The Writing Life

Where do you find your zen?

Fiona Lowe wrote a great post a few days ago on which we prefer…beach or desert. It made me think about how we each find different ways to recharge our batteries. I like to call it finding my zen…a location that calls out to that calm place within me, where all my cares seem to drift away.

Like the whole introvert/extrovert thing, we each find comfort in certain types of interactions with people. I think that carries over to other parts of our lives as well. Some are drawn toward all things “inside” and others are drawn toward “outside.” I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I’m a huge introvert. I gain my energy when I’m alone or in a small group. My husband, on the other hand, draws his energy from interacting with others–the more the merrier, as they say. He can come home from a party full of life and be ready for more, while I just want to light some candles and melt into my clawfoot tub–alone.

Tina's pond
Tina’s pond and fish

So, you would think I’d prefer to spend my free time “inside”…as in inside my home–since I’m an innnntrovert (get it?). Nope. I’m an outdoor girl all the way. Oh, I love to sit and read, and I like my house to be a welcoming place, but if you ask me what I want to do with my free time, my answer will be camping, hiking, running, horseback riding, gardening, working on my tiny pond, cooking on the grill. Not an indoor activity among my top choices. Weird, huh? I’m guessing that the “in” and “ex” of introvert and extrovert have to do more with the way we process things than with our inner or outer child.

Am I confusing you? Hmmm…well, I’m a bit confused myself. So I’m taking an informal poll to see if there’s any correlation between personality type and activity preferences. I’m hoping you’ll answer three questions for me. First, would you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert? Second, are you an innie or an outie (not your bellybutton type, but are you an indoor or outdoor person)? And lastly, what do you like to do with your free time?

RTHC Book CoverAnd to kick off my newest release, a short story that celebrates both the great outdoors and second-chance love, I’m giving away a digital copy of Return to Hart’s Cove to one commenter. Here’s the blurb:

To Cade Rivers, the word home conjures up images of small town dances, nosy neighbors and walls that close in around you. So when he’s offered a once-in-a-lifetime position as a sports medicine doctor in Atlanta, he jumps at the chance. There’s only one catch—his childhood sweetheart, who breaks his heart by refusing to leave her hometown. A year later, a manila envelope arrives with papers that say she no longer wants to be his wife. Does Cade dare return to Hart’s Cove, Wyoming in an effort to change her mind? Or will that only result in more heartache for both of them?

Dr. Mirabella Rivers can hardly believe her eyes. There on her examination table—barely covered by one of his mama’s blue-flowered towels—is the finest set of buns this side of the Mississippi. Unfortunately, they belong to her almost-ex husband. And from the look in his eyes, he wants nothing more than to take the “ex” right out of the equation. But can Mira trust him to not walk away just when she needs him the most?

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26 thoughts on “Where do you find your zen?”

  1. Love the sound of your short story, Tina! The cover is awesome, I hope it sells bucketloads.
    Hmmm, I’m not sure about my zen- I think it’s often found in a glass of wine in front of the tv!! No, seriously, I do love being outside when weather permits- walking along the beach with the breeze on my back, and I love hiking but don’t often get the chance to do it with all the family commitments etc. When I was younger I would have definitely described myself as an extrovert, but now not so much. I love being on my own all day writing- but I DO love my dancing/zumba and get a real buzz from music and energetic people. So I don’t know if I can help you, I think I’m a bit of both!

    1. The weather this year has put a damper on my outside activities, Louisa! But hubby and I did get a chance to walk when it was snowing at night once. It was beautiful and I loved it, but I was happy to get back inside in front of our fireplace. So, I think you’re right on the indoor versus outdoor…it depends on the weather! Right now it’s sunny, and it’s so hard for me to stay in at my desk and write! The garden is calling to me.

      I envy you on those extrovert tendencies. I wish I had a few more bones of them in my body!

  2. I’m definitely an introvert. I like the outdoors because I spend so much time in front of the computer writing inside, I guess. For the last six months I’ve been taking yoga twice a week, and I definitely find my zen there. Oh, and walking – that is one of my favorite activities outdoors.

    Hey your book sounds great, and I love the cover. Good luck!

    1. The funny thing about introvert/extrovert is that hubby and I are almost the exact opposites. On the tests, he’s on the high side of the extrovert chart, and I lean over to the “very” on the introvert side. But it’s probably a good thing. I often wonder if I’d be a hermit, if he didn’t drag me out of my cave periodically!

      I’ve often thought about taking yoga, Lynne. Wonder if my old bones would still bend or if they’d just crack in half. ;).

  3. I guess I am more introvert than extrovert, i.e. I prefer small groups to huge gatherings. However, I am not in the least bit shy and can talk for England!
    As for indoors or outdoors, well it depends on the weather. No way am I going out in the cold and wet if I can help it. I am definitely a fair weather girl even when gardening. Those weeds can wait till the sun shines.

    Your book sounds great. Another title to add to my TBR pile.
    love,
    Jennifer

    1. Jennifer, if I’m in a small group of people I know, I can talk, but I eventually run out of steam. And when I get home, I’m exhausted. But I do like people. 😉 It’s not as if I avoid them completely. It’s just that really large gatherings make me claustrophobic a bit, if that makes any sense. One exception was the Harlequin party at the RWA national conference. I was with a small group of medical authors the entire night and I danced, and danced, and danced. I had a wonderful time with our ladies!

      Hmmm…I’m thinking I should have qualified the indoor/outdoor question with the words “weather permitting.” After living in warm Brazil for so many years I’ve forgotten that there are actual seasons, sometimes. I remembered soon enough when we came back to the States, though. It’s been a pretty frigid winter, and I’ve found myself hibernating like a bear. ;).

    1. Oh, Louisa, I think I’m your soul sister! I like people, but I have to be alone for a while after going to a big gathering. My husband, on the on the other hand, can close down a party. By the time he’s ready to leave, I’m usually limp on a bench somewhere. I keep telling him all I need is about ten acres with some horses and chickens and I’ll be in heaven. I’m really a farm girl at heart, while he’s a city slicker through and through.

  4. TIna,
    That’s an interesting question and I’ve been thinking about it lately because I’ve taken up running later in life and I love doing it outside even when the weather isn’t great. That surprised me.
    I’ve always been an introvert and if you asked me a few years ago I would have definitely said “indoor person.” I love books, writing, movies, museums and “indoorsy stuff.” But I have two little kids and between the mess and the noise, there is no Zen to be found in my house! I’ve always enjoyed walking and hiking (even though I’m a klutz who hates sports) so running alone with an audio book is my Zen now:-)

    1. Hi Jill, I’m a later-in-life runner too! Well, I used to run as a teenager, but got out of the habit. Two years ago, I decided to take it up again so I started off on a treadmill with the couch-to-5K program. On a treadmill (in my basement), because I was horrified by how out of shape I was…and felt no one needed to see me huffing and puffing at the end of my 90 second intervals. Now that I can actually do some distance, I love running outdoors. I haven’t figured out how to operate up my Ipod while moving (sad, I know) so I run sans music. Just me and the great outdoors.

      It’s interesting to see how many writers are introverts. Do you think we’re the only ones who can stand to be alone with ourselves for the time needed to write a book? The subject of my next poll, I think. 😉

  5. Hey Tina. I’m an extrovent all the way. I love the outside and being active-swim, skiing, camping. The best way I know to unwind is to sit on the beach in the late afternoon and read until the sun goes down. Free time? I don’t get much. I like to read and do hand sewing. I also love a good chick flick.

    1. Ha, Susan, I think I answered Jill’s comment too soon. Because we evidently do have an extrovert among us (Louisa George said she used to be one as well). So many of us are introverts that I was beginning to think it was a writer thing. Next time we’re at a party together, I’m sticking with you! Maybe you can teach me a thing or two.

      I’ve never snow skied, but I have water skied and loved it. Can you believe I used to live a mile from the beach in Florida and rarely visited it? I know. Crazy. But I do love camping and swimming and so forth. It was warm enough a couple of days ago that we pulled chairs around our fire pit outside and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. I was in heaven. Of course, then it snowed the next day, ha ha! I’m hoping tomorrow when I go horseback riding, it’ll be warm enough to actually use the outdoor arena rather than the indoor. We went on a trail ride last Friday, despite the wet ground and muck. It was wonderful. I think Spring is nearly here!

  6. Think I’m a bit of both too, Tina. I like being in the outdoors – appreciate fresh air and amazing scenery – but I don’t like being “active” in the outdoors, if you know what I mean. I hate camping and hiking. Blergh! Biking. Running? Shudder. I like being in a place where the great outdoors is just outside my window so I can go out into it and sit still somewhere and appreciate it. I like being still in nature cos its really quite breathtaking. But I like all my indoor creature comforts 🙂

    As I said in Fiona’s blog, I love the beach and that’s probably the only exception to being active. If we’re staying at the beach then I will go down and get sand between my toes, collect some shells but most of the time I can fully appreciate it from my balcony with a nice glass of vino 🙂

    Honestly, like Louisa (although I know she said it in jest) I find my zen at night in front of some good tele or reading a good book and drinking something made out of grape 🙂 I love absorbing other people’s creativity and I think it informs my own writing so much.
    And that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it 🙂

    1. Sitting and enjoying nature sounds heavenly to me as well, Amy. I think we each have our own way of communing with it, don’t we? I think one of the reasons I enjoy camping so much is that I know it’s not permanent…I can return to my showers and modern conveniences in a few short days. 😉

      And thank so much for picking up my novella! Hope you enjoy it!

  7. Deadlinedeadlineahhhhh

    But I did want to pop in and say that I love your fishy pond!

    I think I’m a bit of both, extrovert and introvert. It all depends on the situation. If I feel comfortable, I’m loud and obnoxious(because I crack myself up), and if I don’t feel comfortable, I can become invisible! Or I wish I could become invisible.

    My zen probably involves animals. I like to get my dog riled up(and all you have to do to set her off is gasp and whisper, ‘What was that?!’ in your most alarmed whisper… and she will charge the door barking, and look out every window she can reach(basset mix, she’s not tall).

    I must be a sadist, because I also enjoy watching the hummingbird gang-wars that happen around the feeders. Those little suckers are VICIOUS. It always surprises me…

    1. Ha ha, we had a hummingbird in Brazil that was gorgeous. Iridescent blue with a scissor tail. But…it was the meanest thing I’d ever seen. It defended the sugar-water feeder we had out there from all other hummingbirds. He’d sit in the tree next to it for hours, even though he’d already taken all he wanted. I love them though. I haven’t put a new feeder up since we got back, will have to get one! We do have feeders up for cardinals and finches.

  8. I think I am an extrovert BUT with each passing year, I prefer my own company. That Sid, if. I can urge myself out of the house, I always have fun in the world!

    Return to Hart’s Cove sounds awesome and I love the cover! For those of you who don’t know, Tina chose the photo but my youngest son created the cover. Given it was a square photo, I think he did an awesome job. Hope it flies off the shelf!
    Fiona x

    1. He did a wonderful job, didn’t he? I wasn’t sure he’d be able to do anything with the picture, but I loved it so much. And he made it look great! So…if anyone needs a cover, contact Fiona and she’ll put you in touch with him!

      So we do have some extroverts among us. You’re definitely fun to be around, Fiona, I know from experience!

  9. Tending towards the introvert, I think Tina! I love the company of others, but prefer small groups of people to large ones, and when it’s time to re-fill the well, I’ll sneak off somewhere on my own. I like the outdoors as well, and walking’s always my preferred way to get somewhere – something about the pace of it which allows you to stop and take in what’s happening along the way. Someone once said to me that people can be divided into those who need 15 minutes alone every day to stay sane, and those who need 15 minutes with people to stay sane. I’m not sure about that, but if it’s true, I definitely fall into the first category.

    Return to Hart’s Cove sounds great! I love the cover, too (well done Tina and Fiona’s youngest!).

    1. Oh, that’s a great way to define introverts/extroverts, Annie! I definitely fall into the needing 15 minutes alone each day.

      I love to walk as well. Hubby and I went for a 2 mile walk this afternoon along a trail that runs through through the woods and along a river. It’s one of my favorite places to go. So restful and beautiful!

  10. Definitely introverted, unless I’m around people I’m comfortable with, then I’m an extrovert.

    I love the outdoors if the weather cooperates, if not then I’m all about the indoors. LOL

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