Productivity = Worth?

OK, so I get nervous sharing personal information.  As an INFP, I keep things very close to my vest until I know someone well.  But here we go.  So, a month and a half ago, I walked out of my full time job.  The stress, the inequalities, the person I was becoming… it wasn’t something I could do anymore.  As such, my schedule has changed.  My priorities have changed.

Before, my priorities went something like this: work, sleep, eat, try to recover, finish a book every 6 months or so.  Now, my priorities are: spiritual work, banjo practice, read, work part time, prep for cross-country move, get back into exercising, keep up on hobbies.  So, you can see that maybe these new priorities aren’t the same as I’m used to or the same as your average person.

Thrown into this new mix is a near-lifelong struggle with depression (and other challenges associated with the aforementioned  dysfunctional upbringing).  My motivation to even keep up on these new priorities is often lacking.  Needless to say, I’ve been subjecting myself to some scrutiny over all of this.  Ok, ok, you caught me; I ALWAYS subject myself to scrutiny!  Was my decision to walk out OK?  Is my current lifestyle acceptable?  Do I still have value?

It seems like I’m always trying to prove to myself and to the world that I have worth.  That I’m DOING enough to support my decisions.  I’m DOING enough to have value.  That I’m committed to my new priorities, constantly working on them, doing things, succeeding… and that makes me a worthwhile person.  So, a recent tweet has been stuck in my mind that contradicts this reasoning.

Heidi tweet 3.10.15

How can the above be true?  If productivity doesn’t equal worth, what does?  It’s certainly not what  society agrees with (or my inner voices).  I mean, of course I agree with the statement abstractly, as an idea.  But practically, in everyday life, its a bit more challenging to accept.  Can I make the statement true for me?  Can I change my inner voices?  How do I convince myself?  How do I protect myself against judgement of those who still believe that productivity = worth absolutely?  Will I even need to protect myself against those people once I believe in my own value?

Well, not all blog posts result in answers.  But today, I’m thankful for questions.  For questions are a sign of blossoming awareness, which can often lead to healthy, lasting, real change.  To that I say “Yes!”  And “Thank you!” to @EmodyAbundance.

Empty Spaces


Four couches.  I had four couches in my small, ranch-style house!  Now, I have one (sigh of relief).  As my husband and I prepare to make a cross-continental move, we are purging junk from every corner of our home.  And it has gotten me thinking about empty spaces.

As every room becomes more bare, it makes me feel better and better.  A tiny guest bedroom that used to house a twin bed, a dresser and a comfy chair, now just contains the chair.  I feel like I can actually use this room now.  It’s not so cluttered and full.  Now, I use the chair to meditate and the extra space to practice my banjo!  Our 2nd living room used to contain 2 large, puffy couches and now contains none.  I recently used the extra space to prepare two canvases for painting.

 “The emptiness is what allows for something to actually evolve in a natural way.” ~ Meredith Monk

Just because normal convention dictates that a 2nd living room contain a couch, we filled it with couches.  Just because a guest bedroom usually has a bed, we filled it with a bed.  How silly!  It’s my house!  I should be the one to dictate what I want to fill it with and how I want it to feel.  Not normal convention.  These empty spaces are actually allowing me to breathe!  To nourish myself creatively and spiritually!  These empty spaces make me feel more free.

“Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it.” ~ Dee Hock

This lesson in de-cluttering has been valuable and I will carry it forward into future homes.  But it has also made me wonder if I can apply this lesson internally, in the mind, as well.  Worry and stress often dominate my thoughts.  And even dreams and ideas elbow their way into the general crowdedness in my brain.  What if empty spaces and silence in the mind leave room for such wonderful things as insight, wisdom, calm, joy, love and even magic?  I sense these wonderful things when I’m quiet and alone.  When I meditate.  And in nature.  These are things I want more of and I think these new empty spaces have taught me how to find them.  Thank you!


Concrete Jungle

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Today, I listened to my inner voice.

I listened with tentative confidence.  Something new!  It was my first day working at a job downtown.  Actually, it was my first day downtown… alone… ever.  I usually avoid downtown due to the homeless people, the tall buildings, confusing street network and one-ways, crappy parking, overpopulation, and general cost of, well, everything.  In other words, this small town girl avoids the scary big city.

So, it took a LOUD inner voice today to drown out my fears.  Things like, “You’ll be ok.  You’ll figure it out.  You’ll find the parking garage and the office.  If you get lost downtown, that’s ok.”  Because let me tell you, there were a lot of new things to experience.  Did you know that there is elevator etiquette?  Parking garage etiquette?  Fancy business office etiquette?

Somehow, I didn’t get lost.  Or mugged.  And I bumbled my way through the elevator etiquette.  I did fine!  And I actually enjoyed my new experiences.  Thank you, inner voice!  I’m hoping that days like today, compounded, will help me to trust in myself and my inner voice more often.  Facing fears with a confident, soothing inner voice is much more enjoyable than facing them with someone freaking out in there!  Have you listened to you lately?


Painting credit: michael birawer


About TPL


Hello.  I’m The Peaceful Listener; TPL for short.  I’ve never had much success at keeping up a blog and, after 8 months of no posting, I’m hesitant to hope for more consistency.  At any rate, here I am again.  And here’s a little about me and what I hope to accomplish with the re-launch of the website.

As is true of anyone, there were a myriad of circumstances that contributed to the person that I find myself to be today.  I am the offspring of intellectual, creative, thoughtful, and serious people.  A good book is mostly preferred over strenuous activity, as is a good discussion or mulling something over internally.  I also grew up, or well, spent some important years, in a small town as the child of a public figure in the community.  This led to its own phenomena of isolation and judgement, as well as, absorbing a unique perspective on society.

Pile on top of this circumstantial evidence a history of mental illness, substance abuse, repression, abuse, good ol’ Midwestern passive aggressivity (ie. general dysfunction) in the family dynamic, and you’ve got TPL!  That’s not to say there weren’t good things, also (good family values, hawaiian night parties, trips to the family place of origin, laughter over goofiness, kitties, a dog, ice skating in the backyard, LOVE), but some of the things I’ve noted above are why I’ve started this concept of TPL as a blog, a service, a forum, etc.

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As an INFP, I am 4% of the population.  Possibly much less of the population in small towns I’ve lived in here in Minnesota.  Simply put, I’m an introvert who uses my intuition, feelings and perceptions to make sense of my world.  I find that being a small percentage of any scenario leads to much loneliness and lack of understanding.  When things have been difficult in my life, there was often no one to turn to.  No one to trust or anyone who would understand.  I have so much love for people and their uniqueness.  We are each such a spark of light in this crazy/stupid world.  I don’t want people to feel the way I have and often still do; we all need someone to listen, to talk to, to trust, to rely on.

These are true INFP statements as describes:  “INFP personalities are true idealists, always looking for the hint of good in even the worst of people and events, searching for ways to make things better. While they may be perceived as calm, reserved, or even shy, INFPs have an inner flame and passion that can truly shine.”

My goal is to provide a unique perspective in these blog posts that you find valuable and interesting.  I also hope to accomplish this through my twitter feed @peacefulistener.  Soon to come will also be a “services” page where you can book appointments through Skype with me.  I am here to listen.

IMG_0160 (don’t I look like I want to listen?!=)