Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Right, Left, or Middle?

A 20-question magazine quiz recently brought about some all-too-familiar over-thinking. You'll be happy to know it wasn't about choosing a loyal BFF or whether one is attracted to bad boys versus the straight-laced sort. My magazine quizzes these days are decidedly more grown-up. Thank goodness.

The June issue of Real Simple featured "Organizing for your Personality." A brief quiz reveals whether one is left-brained, "those who think in words (attention, list makers!), do a lot of advance planning, or approach challenges in a rational, linear way" OR right-brained, those who "are visually oriented," who "tend to think in images rather than words, focus on the big picture rather than the details, and go through life in a somewhat seat-of-the-pants (a.k.a. scattered) way."

Before I do the big reveal, a bit of background...

I have long tried to reconcile my affinity for lists and label makers with my penchant for spontaneity and creativity. How is it that I can plan weddings or as one of my professors stated on a reference, "run a small country" yet not get a kid to soccer practice on time or banish the never-ending clutter?

Why can I not read a map? If someone gives me directions, it needs to be in list-form {turn left here, go 1/4 of a mile and turn right on this street.}

My light switches are labeled...

Yet I've chosen to write this blog post instead of tackling the dishes.

My baskets are organized {and yes, labeled.}

And alphabetical order makes my heart race {in a good way}...

Yet daily I do battle with the spontaneous, haphazard, absent-minded, and creative urges that thwart my Type-A ways and good intentions.

I feel as if my brain, not knowing whether to go right or left, could use some direction, a concrete label to give it an identity....which is why I took the quiz.

The truth of the matter is, I'm somewhere in the middle. Shocker. My score revealed 5 points for left-brained and 3 points for right. Funny how a simple quiz confirms what I already knew but am still reluctant to embrace. It seems easier to be one or the other.

Free-spirited artist types probably don't lament their inability to live life in a linear, labeled way. Likewise, the Type-A sorts likely don't go through their organized, matching, alphabetized existence and wish they could fly by the seats of their pants a little more.

This isn't the first of my personality inventories that defies solid categorization. My Myers-Briggs shows that I am smack in the middle of E and I...which is where I sit in the other sections as well. While some would say I'm balanced, I simply feel confused and fragmented, torn between two seemingly disparate selves.

E.E. Cummings wrote,

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.

Or in the words of my mom, a wise advice-giver in her own right,

You be you.

Easier said than done.

I'm sure the editors of Real Simple never intended their little quiz to result in such existential musings, but it helped me realize that living from a place of authenticity isn't easy for most of us, especially when we tend to inhabit a middle kingdom. For someone with an affinity for label makers, the inability to label or categorize oneself is, well, disconcerting.

Much like my kitchen, this isn't one of those posts that has a neat and tidy ending.

The journey towards the true self is just that, a journey.

And it's probably best to leave the label maker at home.


So I'm curious, which direction does your brain go?


  1. I love this post!

    I'm pretty sure I'm one of those both people. I love measuring things and lists and words (hello, English PhD), but I remember things in pictures - especially words. I visualize them and hear them when I think of them. So who knows what my brain is really up to! My Myers-Briggs is half and half too.

    The middle kingdom isn't no place, it's just a different place, they haven't invented categories for us yet. But when they do, I know at least two of us who will be all over it. :)

  2. I took the quiz and got the same result... *sigh*

  3. I TOOK THAT QUIZ! I bought the magazine because it said it would show EVERY personality how to organize...and of course, I don't have a SHRED of Left Brain. The only thing that I do that's Left is order the same thing at restaurants, but that's only because I'm a picky eater!
    I was mad because the pictures of Right Brained Organization were messy looking. I WANT my house to look like a left brained house! Sigh.
    Real Simple stepped on my dreams.
    Nice post, it's made me wish I had alphabetized baskets...NO I DON"T want to be ME because I AM MESSY!
    Ok. I'll try. Because e.e. is awesome, and I'm sure your mom is too.

  4. First, let me ask forgiveness for passing along the muddled gene. It runs rampant through my life as well . . . right now I have my newly-acquired $100+ organizational system spread all over the table in the green room, with no idea of when I'll actually put it to work for me!
    Second, I now have an idea for my personalized bumper sticker . . . UBU!

    Love the post . . . and you!


  5. Finally, the explanation as to why you chose labeling the lights as your first project when you first moved in to your house while I thought scrubbing the label glue off the floor was far more important. ha! ha! Also,it so makes sense now, that of all of the things you could do while in Michigan for a month,(to help me) you chose to reorganize and clean my kitchen. (it needed it badly) Marian, I am so blessed that you are you!!!! I'm glad you took the test for a better understanding.I am going out to buy the magazine to take it myself.

  6. I am scrambling to find my copy of Real Simple so I can take the quiz. I think I left it on the couch in tne living room but then Lucy and I were sidetracked by a dollhouse makeover...but I distinctly remember that I brought it with me into the sewing room because I thought I should start organizing the fabrics. But then I had all those fabrics out so I cut out the cutest little squares for Cors's doll quilt. Then Norm came home and I remember using the recipe in the magazine but I think that was Martha Stewart. And did I tell you about the incredible thing I saw on the Food Network while I was photographing the latesr creations for the shop....what was I doing? Oh! Shiny....

  7. I am still digesting your post. I am messy/creative who is very drawn to neatness and order. Thank you for your transparency.

  8. checking into the comments thing. no answer yet. but if you want change as we discussed in the driveway all you have to do now is homeschoolblogger. it's all changed now.
    i miss you. wish you were her for coffee and a dip in the hot tub while the kiddos swam.
    you bff in fla.

  9. LOVE this post and the quote, very insightful! I am thrilled to have found your blog.. cant wait to browse it a bit more!

  10. I must be right in the middle, because I do many of the things you said you do. I love labels, adore lists, and organization makes me happier than it rightly should. But I'm a big ol' procrastinator, and I have a kinda creativish side, too. :)

  11. Thank you so much for posting this!

    I KNEW YOU WERE A KINDRED SPIRIT! I'm so relieved to know that there's someone else like me. I like organization, but I live in far more clutter than is good for me. I love, love, love alphabetical order, yet I can't get my kitchen counters cleaned off. And my husband and I were talking just the other day that he's a map person and I'm a list-of-directions person.

    Aha. I'm not the only one.

    Thank goodness. :)

  12. I know you really have nothing to do but I'm waiting for those photos!!!! Can't wait to see them. Just wanted you to know while house shopping we saw a house with labels on the switches just like yours!! You are not the only one my friend.
    Love you dearly,
    Thanks for the sweet note....

  13. Well, The only thing that I do that's Left is order the same thing at restaurants, but that's only because I'm a picky eater!


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