December 30, 2013

Fitness Communities: Whaddya Think?

By Crabby McSlacker

Photo: German Federal Archives via wikimedia commons.
So, yeah--these may well be fit and happy Nazis.

In case you were hoping this a post might be a thorough round-up of all the new interactive apps and websites that encourage people to become part of a healthy community:  um, sorry, no.  At least not yet. That would take a lot of work, and the brand new Cranky Fitness Research department is not quite open for business yet.

This post, when I eventually get to the point, is mostly a follow up to the "help wanted" plea of a couple weeks ago, and an update on some forthcoming blog changes! For all (none) of you out there who are dying of curiosity.

Because one of my sneaky schemes for 2014 is to try to make this blog more of a "community" site and not just one middle-aged grouchy blogger prattling on to herself about health and fitness annoyances. (Not that I plan to stop that any time soon.)


But meanwhile...

Why Grouchy Loners Like Me Tend to Hate "Communities"



If you are a Cheerful People Person, you may find yourself perplexed by the grouchy loners you encounter, and wonder why they are always so whiny and reluctant when it comes to group endeavors.

I can’t speak for all of us, but for me, even the word “community” has a slightly depressing sound.

A “community center,” in my mind, is going to housed in a drab institutional building adorned with one of those earnest but sloppy murals painted by someone’s second grade class, featuring freakishly misshapen and oddly colored citizens of all nations. And on the inside, even worse--people will be doing wholesome things, like weaving baskets or raising funds for worthy causes or sitting in circles holding hands and sharing. (Shiver).

I would generally rather avoid all that. I tend to assume that my own plans and goals and priorities and ideas will be a much better fit for me than anyone else's.  And the phrase "group dynamics?" That tends to sound a lot like "clusterfuck" to these cranky ears.

Anyone else skeptical of the notion that large groups of people are more "fun" than small ones?

Whee!

And yet...

I love the Community I've met through Cranky Fitness!

Cranky commenters are, seriously, the nicest in the world. And bonus: they are generally clever and amusing and thoughtful. I've also met and admired and even voluntarily interacted with many other great health blogs and websites that I've met through Cranky Fitness.  It's very unexpected and weird for a misanthropic loner like me to have such a positive experience.  But heck, why not build on it a little?

I've already been incredibly lucky to assemble an awesome Team Cranky who will be helping both with blog posting and behind the scenes activities.  I will be introducing you to them soon! But I'm also hoping to involve readers and other bloggers a little more as well, especially those of you who were kind enough to offer to contribute after that last post.

Guest Contributions of Various Sorts

I often get requests from strangers offering up guest posts and I pretty much always turn these down.  Most of them sound kinda boring and are mainly an attempt to drive traffic to commercial sites and who needs that?

But if you are a regular reader and at least an occasional commenter here, or if you are Cranky-Friendly blogger yourself, the there is a total Double Standard and you are most encouraged to introduce your Fine Fitness Writing to the Cranky Community.

Sorry, strangers, hope that doesn't annoy you too much!

photo: Kheelcenter

Just send me an email if you've got something or are curious about what might make a good post, and we'll talk!

But some ideas are:

  • Posts with a lot of Research or Expert knowledge behind them
  • Helpful Exercise or Cooking How-To's with Pictures or Video
  • Recipes
  • Funny Tales from the Trenches
  • Lots of Other Things Too Probably That I Can't Think of Right Now

Warning: use of photos you don't own is tricky; Cranky Fitness does not want to be sued by the Greedy Getty empire or others so we'll need to talk about what's ok and what isn't.

More Helpful Links and Interviews

I'm hoping that with the help of Team Cranky we can "get out" more and bring you more interesting links and interviews with other sites and writers.  If you are a health blogger and have an article you especially want us to know about, feel free to email or leave a comment and we'll check it out!

And if you happen to link to Cranky Fitness, don't be shy, let us know!  It is most appreciated and we don't want to miss it.

Monthly Support Hang-Outs

When there are more blog posts, it stands to reason there will probably be fewer comments per post. So I'd like to encourage the "regulars" who like the back-and-forth sort of experience to drop by every hour on the hour all week long  in particular for the monthly support and check-in posts (January's is coming soon).  I decided to continue these for 2014, and will try to stay Old School and reply to most all noncommercial comments on these posts and encourage others to as well.

But even if there are more posts, I will always read every comment on every post and will try to keep replying often.  (Especially on Mondays, although today I'm on the road back home from the holidays so it may be a bit sporadic).  Reader comments are my favorite thing about blogging!

More Places to Find the Cranky

I'm going to be getting some much needed help with social media soon, thank god, since I suck so badly at remembering to do it. So for those of you who like to tweet, Facebook, google plus, etc, there will be Crankiness of various sorts coming other places besides the blog, yay!

Note: there are many more blog changes I fantasize about, and you will be no doubt hearing about them. But another one of my hopes in the new year is that I will learn how to END a blog post eventually and then perhaps later, a start a whole brand new one.

How about you--are you a "Community" type Perky People Person, or more of a Loner?  Or do you have any ideas for what you'd like to see added to the blog? We'd love to hear some input! 


56 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Sorry, had to delete my first comment because I repeated the word "though" three times and it made my eyes itch. More coffee required. It's fixed below!

    Well, I'm probably a hybrid with leanings toward the cranky side of things when it comes to communities, especially offline ones since I don't much care for crowds. Online communities are different. If I'm into something enough to check out its community, I'll spend a good amount of time there gleaning through information from the knowledgeable posters and laughing at the drama (there is always drama). I'm mostly a lurker, though. And no one would ever call me perky. :-D

    Yay for more social media stuff and postings! I wish I could help with that, but my schedule is going to be weird this year. If I come up with a good idea for a guest post, I'll send it your way.

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    1. thanks Heather, and I feel so lucky that you are one of the most awesome and generous contributors to the blog comments!

      so i'm responding via droid and just discovered that unless i'm logged in the right gmail account I cant comment, so definitely some mobile tweaking needed.

      And heck, we'll see if we can stir up some drama for ya, as this blog has been weirdly flame-retardent when it comes to comment squabbles. Maybe i can get a paleo vs vega war going? :)

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    2. Aww, thank you, Crabby! Haha, no need to stir up drama on my account! I get enough giggles from the squabbles on the MFP forums. This place is a lovely haven of smart comments, smart-assed comments, and helpful information. It is just right. :-D

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  3. I'm firmly in the loner camp in real life. I detest crowds. I don't want to be tied to a group exercise schedule. But having said that, I am part of a couple of FB groups that I really enjoy. I would be good to see you extend your reach in that realm.

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    1. thanks Regina, I appreciate you stopping by! And yeah, now that all the young people are apparently fleeing facebook and its no longer hip, expect me to finally star doing more on it! :)

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  4. Right now I'm reading the book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" so this is an interesting topic for you to bring up! One of the things the author mentions in the book is that people can generally be introverted (as I would describe myself - always very shy) but be very extroverted about things they are passionate about. I'm assuming that the people who know me as a WW leader would be surprised that I would describe myself as quiet and shy. But if we met at a big party, it's probably because you walked over to the corner I was hanging out in and struck up a conversation with me, not because I was the life of the party!

    Having said that, I find online communities enjoyable. I guess it's because I can easily moderate how much of my time I spend in them, it is done on my schedule, and at my leisure (and in my comfy pants). I like these more than in real life group meetups, which can be draining.

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    1. You can moderate how much time you spend on online communities? You are way ahead of me! But yeah, i think there is something much more approachabe to us introverts about the online world. for me, the asynchronous aspect helps, as i never feel put on the spot, IRL I'm not all that quick and tend to let others make the jokes etc. otoh, I'm good at listenening, something that shy types tend to excell at. bet you are a great listener OTF!

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  5. Weird, I know I left a comment, but I guess I'm alone in that knowledge.
    Total loner, so much so that I join you in your shivering "sitting in circles holding hands and sharing." but separately.
    All I want is more Cranky!

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    1. Oh shoot Leah! You are not the first to report a haunted comment section with hungry gremlins that eat peoples thoughts. so sorry about that.

      And be assured there will be more Cranky to come!

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  6. Maybe it's not too surprising that a group that likes to hang out at a place with Cranky in the title is not the most extroverted gang in the world. I love my fitness life, but I don't think I could quite live with it if I couldn't spend a little time on the cranky side. I've never been much of a cheerleader type, have always loved sarcasm much, much more than I should. So I have very close friends, great co-workers, very close family, but am almost never at anything you'd describe as a party, and am so looking forward to turning the lights off at about 8:30 on New Year's Eve! (For 1/1/2000 I set the alarm so I'd be up to witness what I still like to think of as the arrival of the new century. We listened to the racket from our own, dark room & turned over & went back to sleep.)

    This group is sort of like the gym classes I have become attached to: we get together once or twice a week, if we happen to be in town. Over ten years or so, we get to know bits about each others' interests and families, but then we walk out the door and go our own ways. A nice combination of friendliness & interesting chat with plenty of independence and solitude.

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    1. Love that you can be a new Years eve party pooper too, DRG! We figure if we make it til 9 and watch the ball drop in times square, we've done our bit.

      Your Death Ride guest post was one of the incentives for me to think about expanding a bit, it was such a great post and not one I could have written in a hundred years! Were I not on my droid I'd yammer on quite a bit more about how very much appreciated you are here in cranky land.

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    2. Don't make me blush! I'm only here because I have so much fun with all your, uh, out-of-the-boxy? boxish? ideas! I always look forward to Monday & am excited to see what your new direction will bring.

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  7. I used to think that I was a community type and that I thrived on group events. However, over the past couple of years I've found myself becoming more and more of a loner and actually tend to prefer that - far less drama (which I can't deal with!!!).
    I can't wait to see all of the big stuff that is fixing to be happening over here - I'm so excited and I sort of do want to check back every hour!!!

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    1. Yay Kim! Interesting that you've gotten more "loner-like" but I sense you have a strong independent streak so that makes sense! And I'm with you on the whole drama thing: no thanks!

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  8. Haha, I love this. I am soooo not a perky people person. Not even a little. I'm glad to hear you'll have all sorts of fun new shiny things for us to check out and can't wait to meet your new team. Looking forward to lots more crankiness! And I agree about the blog comments - they totally make my day when I get a notification that I've received one! :)

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    1. Thanks Courtney!! And if I ever figure out the whole google plus thing, I will try to be better about plussing and commenting or whatever it is one does over there. We non-perkies gotta stick together!

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  9. Community is great, from a distance! At least, that's how i am a good bit of the time. Perky can make me ready to leave quickly, it's one reason i like Cranky Fitness, not having to deal with a ton of perky.

    Funnily enough, though, i do believe in using a lot of community support, of the right kind, to motivate and keep me getting things done.

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    1. "From a distance" is my philosophy too messymimi, though now I have Bette Midler's voice singing in my ear...

      And yeah, community support can be helpful if you can find just the right kind... tricky, but possible!

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  10. I love the internet, where all us Cranky Loners can hang out together on our own schedule without annoying each other. Does Perky have some correlation with Morning Person?
    "Recipes" you said, and I thought "I have lots of recipes, but absolutely none of them are healthy."

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. Well, Mary Anne, I ain't perky and yet the older I get, the earlier I get up, so we probably need more data on that one.

      And hey, how about a feature where we pair a "delicious but unhealthy" recipe person with a "healthy makeover" person and feature both recipes?

      I bet there are health nuts out there who would love to get their hands on your recipes and lighten/ruin them (depending on your perspective).

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    2. Okay, "lighten/ruin them" just cracked me up. That is most definitely a fine line, as shown in my continuing efforts in the kitchen. Crossing said line can be a bit gross. :-P

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    3. Well, any recipe of mine tends to change with time. My microwave quiche recipe started out so-called "healthy", but I never did make it exactly (substituting More Vegetables for the shrimp and scallions it called for) and somewhere along the way it stopped having crust because it was too much trouble, and nowadays I make it with two eggs instead of one, and milk instead of half-and-half because I keep milk around now, and the amount of cheese is never measured, just whatever looks like enough. Also I've been using half whole wheat flour in my cookies and cakes since sometime in the mid-70s. But I have family cake recipes that call for half a dozen eggs. So who knows what's healthy?
      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  11. I would combine your "cheerful people person" and "grouchy loner" categories to call myself a cheerful loner. Crowds stress me out. When it comes to exercise, I mostly like to do my own thing, though I have found the odd class that I can enjoy. I do, however, enjoy an online community were people are reasonable, realistic, thoughtful, and have a sense of humor; I think that's what you have here. :)

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    1. Cheerful loner, love it JavaChick! And I gotta agree about the "reasonable, realistic, thoughtful, and have a sense of humor" assessment of cranky fitness commenters!

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    2. Yes, I think cheerful loner is the way to go. I can be quite ridiculously cheerful, but stuff me in a room full of people all being perky, and I'll turn grumpy fairly fast.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  12. It depends on the situation. I love community but there are some things I feel less comfortable doing as a group. Exercise is certainly one of them. I'm glad Team Cranky is coming together. I'm looking forward to seeing how you evolve. Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year.

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    1. Thanks Hilary, and hope you have a WONDERFUL new year in your new digs!

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  13. I am more of a loner but like you, I love comments on my blog too. It is nice to know more than one person (myself) is reading it! I wish there was a way to follow your comments. I've tried but end up having to come back here to see if there are new comments or for when you've replied to mine.

    OH !!! I just figured it out! You DON'T have that feature so that we WILL come back here, every hour, on the hour, to read your blog! heheheheh J/K

    I always fee bad when I don't comment on every post you make. They are all so fantastic, thoughtful, educational, perfectly spelled, awesome, doughnut holed wonders!

    I think most of us would say, where ever you take us on your blogginess, we will follow. Besides, I hear you have a cute butt! :D

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    1. Aww Sherri, you made my morning!

      I think THEORETICALLY there is a way to subscribe to comments, but it is one of my many grievances with blogger that it is impossible without a gmail account and even with one it is insanely difficult. OTOH, the blogger platform is hosted free and never goes down and usually, eventually, gets all the wordpress features, you just gotta wait. And wait. And wait. But one of my hopes for 2014 is that the blog gets a better comment reply and subscription option.

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  14. I loved reading that post, Cranky!

    I share my life with a loner, so it's always interesting to hear about their point of view ('cause, often, they don't talk that much either!!! LOL)

    Personally I am right on the fence between introvert and extrovert. I don't mind groups, but I prefer one-on-one interactions where you really get to know someone.

    I would love to provide a guest post for you. Let me put my thoughts together and come back to you about this. :-)

    Happy New Year!

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    1. I forgot to say, relative to your post, that for exercising, I like to be alone or with one friend. Group classes and training just don't have that much appeal for me.

      The online fitness community, on the other hand, is very inspiring!

      To each their own!

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    2. HSH, too funny about the loners not talking much IRL either--I think it's only online we really let loose!

      And I would LOVE to run a guest post from you, please do think about that!!!!!

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  15. IRL, I consider "the golden standard", being alone. Anyone who doesn't disturb that condition excessively, is welcome to be part of my 'community', which often swells to as many as 5 people, but is mostly limited to a comfortable and preferable 2 or 3! That happens on Holidays and special occasions because...let's not get crazy. At such times, I can be quite the chatter box ;) but I also enjoy dialogue. I tend not to ask too many questions, not because I am not interested but out of fear of intruding. One never knows when a seemingly innocent question may touch a sore spot.
    Having said all that, there are a couple of online communities that I enjoy, for the same reason others have mentioned: I can monitor time investment.
    Cranky Fitness is certainly at the top of my list and I always get positively giddy when the announcement of a new blog post pops up in my e-mail acct. I agree that this is a particularly unusual group! I do not enjoy drama and am so appreciative of gracious, gentle, thoughtful, kind and supportive comments and interactions, peppered with humor. I feel like I found "my" people here.
    Happy New Year Crabby and hmm should I refer to us as "Crabby community members"? Now doesn't that just sound like a group everyone should clammer to join? I LIKE IT!!! I look forward to getting to know more of you and I am sorry I have zero skills. If I did, I'd offer to be part of Team Cranky.
    Oh incidentally, the seemingly cheerful leapers in the first photo may have been fit but I can just about guarantee they were less than happy. Been there, done that, in that 'system' and probably spent more time being crabby than an audience may have imagined. Also bred a life long aversion of group...anything.

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    1. So glad, dlamb, that Cranky Fitness has made it to your select group of comfortable communities as I love reading your comments! And hope you have a wonderful, wonderful New Year!!!

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  16. Holy crab cakes that's a long post. Sorry.

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    1. Never such a thing as comment that's too long, dlamb, at least not from you!

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  17. "sitting in circles holding hands and sharing"...OMG, Crabby, some of things I had to do in massage therapy school would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. There was this mandatory overnight retreat that involved MAKING COLLAGES. Among other things too horrible to recount.

    I would love to do a guest post some time. Not that I'm an expert on anything.

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    1. Just don't write about collages. [shudder]

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    2. Malevolent Andrea, it's all i can do to keep from stalking you until I find your address, abducting you against your will, and forcing you into involuntary servitude as a blog-slave with nothing to eat but quest bars, as you are one of the most sensible, hilarious, clever, and entertaining fitness writers on the planet. Would LOVE a guest post from you whenever you can manage one and you can write about collages if you want. Collages of rainbows and unicorns!

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    3. One of the lovely things about your blog, Crabby, is that you introduced me to Andrea's. So, despite the fact that I said I had no skills, I will offer my tackling services, or tacky services, whichever set gets Andrea over here.
      I look forward to familiarizing myself with some of your other blogging readers.
      Also, I will have you guys know that you have totally ruined my surprise. I made a collage of all of us group hugging and sharing our innermost thoughts, fears and hopes. It was totes amazeballs and now I'll go sulk in a corner and cry all over it! That'll show YOU!!!

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  18. As a kid, I went to a community center with my dad for volleyball on Sundays. They played way too competitive for me.

    However I hear it's fun to stay at the YMCA, lol!

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    1. Dr J, have a wonderful new year, and I can't believe that having finally gotten rid of the "from a distance' earworm I now have to contend with the VIllage People!

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  19. Late to the party as usual :(... But - that in and of itself probably is a good indicator of where I am on the spectrum of perky to loner. Actually - I'm both - but it kind of depends on the situation. Maybe I'm just 'inconsistent'?

    I'm a morning person, but only if I don't HAVE to get up; want desperately to be asked/invited/picked - but, then hang back or get all persnickety; love color - but end up picking out monochrome oriented fashion; like a simple life - but inevitably end up with 'complications'; the list goes on an on for this little bundle of conflicts.

    So, I am forever grateful that there is a welcome mat out at Cranky Fitness for us "like minded" folk; a place where it's equally 'safe' to rant AND support. Thanks, Crabby!!
    Anon

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    1. Never too late anon for a Cranky Fitness comment!

      I love your complicated conflicted confused complexity as I think ambivalence and inconsistency make for a much more interesting personality than boring old normal certainty and predictability.

      Thanks SO much for being part of our weird little tribe!

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  20. I don't like to tie myself down or attach myself to one thing or another. I consider myself to be on a continuum...which starts out as a loner in a cabin in the deep dark woods and runs to Little Ms. Sunshine. But I beg of you, do not ask me to "share." Shiver indeed. Did I just use "myself" three times in a row? Austin Powers has nothing on me.

    P.S. I can't wait to BRAG about my 365 days of success in 2013!!!

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    1. Kimberly, love both the hermit and sunshine versions, and can't wait to hear the official Brag Comment! You are the Role Model for amazing resolution achievements and an inspiration to all of us.

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  21. Sounds exciting!!! I know I don't have the skills you need BUT I do love me the Instagram if need be.. :)

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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    1. I suck at photography and am not even sure what Instagram IS, so Jody anything you got for us would be most welcome. If those are those cool photos you post on your blog than I'm in!

      And Happy New Year to you!!!!!!!!!

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  22. OOH YES!!
    points upward.
    JODY ROCKS THE INSTAGRAM!

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    1. Yes indeed Miz, and have a wonderful 2014!

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  23. I'm excited about even more Crankiness! I love all your blogposts, but particularly those that link to actual data and studies.

    Probably most of us that spend a little too much time on the internets tend to swing a little towards the introvert side. Most of my friends tend to be extroverts (or OMG what would we talk about?), and I try to give them a little insight on how we are different. I thought this post was pretty good: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/introverts-signs-am-i-introverted_n_3721431.html

    LynM

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    1. Yay Lyn, thanks for stopping by! Will try to have a bit more research, though I may be farming more of that out, being just as lazy as always.

      And thanks for the introverts link, I could totally relate to some of them, while others made me think I actually have some extrovert in me after all!

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  24. Here is the deal that was my understanding of things as a child. Once I became a grown up I could do what I want when I want within reason. I am not sure when I am going to move past the 6 year old mind set point. I am very resistant to community because I rarely want what the group think tank wants which I suspect is actually what the loudest voices really want. The advantage of an online community is that it is much easier to choose to participate or not as you like.

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    1. Wow, Cindy, I think you summed up a fundamental mental block really well with the misperception that adulthood means getting to do whatever you want. I think unconsciously a lot of us must struggle with that!

      What I'd love to do is convince my brain that whatever I "should" do is actually exactly what I "want" to do--clearly I got some work to do!

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  25. I love the idea of a community I used to be a regular on the ivillage message boards and we would have a weekly chat in chatroom, I thought it was a great way. By the way I've met a couple great friends in real life through them and my friend found her husband through this same community so I think communities can truly bring people together. But I'm a loner by nature.

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