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!

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.

My Homework Assignment – Part 1

I was keeping my youngest son company while he did his World Religions assignment today and after he finished writing his personal 10 commandments, I was inspired to write my own.

Just like him, I am more into the shalls than the shall nots and my list is not so much about morals as about helping myself to be at ease in my own life.

In no particular order, here are the first five commandments that I came up with today.

1) Respect how your brain works

My brain doesn’t work the same way as neurotypical people’s but it only causes me trouble when I try to make it work like everyone else’s. When I respect how my brain works, life is much smoother.

2) Choose how to spend your time

If I am not careful, my time gets eaten up in small tasks (and their resulting rabbit-holes of related tasks.) If I consciously choose my time, I spend it in ways that are much more satisfying.

3) Dance whenever possible

Yes, I am one of those people dancing in the car at stop lights and bopping around the kitchen while I cook. I might be awful at it, I don’t know, but I sure as hell like it.

4) Be kind to yourself (past, present and future)

This is not the same as being ‘nice’ to myself. ‘Nice’ might mean avoiding tasks or practices to avoid temporary annoyance. Being kind means taking good care of myself right now, getting the me of right now to do things that will make life easier for future-me, and it means forgiving past-me for the things I did poorly.

5) Whenever possible, turn your face toward the sun

I am relentlessly hopeful. That doesn’t meant that I pretend that everything is perfect all the time. It means that I acknowledge what’s difficult (or even awful) and then I take action to find hopeful steps forward.

(continued tomorrow)