Silent Spaces

A house in the Woods

A house in the Woods

I am alone, often. Don’t mistake this as a cry for company, I like my silent spaces and will paint them in deeper silence more frequently than I realize. I am I think strange in liking my silent spaces, no television, no background music, no white noise to distract me; only me, the clacking of my nails on the keyboard and occasionally the roll of my lighter as I fire a cigarette, or a candle.

I have always been this way, always liked the silence the quiet of empty beaches with only the waves for company. I have always liked mountaintops in the winter with only the crunch of snow as your feet break through icy top layers or you slide across the top during a solitary run on slick ski’s. I was always able to dance in a silent studio, without music except what I heard in my heart my body following a rhythm all its own.

Don’t mistake me, I like people truly I do like people in small doses. I enjoy a night out with friends; a great meal with magnificent wine is my idea of a fabulous way to spend money and time. Given the right cornersoftheroomgroup of women (or men) I could sit up all night and talk, I know this is true I have done it. With some people, I can spend hours on the phone and have far ranging conversations that touch on nearly every aspect of life, from children to government misconduct. I am not I don’t think a hermit.

Nevertheless, I love my silent spaces and have never felt the need to fill them. As I have grown older, I feel as if I am growing in. I am looking for balance; you know that ever-elusive balance we all seek in life between our mental, emotional and physical well-being and what the world requires of us. The requirements of paying the bills, keeping a roof over our heads and the lights on and if you live in one of the hot as Hades during the summer months keeping the air conditioning pumping, at least at a reasonable temperature so you don’t look like the Wicked Witch of the West or the Polar Ice Cap, you know…melting.

Growing in, what does that really mean? For me it means I am finding myself less and less likely to be tolerant of the bad behavior of others, this is especially true of what I perceive as the ‘entitlement’ syndrome. What is this you ask; well you should ask as this it is a growing phenomenon within society today. There are many infected and this nasty and pernicious disease of the soul spreads into both their personal and professional interactions touching all they touch and leaving an oily residue behind.

Growing in, I find what it means is I am unwilling to sell myself short or cheaply. What was acceptable even five years ago is not any longer “just part of the package, just part of the business”. I have ten, maybe fifteen years left to work, I love what I do, at least I use to truly love what I do. I worked very hard to carve a niche for myself in what had always been a man’s world, I had put in my time and when I say this I don’t just mean the years I mean the 70 hour work weeks and the millions of air miles. I now find I am truly unwilling to accept the disdain from some asshat recruiter who calls me with an opportunity but then has the nerve to say the following to me:

“Would you be willing to pay your own expenses to Philadelphia for a face-to-face interview?”

This for a 4-month project!

Then had the nerve to say to me, “Your rate is too high, I can find someone for half that price at an all-inclusive rate.”

“No, no you cannot, not with my level of experience, not with US Citizenship which you stated is a requirement and not with my references. But you know you should go ahead and try, call me back when they screw up the project my rate is double when I do project remediation.”

Yes, I did say that. I don’t know if that particular recruiter understood half of my response, however since it was in writing he can look up the big words.

perfectly silent and stunning

perfectly silent and stunning

Growing in, I find has created a great big question mark in my life. That question mark is leading me down the path of questioning what I really want to be and do right now and for the remainder of my productive / working life. What are the other things I truly care about and that matter to me? My independence in work, yes that matters. Being able to take time to myself, yes that matters. My silent spaces, yes that matters a great deal. The questions though are these:

Does my independence trump stability, focus and being able to chase other important dreams?

I am alone, often. This is not a complaint, not a cry for company. I like my silent spaces. I like my growing in. I like I am questioning my new places and maybe yet again reinventing myself, what I don’t like is I am being forced to this by an environment unkind to people like me, people of a certain age, certain gender, certain type; people who are growing in like me.

Comments

  1. You know you’re great company when you feel satisfied being with just yourself !

  2. I am also enjoying silence, and I don’t like crowds too. 😉

  3. I’m with you Val. Silence is indeed “golden.” But one can overdose on something that is good for you. The real challenge, as you note, is to find the right balance; and that balance will differ for individuals and at different life stages. Your post made me take a little self-assessment of my own behavior.

    • I think it is different at different times of our lives. Sometimes more sometimes less. I find right now I seek more solitude, yet should likely not be doing so.

  4. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with knowing your own worth and any project that requires your time and effort needs to be worthwhile if it pulls you away from your valuable home life

  5. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Valentine, I enormously relate to what you’re saying re people. I have always been like this, and when I went through that dismal, dismal period 2011, I began thinking I had brought enormous loneliness to my life, by being that way. But that was because I was in crisis. In my normal days, I’m fine with all my solitude and little doses of people. I am so with you, in that.

    I enjoyed this reflective post.

  6. I think Val you are right to need your silent spaces, I just LOVE my silent spaces, all too often they seem to get less and less.. as demands seem to encroach and we feel obliged to be there for others…
    I came to this place maybe a few years ago now, as I searched to find ME.
    All our lives we seem to be moulded and shaped and put into convenient boxes labelled and packaged stamped and dispatched . And when we strive out to find ourselves we are then called names Like ” She is going through a Mid-life Crisis” and ” Its her age you know”…
    I keep trying even now to re-invent myself Val, that may surprise you, But I still feel I should be DOING something else more worthwhile .. In the mean time I just share my thoughts and keep going to my own silent spaces …

    Love to you
    Sue xox

    • You will see soon I think just how hard this past month or two has been for me. This growing in, this reaching for something to fill me dead zones. I am struggling to let go of things I thought were for me. I struggle to re-invent what I thought was fully complete and all part of me. I fight even to draw breath without releasing a primal scream of fury and pain.

      So now, I just seek out silent spaces and beg for them to be just enough.

      Val

  7. Sorry it has taken me a few days to get here, Val, but this is lovely piece. I’m glad I didn’t miss it. I can only imagine how hard it must be to find clients willing to pay what one’s worth. Hang in there, my friend. I’m an inward oriented person myself, by the way.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    • My frustration is growing incrementally right now, for this and other reasons. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I think, Beach, Ecuador…hmmm wonder what I could do there.

  8. Urgh, I have similar probs all the time. ….”can you do a freebie and I promise to get you some more clients”. Um, no, I’m not wearing the cost of a cameraman and editor for your empty promises. Can’t afford me? See ya. Advertising agencies are the worst .

  9. Interesting how everyone desires and uses quiet spaces differently … and then as time moves on, one’s desires for that space also changes. You seem to use your space well, so keep it up … and may it lead you to a better tomorrow!

  10. totsymae1011 says:

    I have moments like these. A little less than I used to, however. You do get a sense of clarity in silence. Those technology gadgets and the bells and whistles in life that distracts us from listening to ourselves.

    • That is it exactly, the distractions. My moments are getting longer though, much longer. It isn’t that I don’t like music, in truth I love it. It is simply I am falling more in love with the quite.

  11. Val, I think as we reach a point in our life, each of us–me included–start wondering why are we still doing the same old and driving ourselves crazy on this merry-go-round? If I could afford to stop and retire, you bet I would. But alas, I can’t. Am eager to know, though, how you figure this out. We’re getting too old for this crap and putting up with people like that who want you to prove yourself and pay your own way. Sheesh!

    • I think you are right Monica, we all reach these places. Yesterday during an interview I was asked why I would consider leaving the “lucrative” world of independent consulting to reenter corporate work. I nearly laughted outloud, I didn’t though. But then I answered as honestly as possible about working for end results in a field I truly loved, with some feeling of comradarie vs competition and stability.

      I think that was in part a true answer. I had a plan once to retire at 55, then a financially devastating divorce happened. Yes, we too can be wiped out by these. Everything happens for a reason. We will see which horse I ride next.

  12. I think this attraction to silent spaces – or, at least, no fear of solitude, would be a common trait among most bloggers. I know I like silence too: my favorite kind of work day is when I can stare at Excel tables all day long and not talk to anyone.

    • I expect you are right about the solitude X, the silent spaces goes a bit further I think and I am always amazed by those who can be surrounded by sound all the time.

      Like you, I enjoy Excel tables, I go one step further though I like project schedules!

      • Yes, you are further than me, because I really don’t like project schedules. But this may have do more with the fact that I work on at least 10-20 projects at any time.

  13. Have you read Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet”, about introverts ? It’s quite a book, and, was, for me, a really emotional book. Our world is geared toward the extrovert, the loud one’s in the room (whether they are good at what they do, or not … they’re Extroversion is worshipped, and we quiet folk are often thought of as a little weird.) The book meant a great deal to me, because all of my life I’ve been one who loves the silence — ok, maybe sometimes I have music on, but, I’m not uncomfortable being alone in absolute silence. In fact, I feel better after my silent time. Reading her book made me realize that there is a world full of introverts who enjoy, even crave those silent, alone moments. If you haven’t read it, I’d recommend it.

    As for growing in … I know what you mean. I find certain things less acceptable, and I question my place in life. I don’t have the skills and experience that you, so I’m not in high demand, but, I do know that I feel as if I’m standing in the center, with many roads darting out, many choices to make, yet unsure of what any of them are, or where they’d lead.

    Very thought provoking post, Val … thanks for sharing … and good for you, for standing up for yourself. Give ’em hell! 🙂

    • Yes, I have that book, but I haven’t made the time to get to it yet. I’m reading about 4 books at once, although I finished 1 last night. Indeed, extroversion seems to be a preferred character trait, especially in the business world. But, I think people are finally starting to realize we quiet types aren’t necessarily planning to inflict mass casualties, but rather finding new ways to get things done.

      • Not all quiet types are planning to inflict mass casualties, but nearly whenever police arrest a serial killer, mass shooter, or someone like that, the neighbors are always saying how he was the quiet type 🙂 Of course, we quiet types are good at many other things too.

    • I will need to go find the book John, that you for the recommendation. As for giving them hell, it is the only thing I know to do.

  14. “…a great meal with magnificent wine is my idea of a fabulous way to spend money and time…”

    I am totally with you on this one – especially when I am with my lovelies and/or with some well read and interesting person.

    With regards to selling yourself “cheap” – I agree that we should not give away our expertise cheap. I’m happy you told off that asshat – and he probably did not understand half of what you said. It is obvious that with that attitude, whichever company he is fronting, is going down the chutes for sure.

    Previously, for altruistic reasons, I gave free business talks to help out start-ups —- ended up having to beg people to attend. Now, I charge money – and people turn up!

    People appreciate what they pay for – hang in there, don’t discount – make them appreciate you more 🙂

    • How well I can relate to that last line Eric!

      The problem we have today, here in my industry we have literally outsourced everything including the recruiting of people like me. Where even 5 years ago the Recruiters knew the technology, were usually retired from the trenches and could talk the talk / walk the walk, no longer. Half the time I have to ask them to repeat themselves, take me off speaker and worst ask them if they know what they hell they are talking about. This isn’t an odds off, this is 95% of them.

      It is what is making me truly reconsider whether I want to stay doing what I am doing. My repeat customers can’t keep me busy. It is the nature of the business.

  15. Unbelievable that I come to comment on two posts regarding silent spaces, in one day, as you put it. I DO enjoy the quietude of my days as well, except for the hum of the dehumidifier, which I am not aware of anymore. When it goes silent, even in my sleep, I wake to empty and rejuvenate it.
    I enjoy non-noise. Life outside of my home environment is much too noisy. Is that the reason I enjoy my peace or am I getting too long in the tooth and too pernickety and the heck with the rest of yas? *grins*

    • The hum of my computer is like the same type of white noise as your humidifier, just there in the background. There are times I will turn on music and rock the whole entire house down. Just me and Merlin the Cockatoo will dance in my office, both of us head bobbing away to some Bob Marley, some old school Prince, or some Santana. But most of the time, I love the quiet. I don’t think it is age Tess, I have always been this way.

      • Santana, I will always remember. He was in the background when I first tried…you know, those other kind of cigarette.

        I can see you dancing with Merlin. Love the picture. I haven’t cranked on the music for ages. Might try it again…

  16. I liked your description of silent spaces. Having been an administrator all of my adult life I treasured those moments when I could turn society off and take off my mask. I agree with you on the interview thing too. I’ve always worked on the principle if you want to recruit me it will be on my terms.

    • I have not always worked on that principle, more and more though Ian I am finding I should have and now I will. It is hard to shed some of our notions, what we have settled with and for, been trained to believe and accept as true. I think this is part of the growing in, learning to say no, you are not allowed to speak that way to me and say it long before you are to angry to do anything more than sputter.

  17. Stunning, publishable, shade-able, profound piece, Val

    As soon as you said— “As I have grown older, I feel as if I am growing in,” I immediately observed this as positive, evolved, beautiful.

    Yes. You. Are. beautiful. Xxxxxx

    • Thank you my dear friend. It is what is on my mind, the idea of reinvention, change and realignment with the me inside. Not in any terrible way but in an evolution. We lean in, to support ourselves and each other. We dance, to music we alone hear.

      XXX

  18. I have not herd that term – growing in, leaning in – but I like it. Times change and so do we. And sometimes quality is not valued the way today it used to be valued. I know you will find your way to do what you want to do. And as an introvert I understand about needing space and quiet places. Words can speak loudly. Cheers!

    • I think it makes sense, the growing in. We are after all for all intents, grown up now. We are not, I hope though done expanding our horizons or learning. Thus growing in.

      We shall see, the idea of constantly reinventing ones self. I don’t know it is not so strange to me anymore. Perhaps this is just what we must do.

  19. “Grow in” and grow stronger. That term “growing in” is one that I can see in many forms and all of them make you a stronger person. Sending you love x

    • Thanks Christy. That term, growing in is one I have heard before and one I have used before. It is one that makes sense to me. Growing in and leaning in, both terms that make sense as I grow older and gain a better sense of who I am.

      Love right back at you.

  20. I also enjoy the peacefulness whilst writing or just thinking, there is nothing strange in that my great friend as a time for thought has its rewards, not in wealth but in peace and tranquillity. A soothing of the mind through ones own space adds a rich experience I think, shutting out the world to really touch on and feel the energies of life within is something special,

    I hope that you are having a lovely week so far Val 🙂 😉

    Andro xxxx

    • Thank you Andro, many think my need for quiet is odd and will fill my silent spaces with noise, even if it is only white noise. It drives me plain starkers.

      The week is, it is just going along that is what it is.

      Val

      • I don’t think your need for quiet is odd at all… Hey Red sent me a picture of you girls in Minnesota, and how great you all look on it too, lots of happy smiling faces 🙂

        Have a lovely evening Val and be good, like me ‘) lol

        Andro xxxx

  21. I can identify, since I feel the same. I’ve always been an introvert and therefore, like my silent places, too. There’s nothing wrong with that! We keep the world moving, along with everyone else. We just do it differently.

  22. I like that you’ve given this such an intriguing name: growing in. Good luck with the job search. The right thing is on its way.

    • Thank you. See this is the part of the problem still, I don’t know whether it is a job search. Job being something you go to every day or whether it is simply another contract on the horizon, which says I will remain independent and continue the life I have now. This, this is truly part of the conundrum. Each have something to offer.

      I think I grow tired of this market and this ugly that is growing in it. I want something else that would allow me to free my mind maybe to chase other dreams.

  23. First, I love you.

    Second, grow in all you like. This is your soul expanding. If it makes others, even you, uncomfortable, growing pains often are.

    Third, look at the butterflies. You chose them for a reason. The result of the metamorphosis will be beautiful, just as you always are.

    xxx

    • I know, I love you also. Time to make new choices I think, time to find new boundaries or push these out of the way. We shall see. Those are lovely ones aren’t they? We shall see what comes.

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