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Rethinking Great Rooms

As published in the Napa Valley Register

I never would have imagined that a column I wrote back in November 2019 would be so relevant today. I don’t mean to say that I usually write about fleeting topics. I want them all to have long-lasting value. But November’s has come to have even deeper significance. It was titled, “Are great rooms great?” (‘Great rooms’ combine multiple rooms into one.) I explained that they’re not great – if you’re an introvert.

I described how introverts need quiet spaces to rejuvenate and clear their thoughts. Since I’m an introvert myself, I also felt compelled to clarify that introverts are not unusually shy or socially awkward. Rather, we cherish meaningful conversations and interactions. It’s the chit-chat that drains our batteries. Too much noise or extraneous activity wears us out. Of course, extroverts cherish meaningful conversations and interactions, too, but they also enjoy the chit-chat, which can recharge their batteries. Extroverts feel comfortable in great rooms where they are not alone; where other people are playing, cooking, cleaning, watching television, talking on the phone, doing homework, or practicing the piano. While such sensory-stimulating spaces provide comfort and security to extroverts, they are disconcerting and energy-zapping to introverts. I’ve been thinking a lot about my introverted and extroverted friends lately. Which trait do you resonate with and how are you doing? If you’re an introvert who is home-schooling children as well as handling all other responsibilities, are you getting any downtime? Are you looking in your closets wondering if one is large enough to hide in just for an hour? Are you an extrovert who misses your social life and feels like Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in the “Prisoner of Zenda”? Side note to those young enough to have school-age children: Fairbanks, Jr. was an actor who starred in this 1937 movie.

Today’s column is about recognizing your personality and adjusting your home life in ways that can support your new reality. You might want to start with one of the many free, online personality tests. I recommend Myers-Briggs. You’ll see that we all have a mix of traits but one will dominate. Once you’ve identified yours, you may feel empowered just knowing where you stand. The next step is to change whatever you can in your home to suit your personality. If you’re an introvert who lives with others, explain that you need a quiet space to decompress and tell them why. This will help them to understand your needs and not be offended by your intermittent craving for solitude. If you’re an extrovert, I imagine sheltering in place is doubly difficult for you. You’re a social being who is reinvigorated by being out and about. I have such a friend who has taken up bike-riding and a lot of art classes through Zoom. She’s met teachers and fellow students and has discovered new talents. I’ve spent a lot of time gardening and pampering myself with new luxury products. I’m just redirecting funds that would have gone to restaurants, theaters or sporting events. I purchased a set of soft, plush Weezie bath towels. They’re made in Portugal from 100% organic, long-staple cotton and then decoratively finished in Savannah, Georgia.

I also purchased a set of heirloom-quality bed linens from Late Mornings, a Romanian-based bedding boutique. I chose silky Supima cotton sateen although they offer a wide selection of organic fibers. Their cotton products are milled in Italy and their linen comes from Belgium or France. In order to take care of these new purchases, I’ve been using eco-friendly detergent from the Laundress. The clean scent of jasmine, lily of the valley, sandalwood, and citrus alleviates any dread in doing laundering chores. If you’re feeling out of sorts these days, why not take a personality test, apply your ah-ha discoveries to improve your relationships, and treat yourself to something extravagant that still fits into your budget.

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