Beating The Heat Through Extreme Inactivity

As much as I hate humidity and struggle to sleep when it is warm out, I have to admit there is a certain appeal in the sort of languid relaxation I do after going for a hike or something similar on warm summer days. There is a degree of freedom that comes with knowing it doesn’t matter if you’re sweaty. When you know that you can just go change or cool off or rinse the sweat away whenever you like and yet you choose to just be still as the gentle, warm breeze slowly wicks the sweat away while you lay unmoving in the heat. It is more restful and comfortable if the breeze is cool and the sweat has already been cleaned away, but I still enjoy the moments of transition between the two when it is my choice to experience them.

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Sunshine Feels Nice And Warm Winds Lift My Spirits

I lack the words to describe how nice it was that the weather had been in the 60s, that there’d been a decent amount of sunlight, and that I’d been able to comfortably wear shorts. Nevertheless, that’s what the rest of this blog post will be about. It just felt so nice, you know? I wanted to exult in it for a while, enjoy the end of my seasonal depression and bask in the gloriously chilly but still comfy weather we had for the few days it was here.

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A Bright Spot In A Cold Winter

Today (day of writing this) was a wonderful, warm day. By which I mean the temperature hit the 40s in the sun and I celebrated by going for two walks, both of which eschewed my heavy coat and hat. I even rolled my sleeves up to maximize my total amount of exposed skin so I can get the most benefit from the sun as possible. I know this warmth is short-lived because the temperature is already beginning a slow decline towards the single digits (which it should hit by tomorrow), but it gives me hope that things are improving. Or at least that the winter is turning away from frigid cold and back toward moderately freezing.

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Lingering Chill

There is a certain pleasure in hunkering down for the winter months in the cold, enduring Midwestern north. As the temperatures drop, the rain turns to sleet that turns normal stairs and sloping lawns into treacherous slides for those without adequate caution. Empty, grey days turn into cozy retreats as people turn from excusing their flight from the worsening weather to embracing it. Life goes on, as always, but the quiet moments that once demanded to be filled are now left empty save for rest and warmth, attention turned inward instead of outward. Homes become bastions of warmth and life, drifting and disconnected from the world around them save for the moments that they open up to share their light with those daring enough to still travel between them.

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Wisconsin Winter Preparations

I have lived many winters without ever needing to put plastic insulation over my windows. If this sentence makes no sense to you, well, congratulations on not living in shitty or old apartment or house in a frigid midwestern or generally northern US state. Or, you know, anywhere else in the world where the outside doesn’t get so cold in the winter that it can leech through every exterior surface of your dwelling to steal every drop of warmth you posses but also so warm in the summer that an unattended egg can cook in thirty minutes of sunlight or less.

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My Words

My words are precious to me:
Little puffs of warm air
That I constantly heat
By clutching them tight
To my chest and heart
Even when they grow too hot
And burn my hands
As they attempt to flee.

My words are few and quiet
When they are voiced at all:
Hoarded and groomed until
I am certain they are ready
For whatever task is at hand,
Yet they remain fragile things
That cannot be used again
Once I have let them go.

Many words are worth little
While few words are worth much:
Communication is expensive
But can be bought with either,
While understanding is expensive
And drives a hard bargain–
Often requiring many words
That had once been counted few.

My words are worth more to me
Than any amount of money:
People say that words are cheap
And some, in fact, may be,
But I think words are the currency
People use to buy and sell
Ideas, emotions, and knowledge
In the market of civilization.

Most of the time, when I talk,
I use words that are not mine:
I wrangle words from the air
And let them pass through me
So that they sound like mine
But only on the surface
As my own words are too few
For mass communication.

My words are precious to me:
Little slivers of my soul
All bound up in breath
Like wisps of vapor in winter,
Puffing from my open mouth
As I move through the world
And do the very best I can
To share some of my warmth.

Saturday Morning Musing

I’ve always enjoyed spending my weekend mornings by myself. I have a very busy life, by choice, constantly filling my time with projects and activities. In more recent years, this has made it more difficult to spend time reflecting every day. There have been times in the past year where being busy has been a specific choice to avoid too much reflection. Spending too much time in my head can be a bad thing, just as not spending enough time can be a bad thing. It’s a fine balance to strike.

However, when there’s nothing going on and I’ve got no obligations I need to see to, I like to take my mornings on Saturday or Sunday to just stay in bed, revel in the comfort of my dark room, and reflect. I’m usually awake enough to not fall asleep while meditating and, since I’m in my bed on a free morning, it isn’t a big deal if I do. I like to pick over what has happened during the week and what might happen over the next week. This is my time to plan events, figure out if I should be calling on friends, and to decide how I’m feeling on anything I was too busy or emotionally distraught to handle as it happened.

This last thing, unpacking the boxes I’ve filled and tucked away for later, is my main occupation during these morning reflections. If I was stressed and upset by something a friend said the other day, I’ll unpack it and review it. Did they intend to upset me? Was I upset about something else and it colored my reaction to their comment? Should I say something to them or let it go? Heck, with how stressful the world is these days for anyone not supporting the current US Republican congress, maybe I’ve packed away something that happened because there’s so much going on that I can’t process it all at once. Maybe I’ve packed away the latest horrible thing that’s happened in the world. Maybe I’ve packed away a bunch of insecurities and invasive thoughts stemming from my OCD taking advantage of the normal stresses of a relatively new relationship.

Packing things away is my main coping mechanism and I need to take time to unpack them every so often or else they build up to the point where the shelf collapses and all the boxes unpack themselves, all at once. Panic attacks and mental breakdowns aren’t super fun, FYI.

If unpacking is about 50% of the time I spend reflecting, then planning is 10%, reviewing my week is 10%, and reviewing my social needs and activities is 10%, the last 20% goes toward simple mental wandering. If the brain is like a muscle and Sudoku or reading are mental workouts, then a good mental wander is like going hiking. Sure, you get some exercise, but the main reason is to go see something or explore. I like to take interesting ideas and explore them. This can be reflections on aspects of ethics or morals, it can be a philosophical concept, or it can be a story idea. I’ve mentioned that writing can be a lot like climbing a mountain (check the Helpful Tips section of this blog post), so this sort of mental wandering is a lot like looking for the right kind of mountains. There’s a lot of metaphor to unpack here,  but I think I’ll save that for another post since I could easily write a whole post or two on my creative process.

Most of the time, all of this takes place over the course of a couple of hours.  Sometimes, I wake up around 9 or 10 and then finally drag myself out of bed around 11 or 12. Most days, like today, I get up at 7:30 and lie in bed until 11. I’m no longer very good at sleeping in since I’ve officially been getting up at 6 more often than not for 13 years, but that’s alright. I like my quiet mornings and the chance to get a lot of thinking done. Today, I actually planned my blog update schedule, all while snuggled cozily under my blankets in a dimly lit room full of the quiet sounds of a peaceful neighborhood. It doesn’t get much better than that.