Archives for posts with tag: critical thinking

I’m sipping coffee and listening to videos, waiting for my thoughts to gel around some idea, or word, or notion; it’s not happening. I’m content, and relaxed, and feeling pretty good in my here-and-now, and it’s enough… so… “no words”. lol It is what it is, I suppose. There’s a lot going on in the world, and a lot of it matters a great deal, but this moment, here? Pretty relaxed. It’s a weekend day. Housekeeping later, coffee now.

One sunrise, last week.

My morning walks have been at a favorite park for a couple weeks now, since it re-opened. Dawn is coming later, each day, and soon it will be too dim in the morning to easily and safely walk these trails so early. I haven’t yet sorted out how my routine will need to change. Some days, it still feels very new to be so “settled”. It’s not as if every day is the same – they differ rather a lot. My “routines” have still not really established themselves as a natural byproduct of my comings and goings. I guess I’m okay with that – I sort of have to be as a consequence of simply being okay with myself. 🙂 Still, though, I’ve got to figure out when and where I’ll be getting my mile(s) in, once the early morning is “too dark”.

Same walk, different morning.

There was an air show this weekend. The noise did not cause me any particular stress. The traffic was not much of an inconvenience. Looks like it was probably a pretty cool family-friendly event.

…I feel a thought arise, and slip away before I can make any use of it… I think it may have been interesting, or relevant, or tie some idea to another, but… it’s gone now. LOL

My Traveling Partner is spending quite a bit of time in his shop. It makes sense; it’s the time of year for it. It fits my sense of seasonality in the context of family life. He’s been making parts for other tools, and making things that solve small household problems – like handy hooks to hang the attachments for my mixer, tucked out of the way, still very convenient. The wee hook specifically fit these mixer attachments. So cool! My father and my (paternal) grandfather were both “makers”, and I feel very much “at home” with my partner doing things in his shop. It feels “right”. 🙂

I finally planned time for a camping trip. Getting a reservation anywhere I wanted to be was pretty challenging, and I ended up opting for “car camping” this year vs hiking into a more remote spot. Nonetheless, I’m super excited about it – and choosing car camping means somewhat better comfort, and I’m pretty stoked about that, too. 😀 Coffee with chipmunks, squirrels, and robins, as the sun run rises, sounds pretty good. Long walks with no destination. Afternoons napping in the heat before taking another walk before dinner. No fireside stuff; the entire state is a huge vast wildfire zone right now, but the summer heat will mean I won’t ever be so chilly that a fire seems necessary for comfort, anyway. I take my computer when I go to the coast. I take a notepad, a sketchpad, and a pen, when I go camping. lol It’s a very different experience.

I walked away from my writing before I’d finished my coffee, and spent time relaxing with my partner, talking about projects, hanging out, watching videos, and then got started on housekeeping chores for the week. It’s been a fun day. I completely forgot I was in the middle of writing a blog post until sometime after lunch. LOL I’m smiling and sipping an afternoon cocktail – a rare treat – and checking off the chores. Just laundry left now, and it’s in progress. I took time to combat an accumulation of tasty leftovers by making a nice lunch salad. A good summer afternoon meal. Life feels… pleasantly ordinary, more or less. It’s a hot day. It’s comfortable in the house. My headache is somewhat diminished with careful, reliable hydration, and good nutrition (I mean, what the fuck do I even know about any of that, really? I’m not a doctor, I’m just saying, it seems less severe, some days, if I am definitely drinking enough water, and eating a balanced diet with lots of leafy green veggies in it. I do not care a bit if that’s a “placebo effect” resulting from simply thinking those things matter, or if it is “real”. I don’t hurt as much, and that’s enough).

The tall icy glass, in which what is left of this gin & tonic sits, sweats condensation; cold glass, warmer room. I sip on it slowly – as I said, I rarely drink alcohol these days, so I take my time with such things to minimize risk of foolishness or poor decision-making. 🙂 My Traveling Partner makes an exceptional cocktail. He also has some familiarity with my problematic history with alcohol (having grown up around multiple family members with acknowledged, legit, “drinking problems”, and my own early behaviors around alcohol as a young soldier), and he’s cautious with such things (which is appreciated, not forced on me). I enjoy the fantastic sometimes complex flavors of a well-crafted cocktail, and we stick with the delights that rarity requires: exceptional quality of the ingredients, sourced with care and thoughtful selection, flavors outside the “everyday”, and cocktails that are notable (for their history, or their ability to evoke nostalgia, or for simply being especially delightful in flavor) – but notable in some way other than their ability to intoxicate. We’re not really “about” the potential for drunkenness, and it shows in how rarely we drink, and how slowly we drink when we do. LOL Drunk people break shit.

I’m happy to enjoy a partnership so safe that I can even relax and enjoy a cocktail now and then without worrying that I’ll turn right around and “burn my life to the ground” on a funeral pyre of addiction. I understand better, now, that in some respects it isn’t about the addictive substance nearly as much as it is about the relationships that support my emotional wellness day-to-day. There’s a ton of more recent science on addiction, if that’s interesting to you for any reason at all. I encourage you to study more (I mean, like, always, and anything that is of interest to you) – definitely check your sources. “Karen’s Facebook group” is likely a less rigorously peer-reviewed source for information on the science of addiction than, you know, scientific studies available on PubMed, or some other reputable source. Just saying – fact-checking is good stuff. Knowing your source? Good stuff. Reading and applying critical thinking? Good stuff. Do your homework.

…And, hey, if you’re just not well-informed about a topic, not an expert at all, maybe just don’t share that uninformed opinion at all, eh? It’s okay to lack information. It’s less okay to make shit up like you know something about it. I know, it’s hard; we all want to be experts.

…Reminder: I’m no expert. Nope. Not even on mindfulness. I’m just a human being human, doing the best I can to be my best self, trying various practices that may help me along the way. I’ve got a reading list – did you notice I didn’t write any of those books? Yeah. That’s because I am not an expert. At all. Just a human, being human. Sharing what I can of a complicated journey, in case other travelers are also wandering around without a fucking map. 🙂

It’s been a pleasant Sunday. I’ve gotten a few things done. The garden is looking lovely, and the roses have now established themselves where they’ve been planted. I smile when I think about the years and the miles and the containers being carried from apartment to apartment over decades… so few survived to see home, here. It was a lot to ask of a wee rose in a container. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there, somewhere. I’ll think it over for awhile, and see what I can make of it.

Monday stretches out ahead of me like some sort of… Monday. I’m okay with that. There have certainly been times in my life when each Monday (or, that is to say, the starting day of each work week) carried a very specific signature dread. It didn’t seem associated with the job I had, the boss I worked for, or the circumstances, generally. Mondays felt “cursed” in some way. It was reinforced, although I didn’t understand it for a long time, by the cultural jesting and aphorisms about Mondays. Thinking Mondays are any worse than any of the other days is an illusion, though.

Think of the mind’s eye as functioning mechanically; to see, it would need a lens, and a focal point, and one might well expect that adjusting the focus would bring things into view more clearly. It’s a pretty good analogy. We become what we practice, and by extension, we do tend to see what we are looking at, and it may not always be entirely obvious if our perspective is in some way “out of focus”. Is there dust on our mental lens? Are we focused more specifically on something outside the frame? A loose metaphor attempting to capture how thinking errors, and an unwillingness to allow our perspective to be well-informed by what we can see (when we observe) and understand (when we permit ourselves to be open to new information). Happy Monday – use it wisely. 🙂

Monday is Monday. It’s just a day. We gave it a name. Rotate the wheel a turn and it lands on another day – couldn’t that one have been “Monday”? It’s rather arbitrary labeling, and wholly fictitious; we made that shit up. Let it go. Let Monday be Monday, and also just be a day in your experience. Another new beginning. A new starting point to begin a new week. Let go of what is not now – past or future – and take a deep breath before you head to the office, the job site, the unemployment office, an interview, your studio, a wilderness trail, a retail outlet, a cafe, a library, a doctor’s office, a classroom, or whatever destination Monday might take you. Have your experience with an open mind, and an open heart. Choose to have your own experience, your way. Choose to be the person you most want to be – authentically. Make the choices that take you there, however slow the progress may seem to be.

What one thing could you choose to do, or change, that nudges you gently in the direction of your goals? Are you doing that, today? No? Something smaller? Incremental change over time is built on small choices – millions of those, over hours, days, weeks… until we have transformed ourselves. I’m just saying – you have amazing power over your experience, even when you feel you have little power over your circumstances.

I’ve just started reading “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry“.  I’m ready for this one, now. I wasn’t, earlier. The new commute provides me with more time to read, since I take the train. I’d been very much wanting to refocus my attention on the written word, and really make more time – take more time – to read. Study has great value, and I find that reading from printed works seems a more effective learning strategy for me, personally, than most video material can actually compete with. It’s not a given that a medium that grabs my attention in a visceral way (like tv, movies, and YouTube content) will also teach me; hasn’t seemed to be the case, at all, in practice. Books work. Your results may vary. Perhaps it is to do with something about me, as an individual (likely not, honestly, we’re all very similar in most ways), or something to do with how the mental process of reading works in human brains? Anyway – I read. It works for me. I talk about what I read, which reinforces what I’ve learned and runs it through all manner of critical thinking drills, to validate that new information. I never regret the time I spend reading. 🙂 Maybe that’s enough reason to read?

So… I’ve got Monday ahead of me, a book in my backpack, and… I think I’m ready to begin again. 🙂

Words are funny things. The meaning of any given word may vary depending on context, or differences between world maps of speakers. Language has subtlety, and adaptability; it changes over time, based on common use.

Words.

Words.

Consider ‘critical thinking’. I found myself having a challenging conversation with someone about the nature of critical thinking, versus being ‘critical’. It took quite a bit of careful defining of terms, and semantic exploration to figure out where the core miscommunication could be found that resulted in such an adversarial dialogue about a word.

someone else's critical thinking word cloud.

someone else’s critical thinking word cloud.

I’ll probably be spending a lot of time on this one, there is certainly more to understand than I can offer up today with any coherence. When I study, I start with basics. So, this morning it is a refresher on critical thinking, in general, as well as reading up on criticism. Where the two share emotional territory seems to be the sticky bit for understanding and communicating.

Someone else's word cloud for criticism.

Someone else’s word cloud for criticism.

My superficial initial reading suggests that the heart of the matter may be that critical thinking is a process of self, directed inward, and largely ‘about’ developing clear, rational thinking practices that result in a usably correct understanding of the world.  Critical thinking seems less about what I communicate to the world, than about what I understand of the world, myself, and how I got to that understanding.  Criticism is generally directed outward, ideally with an intent of providing a possibility for an improved outcome, improving a process, simply reaching a meeting of the minds, or improving upon a future outcome through communication of observations of less-than-ideal current conditions. (In my less-than-ideal experience of life and the world, criticism is often used for less wholesome purposes: directed at individuals to cause pain, to control behavior, to denigrate, to reinforce ‘place’ in a hierarchy, to enforce one’s own sense of self, or to support one’s own ideas, understanding, or context in life by tearing down what someone else understands. These uses of criticism have nothing whatever to do with building, achieving, or growing. Criticism is a favorite emotional weapon of the callous, the cruel, and the controlling. Emotional weaponry has nothing to do with critical thinking.)

It could be as simple as this, critical thinking has never made me cry, not even once, not ever.

There are ways to adequately, rationally, communicate disagreement without making someone cry. There are certainly ways to share improvements on an idea with hurting someone’s feelings. Criticism isn’t my first choice for either of those communication needs.

This weekend I am balancing my own critical thinking, and my desire to improve on that, and the very different need to communicate if/when I disagree with a statement, an outcome, or see an opportunity to improve on a task in progress. I won’t be using criticism. Today is a good day to change the world.