74 Days

I’ve mentioned previously that I listen to a lot of podcasts (e.g. last February’s post of my Top Twenty Podcasts).  I don’t know that I’ve ever actually quantified “a lot.”

I am current — for varying definitions of current, as the rest of this post will discuss — on approximately 225 podcasts.  Current means I’ve listened to the entire back catalog, except for current news and politics podcasts.  For those, I listened to the 10 most recent episodes when I started subscribing and then listened to current episodes from there.

I am also subscribed to many podcasts on which I am not current.  I haven’t counted, but there’s at least 400 of them between several categories — Catching Up, In the Wings, Limited Release, Abandoned, and Podfaded.  Theoretically, Catching Up means I’m currently listening to the back catalog.  In the Wings means I want to listen to those podcasts and will listen through their back catalogs after I finish the Catching Up list.  Limited Release is a podcast that, when it was initially released, the intention was to do a specific number of episodes and no more.  An example of Limited Release is the Presidential Podcast, which did one episode for each U.S. President.  Abandoned is all the podcasts I listened to at one time but which I decided I no longer wish to do so.  Podfaded is podcasts that are no longer produced.  I move podcasts from the Current list to the podfaded list if they do not release episodes from more than 12 consecutive months or when the makers announce that they will not be releasing new episodes.

I do not unsubscribe from podcasts that I abandon or that are podfaded.  I used to unsubscribe, but a couple of times I resubscribed to previously abandoned podcasts and then remembered I had listened before and why I no longer do.  Sometimes podfaded podcasts come back.  If I remain subscribed, the episodes will drop into my feed automatically.  Either way, if I try to subscribe to something that is on my abandoned or podfaded list, I’ll get a pop up message from my app telling me I’m already subscribed.  I can then find it on my lists and remember why I haven’t been listening to it.

So here’s my dirty little secret: I’m a 74 days behind on listening to podcasts.  I know this because I am subscribed to two podcasts which release episodes every single day — each episode is under 5 minutes long, btw — and that’s how many episodes my app tells me I have queued from each of those podcasts.

I usually listen to podcasts when I drive, when doing housework, and sometimes when crafting.  Any given day, the number of podcasts I listen to is somewhere between 14 and 16 hours of content.  Since I set my app to listen at 2.5x speed as a default, and the app has a silence skipping feature that gives me an effective listening speed of 3.0x, it takes me 4-6 hours to actually listen to 14 – 16 hours of content.  I learn a lot from some podcasts and am highly entertained by others. I also listen to some that are just meh or are repetitious of others or that I subscribed to just to have something to fill up time.h

I started thinking about why I’m 74 days behind.  What happened on those 74 days?  Or is it just an accumulation of days where I only had 2 hours to listen to podcasts?  I realized that the 74 days represents some of the best and worst days of the my life over the last 9 months.  I offer this inventory:

  • 7 days visiting Stacy in Indiana in April 2017.  Ever since she moved, I’ve visited Stacy once a year and attended a fiber festival with her (See blog posts from 20142015, and 2016.)  This year, I was there for a week.  We went to the fiber festival, watched Star Gate, read, and crafted together.  It was awesome, and there was definitely no time for solitary time, cut off with earbuds in my ears.
  • 14 days, sick with a terrible upper respitory infection.  I was just starting to be sick when I left Indiana and it turned out that I was the sickest I’ve been in a long, long time.  My energy was zapped.  I slept in the recliner in the living room because I couldn’t breath laying flat.  You’d think 14 days sick would be an excellent opportunity for listening to podcasts.  However, since I was so congested and my ears were swollen, it was painful to put earbuds in my ears.
  • 4 days helping my sister move and organizing paperwork.  I spent more than 4 days working on these projects, but since several of those days she was working while I was packing or unpacking, I am guessing that only 4 were days when I did not listen to podcasts.
  • 7 days for Hurricane Irma.  This includes a day of preparations, the day of the storm, and the 5 days after the storm when we did not have electricity at our house.  We were able to keep our devices charged with batteries, but we limited our use of them so I didn’t listen to podcasts.
  • 30ish days visiting my mother-in-law.  We went to visit for long weekends in July, September, and October, a week at Thanksgiving, and I was there for 6 days at Christmas.  While there, I might listen to podcasts for a short time after I woke up and before bed, but other than that I was too busy visiting.
  • 6 days traveling to and from and attending SAFF.  This was the third year in a row I’ve rented a house with a bunch of friends.  This year, Fredi and I drove together and several other people met us there.  While there, we are all busy shopping or taking classes.  In the evenings, we eat dinner together then gather around the fireplace for Show and Tell.  It’s a fantastic time.
  • 15 days (so far) in New Jersey for my mother-in-law’s funeral.  The days I have been here are days I have needed to be present, not cut off by my headphones.  Making plans for the funeral, hanging out with family and friends, sorting through paperwork, all mean that I have listened to podcasts for less than an hour a day the entire time I’ve been here.

This adds up to 83 days.  In addition to these days, there have been many times when I haven’t been listening to podcasts at times I normally would.  For example, my friend Shellee has been having eye issues and has had a limited ability to drive as a result.  When we are going to events together, I pick her up and we drive together.  If we were driving separately, I would listen to podcasts, but I’d rather enjoy her company!  The day I was Scouring Fleece recently, I could have listened to podcasts while working.  Instead, I did not listen to anything.  I simply enjoyed the beautiful weather and the work I was doing and the sounds of birds singing and children playing in the neighborhood.

Obviously, I’ve been able to catch up on some of the podcasts since I am less than 83 days behind.  However, I haven’t been able to catch up on much.  When I first started listening to podcasts back in 2014, I easily had 4 – 6 hours a day filled with activities that I could do while simultaneously listening to podcasts.  The fact that I am now 74 days behind is an indication that my life has changed since then.

I want more days and times in my life like those represented by the 74 days.  On those 74 days I was present, whether for the good or the bad.  I was engaged.  I need more of that in my life.

Today I started abandoning podcasts.  I only want the best of the best, the ones that are truly adding to my life.  Here’s to greater presence and engagement.

 

Random Thoughts

On January 13, 2018 my mother-in-law passed away.  We got the call that morning and were on a flight that evening.  We spent the first week we were here assisting with funeral preparations, attending the services, and visiting with the many family and friends who were here for the services.  My mother-in-law was a wonderful person and will be very much missed.  I encourage you all to read her obituary, which will give you just a taste of what we have lost.

On Sunday, we started on the long, slow process of sorting through her things.  We started with a pile of boxes in the basement.  Most of the boxes contained things like old checks and bills, as far back as the 1940s.  My husband and his brother have been sorting things to save, shred, and recycle.  I’ve been working my way through the shredding pile.

We have two shredders.  One is a small one that can only handle a few sheets at a time and the other is a more robust machine.  I’ve been shredding on the small one until it can’t take anymore (which takes 15 minutes) and then switching to the big one.  Since the machines are loud enough that it’s difficult for me to hear while I’m working, I’ve mostly been left to my own wandering thoughts.  The rest of this post is a sampling of those thoughts.


99 duplicate checkbooks to shred

99 duplicate checkbooks

Take one down, grr grr grind

98 duplicate checkbooks to shred

(I counted.  That particular box actually had 100 duplicate checkbooks)


1980s hair band music is an excellent accompaniment to the sound of the shredder.


We’ve filled 7 thirty-gallon trash bags with shredded paper.  Each bag holds about 4 of the shredder bins.  Each shredder bin holds shredding from 1/2 – 3/4 of a banker’s box.  That means we’ve shredded 14 – 21 banker’s boxes worth of paper.


My hands are so dry. The forced hot air in the house dries my skin out. The humidity here is so much lower than at home. Handling all this paper dries out my hands. I’m washing my hands A LOT.


We’ve recycled at least 5 banker’s boxes worth of paper.


My mother sometimes tells the story about the New England winter when she had two kids in diapers.  The cold and low humidity always dry you out and she was washing her hands A LOT because of all the diaper changes.  My parents were on a very tight budget and hand cream wasn’t something they could afford, so her hands were cracked and bleeding.


Just glancing around the basement, I can see at least another dozen boxes my husband and brother-in-law still have to review.


I’m very happy that I have hand and body cream that I can deploy against the dryness.


Lanolin would be even better.


Mmmmm lanolin.  If I were at home, I could just go pet that beautiful Corriedale fleece in my office.  It’s got lots of lanolin.


I think I might spin that Corriedale for the Sweater Spin along / Knit along Beth Smith is hosting on her Patreon.


Alice Starmore’s Raven costume, from her forthcoming book Glamourie (Amazon affiliate link), which I’ve had on preorder for several months, would be stunning in that glossy black Corriedale.


Am I that crazy?


My degree of crazy may be dependent upon how much more time I spend shredding documents in the basement.

2018 Word of the Year

This is my third year picking a Word of the Year.  If you haven’t heard about this idea before, basically you pick a word as a touchstone for the year.  Instead of making resolutions, you let the word guide you.

Honestly, when I first heard about it, I thought the idea was kinda crazy.  I’m not as intentional about picking a word as many people are.  Look on the internet and you’ll find plenty of people describing a process for picking a word.  Think about who you want to be, make a list, etc, etc.  I have never done a process like that.  I don’t do any of that.  Every year, sometime in the late fall, a word has just sort of bubbled up into my consciousness.  I roll it around in my head for a few days and see what comes up as I think about it.  Every year, the word that has bubbled up has felt right.  In addition, each year, something has happened to affirm that the word was the right one for me.

What does it mean to let the word guide you?  Again, there’s a variety of approaches.  Some people are very formal, meditating on and journaling about the word.  I’m less formal.  In 2016, the first year I picked a word, my word was CREATE.  During the time I was contemplating whether this was the right word, I got an order in the mail that included a bookmark as a little bonus item.  The bookmark has a bright yellow background and the word CREATE in big block letters.  I stuck that bookmark to my office door so I would see it multiple times a day.  I didn’t do anything else in terms of meditating on the word, but it was right in front of me every day.  I was incredibly productive in my creative pursuits in 2016, more than I had ever been.

Last year the word that came up was FINISH.  It was an interesting word, that played out in unexpected ways throughout the year.  I didn’t have a good way of connecting with the word though, and there were entire months when I didn’t consciously think about it at all.

My word for 2018 is MOVE.  On New Year’s Eve, I got an affirmation that this was the right word for the year.  My fortune cookie told me, “It’s time to get moving.  Your spirits will lift accordingly.”  I’ve actually taped that fortune to my computer monitor so I will see it every day.

MOVE is such a dynamic word that can be interpreted in many ways.  Move my body by exercising, moving forward, moving on, moving to a new home (I’ve really wanted to move for several years, but circumstances have meant staying put was a wiser choice).  It’s an encouraging word for me.  Due to various circumstances, I’ve felt rather stagnant for a while.  I’m excited about the idea of getting MOVING and out of this stagnant place.

It’s only the second day of the year, but so far I’ve found that I’m regularly asking myself, “How can I move right now?”  Is there a task I can do to move a project forward?  Can I do a little exercise?  What would it mean to move right this minute?  I’m looking forward to seeing where all this moving takes me!