Friday, December 31, 2010

ISFP/INTJ Conversational Classic

ISFP teenager: Mom, is _ _ _ _ _ a word?

INTJ mother: No… how are you trying to use it? Maybe I can help you find the word you’re looking for.

ISFP: I’m not trying to use it. It just came to me…. Can YOU use it in a sentence so I can figure it out?

INTJ: If it’s not a real word - has no actual meaning – there’s no way to use it in a sentence.

ISFP: But if it WERE a word, how would you use it?

INTJ: There’s no way for me to answer that. Without a meaning – because it ISN’T a real word – I can’t use it in a sentence.

ISFP: Okay… what would its meaning be, if it were a word?

INTJ: But it’s not a word. So how would I know its meaning?

ISFP: Well, if you’d just use it in a sentence, we could figure out its meaning.

INTJ: Are those lights flickering? I think you’ve induced a brain aneurysm.

I wish I were creative or funny enough to have made that up, but that was an absolute real conversation I had with my ISFP teenage son the other day (although there were just a few more “Who’s on First” loops before I escaped the exchange).

Now I’m sure an I/E NFP parent would have handled the conversation differently – perhaps played along and played “create a definition out of thin air” but as an INTJ that was not an instinctual direction for me to go.

How would you have responded? (Include your “Type” if you know it.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Paul's Sunset

Music was one of my earliest memories and most enduring connections between me and my Dad. One of my favorite pictures is of me at about 8-months old sitting on Dad’s lap between him and his guitar, me peaking over the top to watch his fingers. There was always music in the house growing up. Sometimes we would just sit around in the living room with one of Dad’s favorite song books and play and sing together.

Music is an emotional vehicle for me. It’s a way for me to interpret and process my life so it meant a great deal to me to be able to sing at his funeral. Although I felt my voice shaking as I sang the songs I chose, the lyrics of each would steward the story well and I believe Dad would have been pleased.

Thanks to the talents, generosity and help of my friend Joel Slater I was able to record the songs as a Christmas gift as a permanent memory of Dad. Each of the 4 songs I recorded reflect a different part of my relationship with Dad and although I’m no great vocalist, it gave me great closure to put it all together.

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) - by Chris Tomlin (listen here)

Amazing Grace is my all-time favorite hymn. When I asked if my dad had a favorite hymn I could sing at his funeral, I didn’t expect that we would share this classic as our favorite. My father’s funeral was actually the forth that I’ve sung Amazing Grace at, but each time has been an entirely different rendition or version. It’s remarkable how this song can be so timeless and consistent yet so different from arrangement to arrangement, unique for each person and situation.

When I Get Where I'm Going - Brad Paisley (listen here)

When I first heard this song two years ago, I immediately knew this would be the anthem of my dad’s passing when that time came. In my mind, though, that time would not come for another 15 or more years, so I expected to have plenty of time to teach the song to my son to play and sing at the funeral, and I would merely accompany and harmonize. Though I enjoyed singing it, I regret not only that Dad’s time was cut way too short for my young musician to have prepared it, but that the boys never got the chance to know him well enough to know how appropriate this song was for him.

Finally Home – MercyMe (listen here)

This song is a truer reflection of my own heart in dad’s passing and is more my personal anthem for him. It took many rehearsals to get through the second line without getting choked up as I think every child wonders and hopes they have made their parents proud in whatever the path they’ve chosen in life, but it also reflects the security I have in an eternity with our Lord.

Better Than A Hallelujah - Amy Grant (listen here)

This song is for the hurting who remain – the survivors, if you will – those left behind in their grief. It came out this summer and it immediately spoke to me about the trials and suffering my family had endured in the last year – my own cancer, my husband’s health challenges, the financial struggles of one income - and how so very blessed I was by the prayers of others and how much closer I was drawn to God through those trials. Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

I want to say thank you, again, to Joel Slater who recorded and edited these songs and made me sound pretty good. A worship leader and Christian recording artist, check out some of Joel’s original music and buy his CD “Scattered” at

Thursday, December 16, 2010

ISFP-INFP-INTJ: a comment on the creative process

INTJ’s are not necessary known for being creative. Visionaries, yes, but not creative in an abstract or artistic way, so I’m always surprised when people say “oh, you’re so creative.” Of course usually it’s the outcome or product they are assessing as creative, but the process that birthed that outcome or product, if witnessed, might have been quickly characterized as “oh, you are such an INTJ” or “you just suck the fun out of everything, don’t you?”

Nothing will humble what little creativity an INTJ may have than to spend 30 minutes in a room with a couple of UBER-creative, talented, soulful, remarkable and gifted ISFP and INFP musicians.

You see, recently I begged the help of my ISFP friend to help me record the songs I sang at my father’s funeral onto a CD. Besides having a heart of gold, this ISFP is one of the most talented people I know – a worship leader at prominent church in the DC area, has opened for major Christian artists, released his first album last year, in the process of cutting another – which is very daunting for a corporate executive INTJ square like me to sit down and sing my little songs into a microphone.

As an INTJ, of course, I am a perfectionist, highly critical of self, always seeking improvement so I’m never completely satisfied with anything I do. But knowing this about myself (and how annoying it can be for others to be around) I have learned to let go a bit and if someone I recognize as an authority says it’s good, I move on (well, physically anyway – mentally, I’m still in constant review.) So when my dear ISFP said a take was good, I accepted it as good. When he wanted me to repeat a section, I resisted the urge to repeat the entire thing 80 more times and just repeated that section identified.

The part I found typologically remarkable was the ISFPs joking comment of jealousy that each time I sang a particular song or section that it was almost identical to the time before. The consistency from take to take was apparently enviable (which, of course, if I’m repeatedly and identically singing a section poorly, I’m not sure why consistency would be an enviable trait) and in the back of my head I’m seeing one of those INTJ posters that have a picture of a robot and some comment about precision.

In the rehearsal after rehearsal that were a part of this INTJ’s process long before I showed up at the ISFP studio, my goal was precision so of course the outcome was precisely the same each time. I wish I knew a different way, could experience it a different way, feel it through an I*FP beat and taste the freedom of a true creative process that is counter intuitive for an INTJ.

The typological icing on this creativity cake was made by the kind, uber-talented INFP musician who composes, orchestrates new sheet music weekly and plays 173 different instruments at the church. As the ISFP is repeating his remark of jealousy at the INTJ consistency, the INFP says, “Well, of course. Lauren is always a consummate professional.” And then turns to me directly and says “and I mean that in the best possible way.”

Now wait – INTJ brain is going to have an aneurysm. How could “consummate professional” ever be a bad thing that it needs to be clarified as “meant in the best possible way?” Is that an “I*FP” thing? Do I need to “loosen up” fellas?

Relax. No offence taken. You can’t be an MBTI practitioner and see 3 dozen posters depicting the INTJ as a robot and not realize you come off as a bit stiff to others. I get it. The comment, though, was classic, and it would have been an MBTI loss not to share it.

So does NOT being a consummate professional equal more authentic creativity? Hmmmm... processing.... processing ... processing....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


One year ago today, at almost this exact time, I was home in bed, having called in sick with the flu. I answered a phone call from my doctor (whom I’d seen for my annual check-up just 6 days prior) and she dropped the “C” bomb followed by a flurry of long words, doctors’ names, referrals, phone numbers and urgent instructions and additional appointments.

So much has happened in the year that followed, it’s hard to believe it’s only been a year. Most importantly, I’m cancer free – PRAISE GOD! I’ve kept up with all of my follow up appointments – very uncharacteristic for me – and I have a new respect for “routine” checkups actually being a part of your routine.

So let’s put YOU on the spot. Have you kept up with your annual physicals and tests? Why should I, you say? I feel perfectly fine. So did I – so did my Dad. Both of us were blindsided by our cancer diagnoses – in good physical health otherwise – but only one of us is wearing the badge “survivor”. The other basks in the light of Christ, living out eternity with our Lord. Not a bad trade-off either way, I know, but is your family ready for that? Who will you be leaving behind or burdening with your illness if you don’t take care of yourself?

Have I gotten through yet? Not sure what you should be doing when ?

Here are a few words from about routine exams:

What You Need to Know for Your Routine Physical Exam
Get organized and document your family medical history!

In your 20’s and 30’s - Get your annual physicals and check to see which routine exams need to be added to that "every few years" schedule based on age and history (i.e heart disease, hypertension, cancer, etc.)

In your 40’s -In addition to your annual physical, there are a few new things you need to add to the list, regardless of familiy history.

  • Breast cancer - Mammograms may be recommended annually or semi-annually, depending on your individual health and doctor's preference.
  • Cholesterol Both men and women should check this on an annual basis.
  • Prostate - Men should add this to the yearly checkup list.
  • Electrocardiogram - Both men and women should have this done, along with a stress test.

In your 50's - Add a discussion with your doctor about these to your yearly checkup: arthritis, arteriosclerosis, cancer, emphysema, diabetes, and signs of dementia. Colon cancer testing should be done at 50 and repeated again at 60 (unless there are issues discovered or a family history). Men should receive a PSA blood test every year.Women should have a bone-density test done to check for osteoporosis.

In your 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 100's.... - The annual physical a must and be sure you are following up on any additional screenings that your doctor has recommended. He isn't saying for HIS health, you know.

A Tale of Two Citiots

I’m a city girl … who enjoys the country. Although I was born and raised in the Detroit area and later moved to the D.C. area, somehow I managed to get my share of the great outdoors growing up and developed a love for horseback riding. I’ve done a lot of riding for a city girl – horse camp every summer, friends and family with horses, the occasional ride through the Gettysburg battlefield – but I may have had just a bit too much confidence for someone who hasn’t been on horse for over 3 years.

On our Thanksgiving trip to Arizona, the boys and I wanted to take my dad and step-mom’s horses out for a quick ride around the property. The most skilled rider in the group, I was elected to ride the most obnoxious horse, fondly nicknamed "Stupid." Now Stupid did his best to buck me off, but after 4 tries and 20 minutes, I was sure he’d given up. Thinking it was safe, my youngest got on the back with me and off we went to hit the trails. Not seven minutes down the road, Stupid lived up to his namesake and began bucking again. I managed to hold on (earned my rodeo hat on that one) but my young rider of 115 lbs and 13 years went flying straight up and landed square on his feet. Clearly, he has a future as a rodeo clown.

About 30 minutes later, 200 feet from the finish line of our ride, I let my guard down just as the horse got spooked by the ATV my 13-year-old had chosen as alternate transportation and Stupid bucked me right over his head, 20 feet into a cactus and a few rocks. No broken bones, some nasty bruises and many, many hair fine cactus needles that took two weeks to pick out of my hands and backside, I have keen recognition that I don’t bounce back like I did when I was 13 but I still look forward to my next ride.