Being Sensitive Is NORMAL

Are you often told that you’re too sensitive? Do you get told to “just ignore” bullies and passive-aggressive people? Do you have trouble accepting criticism unless it’s kindly presented? Do you have a LONG list of books, movies, and television shows you can’t watch, because they upset you? If so, you may be a highly sensitive person (HSP), just like me.

And Penney is a highly sensitive dog. We have had to work to accept that “feature” of her.

Many HSPs already know all about this, having read The Highly Sensitive Person book (and its many friends). I wrote about it a bit last year when sensitivity was causing me some issues, in a post called You’re TOO Sensitive. So yeah, I’ve heard that before.

I’m such a sensitive flower, humble but lovable!

But, if you are among the majority of humans who don’t have the HSP trait, you may not realize this is a normal way for people to be. It’s also not necessarily a negative trait! There are many wonderful things about being highly sensitive.

Not a Sensitive Person? Read This!

Before you tell a friend or family member to get over it or change the way they experience the world and people around them, consider this information, and maybe you’ll be able to accept people like us just the way we are:

  • Around 15-20% of people are Highly Sensitive Persons. That’s a LOT of people, not just a few kooks.
  • People are born with the HSP trait; they can’t make it go away.
  • HSPs tend to have good imaginations and creativity. That’s handy!
  • They are often empathetic and can understand what’s going on with others. They can help people in groups get along better.
  • Not all HSPs are introverts. 30% are extroverts! (Reluctantly, I think that’s me.)
  • HSPs make GREAT leaders. They tend to prefer the “servant leadership” model rather than the hierarchically focused kind, and all kinds of people respond well to quiet leadership.

See, there’s a lot of good in people like me. We spend all our lives developing ways to cope with our more “tough” friends and colleagues, trying to moderate our strong reactions to violence and personal digs, being social as much as we can, etc. Maybe those of us who are not HSPs can “just ignore” the things about us that bug them! Hmm. What an idea.

Or, maybe we can all learn to accept our differences. Kindness never hurts, and bullying is never right. We also have to be able to accept criticism in order to grow and become better people. If we hurt someone’s feelings, we can apologize. And if we are easily hurt, we can explain that we understand it’s often not intentional. Meet in the middle? Why not!

Don’t worry, I like you all just the way you are. Variety is what makes us humans interesting, to me. Let me know if you found the information here to be useful!

More Information

Here are some signs you might be an HSP, from Elaine Aron’s really helpful HSP website:

  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?

Who Am I? Where Did I Come From?

We all want to know that, I guess. I did join Ancestry.com a long time ago to see where my ancestors came from and learn more. I wrote about some of my findings in 2018, and it was pretty interesting to some people other than me:

How Far Back Can You Go?

Those Menorcan Settlers

On a Learning Spree Part 5: Genealogy

Very white.

Ancestry did an update of their science, so my estimate changed. It actually makes a lot more sense now. Here’s the link to it. The main thing that changed is I’m a lot more Scots and English than I was before, and a lot less Irish. This makes sense, knowing my extra British Isles heritage on my dad’s side. There’s a lot of the Germany/Switzerland region, which is the part of my mom’s side you don’t hear much about from them. And I’m about a quarter Swedish, which they have down to the exact town my grandfather’s family lived in for centuries.

This is the current analysis

So, I’m a white person with all the rights and privileges granted thereto. Too bad I’m a woman, or I’d be running things, right? (Working hard to change all that!)

Here’s the 2018 estimate, where they didn’t separate Scotland out from Ireland, and where parts of France were in the UK search.

There were a few more details on ancestors that I enjoyed. The best one is that my second great-grandfather, William Greenberry Lafayette Butt, fought for the Union Army in the Civil War. Hey, at least I had one ancestor on the side that won (all these folks on my dad’s side settled in northeastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina). I’d assumed most were on the other side, or hiding somewhere.

That’s really all I had, just wanted to share that I’m happy to hail from Scotland way in the past. Anything north of Hadrian’s Wall makes me Celtic and happy.

Mind Blind? On the Contrary!

A bunch of my Facebook buds have been posting a link to a BBC article that came out in 2015. Go read it; I’ll wait.

Oh, okay, it’s about the fact that a significant number of humans do not picture scenes in their minds when thinking. It’s called mind blindness, or aphantasia. I have to admit that, in all my endless reading about how brains work, I had never realized that this is as common as it is. Apparently it affects 2% of the population!

What do you mean, some of us see stuff others don’t!? From chiller856 via Twenty20 (original and appropriate caption: The eyes are useless when the mind is blind…💀

When someone posted a link to the article and said they were mind blind, I was really surprised. I’d never have guessed. Later, people said they found out their spouses were that way and they’d never known. I got suspicious, and asked my own spouse, whose perceptions have sometimes baffled me. Yep, he has it at least to some extent, and definitely has the related issue of being face blind (THAT explains why he found me attractive!). Well, huh. I knew he was color blind (try picking out paint with that guy), but I hadn’t known this!

The article goes on to say some people become upset when they find out other people have movies going on in their heads. I don’t know; I think if I was born a certain way, it would feel normal, like being short, or prone to being gassy.

I also wonder if there’s research to show that people who are mind blind prefer to read nonfiction over fiction, as an anecdote in the article suggested. I guess it’s nice that if these folks read a book and see a movie, they aren’t bothered that the characters don’t look how they pictured them!

This also makes me wonder if some other traits correlate to mind blindness. Some of my friends have suggested their attention-deficit traits and/or social skills issues associated with the autism spectrum may go along with this. However, many people I know don’t report this. I want more research! (Here’s an article with more research, but not on my questions.)

The Other Side

What’s going on in there?

Why was I not surprised to learn that there’s another way of perceiving things called hyperphantasia, or super-visualizers. These folks have very detailed mental images and can describe what they see easily. They are folks who have been termed to have “very vivid imaginations.” According to the researcher in the article, people usually fall somewhere in between aphantasia and hyperphantasia. That makes sense, knowing how mental traits tend to work out.

Continue reading “Mind Blind? On the Contrary!”

Book Report: Sunnyside Plaza

I haven’t written a book report in a while. Why? I am reading two long books at the same time, which means neither one of them is finished. But, yippee-dippee, I small but significant little book has appeared, and I got so excited about it, that I got it the day it was published: Sunnyside Plaza, by Scott Simon.

The cover of the book is also charming.

Stereotypical hippy liberals like me will recognize the name Scott Simon, because he is the host of Weekend Edition on NPR. He also has one of the best Twitter feeds that I read. He is smart, funny, and insightful. He’s also a good writer, and Sunnyside Plaza is his first book in the Young Adult genre.

Now, don’t turn away because it’s YA Fiction. Some of my favorite writers focus on that genre. All it means, in this case, is that the book isn’t very long. It does not mean that the subject matter and its implications aren’t also appropriate for us non-young adults.

Simon based the book on people he met as a teen when he had a summer job in a halfway house for intellectually disabled adults, only it wasn’t called that back then, of course. Part of what makes him such an empathetic adult came, no doubt, from his experiences with these folks.

So, yes, it’s a book about people who live in a group home and have varying degrees of cognitive impairments. It’s told through the eyes of Sal, who you just have to love, a lot, by the time the book is over. During the course of solving a mystery at Sunnyside Plaza, Sal and her friends learn just how capable they are, and the people around them come to see them as individuals with charm, wit, and strengths.

It never hurts to be reminded that people who are different are still whole human beings with much in common with the rest of us. But I saw something that is sticking with me after I finished the book: it doesn’t take owning a lot of things, being accomplished, or even being able to talk to live a whole and happy life. The joys of living in the moment are perhaps more available to people who don’t have to go off to work, think about bills, or all those things. Love, friendship, fun, and yes, even sad things, are all available to experience when there isn’t so much clutter to get in the way.

The people living in Sunnyside Plaza like it being just the way they are. The people they meet who get to know them also come to feel the same. That’s an important lesson I’m glad I’ve learned, that everybody has their own wisdom.

I strongly recommend this book for you, any teens you know, and any mean people who poke fun at others, not that they’ll read it. But maybe it will teach all of us to be a bit kinder.

Next

While I have to read the book club selection next (Furious Hours, about Harper Lee), I am wanting to jump right into another book I just got, which I think builds on the lessons of Sunnyside Plaza: Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell. This book dives deep into why it’s so hard to really talk to people from different parts of society from ourselves, but why it’s so worth it.

However, I have to finish my giant scientific book, Behave, first. It’s hard to read about brain chemistry when you are about to fall asleep, but it’s interesting!

Ginger Hen Genetics

I couldn’t remember the breed of chicken our new brown one, Ginger, was. I knew if I just saw it, I’d remember, but it wasn’t listed on the Bird and Bee Farm website.

Not only am I cute, I’ll lay a bunch of eggs.

Chicken-loving friends to the rescue! Cheryl pointed out on Facebook that she is an ISA Red. I got her so that I’d have at least one high producer, and they are fine looking gals. Here’s what Cheryl posted:

Such pretty ladies! I think Ginger might be an ISA Brown. Great egg production, but not as long-lived as many other breeds.

Facebook

I wondered what ISA is and why they are short lived. I looked it up! Tractor Supply said:

ISA Browns are one of the top sellers in the industry because of the number of eggs they lay and their calm demeanor. Their eggs have excellent shell quality and texture. This especially sweet, docile, gentle bird, is extremely easy to work with and are great birds for new chicken owners or young families. ISA Browns produce almost an egg every day and do well either in confinement or free ranged. Hens begin to lay around 4-5 months of age with adequate daylight hours. When they are hatched, the pullets are red and the cockerels are white for this color sex-able sex-link.

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/isa-brown-chicken-sold-in-quantities-of-

What is ISA?

She’s figured out the coop!

ISA stands for Institut de Sélection Animale, the company which developed the crossbreed in 1978 for egg production as a battery hen. They are very popular in large egg production places. Glad Ginger is a free bird!

Longevity

As always, the high egg yield is detrimental to the long-term health of the hen. The ISA is one of several breeds developed for high egg yield at the expense of longevity and natural reproduction.

https://www.thehappychickencoop.com/isa-brown/

Well, she’s pretty and reminds me of our old red chickens, who were also sex-linked hybrids. Long live Ginger!

She and Bertie have the feeder figured out!

On a Learning Spree Part 5: Genealogy

Me, me, me. I’m the only one who cares about this much detail about my relatives and former relatives. (from my ancestry.com tree)

I realized I wasn’t finished with my “on a learning spree” series of posts (previous ones were on crafts, foraging, the voice, and my darned Apple watch). I’d been postponing writing about the genealogy stuff I’d been working on, because, well, I’m normally one of those people who snoozes when people start delving deep into their personal ancentral history.

It’s always seemed to me that your own family history is mainly fascinating to YOU. I’ve witnessed numerous conversations where people start saying, “My people came over in the 17th Century from France, and then this happened, and then this happened.” The other person then says, “Wow, MY family came from South America and blah blah blah.” No one asks their conversationap partner questions; they just go on and on with the begats like an Old Testament Bible verse.

Continue reading “On a Learning Spree Part 5: Genealogy”

A Digression on Dog Genetics, Part 2

eye_chart
Here’s Carlton, really wanting to get out of the doctor’s office. This photo is the best one to show he has pale tan ears.

Yesterday, I shared some information on Carlton the puppy’s “weird eyes.” Today I’d like to document some of the things I learned about how he got to be “the world’s whitest dog.” (And, FYI he weighs 31 pounds now, which makes me think he will probably end up the size of his companions Brody and Harvey, though perhaps less bulky.)

I think that he has a whammo combination of THREE genes that make him pale. I learned a lot, thanks to a great collection of information on dog color genetics by Jess Chappell for a lot of this, along with the doggie eye problem reading I did from the veterinary opthalmomogist’s textbook (see references).

Carlton is not an albino

Nope, he is not an albino. Albinism is not found often in dogs like it is in bunnies, rats, and humans. There are a LOT of genes that can make a dog white, though. I won’t go into detail (you can read it in the links below), but I’ll share some ideas.

Is he a double merle?

At least two veterinarians who have examined Carlton have posited that his coloring is due to being a double merle. What’s that, you ask?

merle
This is a cute little merle dachsund named Maggie, owned by my friend Mandi.

First, merle is a beautiful pattern that occurs in a number of dog breeds (I list some at the end of this article). The base color of the coat is beautifully dappled, and people like it a lot. It will show up if just one parent has the gene (it’s dominant).

Continue reading “A Digression on Dog Genetics, Part 2”

A Digression on Dog Genetics, Part 1

carlton_sit
You can see Carlton’s markings in this photo. The very pale markings around his ears are hard to see, but there.

My lovely puppy, Carlton, is 6.5 months old, as far as we can tell. He weigs 31 pounds, and is all legs and teeth at this point. He loves other dogs, warms up to people, and is generally the best puppy ever. He also has “weird eyes,” as one of our veterinarians put it. She advised that we check with a veterinary opthalmologist as soon as possible.

That visit came on Tuesday, and it’s sent me down a long path of figuring out exactly how Carlton got to be who he is, and why. I wrote up some of this on Facebook, but since then I’ve been doing a lot more research, and as a person who once considered majoring in biology, I found it really fascinating. In fact, writing up my findings is so complex that I am going to break it into more than one post.

Vet visit findings

The regular vet had diagnosed Carlton as having some kind of eye abnormality, in addition to being blue, so she sent me to the veterinary ophthalmologist to see what’s up. This is the same woman, Dr. Yu-Speight, I went to when my corgi, Gwynneth’s eyes went bad (she ended up having them removed and lived 4 more years). We had a wonderful visit.

First of all, Carlton was quite the little man through the whole appointment. He even jumped into the car on command, finally! I am so proud of this dog. He was incredibly well behaved until we got back home, when he went bonkers.

There was a great deal of eye prodding and dropping involved, but they tested everything from tears, to pressure in the eye to the insides. So, he dealt with many substances and implements. I was amazed at his patience, even though he was obviously not enjoying the process.

Sure enough, his eyes are not “normal,” which we knew. But he CAN see, better in darker light, which we also knew.

Continue reading “A Digression on Dog Genetics, Part 1”