I recently took one of those Facebook “tests”. You know, the ones that reveal your hippie name, which woodland creature you are, or what state you should be living in. If my results can be trusted, I’m Sunshine the hedgehog from California! These tests are fun, but usually leave me a bit annoyed at the time I have wasted taking them. This test was different. It was a Myers-Briggs personality type indicator test, and the results left me deep in thought and intrigued to learn more.
Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers published the first questionnaire in 1962. But they began researching and creating the personality preferences in the 1940s after extensively studying the work of Carl Jung. Jung believed that everyone experiences the world through four principal psychological functions: sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking, and that one is dominant most of the time. Katharine and Isabel took this theory and, through their questionnaire, gave it a practical application. They believed it would “help women who were entering the industrial workforce for the first time to identify the sort of war-time jobs that would be ‘most comfortable and effective’ for them.”*
Today, the test is frequently used for team building, career counseling, marketing, leadership training, life coaching, personal and professional development, and marriage counseling.
The results of this personality test revealed that I am an INFJ – Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging (I have since taken a different version and got the same result).
When first reading the quick descriptions of all the types, I found bits of myself in every one of them. The generic initial descriptors left me wondering about the validity of the results. It felt like I was reading horoscopes that could be talking about anyone – basic human traits. But then, I saw this: Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the rarest of all types.
Who doesn’t want to learn more about how rare they are, right? So I read on. Here are some bullet points on INFJs:
- gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive.
- artistic and creative, and live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities.
- know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand.
- uncanny insight into people and situations – you get a “feeling” about things and intuitively understand them.
- have experiences of a psychic nature. Other types scoff and scorn at this type of thing, and you don’t really understand your intuition at a level which can be verbalized, so you are protective of your inner self, and share only what you choose to share – you hold back parts of yourself and can be secretive.
- trust your own instincts above all else. This makes you look stubborn to others – because you often ignore their opinions.
- a natural nurturer, patient, and protective of those you love.
The list goes on and on, and delves into great detail about every nuance of this personality type. The more I read, the more “right” it all felt (the good, the bad and the ugly). And when I read the full description, I actually learned a few things. Now I understand that it is natural that I can’t always put into words the “knowing” I sometimes feel, or the “feelings” and “intuitions” that just come to me, with great confidence. I don’t have to beat myself up when I can’t “think on the spot” – I know that my personality needs time to let it percolate, time to sleep on it and let my intuition tell me what feels right.
Also, I’ve always known that I can be bossy and stubborn and unapologetically hard-nosed when I feel strongly about something, and it has caused me a great amount of confusion and guilt in the past, because I can’t explain why I feel so strongly. Now I know that it’s an integral part of my being to feel strongly about things that can’t be seen, touched, or explained.
From now on, I will stop trying to reconcile the dichotomies within my own personality – the seeming opposites, the discrepancies, the contradictions. I am complex and intuitive, sensitive, artistic and a little bit psychic – and, with a little science to back it up, I’m finally learning how to be comfortable in this skin.
And best of all, I’ve learned that not all of those Facebook “tests” are a total waste of time :)
What personality type are you? Do you agree with your test results?
*Source Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Wikipedia page
Magic sometimes happens in my world. At least that’s what I like to call it when the stars line up and make things happen just the way I need them to be, in that moment.
My daughter and I can read each other’s minds. We often finish each other’s sentences, and share each other’s thoughts. But that’s not really magic. I chalk that up to the fact that we are so close. I’m also very close to my sisters. Once, while talking with one of my sisters on the phone, she stopped mid-sentence because what she had been getting ready to say wasn’t really how she wanted to finish that sentence. Then I spoke those very words and asked if that was what she had been about to say. It freaked her out because I’d been right. It freaked me out too, especially since those words were completely out of context and nonsensical. I don’t know if she had been about to say them because I had thought them, or if I thought them because she was about to say them. Either way, it was a very strange moment, but it wasn’t magic.
Another time, my sister had moved and I was driving to her new house but couldn’t remember the address. This was before cell phones. I stopped at a pay phone and dialed what I thought was her new phone number. I recognized the man who answered, but it wasn’t my brother-in-law, it was his brother. Their voices are similar, but I knew the difference. I thought he was visiting and had answered their phone, but that wasn’t the case. I had called him at his office. The phone numbers weren’t even similar. But he gave me the address and all was well. This was kind of like magic.
The real magic happens less often, and it is striking and powerful and totally unexplainable.
The most recent example occurred on the morning of my daughter’s wedding last summer. We spoke on the telephone before heading to the venue to get things set up. During our conversation, I learned that she wanted/needed a chalkboard to make a sign for guests to know where to leave their gifts. I told her I would take care of it, no problem. Leave it to me.
I hung up the phone and Ken and I left our hotel room. When we got into the car, I said, “Let’s find a garage sale, we need a chalkboard.”
“How do you know there will be a chalkboard even if we find a garage sale on the way?” he asked.
“It’ll be there, and it will be perfect,” I replied.
When we took our exit from the highway, there as a garage sale sign at the corner. It was on our way! How convenient. We followed the signs and a few blocks later, pulled up to the curb. It was a big sale and there was stuff everywhere. As we approached the driveway, a nice lady said, “Good Morning!” Ken said good morning and asked, “You wouldn’t happen to have a chalkboard would you?”
“You mean like this one?” She picked up a chalkboard that had been leaning against a tree just near where she was standing.
“That’s perfect!” I cried. “How much?”
“Oh, you can have this for free,” She said. “It’s seen better days.”
“Thank you very much,” I said, stealing a glance at Ken, who was shaking his head in wonder.
We browsed for a few minutes longer and I found a pretty vase for a dollar, then we were on our way.
After we loaded the free chalkboard and got back into the car, I squealed with joy!
“Ask and you shall receive,” I said.
“No, that’s magic,” Ken said. “Vanessa Magic.”
We arrived at the wedding venue right on time. I found a hammer and tightened the nails around the frame of the chalkboard, and gave it a quick coat of chalkboard paint. Soon it was ready for lettering by a very talented friend.
The rest of the day was filled with puzzle pieces falling into place as everyone pitched in to get things set up and ready for the ceremony that evening. And it was perfect. As the late afternoon sun dappled through the tree leaves, and the guests were seated in the shade on the grassy lawn, I held my daughter’s arm and we floated down the aisle together.
It was magical – especially when the heels of her beautiful shoes got stuck in the mud when the groom lifted her for a hug!
Perfectly imperfect magic.
This is an excerpt from my memoir, More Than Everything.
In this part of the story, Shane and I are on the run from the FBI and we have made our way to Alaska. Shane has just picked up a hitchhiker…against my better judgment. It is the summer of 1985.
The drifter and Shane exchange fake names and after looking through him for a second or two I turn my attention back to the countryside outside my window. With a southern accent the guy says he’s from Tennessee. I don’t like his long, greasy dishwater blond hair, his cold dark eyes, his large biceps, or his quiet, guilty manner. My mind races through one bad scenario after another wondering what brought him to the side of the road between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska. I think to myself that he has surely committed far greater crimes than those that have landed me and Shane here. He doesn’t talk much and I’m convinced that what little he does say must all be lies. I catch him staring at me once or twice and it makes me nervous.
Shane is calling himself Roy. It is hard for me to call him that but I have no choice. In my mind he does not look like a Roy. He should have let me pick the name I was going to have to call him. Chase would have worked because he is on the run, or Mark or Steve or anything but Roy. But he didn’t ask me. He just makes me call him Roy, which ironically, means king — another reason for me to hate calling him that. When you’ve been with a man named Shane for seven years it is not easy to suddenly start calling him Roy, but I do it, and I’m proud of myself for not slipping up so far. I don’t get to pick an alias for myself. I think I would like to have been called Grace for a while, but Shane knows he would slip up, so he doesn’t even try. I am still Vanessa, but only a wrung-out, tired version of myself.
There isn’t much talking as we drive north through the middle of the night, the Alaskan summer night that doesn’t grow dark. It just grabs onto the smudgy end of the daylight and holds onto it like a blanket until morning when the sun burns it away and the world is bright again.
The three of us eat cheeseburgers at a picnic table in the 80° Fairbanks sunshine sometime the next day. When you don’t have a clock or wear a watch and it doesn’t get dark, it’s impossible to know what time it is. There is no routine to help keep you grounded. No time clock to punch. No dinner to cook. No alarm clock to ring. There is just a nagging feeling of impending doom as the hours come and go unnoticed.
We drive around town all day. From my backseat perch it disappoints me to see that Fairbanks looks like just any other city. These people don’t look any different than people anywhere else I’ve been. When you say you’re from Texas people ask if you live on a ranch and ride a horse to work. They expect you to say yes. I am in northern Alaska and I expect to see Eskimos and igloos. These are just normal people with alarm clocks on their nightstands, milk cartons in their refrigerators and clothes in their closets; moving through their days, driving Fords and Chevrolets and living lives that I know are better than mine, safer than mine; normal.
Mr. Tennessee is behind the wheel of the Bronco! I wake up from another bad dream and it is the back of his head I see on the driver’s side, not Shane’s and I am outraged. Shane is curled up in the passenger seat, sawing logs. I shoot darts at the back of both their heads with my incredulous eyes. What in the world is he thinking, letting an ax murderer drive us around while we both sleep? We have almost $20,000 cash in a bag here, not to mention my jewelry. I’ve caught Mr. Tennessee eyeing my 2 carat diamond pendant more than once, so I’ve taken it off and hidden it in the inside zipper pocket of my bag. There is no way I can go back to sleep now with this new anger inside me. One more bullet in the arsenal of anger tools I have been collecting; the tools that chisel away at what’s left of mine and Shane’s relationship.
Shane soon wakes up, seemingly refreshed. He and Mr. Tennessee start talking and laughing like a couple of old Army buddies sharing a beer at a neighborhood bar. I can’t believe how Shane is opening up to this guy. He’s telling him too much. Careful, I say over and over in my mind, hoping Shane will intercept my silent warnings. But it doesn’t work and he just keeps talking. He’s always been like that. He doesn’t catch on to things normal people perceive. He’s oblivious to other people’s stares. Now he’s either trying to gain Mr. Tennessee’s confidence, or he has totally lost his mind because he practically tells our whole story. More anger bullets for my arsenal.
We are on our way back to Anchorage now, somewhere south of Fairbanks in the middle of some of God’s most gorgeous country. I am mad, tired, confused, and I need to pee.
It’s not long before we pull off the highway. The rest stop is on the left side of the highway, up on a hill, with a little outcropping overlooking the road like a scenic turnout. There are no other cars around – probably because it’s most likely three o’clock in the morning. I jump out of the Bronco and head to the ladies room. Shane gets out and stretches.
Nothing could have prepared me for what happens next.
I come out of the ladies room at exactly the same time Shane is walking out of the men’s room. Walking toward each other, our eyes lock and we stop dead in our tracks. We look over to where the Bronco had been parked, look back at each other and then run to the scenic turnout. Desperately, our eyes search the highway; first north, then south, and together we catch a glimpse of the Bronco’s red tailgate as it disappears over the horizon.
HE’LL COME BACK, I scream. It’s just a joke. He’s gonna turn around and come back for us. HE HAS TO COME BACK. He wouldn’t just leave us here on the side of the road. . . WOULD HE???!!!
My fists are full of the front of Shane’s shirt. I am pulling and twisting, barely able to stand, barely able to breathe. Then my eyes meet his and I know. In a split second, my mind bends, expands, turns a new corner, makes a quantum leap, and finally acknowledges the dire truth. Mr. Tennessee is not coming back for us. This is not a joke.
To find out what happens next, you can buy the book here!
The cloying aroma of too much perfume clung to the air as I came through the back door. I enjoyed being the first one to arrive at work in the mornings, but I did not like being bombarded with the sickly sweet fog of the resident ghost’s perfume. It was as if she were standing right there spritzing me in the face with it – maybe she was.
Before taking the job, I had been warned that the building (a two story house that had been converted into an office) was haunted. In my interview, I was told, “The house was built in the 1920’s and, among other things, was once a brothel where murders occurred.” Oh boy. My boss joked that he was more worried about what kind of bad karma the previous tenants (lawyers) had possibly left behind. Ha. Ha. He continued by saying that, “To date, the worst thing anyone has experienced is an odd occasional noise, and cold spots that send chills up your spine when you walk through them.”
While the daily perfuming continued, I began noticing another strange occurrence. After a client meeting I would clean up the conference room and push in all the chairs. A few minutes later I would walk past the conference room door and see that one chair was pulled away from the table and turned to face the east wall. I’d push it back and it would pull away again, over and over. While I never actually witnessed the chair move on its own, it would always be repositioned the next time I passed by. Finally, I started leaving the chair in its eastward-facing position. It seemed happier that way.
Sometimes I’d be upstairs in my office and I would hear the back door open and slam closed, which usually indicated a co-worker had arrived. But no one was there. I’d wait to hear footsteps on the stairs, or for someone to say, “Good morning!” and there was nothing. Often, I’d get up and go look out the window, onto the parking lot below, only to find my car the only one in the lot.
Just your average work-place ghost having a little mischievous fun. No big deal. None of this activity really bothered me. I’d even talk to her sometimes. I assumed it was a female because of the perfume, and because of ‘a feeling’ I had. We co-existed and got along as well as a human and a ghost can when occupying the same space, until the day the microwave oven talked to me.
As usual, I was the only one in the office one morning around eight-thirty. The kitchen is at the top of the stairs. Past that, down a hall, are five offices. Mine is the first one on the left. After stopping in the kitchen for a glass of water, I made my way to my desk and began checking email, looking at the calendar, preparing for the day. I had been there for a few minutes when I heard the microwave begin beeping – like when it’s finished cooking whatever you put in there. Only I hadn’t put anything in the microwave. I hadn’t touched it, and I’m pretty sure I hadn’t even looked in its direction.
I left my desk and slowly made my way down the hallway. When I got to the doorway of the kitchen I stopped, the microwave beeping the whole time. My heart rate was quickened and my palms were sweaty. I stole a quick glance out the window and saw that my car sat alone in the parking lot. When I turned back to the kitchen and looked at the microwave, I saw that words were flashing on the display. I had to step closer to make out the words because I hadn’t brought my reading glasses.
Nothing could have prepared me for the word I saw flashing on the microwave display that morning.
The microwave said ‘child’.
How on earth is that even possible??
My heart rate was suddenly through the roof. My hands flew to my mouth, covering it in disbelief. To silence the incessant beeping and to make it stop flashing the word child, I unplugged the microwave and ran back to my desk.
I called my husband and told him the whole story. First, he instructed me to just breathe and try to calm down. “Do you want to leave?” he asked. “I don’t know!” I replied. “I just want it to stop.”
“Then tell it to go away and leave you alone,” he suggested.
“Do you think it would leave, just like that?” I cried.
“Well, it’s worth a try,” he said. “What do you have to lose?”
“But I’m afraid,” I said.
“What are you afraid of?”
“What has it done to you?” He reasoned.
“It scared the crap out of me! It made the microwave say child! Isn’t that enough?”
“That is weird.” He agreed. “But, you’re in control. This is your world. Just calm down, and tell her it’s time for her to leave, that she has worn out her welcome and you’re not interested in communicating with her.”
And it worked! I pulled up my big girl pants and told her to go away.
It’s been five years of no perfume, no wayward chairs, slamming doors, or talking microwaves. Sometimes I wonder how far she went – there are old houses on either side of us. But I don’t spend as much time thinking about that ghost as I do marveling at how smart my husband is.
Do you have a ghost story you’d like to share?