Archive of ‘life hacks’ category

pop goes the world: random act of coffee

NO COLUMN FOR March 28, Maundy Thursday

 POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  4 April 2013, Thursday

Random Act of Coffee

Buying coffee for the needy can be as easy as paying for an extra one the next time you buy a cuppa for yourself.

Last Holy Wednesday, a meme about the “pending coffee” charity concept went viral after it was widely shared on Facebook.

Caffe sospeso (literally “suspended coffee”) is said to be a long-standing custom in Naples and an “old tradition in Italy,” later adopted by “150 cafes in Bulgaria,” according to Customers pay not only for their own coffee and food, but also in advance for one or more extra orders to be given, at the restaurateur’s discretion, to a needy person.

It’s a variation on the “pay it forward” concept, doing a “random act of kindness” for a stranger that that I’ve read about it being done in many places, where someone pays the toll fee of the car behind her, or for coffee for the next guy in line at Starbucks.

The “pending coffee” idea is different in that the act of charity is institutionalized through the cooperation of the restaurant. You don’t need to be there when it happens, but people get the same warm fuzzy feeling of having been generous without the awkwardness that besets some in that situation.

Within days after the concept was heavily promoted on March 27, I heard of at least one restaurant in the Philippines that will do this.

Blacksoup Café + Artspace in Sikatuna Village, Quezon City, announced on their Facebook page last Saturday that they will implement this concept on a 30-day trial basis from March 31 to April 30 this year. They will accept advance payment for coffee, sandwiches, and meals, and issue stubs for the “suspended” food, which can be claimed by those who need them.

If there are unclaimed stubs after two days, “Blacksoup will go around on a bicycle to give out unclaimed [stubs] to street people/families” who will then sign “tracking papers” which will be posted on the restaurant’s FB page, along with photos if possible, to document that the exchange actually happened.

Blacksoup’s general manager Avic Ilagan says on their page that they anticipate certain cultural norms will not make it feasible for homeless people (the truly needy who deserve to benefit from this concept) to step inside their restaurant, so they “will bring the coffee, sandwiches, and meals to the street people na karaniwan walang kain o isang beses lang kumain.”

This system also will prevent fraud and abuse.

To children, she says, they “will give milk tetra packs instead of coffee.”

As of yesterday afternoon, the post has been liked by 373 people and shared 429 times. Customer support in the comments on Blacksoup’s page has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

Blacksoup reports that as of April 3, they have on their “suspended” tally 19 sandwiches and 19 bottles of C-2, “plus a bank deposit from Australia.” They add, “two volunteers will distribute the unclaimed suspended items on Saturday at 5pm, and and Excel file of suspended items bought and their recipients will be posted and updated every week for all to see and check.”

For this to work, there has to be follow-through by customers and a certain dedication on the part of the restaurateur. Duplication by other establishments would be something to look forward to. Giving and sharing are traits highly valued in Philippine culture, and there is no reason why something like this can’t be adopted on a large scale, meaning nationwide.

This is a positive initiative that brings charity straight to the recipient and addresses an immediate need – hunger.

Sometimes a small act that one doesn’t even remember afterward can be the huge difference between hope and despair or life and death for another person, because some say everything and everyone are connected somehow, the way a butterfly flapping its gauzy wings in the Brazilian rainforest might set off a chain of events that culminates in a tsunami in Indonesia.

A smile, a “good morning,” a free coffee: who knows what kind gesture will touch another soul and kindle a flame of inspiration and transformation?

Check out Blacksoup’s page on FB, as well as a new page – Suspended Coffee PH – and “be a blessing to someone.” *** 

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pop goes the world: muscles and peace through yoga

NO COLUMN 5 Dec, Thursday

 POP GOES THE WORLD, by Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  9 December 2012, Sunday

Muscles and Peace Through Yoga

There are many studies proving that work-related stress is linked to many physical and mental health problems. The word “stress” comes from “distress”, which means “extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain.” The term comes from a Latin term that means “to draw or pull apart.”

Certainly this is what many feel when laboring under the tension that modern life brings. We are pulled in many directions by work and home obligations, often feeling unable to cope and looking for a way to ease the strain.

Coping mechanisms can be destructive – alcohol, late nights, smoking, unhealthy lifestyles and habits – and positive – exercise, healthy eating, creative hobbies and sports, an interest in spiritual pursuits.

Increasingly popular nowadays is yoga. The word comes from the Sanskrit that means “to yoke, to connect” and its emphasis is on the mind-body connection, the interrelation between physical and mental fitness.

Yoga studios have burgeoned in the metropolis since the early part of the last decade, although yoga has been around since at least the ‘70s. I recall my father and his contemporaries in media attending yoga and meditation classes at Ananda Marga (still around in Quezon City) at that time.

Today, yoga studios offer a wide range of classes, from vinyasa to hot flow to anti-gravity yoga. Some emphasize physical fitness, others infuse a spiritual component into the practice with chanting of sutras and mantras.

In search of a sustainable activity suitable for an unfit, sedentary, middle-age person, I happened upon Bliss Yoga Manila in Jupiter Street, Makati, and have attended several classes there.

The front of the Bliss Yoga Manila studio in Makati. One wall is hung with three banners depicting the seven chakras.

Gentle Flow with instructor Jill Kobza is, as described by the Bliss Yoga Manila website, “a slightly-slower paced practice, with focus on the foundation and alignment of poses…emphasis is on awareness, control, and effective use of the breath, as well as on building strength and flexibility.” The class is good for those new to yoga.

The poses mentioned are called “asanas”, and look effortless in photos of advanced yogis and yoginis (male and female practitioners, respectively), but they are in truth difficult to do for the newbie. Merely stretching like a triangle in the “downward dog” position or in “plank” (full pushup) or chaturanga (half-pushup) makes you use muscles you probably haven’t felt since high school calisthenics.

Yoga, however, also ensures that each person practice at their own pace and perform comfortable variants of the poses until they get stronger.

Jill Kobza’s Gentle Flow class is perfect for beginners. She is gentle and patient and guides everyone through the surya namaskar – Sun Salutation sequence -  and other poses in a soothing voice.

Buddha has abs! This statue sits in a back corner.

Nancy Siy’s Jivamukti class may also be attended by people at all levels of physical fitness. It is a form of yoga developed by a Western teacher, and incorporates chanting from the Patanjali sutras; Nancy chooses one sentence that conveys a lesson on a trait, such as aparigraha or non-possessiveness. There is nothing religious here, only philosophical and moral.

Jivamukti is more challenging in terms of asanas, and Nancy goes around the studio to correct each student’s pose and help those who need to reach a bit farther or hike their hips up higher. In the latter part of each class, she puts students in the savasana (corpse) pose – lying flat on their backs in repose, with eye pillows for relaxation and to enhance meditation. A lecture tape may be played or silent meditation encouraged. Students are asked to listen to their bodies, to deliberately release any tension, to “let go” with each exhale.

Basic yoga gear: cotton strap (to help stretch the legs and arms), cork block (for elevation during certain poses, until the body gets stronger and more flexible), towel (to absorb sweat and prevent slipperiness), and mat.

Jivamukti, Nancy says, helped her “…calm (her) mind and deal with the external clutter of daily life…” At the time she started, in 2009, she was “irritable, angry, empty,” and “felt that there must be something more than the repetitive cycle of everyday life. Yoga paved the way for my healing and emotional growth.”

Nancy was “awakened to the reality of animal suffering” and has also adopted veganism as a way of life. She was drawn to Jivamukti and its emphasis on ahimsa (non-violence) and “compassion for all beings.”

Jill and Nancy end their classes with a chant of om, giving thanks to their students, and the valediction “Namaste” –  “the spirit in me greets the spirit in you.”

This door handle at the Makati studio is in the shape of a hand lifted in the abhaya mudra (seal/gesture of no fear, protection, benevolence, assurance).  

Yoga is beyond the current popularity it is experiencing as some sort of trendy fitness program. It is an ancient discipline, one of the “six “orthodox” schools of Hindu philosophy,” dating back to before the Common Era and given formal shape in the early centuries CE.

For us today in modern times, it can become a way of life, one that incorporates physical wellness and philosophy into an integrated whole. ***

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

Follow: Facebook (Bliss Yoga Manila), Twitter (@BlissYogaManila), and Instagram (@blissyogamnl).

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ritual ink

For fountain pen users, refilling a pen is not only a requirement for it to remain functional. It is a ritual.

If your pen has a converter, piston-fill, or other fill system that requires dipping the nib into the ink, there are certain steps to follow.

First, if you want the ink color to remain true, clean the converter or flush out the ink chamber. If you don’t mind your inks mixing, or if you are in a hurry, you may skip this step.

Next, make sure the plunger of the converter is all the way down to the bottom of the chamber.

Then dip the nib all the way into the ink. I make sure the entire nib – all the metal parts – are submerged. I try not to let ink get into the section, especially for demonstrator (transparent) pens, because those are nearly impossible to clean.

Twist the plunger upwards, or perform the appropriate filling act for your pen.

Watch the ink enter the chamber and fill it up with with fluid that in your capable and imaginative hands will be transformed, with the partnership of paper, into drawings or musical notes or words of poetry and prose that will touch, move, inform, persuade.

Filling the converter of a Sailor Lecoule with Lamy Blue-Black ink.

Though there are less steps to take, snapping in a new ink cartridge is also satisfying. Although to save the environment and reduce waste, try refilling your empty cartridges with ink using a syringe.

The act of refilling a pen with ink forces you to slow down, to be calm, to clear your mind of other helter-skelter thoughts and for some moments focus on this thing alone.

Distraction might cause you, in haste or clumsiness, to spill the ink or drop the pen parts and damage them. Re-inking makes you re-connect your mind with your body as you perform each step with deliberation, in the now.

 It is meditation, if you will allow it to be.

Photoritual taken with an iPhone 4S, edited with Snapseed and Instagram.

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platinum preppy pink

It’s been raining quite a lot lately, and the skies are often gray and gloomy.

When that happens, I reach for something colorful to brighten my spirits.

Today, it’s this Platinum Preppy fountain pen in perfect peekaboo pink.

 Full shot of the pink Platinum Preppy. Instagram filter: Valencia

As with most things of Japanese design, it is cute. Coming from the prestigious and respected Platinum Pen Company (est. 1919), it is reliable from the moment you snap the cartridge in.

The Preppy is an entry-level for children, students, and anyone who wants an inexpensive but well-made fountain pen. (They’re only US$ 3.30 at Jetpens!)  It comes in several different colors – black, blue, green, purple, red, yellow, and pink among them – with matching colored nibs and ink cartridges.  The nibs come in 03 Fine and 05 Medium. This one’s an 05 Medium.

 Parts of a Platinum Preppy: nib and section, cartridge, barrel, cap and clip. Instagram filter: Hefe.

There being none sold in the Philippines, I got mine at Quill and Nib in West Des Moines, Iowa, during a trip there.

Here’s a writing sample in Platinum’s cheery almost-sakura pink ink. The words and drawing are from an Internet meme.

Writing sample and closeup of a Platinum Preppy nib. 

Someday it will stop raining. Someday it will stop being gray and gloomy. Till then, here’s my pink Platinum Preppy.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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picture this

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” they say.

As a writer, I know this to be true. There are things and experiences that make you gasp like a punch to the gut or a slap in the face or a hug of exceeding warmth and lovingkindness and in that moment of speechlessness words are inadequate to convey with full nuance or intensity of meaning what they made you think or feel.

So I take pictures.

“Pages”, uploaded to Instagram on 10 Aug. 2012.

“Wind-Tossed”, tree and sky in Bohol. 13 Aug. 2012

“Patchwork Tile”,  floor of Aristocrat Restaurant,  Manila. 28 Aug. 2012

“Pearl Sun”, at the Cultural Center complex, Pasay City. 31 Aug. 2012

“Blue Pen”, closeup of a Lamy Safari’s 1.1 italic nib. 11 Sep. 2o12.




All photos taken with an iPhone 4S and edited with Snapseed.

Find me on Instagram: @jensdecember

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pop goes the world: no such thing as mixed signals

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  16 February 2012, Thursday

No Such Thing as Mixed Signals

Ah, Valentine’s Day. For couples in a relationship, it’s a happy romantic time, roses and chocolates blah blah.

But for some singles, it’s bleak – feeling alone even when in the company of friends, wondering when the Universe will get its act together and drop your soulmate in your lap.

It’s downright painful for other singles, especially women, who are waiting on a beloved to say, “Yes, you’re the one I love. I can’t imagine life without you. Marry me.” And are still waiting. And waiting…

The man will often have an excuse – I have to take care of personal issues first, I don’t make enough money yet for us to set up together, istrik ang ferents ko. The woman will wait, hoping things would get better.

This happened to me, not too long ago. I’d been clinging, hoping for a change, rationalizing to myself that the mixed signals he was sending stemmed from his personal challenges. That it was just a matter of me being patient and giving him the space to work things out then hey, maybe, our time would come.

An older gentleman at work – a lawyer, rational and logical – hearing my story, said with extreme kindness, “He’s not sending mixed signals. He’s being very clear. He won’t commit. Now can you bear that? If yes, then let it go on the way it has been. Otherwise, the next step is up to you. It’s not up to him, because he’s already told you where he stands – and it’s not in your corner.”

I’d fallen into the trap most women do. We hang on hoping he’ll come to his senses. That he’ll wake up, as if from a dream, and transform into kind of the man you’ve always wanted to have by your side. That he’ll realize we’re the love of his life and he can’t bear spending the rest of his life without us.

But for men, it is often quite clear. They’re not the ones sending the mixed signals – it’s the women in their lives who won’t accept what they trying to say – “I won’t commit to you”.

Comedian and now relationship guru Steve Harvey says in his book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” that a man doesn’t show his love the way a woman does. Women will sacrifice and endure all for the sake of love. Their love is boundless, unconditional, and encompassing.

A man’s love, says Harvey, is no less powerful but expressed differently, in three ways – profess, provide, protect. First, profess. He’ll tell everyone you’re his lady, his woman, the love of his life. “In other words, “ says Harvey, “you will have a title – an official one that far extends beyond ‘this is my friend’ or ‘ this is (insert your name here).” A man who professes you as his own claims you as his, that “he has plans for you. He sees himself in a long-term, committed relationship with you.”

Next, provide. It’s ingrained in a man’s DNA, says Harvey, that “a man who loves you will bring that money home to make sure that you and the kids have what you all need. That is our role – our purpose…[that] the people we love need want for nothing.”

Last, protect. “When a man truly loves you, anybody who says, does, suggests, or even thinks about doing something offensive to you stands the risk of being obliterated. Your man will destroy anything and everything in his path to make sure that whoever disrespected you pays for it.”

So, ladies, wake up. If he doesn’t call you his lady, if he’s not by your side right now, if he didn’t put a ring on your finger, then he’s not the one. Accept that, thank him for the good times, and move on.

You deserve much better. You deserve the title, the bacon, the protection. You deserve to spend the next Valentine’s Day in someone’s warm embrace, the kind of hug that won’t let you go.

* * * * *

Poets Joel Toledo, Karen Kunawicz, and others will read poetry at the Freelance Writers’ Guild of the Philippines’ OpenBook event tomorrow night, Friday, February 17, at Chef’s Bistro, 94 Sct. Gandia, Quezon City. Entrance-plus-drink is P200. A portion of the proceeds will help fund projects for Typhoon Sendong victims.

FWGP founder Ime Morales convinced me to read a couple of poems. I don’t fancy myself a poet. But all I can do is try my best. Feel free to bring eggs and tomatoes to hurl at the stage. I can always make an omelette. ***  

Carabineers here. Steve Harvey book image here. FWGP logo here.

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tim tomlinson comes to town

It was with great pleasure and interest that my daughter signed up for the three-day creative writing workshop conducted by writer Tim Tomlinson at the Filipinas Heritage Library last month.

It was a coincidence that I bought online, just a month before, the CW textbook that Tim co-wrote – The Portable MFA in Creative Writing – and that he drew on as a basis for the workshop lessons.

I got it online via Amazon

I asked my daughter to take it with her and have it autographed. She waited for the right moment, and figured it was after Tim told the workshop participants to try to get the “hard copy”. So she brought out my book, and his eyes widened in surprise.

That is why he wrote this dedication.

“For Jennifer – Thanks so much for purchasing the hard copy. All the best, T”. 

With e-books now becoming more common, and photocopied handouts more the norm rather than not in countries such as ours where some books, especially textbooks, are not easy to come by, it must be even more gratifying for authors when readers go to the trouble and expense of purchasing an ink-and-paper copy.

I’m glad I did get the hard copy of this book, because through the serendipitous happenstance of fate, I was able to get it autographed – a tangible, physical mark of the author, which elevates my copy from the disembodied words of experts into a living, breathing work of a person who practices what he preaches.

Too bad I did not get to meet Mr Tomlinson, nor was my daughter able to have her photo taken with him and the other workshop participants. But what counts is that she learned much that will help and guide her in her fiction writing.

Life works in mysterious ways.

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global warming

Sorrow and bereavement touched our extended family this weekend.

For comfort, I burrow into this friendship quilt that I made eleven years ago, some time before the events occurred that culminated in the past couple of days’ sadness.

The quilt is queen-size, draped now on my new double bed made from an old twin-size bed of Canadian pine.

The old bed, almost fifteen years old, was widened from 36 inches to 54 fore and aft over the weekend by a master furniture craftsman using sixty-year old tanguile (lauan) wood left over from when the racehorse stables beneath our little apartment were destroyed.

It is a reused and recycled bed. The quilt is recycled too, made with scraps of fabric left over from other projects. Both are made with organic materials – wood, cotton – and time – years and years of time.

Quilts, like furniture, are built artifacts.They are constructed. Each element is cut with allowances to permit joining; careful attention is given to shapes, patterns, and the way they are put together.

Sometimes mistakes are made in cutting the quilt squares or the wood for a bed leg or post. Adjustments must then be made – a tuck in the sashing here, an additional inch of wood glued on there.

Life is like a quilt, or a crafted bed. We build our lives by hand, with materials organic to our individual journey – tears, laughter, sweat, mistakes, sorrow, joy. We reuse and recycle experiences and feelings. We make decisions that may be right or wrong. We learn from them; sometimes we do not.

For a quilt, the finishing touch is the tag at the back. On it are written the name of the quilt, the date it was finished, and other information that the quiltmaker wishes future owners of the quilt to know. It tells the history of the quilt and the maker.

I had not used this particular quilt in years. The words on the tag brought back memories of the way things used to be, and how I have moved on from that place in that time to where I am now.

This weekend’s sadness stems from events that occurred mere months after I finished this quilt.

The quilt was done long ago.

The bed was done this afternoon.

The story begun in sorrow eleven years ago ends now, also in sorrow.

Let it be done. Let the lessons be learned. Let life go on. Let years roll by that will cover over the heartache and allow the moving on.

I burrow under the quilt and hope that happiness returns soon.

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why i am boycotting starbucks

Anyone who’s followed this blog knows how much I love Starbucks. I’ve posted countless times about its coffee, drinks, merchandise (tumblers, mugs, planners, etc.), and locations in the different countries I visit. I have an entire blog category for “Starbucks” alone.

That is, I used to love Starbucks. Until one fateful day last December…


I’ve always saved up stickers for the annual Starbucks planner since they first came out in the Philippines. One year I manage to drink and treat others to enough coffee to amass five planners. I average three per year. The first always goes to my best friend, the second is for myself, and the third is for giving away. This year, I’d already redeeemed two and was working on the third.

Now this is my third planner redemption card. I bought two non-holiday drinks at Starbucks Glorietta One or Rockwell, I forget now which branch. By mistake the barista put it on the back, on “Option 2″ (all non-holiday drinks). I said I preferred the stickers on the front – “Option 1″ (less drinks to buy). He apologized and said the stickers would still be honored anyway, and would be applied by any other branch to my Option 1.

A couple of weeks later , I bought a non-holiday drink at the Starbucks at Harbour Square, Cultural Center of the Philippines complex. Again they put the sticker for my brewed coffee on the back. They cancelled it while we discussed what to do.

Exhibit A. Option 2 stickers, with the one issued by Harbour Square cancelled.

So far so good.

Then I noticed that I nearly had enough stickers on the front to redeem another planner! I asked if I could apply the two non-holiday drinks to the remaining drinks requirement.

I was told that one of the stickers would be applied to the one remaining core drink requirement on the front. The sticker that they (Harbour Square) issued and cancelled, they placed on a new card.

The third sticker would be wasted, unless I went back to the branch that issued it and ask for a new sticker to be reissued. Having forgotten which branch it was I got it from, I asked Harbour Square they could re-consider and place another sticker on the new card they had just given me, because I was assured by that other barista that all stickers would be honored. It was clear anyway from the sticker that I had purchased a drink. But no, the person from Harbour Square said “It’s a different branch.”

(back to the present)

Not a big deal? Heck, yeah, it is. Where is the customer delight in this? I bought those drinks fair and square with my hard-earned money. Still, because of a mix-up that was no fault of mine and that could have easily been fixed by that particular Starbucks manager, I lost one sticker. I feel robbed. I feel disappointed. I feel let down by a company that I have championed for years.

In fact, I am so upset that I am boycotting Starbucks from now on. I now make it my mission to find good, if not better, coffee elsewhere. I will advocate other kinds of coffee and coffeeshops, preferably Filipino, and that’s what I should have done more of long ago.

Because it’s now a giant chain, Starbucks has the most branches of any coffee shop, and that’s their advantage – they’re everywhere. It will be difficult to find other coffee shops in the places I frequent.

Difficult – but not impossible. Highland arabica, as I’ve had it in Baguio City, is particularly tasty and never bitter. The best cup I’ve ever had in my life was a cup of barako – Philippine liberica – at a thoroughbred ranch in Batangas, liberally splashed with fresh goat milk from imported goats that the ranch owner raised along with his race horses.

Coffee at the BenCab museum in Tuba, Benguet, a few minutes away from Baguio City proper. Not only is this sort of coffee (Benguet arabica) more delicious than the brewed coffee at Starbucks, its served in such a way as to delight the senses, with brown sugar and milk in a wee jug.  (December 2011)

Yeah, Starbucks Philippines. You lost me because of one. lousy. sticker. Happy New Year.

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pop goes the world: the care and feeding of introverts

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  29 December 2011, Thursday

The Care and Feeding of Introverts

You most likely have friends and family members who are usually found in a corner, amusing themselves with a book or headphones, preferring not to mingle with others in raucous banter or other social activity. It might take a lot of prodding before they join in. Often, they resist coercion and show resentment. You might have thought it was something they would outgrow. “Mahiyain,” you might have said. Or “loner”, or “aloof”.

Or, you might think the worst – “hindi siya marunong makisama,” perhaps one of the worst offenses in our collective culture.

Quite likely, those people are none of the things you thought. Like me, they just happen to be introverts.

What is introversion? It is not shyness nor aloofness. It is not social discomfort but social preference. Introverts prefer to be around a few people; being among a crowd drains them. They prefer living in their own inner world, exploring their feelings and thoughts. They’re the readers on the park bench or in the coffee shop.

Extroverts, on the other hand, enjoy being around people. They’re the ones who chat you up on the plane or in a queue. You can tell if a Filipino taxi driver is one or the other. The quiet ones who don’t say a word the whole trip? Introverts. The ones who start gabbing the moment you step in their cab and regale you with their views on politics, showbiz, and religion, who sometimes just won’t shut up? Extroverts.

Image here.

Introverts are said to be between 25-40% of the general population, and to make up the majority – around 60% – of the gifted population. Many creative people I know are introverts; it might be something about being in tune with an inner world that nurtures and ferments the creativity that comes from within. They’re the innovators, thinkers, and doers – Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Mother Teresa, Gandhi.

Studies with twins show that extraversion/introversion may have a genetic component. It’s wired in the brain. Therefore do not try to turn an introvert into an extro – it can’t happen. An introvert may develop good social skills, but his innate preference will remain the same.

When I was much younger I used to go along and let myself be coerced into joining this presentation or attending that party, but I’d seethe with anger and resentment all throughout. I endured this all for the sake of pakikisama.

A friend, once the CEO of a large company who now runs his own business, possessed of decades of management experience, nodded wisely. “Pakikisama bullying,” he calls it. Now I realize pakikisama became a cultural norm because the majority of people in society are extroverts, and getting along and interacting well with others constituted a survival trait.

As I matured I began to understand myself better, and learned to flat out refuse if I didn’t want to do anything. Being forced to do something you don’t want to do results in psychological discomfort. Why endure that?

If you have an introvert in your life – spouse, lover, offspring, other relative, friend – be understanding. Know that not everyone is like you. Allow your introvert “alone” time. He or she doesn’t mean to ignore you, nor does it mean she doesn’t love you – she just needs her personal space and time to connect with that inner world, from which she draws her energy.

Reading at Hill Station Cafe, Baguio City, 30 Nov 2011. No, I”m not ignoring you. Yes, of course I love  you. I’m just low-batt and need to recharge.  

Don’t force your introvert to attend big parties. Arrange small, intimate get-togethers instead. Lunch with three or four people is nice, and maybe coffee after in a small, quiet place where they play jazz at a low volume so you can still hear each other talk. Introverts like to discuss ideas and feelings. Sometimes the constructs in their heads seem more real than what’s outside.

Above all, do not force your introvert to dance, sing, or perform if she does not want to. I used to work in a small industry where I’d emcee or event-manage parties. I wasn’t there as a guest but as staff, so that was “work”. I’d be “on” during those times, like an appliance. Since I wasn’t there to  “party”, I could manage the crowd.

But I moved to a large company in a different sector last year. Both Christmases I’ve been there, I was asked to dance with officemates for the office presentation. I refused. Never force an introvert to do anything they don’t want to; I can’t emphasize this enough. They’ll hate you forever if you do, especially if you do it under the guise of pakikisama.

According to the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, there are even different kinds of introverts. I’m the INTP (Introverted-INtutuitive-Thinking-Perceptive) kind, said to be only 2-4% of the population.

INTPs, also called “Architects” or “Engineers” use “intuition to interact with the world…processing information logically and abstractly,” says an online profile. Think Star Trek’s Spock. Capable of deep concentration, INTPs “analyze new ideas till they understand every aspect. Starting with only a vague intuition, an INTP can construct a whole new world of ideas.”

In fact, INTPs are better at designing a complex system than implementing it. We’re the people who can design a plan, and a backup plan, and a backup to the backup plan. Implement it? That’s for you to do, man. Don’t bother me, I’m reading.

Basically, yeah, this is how an INTP rolls. Image here.

A friend who’s an INTJ (the “J” stands for the “Judging”) is like me in many ways, but the “J” function means he makes decisions faster than I can. In Los Angeles a couple years ago, he asked, “Would you rather we go to the Getty Museum now, or have lunch first?” INTPs can argue from all sides. I proceeded to do so. Half an hour later, while I was still weighing the merits of doing either activity first, he was pulling into the parking lot of the Getty. He knew I was dithering, and, being a “J”, made the decision.

My two daughters and ex-husband, are, like myself, “Ps”. When we go out, it takes us a while to decide where to eat. This place has sushi, but the other has the great mashed potatoes…and so on, and on. Finally, one of us, our tummies rumbling, will say, “None of us are Js!” and make a choice.

Much of human communication involves “anxiety reduction” – trying to learn more about the other person to reduce your anxiety about how to interact with him. Knowing a person’s MBTI type helps by giving you a general idea of what a person might be like, and how he might behave in a certain situation. This gives you a certain predictive power that could be useful; more so, say, than knowing their zodiac sign. There are online tests that you can take to find out your MBTI type.

But being aware of something as simple and basic as intro- and extroversion will help you go a long way towards understanding people.

Remember, this new year, be kind and gentle to the introverts in your life, and may 2012 bring us only bigger and brighter blessings!

Now go away. I’m reading. *** 

Einstein drawing bee here. Not only was he an introvert, he was an INTP.  INTP poster here. 

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