Describe your personal style, however you’d like to interpret that — your clothing style, your communication style, your hair style, your eating style, anything.

My favorite clothing combination is black and white, which belies my personality. I am anything but black and white. I always see the nuances, the gray areas. It’s a stretch for me to wear bright colors; I would feel like a very shy and insecure peacock. I’m slightly introverted, and through no fault of their own, very confident or “perfect” people intimidate me — unless or until I have the chance to know them better. No one’s perfect, I’ve learned.

Age has changed me, I think for the better. I am not the person I was 20 years ago, or forty years ago. I’ve evolved into more of the person I want to be. Age strips away the need to please other people, to impress, to be “better” or the best, to keep up appearances. Age to me is freeing. But I’ve been through a lot of “stuff” in my life time, and learning from experience is freeing, too. I don’t let the bad things that have happened to me, or because of me, weigh me down. What has passed is past. Best to learn and move on.

My personal communication style is pretty direct, but it is not in my nature to be unkind or to hurt someone else with my supposed wisdom. I have also learned that “waiting until the right moment” to state my more closely held views is more effective than making sure everyone knows what I think. Receptive listeners are more important in a conversation than a clanging voice.

I love to cook, so we don’t eat out much. I am not Julia, but I am adventurous. I can use a recipe or not, or just the part I know we’ll like. I do “refrigerator” cooking often — using up food that’s in the fridge and needs to be eaten. Interesting what one can come up with. Healthy cooking is my goal, and I like to brag that there is no white food in our house. Our carbs now tend to be grainy, and brown, green or orange, rather than bleached.

I am rather weird, though, in that I like to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch, and feel a little deprived if I don’t get my food fixes. Is that a control issue? I don’t know, but if you love peanut butter and jelly as much as I do, you don’t care. Perhaps a bit of OCD creeping out.

Teaching was a great part of my life — I gravitated toward middle school because I enjoy kids that age. I like to use their sense of humor — and mine — to make points, and thus as a classroom management tool. Telling kids this age what to do doesn’t work that well. You have to cajole them into seeing things your way. That has worked well with my own children and grandchildren.

Outright arguing is something that makes me uncomfortable even if it’s not directed at me, so I don’t lose my temper. I have had to find other ways to communicate displeasure (to maintain my sanity), and often that’s just a matter of saying it. We wrote about honesty in a previous post, and making one’s views, preferences, and boundaries known are important in relationships with other people. I am able to take criticism for what it’s worth. Constructively expressed it can be useful and a reality check. Some advice that’s not useful in my growth, I ignore. I don’t have to live according to what people think of me, but that doesn’t mean I have to argue about it either.

I am pretty independent, but independence doesn’t necessarily mean one has achieved the self-control or responsibility to handle it. Having made some bad decisions, I have learned from those, try not to dwell on my errors, and strive to do better the next time. You can’t change the past, only learn from it.

I’m human. I have many strength and weaknesses, talents and faults. I try to take life one day at a time, and do the best I can in the situations that are sent my way.