Isolation Brain?

Normally, I pride myself on my ability to communicate effectively.

I am careful with what I say. I weigh the possible impact of my words before I say them. I try to see the other person’s perspective so I can imagine how they arrived at the conclusion they did. I examine what I am saying for possible bias, privilege, and all of the (mostly) invisible things that come along with those things.

But now, in the last three days, I have made several fairly upsetting communication errors that have caused me a lot of stress.

(I’m not vague-blogging here, the details of the errors are just not relevant.)

I’m wondering if the switch to mostly digital communication has made it trickier to use the skills I have. Or, if the combinations of ambient stressors right now has just made my skills less sharp.

I have been saying that this whole isolation thing has affected me less than it has affected many others because I already work from home and my whole family is full of homebodies. Not having to go out is not a source of stress for us (at least not a conscious one.)

But the frustrations of the past few days are making very curious about the subconscious effects of this whole situation.

Or, you know, maybe I’m just out of sorts. 😉

Writing workshop with Rana Tahir

I enjoy all of the opportunities that have sprung up for me since everyone is moving their lives and businesses online.

I’ve attended a story circle in Ottawa and I played games with a friend in Toronto and I’ve written with people all over the world.

And yesterday, I attended a ‘How to write a Choose Your Own Adventure book ’ workshop led by Rana Tahir and hosted by Book Revue.

The funny thing was that, on Wednesday, I was driving home from the supermarket and thinking about different types of writing I would like to do. One of the types that crossed my mind was Choose Your Own Adventure books. When I got home, one of my friends had posted about Ms. Tahir’s workshop in a group chat. Serendipity!

Anyway, the workshop was great! Not only is Ms. Tahir an engaging and knowledgeable instructor but she had chosen the perfect amount of information to include.

She was clear from the start about how much information she was covering and she delivered the information clearly. It’s no wonder she could write a detailed and interlocking book – she obviously knows how to make a good plan!

I’m excited about trying to write a CYOA book but I am even more excited to see how I can use the knowledge I gained about workshop scope and design from watching Ms. Tahir.

Thanks to Rana Tahir and Book Revue for the workshop and thanks to Monique for letting me know about it!

Walk #8

My post for Fit is a Feminist Issue yesterday was all about how much I have enjoyed walking the dog at around the same time every day for the past week. Being consistent with my exercise is always a challenge for me so even a one week streak is a victory for me.

But, as pleased as I am with my streak, I am especially pleased with myself for heading out for my walk today.

It was raining – so that was one challenge.

I accidentally missed our usual walk time because I was in the middle of reorganizing my office – that was another challenge.

If I didn’t have that 7 day streak going, I probably would have just not gone this evening.

But I do have that streak happening. That means that the decision to go on a walk has essentially already been made, it just comes down to timing.

So, instead of choosing whether or not to go, I just looked at the shape of my evening and decided when I could fit our walk in.

Khalee and I headed out at 8:10 and even though it was dull and drizzly, it was grand to be out and we had a great time.

A light-haired  dog on a lease walks across a bridge at dusk.   A suburban street is visible  at the top of the photo.
Khalee is a very determined walker.

One of the things I wanted to do on that walk, aside from getting exercise, was to come up with something to write about this evening and this was what occurred to me.

I wanted to capture and remember this feeling of how my walk became even more automatic today – just part of the landscape of my day.

When I am coaching people about building new habits, I encourage people to find a way to take the thing they want to do out of the realm of choice. The example I always use is brushing your teeth – you may not feel like doing it, it may not be much fun, but it is important and it is part of your day, and, most of the time, you don’t waffle, you just do it.

Today, my walk was like brushing my teeth – the weather didn’t matter, the fact that it was later didn’t matter – my walk wasn’t about ‘if’ I was going to go, it was about when.

Go me!

(and Go Khalee! too, of course)

Listen and Learn: Improving my TKD patterns

Aside from the physical benefits of TKD, my classes have given me a lot of information about how I learn. I know, for instance, that I need to see the big picture before I focus on the details (I believe that’s called global learning?), I need to absorb a certain amount of information and then take it away to apply it on my own, I know that I need to focus on certain aspects of the movement and not others, *and I have learned which instructors to ask for which kind of information.

All of this comes in handy at TKD and in other contexts and now I am interested in how to apply my latest discovery, which came via the Zoom version of my TKD classes.

Some background

When we are practicing patterns, we learn them a little bit at a time (instructor gives each person specific attention to each part of the movement), then we practice them step by step (instructor gives the class step by step cues and says ‘go’ after each instruction, we stop after we have completed the specific movement and await further instruction) and as a group (instructor only gives us the cue to start and we do the movements in rhythm with the rest of the students.)

I do pretty well in class but when I get home, I often have trouble practicing effectively because in order to correct myself I have stop and read instructions out of a book. That means looking down through the list of movements** and finding the one I just did, identifying the next one, and figuring out how to get all the bits just right. If I make a mistake, I have to consult the book again. Also, I can’t hold the book while I practice so each time I need to look at it, I need to move out of the position I am in, look at the book, then get myself back to where I was to start again.

That’s not a HUGE challenge, I realize that but it is annoying, and for someone who has trouble choosing where to focus her attention, it can be enough of an obstacle to make me reluctant to practice as effectively as I would like.

Yay for Zoom Class

So, lately we’ve been doing classes on Zoom. My instructors do some demonstrations and then we practice step-by-step before doing the patterns as a group.

I have been finding the Zoom step-by-step particularly effective and I quickly realized why.

I am alone in my space (no distracting movements from other people that might make me second-guess myself)

I am wearing earphones (my instructor’s voice is right in my ear and I am closely focused on it)

I am facing away from the screen most of the time during the pattern (again, no distractions)

So, I quickly figured out a way to make good use of this opportunity.

With everyone’s permission, I recorded the audio from our most recent class and I am going to edit the recording down to just the step-by-step instructions and listen to them when I practice on my own.

This is going to be so good for my technique – a cue, with details, time to do the movement, another detailed cue, time to do the movement…all the way through each pattern. I won’t have to stop and consult the book, it won’t feel interrupt-y, it will just be practice that I can sink right into.

I’m interested to see how this helps me improve.

AND I am interested to know what other things I am trying to learn that could benefit from audio cues.

*For example, when I do a flying side kick, if I focus on the kick itself, I get tangled but if I focus on how to move my hip, the rest of it just comes together on its own.
**Yes, there are people who know the patterns so well that they know what movement 10 of pattern 5 is but I am not one of them.

My homework, part two.

As I mentioned yesterday I was helping my son with his religion homework and he had to select 10 Commandments to live by and I decided to do the same thing, just for fun.

I posted my first 5 yesterday but so, obviously it’s time for the next 5 today. 

6) Rest before you need to

It’s way too easy for me to put off resting until after I get the next thing finished. However, since I have a tricky relationship with time, I end up trying to do too much and I wear myself out. Sooooo, I have started choosing/scheduling my rest instead of waiting for it to occur naturally. (When it is easy to lose track of time, it is also easy to lose track of rest.

7) Keep lists of everything but go easy on yourself about them

I have a single notebook for keeping track of stuff to do (although I will temporarily part things in my reminders app if need be) and I keep track of things that I need/want to do in there. That way, I know I have captured everything and I know where to find it.

But, I go easy on myself if I forget things or if I have put too many things on my list. I know they’re putting too many things on my list as a tenancy of mine, so I don’t have to worry when it happens. It doesn’t mean that I have screwed up, it means that I put too many things on my list.

8) Use the tools that serve you

I used to feel weird about using notebooks, reminders, and my timer because I *shouldn’t* need them. BUT, now, for me, it all comes down to ‘Does this thing make my life easier or smoother?’ Yes? Okay, let’s do it up.’ Because life doesn’t have to be hard just to prove anything. I would rather save my energy for something a lot more fun than avoiding a useful tool that could help me. 

9) Done beats perfect, every time

Are used to spend a lot of time trying to get things done perfectly but I realize that meant that I never finished anything. So now I am to get things done instead of trying to get them done perfectly.

10) Find your helpers

It is hard to ask for help particularly when you’re like me and is tricky to articulate the help that you might need. But there are lots of people out there who want to help you and who are able to help you and it’s very useful to find your own path towards asking for the help that you need and the help that other people have to offer.

I’m sure that if I thought about it I could come up with 100 life lessons or self commandments. But that wasn’t what the assignment was about it was only about 10 and there’s a lot to be learned in doing what the assignment asks and then stopping when that’s done.