Some personal word definitions. Because that’s all I have today.

After reading a dialogue-heavy book over breakfast (as one does) I pondered how much of every conversations consists of fillers, reflective phrases and “message received” acknowledgements, and that led to more pondering on perpetual nature of communication issues like:

“Are you even listening?”
“Yes, I heard you.”
“Then why are you doing it all wrong?/ “Then why don’t you understand?”

Oh, and by fillers, etc, I mean things like,

“Uh-huh. I hear that.”
“Go ahead, I’m listening.”
“Okay, I think I got it. Is this what you meant?”
“Got it. I can do that.”

All this pondering led nowhere useful of course, but it did make me realize that I look at the word pairs hear/listen, understand/comprehend as conversational dance steps. Think foxtrot. Or tango.

  1. Hear: physically register vocal input.
  2. Listen: attempt to comprehend that input.
  3. Understand: receive & recognize the meaning of the input.
  4. Comprehend: input processed and absorbed, ready to put into action

A good conversation can go through that progression many times. (Pretend the words are inside pictures of feet with arrows, maybe? I dunno. I’m not feeling graphicky today.)

I think most people learn that hearing is not listening, but maybe it’s equally important to grasp that not all listening is successful listening.

I’ve seen a lot of discussions dissolve into frustration and hostility when one participant mistakes passive hearing for listening but I’ve seen many more crash and burn when someone’s certain they’ve comprehended a new idea merely because they listened to someone talk about it.

That’s all.  Just thoughts for now. Until later!

Oh, PS/PSA for all any worriers in my circle, no this has NOT been inspired by any real conversation I’ve had with anyone. Srsly.  You’re awesomes, alla youses.

Okay, I also have this picture of a flower from a couple of days ago. View on Instagram http://bit.ly/2HNd4Vk

Random thinky-thought

I’m testing out a new approach to my work/life balance: ranking comfort & happiness higher than Greater Productivity.

It feels strangely subversive, even radical, to take care of myself first, to rest when I’m exhausted, to do what feels good, even if that means not doing a thing.

“No pain, no gain,” is the mantra of the modern world, and our culture shouts, “You Are What You Make/Do/Consume” from every platform. “How much have you made?” is the standard metric for measuring value.

It’s HARD to stop treating time like it’s a commodity to be spent, to stop asking “what have I got to show for it?” as a measure of an activity’s value.

All those lessons on The Intrinsic Value Of Hard Work I absorbed growing up? They’re not easy to set aside.
But I’m trying.
Because…I kinda like it.

Also, there’s the part where my joints are enforcing the slowdown by flat-out REFUSING TO FUNCTION if I push them too hard, so there’s that.

The shoulders and wrists and hips and suchlike gotta last me a few more decades, so if protecting them means I write less, lift & haul less, DO less, then well…then I will practice enjoying what I can do with ‘unproductive’ time. There’s a lot I can do. “Stay active but be more careful” covers a lot of ground.

And yes, I’m aware of how lucky I am to be in a position where I can choose to do less and still continue to eat, have a roof overhead etc. Yeah. Gratitude is a thing too.

Anyway. It was on my mind, now it’s on the blog.

Until later.

It’s nippy out there.

The air temp was up to a balmy -15 °F when I took my walk today. That’s before wind chill. The wind chill has been at “OH HELL NO” since last night. -15 marked the high point between -24 last night, and -23 projected for tonight. -50 wind chill anyone?

Yes, I went outside in that kind of cold. Yes, on purpose. Yes, without a job location I had to travel to reach, or a pet who needs walking, or any other external justification.

Why? Why not? Being able to do things like stroll around in the killing cold by choice remind me how lucky and rich I am, relatively speaking, and how grateful I am for so much in my life.

Also, if I don’t get my body moving and keep moving at a steady pace for at least 30 min a day, I hurt, but I could do enough walking indoors to cope. Not easily, and going around and around inside the house is boring as hell, but hey. I have done it.

But given the choice between boring laps and going out into the deep freeze? No contest.

It was a fantastic hike and meditative too. I spent the time focusing on my breathing rhythm, maintaining awareness of my body’s position, location, and surroundings (the whole world changes in incredible, beautiful ways when it’s super-cold)

..at least, that’s what I was doing when I wasn’t concentrating on ways to keep my glasses from frosting over.

I’d been out about a half-mile when I realized why I was enjoying myself so much. Dealing with weather like this is a lot like swimming. You’re deliberately exposing your body to a medium that will kill you if you’re immersed in it too long, but with the right gear, training, and effort, the experience can bring you a satisfying thrill.

When it comes to gear, I have tons. Decades worth. I ruthlessly toss or donate clothes that wear out/don’t get worn, but cold weather kit keeps well. And scarves? Well. Textiles are my dragon hoard.

My winter coat is literally designed for Antarctica– it came from someone who went on a cruise trip with a company that uses old Russian icebreakers. It has a patch on it and everything.

My closet is packed with thick, plushy hoodies & warm socks and so on. I am spoiled for choice.  I not only have sleek, soft long underwear comfort-rated to sub-zero, I have fleecy versions I can layer over it and under my outerwear.

Hats? Ear protection? insulated gloves with mitten covers? Scarves and ear bands to keep everything but the eyes safe from wind chill? YUP.

And boots with thick soles to keep my toesies in a dry, temperature-controlled environment are my year-round standard.

Basically, I was all set for today.  Note, please, none of my stuff is new. A purple wool scarf my friend Jody found for me and the sparkly red scarf gifted to me by my other friend Tess are the  youngest pieces in the ensemble. Some of the long underwear is old enough to drive, and I think the coat is old enough to vote.

But it’s all good gear, so when I wrap up to go out in the killing cold, I am covered top to toe in cuddlesome coziness and feel super-rich and thankful for every protective piece.

I’ve had training too. Nothing rigorous, just enough to make me comfortable navigating a populated neighborhood.  There were many lessons in cold weather survival in my youth, plus I’ve done a lot of independent study since then. (hello, I’m a writer)  Knowing when to stop is a key skill, and listening to my body saying “enough!” is a thing I have learned well.

Once I find some goggles (frosty eyeglasses are a real PITA) I will be able to easily handle hikes on days far colder than this one. Goggles have been on a vague quest list for years now. Since Polar Vortexes are likely to be a recurring issue, I think I will make a point of hunting some down before next winter.

Because it really was a lovely walk today, and I want to do more.

By the way, if anyone is wondering, no,  I wasn’t the only one out there. I wasn’t even the only person out here without a dog on a leash. I spotted one hardy soul out running, and no one was even chasing them.

Was there a point to this post? I don’t know. But we’ve reached the end of it.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.