My first Meetup

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On a beautiful Sunday in October, 21 strangers head off into the bush to explore a remote part of central Victoria. Sounds like the start of a horror movie doesn’t it? Well it wasn’t – it was my first Meetup experience 🙂 I’m sure I’m very late cottoning on to this, but I’ve just recently learnt how fabulous meetup groups are. I’ve joined three, one of which is a Young Hikers group (age cut off is 35), and yesterday was my first time hiking with them.

I may have mentioned in previous posts that I love hiking, and I may also have mentioned (or at least inferred) that I’ve come to the realisation I can’t always rely on FF or other friends to join in with my hobbies and interests. I need to find other friends to share them with, otherwise it’s too easy to sit at home and whinge, or even worse, not do the things that I really enjoy.

So yesterday I headed off to the Brisbane Ranges for an all day hike with the Melbourne Young Hikers group. Maybe it’s ironic that I’ve just blogged about being an introvert and here I was spending a whole day with complete strangers, but being introverted doesn’t necessarily mean being antisocial or shy. This was a diverse group of people and I knew there would be some kindred spirits among them. There would be no pressure to find a conversation starter because there were so many obvious choices. “So are you a regular with this group? Do you go hiking often? Where are you from? What do you do for a job? And so on and so forth.

I also made the strategic decision of picking up two other people who live nearby and driving them down there so we got to know each other in the car on the way.

It was such an awesome day – glorious weather, beautiful scenery and good company. I spent most of the day chatting with Sara, the half Malaysian, half English Physiotherapist, Edwin, the dutch medical student and Cecille, a French au pair, both obviously living in Melbourne. I was also really pleased to find that my six months of solid personal training is paying off – I handled the physical exertion so much better than I would have six months ago. 14km of scrambling over rocks in a dry creek bed and up and down gullies and I was only moderately sore by the end of it. Richard, the group’s organiser, is an experienced hiker, despite being only 19 years old (!!!) and it was great to be able to just put our trust in him and his map and compass to guide us through a completely unmarked part of the Ranges.

So with my first Meetup experience a resounding success I’ve rsvp’d for a couple of other activities coming up in the next few months and can highly recommend giving it a try, particularly if you have a specific hobby and are searching for new friends to share it with.

Check it out here – www.meetup.com.

The power of introverts

We’re having a team planning day at my work tomorrow, and in preparation we were asked to complete the Myers Briggs personality test. Mine came out almost the same as the last time I did it a few years ago, swapping from INFJ to INTJ. I think I’m a fairly self aware person so that doesn’t surprise me. What is interesting though is that I’m becoming much more aware of what the ‘I’ means in the context of my work.

I stands for Introvert. When it’s come up in conversation with friends in the past they’ve disputed that I’m an introvert because I “can” be very outgoing and am usually the one in a group cracking stupid jokes. But I understand better now that what being an Introvert means is that interacting with others is usually not where I draw my energy and inspiration from. Being introverted means that you do your best thinking and generate your brightest ideas and recharge your batteries being alone, not through interactions with others.

Where I struggle is how to overcome that natural preference for alone time at work. I particularly dread conferences and public events where I’m going to have to “network” with strangers. Actually dread is too strong a term. I love the intellectual stimulation of listening to conference presentations and participating in some of the group activities, but it’s the morning and arvo teas and the lunch breaks that have me squirming with discomfort. I’m the one concentrating way too hard on balancing my awkward little plate of sandwiches and my cup of tea and handbag waiting for someone (probably an extrovert) to come up and say hi. I almost never will initiate a conversation. Once the initial break has been made, I love to talk, and can ‘network’ a charm, but it’s getting the ‘in’ that I find awkward and painful.

I don’t particularly like this about myself. I worry that it’s career limiting, and there have been so many times I’ve regretted not having the courage to approach someone that I’ve always wanted to meet, or someone who is particularly relevant to me in a professional sense, or even rescue one of the other wall-flowers from their obvious misery.

I was moaning about this on Facebook the other day when a friend put me on to this Ted talk from Susan Cains – The Power of Introverts.

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It’s really good! In 20 minutes I think she nails what it means to be introverted and makes some savvy observations about the historical context of the shift from admiring people based on the essential qualities of their ‘character’ towards the current trend for lauding big personalities and advocating constant “group think”. Susan was basically advocating for leaving introverts alone to learn and develop in the way they do best.

Although she didn’t say this directly, I think there’s a definite paradox between the trend for constant external stimulation via open plan offices, ‘circle’ style professional development and meetings, and the idea that the team approach is always best, and the simultaneous understanding about the benefits of meditation and other sorts of introspective “me time”.

This doesn’t really help me out with my social awkwardness at conferences and professional events but it does offer a sort of validation, and some reassurance that it’s “ok” to prefer to spend large amounts of time alone, and not want to share my ideas before they’re at least part way formed. Introverted or extroverted, we all contribute.

The new science of skinny

A friend put me on to this little video tonight that I’ve just watched and I found it quite interesting. Much of what he said certainly resonated with my own experience of weight loss (and gain!) The trouble I have is not knowing who to believe. I could watch a video on the ‘calories in, calories out’ theory and come away just as convinced. Why is it so hard to know where to go for solid, evidence-based information?

Anyway watch and see what you think. I’m interested in your thoughts!

 

This time, cacti and succulents

I’ve been a bit quiet on this blog lately. There’s been a lot going on – two conferences two weeks apart (Perth and then the Gold Coast – could be worse) and the rest of my time has been busy with work and personal training (or spending money on treating the injuries caused by personal training – hmmmm).

Now that things are quietening down a bit I’m back to my usual musing about what my next project could be. Especially now that the weather is improving and daylight savings has started today (YAY), I’m in the mood to be all outdoorsy. My balcony is tiny – barely 2 metres across and loaded with pot plants that at the moment are more weeds than plants. At least twice a year I tear most things out and replant but, perhaps because it’s south-facing things struggle to grow well there. So, inspired by Pinterest and my own experience with succulents (I have several inside that I love), I’m going to spend next weekend turning the balcony into a succulent and cacti wonderland.

Bunnings here I come! It’s going to be awesome – I hope. Pretty, funky, colourful and low maintenance. As long as I don’t look out through the balcony doors and see death I’ll be happy.

Stay tuned. Next weekend it is ON.

And now here are some pictures to inspire you. Maybe.

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