Tuesday, September 11, 2007

You Say Potato ...

Just about every day I take my dogs, Ebby and Charlie, for a walk at an off-leash dog park a few miles from my home. The time of day may differ, but they know the general routine. Helen puts on a pair of old tennis shoes, grabs the plastic bags and, this time, they get to come along in the car.

About the time we pass through the last stop sign, they start fidgeting. By the time they see the white picket fence across the street from the parking lot the whining has nearly reached ear-splitting decibels. First, I get out of the car, then it’s their turn. Dogs are such creatures of habit. Maybe, so am I.

We walk for a half an hour, sometimes longer. Round and round. Mom needs exercise too. Sometimes we’re alone at the park, but more often than not there are other dogs. Usually, the same dogs at the same time of day. Bentley, the Cairn terrier. Lilly, the Great Dane. Captain, the German shepherd. Jake, the ill-mannered yellow lab. Chester, the manic German shorthair.

Oh, yeah, and all of these dogs bring along their humans too. Many of the dogs and their owners gather up at the pavilion on the hill. Not me. I walk. I don’t know a single person’s name. I kid you not.

I can be social when it’s required, but this time for me isn’t about visiting with people. It’s about clearing my head or working out a problem with a scene I’m trying to write. Or maybe it’s time to think of nothing more than how warm or cold the air feels and to wonder how long that dead tree has been down in that valley. One day, all I did was watch a hawk follow me around the park, landing on one dead tree branch after another just so it could watch us.

Sometimes I feel as if the other people at the park consider me--and my dogs-- anti-social. I was extremely shy in high school and I think many of my classmates thought I was stuckup, too good for everyone else. Over time I’ve just come to accept that’s who I am and that's who they are. If I did nothing but sit around and chat with people, I’d leave the park feeling drained and tired instead of revived and fresh.

That’s an introvert for you. Give me quiet, alone time any day of the week. It's taken me a long time to figure that out.

Good thing dogs don’t talk.

What happens when you don't recharge? What do you do to recharge? Are you an introvert or an extrovert?


Kathleen Eagle said...

Oh, Helen, I so miss my Aussie!

I'm shy. I've worked to overcome my wallflower inclinations all my life, and to some extent I've succeeded, but I will never be really comfortable trying to mingle. Mix. Socialize. I'd much rather retreat to a corner with a couple of people and visit. And it shows. I no longer apologize, though. That's just the way I am.

Debra Dixon said...

I was raised in the South, so introverted wasn't an allowed character attribute. Being a gracious hostess was a prized skill to learn. So, I learned.

I think most people who've met me would agree that I fall in the extrovert category.

However, when I come home from one of my workshop weekend, my husband has fresh sheets on the bed. (Not for that!) and I drop my luggage (actually he does) and I crawl into bed almost the moment I get in the door. I need to recharge.

Michele Hauf said...

Introvert. It is just painful for me to strike up a conversation. I always let the conversation come to me.
I get headaches from socializing. SEriously. After a book signing, when I've got to be 'on' as an author, I usually go home with a headache. It's not because I don't like meeting people. It rocks to chat with readers about my books and just books in general. But this wallflower finds it very stressing, as well.

Keri Ford said...

Extrovert almost all the time. As Debra said, a Good Southern Woman equals Good Hostess. But when I need time to recharge, I hole up into an introvert and keep to myself, whereever I'm at. Otherwise I become what my husband likes to call cranky. :)

Helen Brenna said...

Why does none of this surprise me? LOL

Betina Krahn said...

I have to recharge periodically. Which means massive doses of people and talking my head off. RWA National, anyone?

I also love swimming-- water is very therapeutic. And walking-- when it's not 90 in the shade, as it is now.

Volunteering at the local hospital has been really good for me. . . and if my pooches were better behaved on a leash, that would be a great option, too. I used to walk Tyke four times a day-- I'm sure he feels life has played a dirty trick on him. I rarely walk him now that we have the invisible fence. You know-- we both could use the outing. Maybe when the weather gets cooler.

Helen Brenna said...

Funny Betina - RWA charges you, completely depletes me.

Kaitlin said...

I'm an introvert when I'm at home; my job requires I be an extrovert. *sigh* I think I get 99% of my socializing done when I'm at work. Once I go home, I don't like people very much. :)

The best for me to recharge is the Oregon Coast. I'm going there next week for my birthday! Yay! I'm basically disappearing for a week & I CANNOT wait! :D

And if I don't recharge my batteries...well, let's just say I'm not a very nice person. :P

lois greiman said...

When I was in high school we took some kind of quiz to determine if we were introverts or extroverts. I was deemed the most introverted in the class...and not the least bit surprised.

Helen Brenna said...

Happy Birthday, Kaitlin. Enjoy your vaca!

Lois, I don't think I understood the whole introvert/extrovert thing as young as in high school. Everyone just called me shy. Real helpful!