Tag Archives: listen

3 Kinds of Debriefing after a Hike

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Sunset on Period Key—we try to work in a sunset every day on the trail.

1. Literally de-brief—we remove all clothing at the door and put them directly into the washing machine. This is a good practice that we didn’t always do. One time after a hike I was babysitting my then three month old granddaughter, Blakely. When my daughter returned and picked Blakely up from my arms, she noticed there was a tick crawling on her blanket. “Great,” I said, “I’ve given Blakely her first tick!”

This event helped to establish the habit my Honey and I now have. We put the clothes in the wash, check each other for ticks and get in the shower.  This process is super overkill but it even takes care of the bugs you might feel that aren’t really there—it’s a phantom feeling because you know they could be.

2. Debrief in the sense of the after action report—what happened, what did you like most and what would you like to change if you could. Read more about how to do this in writing at my Honey’s business blog cowriterpro.com. While the trip is the freshest thing in your memory, talk about it. My Honey and I purposefully use language that is uplifting or constructive. We try to repeat the good things or at least add them to a list of things to repeat. On the flip side we try to eliminate what we weren’t as fond of or figure out how to minimize any problems.

A positive point might be seeing waterfalls and getting in the water. This is a big hit with my Honey. We repeat seeing waterfalls as often as possible. Going slowly enough to see the details of the trail and enjoy the moment is a definite. We pick mileage and sleeping sites that allow us to enjoy the details. This, of course, requires a good map each time. Seeing the sunset each evening is also a must.  Make your list of what really makes the trail awesome for her.

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Enjoying the spray from Fall Creek Falls. This is a definite repeat for us.
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Having a good map is a real positive for us.

An opportunity for improvement in debriefing came after one of our first trips where we slept in a tent. The thing we liked the least was how Loral’s sleep was interrupted by the night noises. We can’t change that we sleep in the dark at night, however, we can mitigate. We discussed simply getting used to it. There are night noises in your house too but your mind filters them out because they belong. They are not signs of danger. When we introduce a new sound the mind has to define it as an ok sound first before we can sleep through it. Then we worked on education—what made the noise and is that dangerous. We discussed trying to be more tired, using ear plugs or a white noise app with earphones. We talked about stretching the tent more tightly so that it made less noise in the wind.

Do an honest assessment like this for each issue. The goal is to keep her enjoying the trip. If she looks forward to what was fun and can anticipate improvement of what she wasn’t as fond of, she is more likely to stay on the trail with you. You like the trail and will go back even if you were soaked, hungry and slept on a rock. She might not—so debrief with real results.

3. The third and final kind of debriefing is also literal. You are home now in a soft bed—you figure it out. I hope you have fun loving on each other out on the trail too, but you are back in your own love nest…get some sleep and celebrate the comfort.

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What are some lovable repeats? opportunities for improvement? I’d love to hear your story.

The Secret to Getting Your Honey on the Trail

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My Honey’s Journal illustrates a great method for brainstorming questions. Hear from her at cowriterpro.com

The Secret Lies with Writing

Almost all of us have had to write a term paper or research paper in school. Many of us went on to a write a thesis. You probably write in some way at work—from email correspondence to grant proposals. From Lean Six Sigma projects to financial reports. From a bill of lading to an inventory count. We have all done some writing.

So with this background you are already prepared with a plan to get your honey on the trail. You just have to write it down. You thought it was a secret hidden from you? The secret is in your own experience revealed. The plan to get your Honey on the trail is a writing plan. My Honey explores many uses for writing at cowriterpro.com.

Let’s say that you have a research paper to write for your high school physical education class. It is the only pen and paper requirement to an otherwise active outdoor class. It is 50% of your grade and you want to do well.

You start asking questions:

Who am I writing to? just the teacher or the class?
What is the topic I have to write about?
Do I get to pick or is it assigned?
When is the document due? a week? at the end of the year?
What result do I want from my reader? a good grade?
Why is this important to my reader?
How much money can I spend to get this written?
What research do I need to do to write it well?
Who can I interview who has the knowledge I don’t have?
Who has written this document before?
What medium is the writing to be done in?
How will I know if I reached my reader?
Where will I do my best writing?
Under what conditions will I do my best writing?

Ask the right questions: You see how the questions just flow? You could probably ask even more if you were really about to write the paper. And you are really about to get your Honey on the trail with you! The secret is asking lots of honest questions with her in mind and they will be the right questions. Write them down—take 10 minutes and just let them flow. Be easy on your self and just write all that come to mind.

Answer them honestly from the hip at first: Put down the answer no matter how absurd it might seem to you at the time. I had no idea how I was going to tie together all the criteria my Honey had for what she thought might be the ideal trip. I had a little bit of incredulity going in my chest at first as I pondered my answers from her perspective. She hadn’t been backpacking like I was doing it and it had been 20 years since her trip through Europe with all she owned in a back pack.

Do your homework: Go find out all you can first before asking her. If you are like me, you could just go on and on and ruin a good thing (my Honey’s eyes would have glazed over at first). Listen to what she talks about and glean all you can from conversation.

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My Princess Editor—lover of fine things…and Hiking with her Honey!

Ask her: Go to the source and verify—ask. You can’t really assume you know. I was talking to a couple a few weeks ago and in her presence he said to me, “She’d never go hiking” and she looked at him with a sudden turn of her head and said with a surprising amount of energy, “You never asked me to.” I have discovered that most Honeys will go have fun with their man outdoors if he has a plan and has done his best to consider her perceived desires and perceived limitations.

Believe her: It was so tempting for me to say to her, “It doesn’t work that way” or “that’s just how it is” or “I’m the expert, just follow along.” So many things were second nature to me and experience taught me that for me there is only one way to do many things.  Did you see that “for me” back there in that last sentence?  You are wanting a “you and her” thing and if you will make the vast majority of it a “her” thing at least to start with, you will be well along the way of making it a permanent “us” thing.

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Transforming into hiking—our favorite thing

Write the rough draft: The first “well planned” trip drew in my Honey with cords of love because she say how hard I tried to make it fun for her. She honored my effort much like going with me on any other date that I had really put some thought into. Realize that it is a rough draft. Don’t make any judgement calls during the first outing. Roll with it with the most flexibility that you can and save the learning for later. This is about trying what might possibly be an extraordinary and difficult thing for her.  Laugh at yourself when most of it falls flat.

Rewrite and produce a better second draft: Keep what worked and decide if any of what didn’t work is worth keeping. As you produce a second trip, try to implement her ideas. I demonstrated to my Honey as often as possible that I heard her. I heard her—I was listening. No pretend “uh huh” sounds—real listening. Part of what drew my current avid hiker in from the beginning was seeing me order some little thing that would fix a problem she had. Present your sequel and reveal the loving improvements to the plan.

Fine tune parts of your document at a time: Don’t try to produce a masterpiece the first time or two or twelve. Work on bits and pieces. We did a romantic fireside meal to introduce her to rehydrated food eaten crosslegged on the tent floor. I packed lots of amenities in the truck that wouldn’t be on a backpacking trip. I focused on making everything else pleasant when I set up the romantic nest by the fireplace in an outdoor picnic pavilion. This way the one new truly backpacking component would be introduced in a likable way.

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Cozy and comfortable—ready to eat a rehydrated meal. Learning one component at a time.
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Jetboil—boils 2 cups of water in two minutes. My favorite stove.

 

Let it go: Most writing has to just be considered done at some predetermined point. You can always keep rewriting and tweeting. You can succumb to the ideal you have in your head and never have a good time unless it is like you pictured it or like it was on your best trip ever out with the guys.  You thought that everything just gets better “When you put a girl in it.” That is true but let go of the preconceived ideal because you are creating a new and you don’t know what that is yet. The ideal you will create together will be so much more beautiful and rewarding that what you could see at first.

On the cabin porch just before heading back to Nashville
Combining indoors and outdoors

Our journey has produced some of the greatest memories of my life. We have laughed, loved and lived to an extreme I didn’t know was possible. We have combined outdoor and indoor facets of grand adventures in ways I hadn’t dreamed up. We have enjoyed simple, slow and short events as well as longer trips with epic qualities. We are headed toward trips in the future that we will both declare to be epic life adventure list trips.

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Make your list this week. It is an easy step that will set your mind planning and unlock the secret. When will you start your “writing assignment” so you can “publish” meaningful hikes with your Honey?

9 Ways to Decorate Your Camp Site

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Decorating Diva 🙂

What? Decorate? Who knew? Come on guys – tell me the truth. How many of you knew that pitching a tent was considered decorating? Or maybe I’m just the only guy that didn’t get this. My Honey and I used to fight or at least be at odds over setting up camp almost every time.  The tension was thick and when we camped with friends they would notice it too. We loved the whole of the outdoor adventure so much that we would smooth it over each time and move on to happier things.

One particularly awful fight over the campsite arrangements resulted in nearly ruining a perfect full moon night. We managed to still enjoy some parts of the evening but the next day, we packed up and hiked back to the car. We were almost ready to give up on the whole camping component of hiking. It was bad.

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Happy moment preserved! Warming by a fire built deep in the sand.

We drove to the nearest town, found a place to cool off from the heat and sort out our angry feelings. How can two people who love each other so much and love these adventures fight so heatedly over setting up camp?  What was wrong with us?

An idea occurred to my Honey about how to explain to me what she was feeling. It must have been a Divine whisper in her ear because it was so good. And I’m happy to give her big kudos for how she laid out this concept.  In a nut shell – she explained that she needs to nest – she needs to decorate. She went on to explain that she believes that since she is the artsy creative woman that it is her responsibility to make it pretty for me.  I tried not to let my mouth fall open as I listened to her as she carefully and respectfully fleshed out her point of view.

I am very practical when it comes to basic shelter and I value speed only second to staying dry. However, I wanted peace and fun in setting up camp more than I wanted to set new speed records for making camp. I want things done fast so we can move on to more fun but all fun was at risk with my current method…so I was very interested in her discourse.

She on the other hand is like a cat trying to get settled in a small card board box. You’ve seen it I’m sure. You can read about ours in Clivethecat.com my Honey’s blog. The cat circles and circles passing up many perfectly good comfortable positions until the magic one is reached. No one watching the cat can tell why or when the cat will settle down (I’ll tell you in a little bit just how very good her criteria actually is).

This difference between our views gets the infamous credit for why we are so often at odds when it’s time to set up camp! It was a moment of great relief as I began to understand what is going on in her magnificent mind.

As I asked questions and we talked more and more we fleshed out many criteria for nesting – decorating the campsite, if you will. There are more but here are 9 of them:

1. Is the location for the tent level? Sliding down into a crumpled fetal position over and over will really ruin a good nights sleep.

2. If it is just a very slight incline, which way should the foot box point so that our feet are just slightly down hill and not our heads.

3. Is the site free of roots, rocks and sticks?

4. Is the site free of poison ivy and holes that might be homes in the ground?

5. What is the view out of the tent door? Can we see the moon? the campfire?

6. Which way will the wind blow better through the tent in the heat and blow around us in the cold.

7. How does the site look and feel over all as one approaches it from a distance (this one is the one that sound most like decorating and almost completely escapes my comprehension). How does it feel when we are in it? Does it feel like home to her?

8. Will the heat and smoke from the fire cause any damage to our equipment?

9. Which way will the shade travel? How will that effect the temperature inside the tent and should we put up a shade tarp to protect from the afternoon sun?

This is all part of decorating to my Honey.  I suggest that you ask Your Honey what she is thinking because she might know more about this than you think. My camp site architect sure has ideas that make it better!

So happy together!
So happy together!

We used to fight and now we plan.  The fight method: I’d start to set up and she would ask a question. The answer could possibly lead to a slightly different angle or location of the tent or cooking area. It might really be a good idea or she might just be asking for a concession. We would try to process this conversation while tired most of the time and sometimes in the dark.  This would go from frustrating to maddening inside me until we would just fight over every detail. The plan method: Now we spend 10-20 minutes discussing all the influencing elements and then we build the camp. If we are exceptionally tired and/or it is dark, we have concluded that I whip up a camp quickly and we make adjustment in the morning.

So, there you have it…making camp IS decorating?

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What are some more things that you can share that are good decorating tips?

Three Keys to Recovering Your Energy

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Meet me at the edge of the world – where the dirt road ends

On the flip side of all that productivity talk I shared yesterday is the need for recovery.  My rope gets tied in knots so to speak and my ends get burnt and frayed. There’s all kinds of stuff we can talk about for physical recovery but this time I’m talking about your innards, your heart, your soul, your phycy – that thing that makes you be you that gets totally worn out and crabby. My Honey and I have found that we need time to chill. It prevents the total crash and burn if we do it soon enough and it provides needed repair when we go too hard for too long.  How do we chill and get the real benefit for genuine recovery? We do it by making time to connect with friends, by just having talk time with each other and most importantly by being totally honest when talking to God.

Time with Friends – Recovery comes in part by spending time with people like Robert and Ruth. Those people in your life that are genuine listeners and have qualities that you want. We learn from how they treat each other. We listen to their stories of struggle and blessings. It makes us better people when we give an ear to listen and apply what we learn.

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My Honey recovering by the creek

Time Alone Together – Recharging includes carving out time when we aren’t pushing for a goal or destination. When we can just talk about what is on our minds and hearts. Sitting quietly and watching a sun set or listening to the laughing water in a stoney creek. We just let it roll – no agenda – just getting real and remembering why we fell in love with each other.

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Yes, that’s me, sitting in the creek, journaling

Time Alone with God – Rest is the best word I can think of to describe what journalling with God feels like. That almost sounded girly…but it’s true – I have learned to journal and love it. The girls probably know what journaling is but I may need to explain it to the guys. You get a book full of blank paper that no one reads but you and you write down your thoughts, your prayers to God, what you believe He is saying to you or about you. You stick this book in your backpack to pull out in all kinds of ruggedly beautiful places. I have discovered as I relax and just go for it, that He – God – gives me insight on what to do or how to handle a situation. So, often, we sit and listen and write.

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Me and my Honey, Loral. Robert and his Honey, Ruth

This place in these pictures that our friends share with us feels like the edge of the world. You go from highway to one lane blacktop to gravel to dirt…and then…it’s were the dirt road ends. Not only is it a place of hard work but it is a place of laughter and quiet hikes spent sharing what God is doing in our lives. It is a place where no one has to perform to feel loved. Even a Sherman Tank has delicate equipment on the inside that needs to be cared for carefully.

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What have you done to recharge your batteries? When can you carve out some time today to work on a relationship with a friend, your Honey and God?

Collaborative Camping

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Yesterday, I got to tell you about out first night in a tent. I described how we got used to night noises and the fun day we had afterwards to balance out our emotions.

I saved the lesson about collaborating for today. We fought and made up prior to the test run in the tent and here is how it went down…and back up.

I thought that I was the teacher. I expected to explain the parts of the tent and the process and she would watch and learn. I would do most of the work to set up the tent and she would help as I guided her. My experience included setting up many different kinds of tents. I wanted to be appreciated for my knowledge, demonstrate my skill and have a little assistance on the task.

So when I said, “Would you help me?”, it didn’t really mean give me advice. Now, my Honey is an out loud verbal processor. She takes in data and turns it every which way, asks questions and offers ideas that occur to her from this process as they occur. In this environment, where I thought I was the authority, I was not prepared for this method of learning.

She began with “why this?” and “why that?” Then went on to “what if we did?” and “maybe we could try?” I was beside myself. I could not comprehend how there could be so much to talk about on such a simple process. In my opinion, I certainly did not have anything to learn and she would not stay focussed on my “right way to do it” long enough to learn. She was busy figuring it out in a way that worked for her. I did not realize at the time what she was doing and was quiet offended.

We had a little “intense fellowship” that spoiled the tent set up to be sure. She stopped talking altogether and I grew even more miserable with the silence. I did really want a conversation but I wanted it about how I was doing it so she could learn my method. What was I to do now? Within a couple of minutes I just stopped working, stood up straight and gently asked why she was silent. She said that she did not want to irritate me, but she had an idea worth sharing. I adjusted my attitude like a coal miner washing the soot from his face after a long day underground. I asked if she would please share.

What happened next was a God thing. She pointed to a place in the tent’s fly where the fabric was not tight and flat. She asked if it might leak there and wondered if maybe there was a clip or buckle or tie or something we could use to pull the fabric tight. I had my best attitude on and crawled in the tent to look. I expected to demonstrate that it was just the nature of this design. I stared completely stupefied at a clip right where she thought it might be nice to have one. I had never seen it before! I am still wondering if God just put it there to help me learn a lesson about communication and to save our future outdoor adventures from unraveling. I clipped it in place and eagerly crawled out to hold her close. I thanked her for her contribution and promised to work on being collaborative about learning to hike and camp together even when I felt I was the uncontested expert.

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Guys, your lady might want to just watch and assist as you guide her; she might want to just rest while you apply your trade; she might, however, be like my Honey and want to have her thoughts and ideas valued and appreciated by you. If you are not sure what approach is best for her, just ask. I know my Honey appreciates it when I consider what will work for her.

You might find that collaborative camping finds culmination in considerable cuddling…like it did for us that day.