Well, it is Heaven! Being an introvert in Highland County, that is. You could not ask for anything more … peace, quiet, serenity … perfect aloneness and comfort.
As a youngster, I was very much the extrovert. My mother had to pull me back from properly introducing myself to perfect strangers particularly while we were in Staunton, and I saw people that were different from me – particularly those of different races or economic spheres.
Hi! My name is Crysta. What’s yours?”
That was my line. I was two feet tall.
Funny thing is … my extremely extroverted self has turned into a bit of a cranky, introverted grump over the years. And, especially, when Fall and Winter set in. I’m the first person to corral all my books, sweaters, blankets, heavy socks, snacks, movies, Elvis records, and teddy bears in preparation of the snuggle fest ahead.
If you identify more with my introverted self, follow me on this!!
Here’s my recipe for introverted living in Highland County in the Fall and Winter:
I LOVE BOOKS!
Reeaaaddddddddd, my friend. Read. There is nothing … and I mean NOTHING better than a good book. Curl up on the sofa in softy clothes and plenty of cushy, comfortable pillows. Add a teddy bear for good measure! And, readddddddddd! Let the writer carry you into other worlds and situations. Gain insight to the character’s mind and perspective. See things they see. Feel things they feel. Give your reality over for theirs. Live in the story. And … never leave your own little nest.
My Recent Reads:
- “Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyessy to Reunite with His Mother,” by Sonia Nazario, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
- “The Lost Son of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a 50-Year Search,” by Martin Sixsmith
- “Always Running: La Vida Loca,” by Luis J. Rodriguez
- “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini
- “Strong in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Addiction and Redemption through Wellness,” by Jon Sternfeld and Quentin Vennie
- “Wintering,” by Peter Geye
- “Tempest Rising,” by Diane McKinney Whetstone
Listen to GOOD Music
Listen actively. Don’t just put it on in the background. Put the music on. Sit down. Listen to it without distractions. Listen to the voice. Listen to it rise and fall … find the emotion in the story the song is telling you. Let your body react … the hair stand up on your forearm. Wait for that feeling to stir in your center mass. Connect to the song’s soul.
Here are a few of my favorite artists:
- ELVIS (Yes, all caps!)
- The Temptations
- The Four Tops
- Michael Bolton
- Aaron Neville
- Linda Ronstadt
- Rod Stewart
- Bob Seger
- Charlie Wilson
- Anthony Hamilton
- Gladys Knight & The Pips
- En Vogue
- Natalie Cole
- Alicia Keys
- Los Lonely Boys
- Linda Eder (Her Christmas Album is Great!)
- Conway Twitty
- Patsy Cline
- Tammy Wynette
- The Statler Brothers
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Dinah Washington
- Dean Martin
… just to name a few.
Get Into Some Great Movies!!
Much like reading, I adore the way a film can capture your mind and attention and draw you into the story. Most importantly, I want to see movies that give me new information and new perspectives. I want to walk away from a movie having been enriched by the experience.
Here are a few of my recent watches:
- “Alexander,” with Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie
- “A Young Victoria,” with Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend
- “The Irishman,” with Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci (On Netflix)
- “Wrestling Ernest Hemingway,” with Richard Harris, Robert Duvall, Shirley MacLaine, and Sandra Bullock
- “The Princess and The Frog,” with Anika Noni Rose and Bruno Campos (The music and the lightning bugs are fabulous.)
One word: Naps
Those of you that know me will not be surprised. But, for those of you who don’t … here’s a handy fact: I’m a world champion napper. I have the title belt and everything.
I don’t know about all introverts, but I ADORE a good nap. Bad naps ruin my life.
People, I’m not talking about a power nap, either. There is a wise, hard-working man I used to know that would come in from working on the farm in the bitter cold and wind to eat a nice, warm lunch. Every day. And, he ate cookies for dessert. My hero! Then, he took a 30-minute nap. Like some sort of a maniac!
Even though we are related, this man is a completely different animal from me. A 30-minute nap is enough to spoil an entire day!! It takes me 30 minutes to fall asleep!!!! And, there are times it takes even longer. A 30-minute nap … the very idea!! Humph! Scoff!
There are certain elements for a good nap. You must secure a comfy bed with multiple pillows – six at least. Make sure there are comfy sheets and blankies. Every item must be snuggle-friendly. Next: comfortable, cozy nap clothes … could be pajamas but softy clothes will do. (Socks, if needed).
It is always helpful to have teddy bears on or around your bed in case you need a friend.
You will need a book. Reading knocks me out. If you don’t have a book, (Thought to self: Who doesn’t have a book?!), then you’ll want some nighty-night music!
There must be a drink on the nightstand. You will probably need a small snack.
Relax and then … my favorite!!! … Drowsiness covers you.
Lay down your book. Cut the music off. Snuggle your sweet, little head into your pillow. Relax your mind, and release yourself into sleep.
Wake up three hours later.
That is a recipe for good living!!
Peace Be Still
On a serious note, I spend lots of time thinking. Actually, I spend an enormous amount of time thinking. That’s me. It is who I am. If I could quit it, I would. I would probably have fewer headaches.
It is really a foolish thing. But, I sit around in a quiet room and just think. And, then, once I formulate my solution on a particular subject, I create an opposing view. And, sometimes, I create arguments and discussions that only happen in my mind.
I have never been a fast-thinking person. I don’t have a mind like a steel trap. I think deeply. I wonder. I pontificate. I analyze. I percolate. I listen. I hear. I see. I absorb.
I sit quietly and think about things I have read, people I have seen, places I went that day. When I commuted from Monterey to Augusta County for work, I used the drive for thinking. I could solve the world’s problems when I’m alone and in a quiet place. Thoughts, strategies, and discoveries rise up in my mind in times and spaces of peaceful silence. These are things that can’t surface during the busy-ness of the day. I only become alert to them when I’m alone and no one is near me.
Bottom Line: People are overrated.
Spend more time alone.
It makes you smarter. (Well, at least YOU think you’re smarter!)
So, my dear introverted friends, come to Highland County and be prepared to fall in love. By yourself.
About the Author
Crysta Stephenson grew up in the Meadowdale and Vanderpool areas of Highland County. She loved it so much that she returned to raise her daughters on the family farm, Glenwood. She received a B.A. in mass communications with a minor in history from Mary Baldwin College. For 13 years, she honed her journalism skills as a staff writer and editor at two small Virginia newspapers. Her second career - also lasting 13 years - focused on managing two small historical museums here in Virginia. These days, she juggles lots of odd jobs including writing and museum assignments that give her time to enjoy life and admire the accomplishments of her daughters, Rebecca and Suzanna, and play with her grandmutts, Alex and Snoopy. She splits her time between her family home in Highland and her apartment in Augusta County.