Invisible Ethics of Conversation

Have you ever played the game The Sims? Remember how when two people are talking for a while you start to earn points on your relationship meter? That’s how real life is, only not. Talking to another person can be a magical thing. It can make you feel more alive and connected. Almost any conversation can be an enjoyable, beautiful thing that changes both of your lives for the better. You have the ability to take it to this place. You also have the ability to crush all the joy out of a conversation and put everyone in a grouchy, aggressive mood. Which one do you prefer?

sims
“The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace…”

 

Rules of conversation can vary slightly based on the degree of rapport you already have with a person. A conversation with a stranger or roommate might be a lot different than a conversation with your best friend. Regardless of whom you are speaking with, it can’t hurt to keep in mind these Invisible Ethics of Conversations:

1) When someone else is talking, focus on “What is this person really saying?” rather than, “What do I want to say in response to this?” While sometimes it is appropriate to share a story in response to someone else’s story, it is not okay to interrupt their story to do so. This might be a really hard concept to accept, but the world does not revolve around you. People are not necessarily fascinated with everything you have to say.

blah blah
Oh yeah? Your mom is blah blah blah.

 

2) When you ask a question, give the person a chance to response. Don’t interrupt their answer to bring it right back to you. Give them a moment to think. Silence is okay. Take a deep breath and wait patiently for an answer. Do not ask a question just because you really want an excuse to answer it yourself. YOU ARE NOT THAT COOL. STOP IT.

3) Try to give all parties involved an even amount of talking time. Shoot for 50/50 or 60/40. Once you get to the 80/20, 90/10 or god forbid 100/0, this is no longer considered a “conversation” but becomes “ranting” or “venting.” I know they both having the same root ending, but a monologue is not a dialogue. Unless you began this social interaction with the understanding that you were going to dominate the air space, there is no excuse for your selfish behavior. Make the world a better place and please just stop doing that.

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If people often look like this when you are talking, you are doing something wrong.

3) Be aware of your agenda when talking — Are you trying to build a relationship? Offer someone advice? Gain information? Vent about something bothering you? Impress someone? Once you identify your agenda, make sure your behaviors are congruent with your goal. IF you are trying to impress someone, be aware that talking about yourself and your great qualities can actually hurt your relationship and backfire on you by making you look like a tool. Learn the phrase, “Show, don’t tell” to remind yourself to demonstrate your qualities versus talking about them. Don’t tell someone, “I’m a fun guy” but actually do something that brings enjoyment to others so they can see how fun you are. Especially when meeting someone for the first time, there is nothing more annoying that screams insecurity than a long drawn-out story highlighting how awesome you are. The best response to this type of story is a, “Yeah you’re really cool” and then walk away.

I care what you have to say.
Oh yeah, that’s fascinating.

4) Learn active listening responses like:
a. Reflection: “It sounds like… you were really feeling [emotion] about this.”
b. Summarization/Paraphrasing: “So you’re saying that…. ?”
c. Ask open-ended questions: “What did you mean when you said….?” or “What was it like to… ?”

listening

5) Pay attention. Look at the person talking. Smile, nod, make eye contact, notice what’s going on with both of your body languages and adjust accordingly. Unless you are expecting an emergency, do not pick up phone calls or answer texts. That is equivalent to abruptly interrupting your conversation to start talking to the random guy next to you. Most phone communication can wait 10 minutes. Having a phone is not an automatic excuse to be rude.

6) Learn to fight fair. If you disagree with something the other person is saying, understand that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. You are probably not going to change someone else’s mind. The best you can hope for is a shared respect of each other’s viewpoints. Do not state your own opinion as fact (unless in the rare case that it is), but rather, “I feel that….” Or “Hmm, I can see how you would think that. My take on the matter is…” Unless this is a debate club, you are not going to get a prize for being right. Rethink your agenda: Is your focus to build a relationship, or build your ego? Sometimes it is very fun and enjoyable to argue when done in a fair, friendly way. Sometimes it is just abrasive and obnoxious. If you are arguing just to have another excuse to dominate the conversation, stop it.

calvin
Do not take advice from Calvin.

 

Have I missed anything? Please let me know in the comments below!

Bringing in the New Year at Rocktown

Last week a giant awesome crew of Booners and Knoxvillians made their way to Rocktown to herald in the new year. For me, it was a vacation! For Drexel, it was just another day in the life. (Sigh.)

Words cannot describe the pure childlike glee of watching people casually crush their long-time projects like it ain’t no thang. Trey (seen below) walked Sherman Photo Roof V7 the way you can brush your teeth with your eyes closed. It takes a lot of confidence and tenacity to come back to a climb that caused so much heartbreak the previous year (he consistently made it to the last move multiple times). By now, he could probably do all the moves in his sleep. I think many people would just throw in the towel and say “F*ck it, I’m never touching this rock again!” But not Mr. Ronald Worley the Third. No, not him. This is a shining example of what a positive attitude can do.

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“My positive attitude is overflowing.”

Another example would be the tall, indescribable Mr. Ryan. He drove all the way to Rocktown, shivered himself to sleep in his tiny car (scientists are puzzled how an 8′ man fits inside a 6′ car), and hiked around in the miserable mistiness. I had assumed everyone who dealt with the elements did so because they were determined to climb. It wasn’t until I had already left that I realized Ryan hadn’t climbed at all! Dealing with a shoulder injury and potentially needing surgery, he came out just because he was psyched to hike around outside and cheer on his friends. He never once mentioned his shoulder. He never complained or seemed disgruntled with his lot in life. So HIGH FIVE Ryan. I know plenty of people, including myself, who have let an injury completely crumple their world. They become angry and embittered, slaughtering gallons of ice cream and muttering curses to the rock gods. Or worse, they try to climb through an injury, realize it hurts or is getting worse (no duh), and throw a temper tantrum. So next time you’re griping about your sore fingers, just think, “What Would Ryan Do?” (WWRD).

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WWRD? Look sensual on a rock.

Another remarkable feat of tenacity was Carson’s return to Big Bad Right V8. Last year he took a bad fall and severely sprained his ankle on this very climb. This year, without even breaking a sweat, he cruised through the powerful moves and did a little dance at the top. Ian, not to be outdone, stole Carson’s beta and sent, riding high on his previous sends of Brown Hole V8 and Triple Threat V9, and then later got way too excited on Price is Right V8. For those of you who haven’t met Ian, he’s one of those annoying guys who can hop off the couch after not climbing for months and then crush your project into tiny little pebbles. He is also really good at dancing with his head pressed against the roof of a car (fun fact of the day!).

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Carson working out the moves of Golden Harvest V10.

My day at Rocktown was a success, despite not sending any new boulders. I was able to stick a difficult move on Sherman Photo that I had never done previous, and I tickled the top of The Tao V8. Since I’m not getting any taller, my only hope is to keep getting stronger. Spending a day climbing outside was an excellent motivation to keep training during the week and trying harder to be a weekend warrior. (Definition: a “weekend warrior” is a person with a big-kid job during the week who only gets to go climbing outside on the weekends. Yay life.) 

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Experimenting with some barely existent intermediates on The Tao V8.

Oh yes! And of course it was great fun to take first-timers to Rocktown and show them all the fun classics! Macee did her FIRST OUTDOOR v3 with the heart-pumping Mario (or is it Luigi?). HURRAY!!!! Rocktown has something for everyone!! (And if you are scoffing at this, please brush up on your invisible ethics of climbing.)

After a hard day of climbing, we were all looking forward to stuffing our faces with Mexican food. Everyone knows one of the best perks of Rocktown is the nearby Los Guerrero’s. Alas, it was closed! As was the Italian place across the street! What were we to do?!?!? In a small town like Lafayette, there’s really not much else except good ole trusty McDonalds. I’m sure locals were confused by the sudden conglomeration of six cars in one tiny empty parking lot. I know I was. Luckily our noses (slash smartphones) led us to a chinese buffet down the street. It wasn’t amazing, but it was food, and they had seating for all 12 of us. And an entire array of American fried foods (with ranch!) right alongside their greasy lo mein and peanut chicken.

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Do you see Ian massaging his meat down there?
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Kyle getting down and dirty with some noodles.
china
“MMM! CHEEEKAN!” (Name that movie for a free block of chalk!)

When we couldn’t fit any more fried donuts and ice cream in our bellies, we lined up at the register to pay. They must have miscounted our party number, because when the last person was lined up they demanded payment for two. Flustered and unsure of themselves, the person said, “Oh, there’s someone still in the bathroom” and quickly beelined for the door. And as the last car squealed out from the parking lot, a little Chinese lady ran after them, screaming and waving her hands in the air.

Happy 2015.

Melise Edwards Hits the South

Drexel here, I just finished up this video of my good friend and fellow crusher Melise, climbing in Boone and Tennessee. Enjoy!

After finishing school, Evolv athlete Melise Edwards hit the road with the intention of climbing in all the best areas the South East has to offer. After a very successful stint in Boone, NC, Melise visited some Tennessee sandstone at LRC, Dayton Pocket, and Rocktown. She had a blast and looks forward to the next opportunity to explore more fantastic bouldering spots. In this video she climbs Klamper V8, Changing Lanes V9, and Portobello V9, in Boone, NC. She also quickly puts together River Dance V9, one of the most beautiful and classic boulder problems the South has to offer.

Keep up with Melise on her blog: itsajurg.blogspot.com/

Oh, oh, oh oh stayin’ alive!

I suppose I’ll keep the blog ball rolling! YEEHAW. (Please feel free to comment below with encouraging words for Drexel to write a blog entry. If we get at least 5 comments, I bet he will write something about how he lives in his van and climb rocks.)

Normally I’m not doing anything noteworthy that is climbing-related. But. This past weekend I took the long-but-not-too-awful drive to Chattanooga to hang out and climb with Drexel and Melise! (Yay!)

Saturday was kind of grey and gross, but we got out for a nice hike with the pupsy to look at the surprisingly impressive and proximal Apartment Boulders. I won’t tell you where they are (just in case this is supposed to be a local’s only secret) but I bet you could find out if you were persistent. It’s crazy to see boulders so close to civilization, until you stop and remember that the boulders were here first, so it’s less “Whoa, how did those boulders get here!?” and more “Whoa! Why did someone build apartments so close to large rocks?!”

Sunday was ROCKTOWN!!! I haven’t been back there since the good ole days of our road trip. Besides one chuffery (can that be an adjective?) day at Blowing Rock, I haven’t touched real rock since… a long enough time that I don’t have the patience to calculate it. So it’s been a while. Words cannot describe the rock star exhilaration I felt walking up to the Hueco warm-up area and finally touching sweet sweet sandstone. (Mmm.) Maybe a picture can do it justice?

The face says it all.
The face really says it all.

The only thing more fun than exploring Rocktown is sharing Rocktown with a climber who is there for their first time. — I still fondly remember Zach S. hiking into Rocktown for his first time and getting psyched to throw his pad down at all the chossy stuff we passed on the way to actually climbable rock. We had to promise him that there was more, so much more to come if you keep walking five more minutes! — There is a strange satisfying joy that comes from showing someone all your favorite climbs. And even moreso, seeing someone flash the pants off of all your favorite climbs. Because honestly, that’s what happened when Melise met Mr. Rocktown. By the end of the day, Melise was victorious, and Mr. Rocktown had no pants on.

One by one, they fell before her – Hueco Simulator V-scary, Nose Candy V6, Sherman Photo V7, Helicopter v6, Standard Deviation V6, Golden Showers V5 (second-go, the only non-flash send of the day)… It was INSANE!

sherman
A photo of the Photo Roof V7.
golden hugz
Golden Showers v5 but I think it should be called Golden Hugz.

Not to be outdone, Drexel sent Triple Threat V9, one of the few remaining Rocktown climbs on his ticklist. I had so much faith in his sending powers that I videotaped it with my dinky-yet-sturdy Lumix (a camera I highly recommend for a roughing-it-road trip), so stay tuned for that lil thang. Please let me know if you have song suggestions!!!! Right now I’m thinking Beyonce

Fancy schmancy bat hanging trickery on Triple Threat V9.
Fancy schmancy bat hanging trickery on Triple Threat V9.

I had no impressive sends for the day. In fact, I couldn’t even re-send some of my easy climbs from last year. And… I think that’s okay. It’s humbling, but it’s nothing to beat myself up about. Still recovering from a bad ankle injury and a lack of any serious climbing/training, my goal for the day was just to regain my confidence and psyche climbing outside on real rocks and re-learning how to find feet without neon tape. And I did that, so I guess my day was a success. (Confidence tip: Set the bar suuuppper low and then exceed expectations no matter what you do!)

My other goal for the day was to teach Rumi how to be a good crag dog. Except for that one time that something snapped in his little furry brain and he went into crazy run-in-circles-as-fast-as-possible-omg-run-run-run, he was pretty good at staying off pads and playing well with others.

dogz
Rumi and his new palz. I think the little one is a bit of a creeper.

Overall, a great day. We had been planning to hit up the Hot Chocolatier in the evening, and Melise had even racked up 50+ V-points, earning herself AT LEAST THREE liquid truffle drinks, but the shop was closed on Sundays. I don’t understand why, except maybe there was a petition by local churches to close the shop and improve service attendance? Is it blasphemous to worship chocolate?!? I say NO WAY. But put away those sympathy notes — we were sneaky and managed to create our own truffley-fudgey-deliciousness back home. Crisis averted.

Until next time,
M&D

selfie
Warning: Don’t steal my camera to take selfies unless you want them posted on our blog. :)

Drexel’s Time in Boone (and my time with chocolate)

New video out. Thanks to Organic for the support, and all the wonderful Booners. http://vimeo.com/113348945 Drexel is having a blast climbing in Chattanooga on the daily, kicking it with Mike and a chiweenie. I’m jealous (about both those things), but too busy coloring feelings with adorable little demon children and their families (yay “real” jobs). This upcoming winter break should see an increase in climbing, psyche, and trips with all our friends to Rocktown, LRC and maybe even Rumbling Bald (Dec. 13th Triple Crown!).

chiweenie
Chihuahua + weiner dog = chiweenie!?

p.s. Good news for all you Asheville climbers: The new Chocolate Lounge just opened, and it’s easy jogging distance from Climbmax downtown. So set yourself a goal of climbing all the v3s — I mean 3 stars — er, I mean dots? Yes. Dots. Climb all the dots, and then get yourself a hot cup of salted caramel liquid truffle. (Or just skip the climbing and go straight to the chocolate – teehee!) … (You know who you are.)

truffle
Mmm, every little spoonful from that little baby spoon was like a majestic swirling field of flowers and unicorns dancing and hugging my mouth.

Triple Crown – Hound Ears

This weekend marked the beginning of the 2014 Triple Crown Bouldering competition series, and also the first weekend that was super friggin cold! It feels like one of those middle school nights where first you soak in a hot tub, then plunge into a frigid swimming pool while shrieking with delight, and then pop back in the hot tub and do this over and over again. Except that the hot tub just closed for six months and you have to stay in the pool until then. Yes, winter has arrived this weekend and it’s here to stay, so you better learn to enjoy it.

(If you didn’t do that hottub/pool thing in middle school, sorry, but you missed out big time.)

We were both psyched to help out during Hound Ears as judges, arriving at the campground at 6:45am on the day of the comp, only to wait around for a couple extra hours for the morning drizzle to dry off the rocks. Thea from Footsloggers provided free coffee for the masses (thanks!), and after five cups it was time for me to do… something! Anything! So I very excitedly helped herd people onto shuttle busses and made awkward caffeine-fueled conversation with folks as I collected their waivers, and despite a bus break-down, all 400ish people finally made it up to the boulder field!!!

I was really looking forward to running around climbing at Hound Ears with my friends. That was the game plan at least. Then last weekend, after getting my ankle kicked out during a soccer game, plans changed and my  new goal became walking slowly, cheering my friends on and having as much fun as possible signing other peoples’ scorecards with a big red J for Judge.

Olivia’s recent blogposts have been super inspirational about having a positive attitude while injured.  It also helps that the world is a beautiful place (especially in the fall) so my view of people climbing looked like this:

Hound Ears
Not a bad view of fall foliage… and Julie really got to get up close and personal with nature as she ascended this sketchy v3 into lichen, moss, trees and leaves.

More photos? Okay!! Excuse the iPhone crappy quality… and the sparsity – it was so cold all I wanted to do was keep my fingers in my pockets. I DO have a couple videos of Jephree cheering in that really intense special way that he does – if anyone asks, I will post. If not, enjoy the few pics I managed to capture:

Hound Ears
With Brennen Bull star-chasing all over the place, we saw a lot of this view. It all paid off, because Brennen and his bright blue pants went home as winners!
Hound Ears Blade Julie
Julie Hwang and her crazy strong fingers on the classic Blade V6.
Hound Ears Blade Lisa
Lisa Hummel slicing her way through the Blade V6. (Like buttuh.)
Hailey racking up some points with Woody’s v3 (a V5 with a misleading name).
Hound Ears
Dan Horne wanted to be cool like Hailey, so he hopped on Woody’s v3 and crushed the pants off of it.
IMG_0158
The Clawwwwwww V4. (It’s hard to say the name of this problem without thinking of Toy Story.)
Hound Ears Julie
Julie was chosen to ascend The Claw V4. (Oooooooohhh.)
Hound Ears controller
Ian Rogers having a power struggle with The Controller V6.
Hound Ears cold
Cold widdle Rumi made a new friend and crawled inside Al’s puffy jacket. So crazy to bump into a dude we met in Arkansas back on our road trip!

People turned in their scorecards and meandered back to the campground to eat some subpar chili. Slowly but surely, the sky darkened and things got more interesting. There was a pad-stacking contest, winners were announces, and some numbered balls were thrown into the audience. I was busy cuddling with a shivering puppy in the minivan, but Drexel and his brother Carson caught ALL THE BALLS and won some legit stuff, like a new chalk pot, down jacket, and framepack. These are not your average door prizes…

Looking forward to Stone Fort at the end of this month, and crossing my fingers that my sprained ankle will be healed up by then, or I might just have to cut it off and nub my way up I Think I Can V9. Cutting off an appendage is the best way to drop some quick poundage, right?

I realized while posting photos that I never put up any photos from Locals Day at Hound Ears back in June 2014. So keep your eyes peeled for epic photos of dynos, ninjas, and crate stacking. (Spoiler alert: Thor wins.)

Recap!

So yes, it’s been over three months since the last post. THREE MONTHS! Whatever could we be doing instead of throwing ourselves at real rocks all day, huddling in a minivan every night, and crossing the country in search of the best carousel ride??? Well, that’s a good question…

1) We’ve been living and working in good ole Asheville (“Ashevegas”), the hotspot for local beer, vegan gluten-free restaurants, ridiculously happy well-rounded children, and chakra-opening crystals.

2) We have been climbing as much as possible at Iron Palm Bouldering, our favorite indoor gym in Asheville. We’ve also met some super awesome climber folks who CRUSH and also just happen to love chocolate and puppies as much as I do. Speaking of…

3) We adopted a PUPPY!!!! His name is Rumi. He likes tummy rubs, licking inside of ears, and will trot around the house with his water bowl in his mouth when it is empty. Yes, he is the smartest, cutest, bestest puppy in the whole wide world.

The cutest
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” -Rumi

 

Those are the main points. I won’t bore you with details about all the 7 Wonders games, tea times, dinner parties, hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the day we managed to boil, peel, squeeze and freeze over 50 tomatoes that a farmer gave me after I volunteered with them for a day.

Starting on Monday, Drexel will return to the wonderful, magical vagabond life. I’ll be holding down the fort in Asheville with Rumi and my big-kid job as a family therapist. So dear readers, prepare for a slew of extremely climber-centric posts as rock after rock crumbles beneath Drexel’s large manly phallanges. I apologize to our mothers who probably still think it’s silly to grunt up a rock face when you can just as easily walk around, but I’m sure all of our friends will be full of that dirty P-word.

(Yes. Psyched.)

I’ll be meeting up with Drex in Arkansas around Thanksgiving, and it would be sooo cool to see all of our cross-country friends again at HCR and Cowell. We also look forward to seeing everyone at the upcoming Triple Crown events!!! SIGN UP BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!!!

  • October 4: Hound Ears
  • October 25: Stone Fort
  • November 22: Horse Pens 40
  • December 13: Rumbling Bald

Following the adventures of two rock climbers and their minivan

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