needed; a time for you to penetrate more deeply the demands of the Gospel and your vocation in order to integrate them into your life in a concrete and responsible manner.

At the end of this phase of formation you will spend two to three months in intensive spiritual preparation to prayerfully prepare for making your final vows. You will formally request permission to become a nun.

Perpetual Profession of Vows:
This last phase of formation begins and ends with a joyous celebration as you freely give yourself to God. As a vowed member, you will continue your growth and development of the ministerial, personal and communal life of a Sister. You will be encouraged to pursue theological and spiritual studies and you will continue to discern how God is calling you to use your professional gifts and talents in ministry.

Wow, I had no idea that it took this much work to become a nun. You really must be pretty sure of your decision before you embark on this kind of journey.

After reading about the process to become a nun, I’m more convinced than ever that I do not have what it takes to become a nun and am now, more than happy with my decision not to become one.

Conversations with Myself: Where are the voices in my head?

Writers Block (Calvin & Hobbs)

This week I have hit what is known as “Writer’s Block”. What is this, you may be asking yourself?

According to Wikipedia, Writer’s block is a condition primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand.’s_block

Why do I have writer’s block this week, you may be wondering.

Well, so much has happened in my life since September 12, 2013 starting with my mom having a Colonostomy, visits to her while in hospital and coping with daily chores at home. Mom being given the diagnosis of Cancer and me, being the primary caregiver, having to be involved in all consultations with doctors, Oncologists and other medical professionals so I could explain to mom, in plain English, what the doctors were actually saying.

Then came the devastating news that mom would require chemotherapy for one week (Monday to Friday) every month, for six months. Prior to surgery, mom was adamant that if given the option of chemo or radium, she would refuse both however, doctors had other ways of convincing mom that she needed to give this a shot (even though there is no guarantee that it will help in her particular case).

Between working full time, changing Colonostomy bags, doing household chores (cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry) and transporting mom to hospital for daily chemo, there has not been much time for anything else. By the time I’ve done the dishes at 10pm (22:00), I am ready to collapse into my own little bed to get some sleep before the alarm wakes me at 5am (05:00) the next morning.

Somewhere in-between all of this, I am supposed to be studying. I have registered for two modules at university this year which is done part time (via correspondence). With all the drama that’s happened since September 12, I have just about managed to get all the assignments done but very little studying has actually taken place. By the time 10pm (22:00) comes, I am way too exhausted to even consider opening a book – I tried last night and, if I managed to sit for 30 minutes before wanting to put my head down on my desk, it was a lot. I am meant to be writing exams on September 25 and 26 . . .

Having said all this, I am sure you will understand why I have “writer’s block” this week leaving me unable to produce any worthwhile reading material (assuming you consider my blogs to be worthwhile reading material). Hopefully, by giving you some insight into my real life, you will get to know me a little better.

Thank you for understanding. I will try to write something decent for next week but I know you will understand if you check for posts, and find nothing.

I found a blog which talks about ten types of “writer’s block” and how to overcome each type which I thought I would share with you in case you ever experience this yourself.

1. You cannot come up with an idea: you have a blank page and you keep typing and erasing, or just staring at the screen until you give up. You literally can’t even get started because you have no clue what to write about, or what story you want to tell. You’re stopped before you even start. There are two pieces of good news for anyone in this situation: (a) ideas are easy to come by, and it’s not that hard to get the idea pump primed. (b) this is the kind of creative stoppage where the typical “do a writing exercise” actually works. Do a ton of exercises. Try imagining what it would be like if a major incident in your life had turned out differently. Try writing some fanfic, just to use existing characters as “training wheels”. Try writing a scene where someone dies and someone else falls in love, even if it doesn’t turn into a story. Think of something or someone that really cheeses you off, and write a totally mean satire or character assassination.

2. You have a ton of ideas but can’t commit to any of them, and they all peter out: There’s the ideas that you lose interest in after a few paragraphs, and then there’s the idea that you thought was a novel, but it’s actually a short story. Often, the coolest or most interesting ideas are the ones that peter out fastest, and the dumbest ideas are the ones that just get your motor revving like crazy.

3. You have an outline but you can’t get through this one part of it: Some writers work really well with an outline, some don’t. There are two different reasons you could be getting stuck. (a) your outline has a major flaw and you just won’t admit it. If this is the case, you already know it, and it’s just a matter of attacking your outline with a hacksaw. (b) your outline is basically fine, but there is a part that you can’t get past because it’s boring, or because you just can’t quite see how to get from one narrative peak to the next. In either case, there is nothing wrong with taking a slight detour, or going off on a tangent, and seeing what happens. Maybe you’ll find a cooler transition between those two moments, maybe you’ll figure out where your story really needs to go next and, most likely, there’s something that needs to happen with your characters at this point in the story, and you haven’t hit on it yet.

4. You’re stuck in the middle and have no idea what happens next: Sort of the opposite problem to number 3 mentioned above. Either you don’t have an outline, or you got rid of it a while back. What tends to happen a lot – you were on a roll the day before, and you wrote a whole lot of promising developments and clever bits. You open your Word document today, and . . . you have no idea where this is going. You thought you left things in a great place to pick up the ball and keep running, and now you can’t even see the next step. Maybe you just need to pause and rethink, and maybe go back over what you already wrote. You may just need a couple of days to recharge or you may need to rethink what you already wrote. If you have been stuck in the middle for a while, then you probably need to do something to get the story moving again. Introduce a new complication, throw the dice, or twist the knife. If you’re stuck for a while, it may be time to drop a safe on someone.

5. You have a terrible feeling your story took a wrong turn a hundred pages back, and you only just hit a dead end: You made a decision that felt bold and clever – you threw the dice and dropped a safe on someone – and now you’re realising that you made a horrible mistake and you’ve gone off course. Worse, you can see where your story should be right about now, if you hadn’t made that dreadful error. If you’re absolutely sure that you’ve gone the wrong way, then there’s no point in proceeding. Is there any alternative to rewinding all the way to the original mistake and starting from there? You can also rewind partially, going back a few pages instead of all the way and then pretending you made the right choice originally. In either case, beware – you’re going to end up with two alternate timelines in your story, and it’s up to you to keep straight what happened in the timeline you’re sticking with, as opposed to the one you’re throwing away.

6. You’re bored with all these characters, they won’t do anything: Characters who don’t do anything aren’t interesting characters. Either what you’ve got here are your supporting cast, and you haven’t created your main character yet, or you haven’t found the thing that your characters really want, or the conflict that will spur them into action. You have some characters, but not a story, not yet.

7. You keep imagining all the reasons people are going to say your story sucks, and it paralyzes you: Otherwise known as the Inner Critic – you can’t make any choices, because you keep imagining how someone at GoodReads will tear you apart for it later. The person at GoodReads doesn’t exist, and it’s just your own internal critic talking here. You will need that inner voice of scorn later, when you’re revising but for now, while you’re working on a first draft, you have to drown it out. Chances are the ideas you’re putting down aren’t nearly as bad as your darkest fears tell you they might be. In any case, you can always fix it in rewrites.

8. You can’t think of the right words for what you’re trying to convey in this one paragraph: Just use the wrong verb for now, fix it in rewrites! Accept that sometimes hitting on the right word is partly a matter of visualizing the scene in your head. There’s nothing wrong with spending a day or two fussing over one sentence but if this goes on for a week, though, just pick a verb and move on.

9. You’ve had this incredibly cool story in your head, and now you’re turning it into words on a screen and it’s suddenly dumb: Is this your inner critic talking? Are you sure? Are you really sure? It’s possible that you’re actually seeing a real problem with your idea, and with the execution. There is nothing wrong with abandoning an idea and starting afresh but don’t give up too fast. It’s possible that part of your idea is salvageable, or that the idea is genuinely cool and you’ve gotten yourself stuck into a weak execution of it. Sometimes it’s helpful to step back and write a synopsis of the stuff you’ve already written, so that you can see how it fits together and whether there are some buried parts that should be turning points in the story. Sometimes it’s helpful to try writing bits of your story from a different character’s point of view, to see how they look from another vantage point.

10. You’re revising your work, and you can’t see your way past all those blocks of text you already wrote: Sometimes it takes a while of looking at your text from different angles to figure out where the problems are, and sometimes you need more feedback from more people to figure out where the real structural weaknesses are. You could try to rewrite large sections from scratch, without looking back at your original draft. Same story, new words. Sometimes, it is a lot quicker than trying to wrangle the words you already put down.