Elephant Adventure 3: Filler Words

In this Adventure, my task was to identify the use of filler words in my speech, and try to eliminate them. I’ve worked on this before in the past, and I didn’t think I used a lot of fillers, so I assumed it would be a short exercise.

I already knew I liked to open with “So…” and drag things along with “um…”

Then I heard myself say “like…” I didn’t know I still did that.

And so I extended this Adventure. Not using filler words is important to me, and I wanted to give myself more chances to observe and correct my speech.

It was interesting to listen to myself once I became aware of what I was saying. My speech would all of a sudden feel awkwardly slow as I tried to suppress the ums and likes, which I use to buy time for thinking. Not sure if it really was slow, or if it was just my overloaded brain perception.

I’ve heard more than one person say these filler words are a normal part of speech. Colloquially, they are, and most people don’t think anything of them if they’re not used in excess. But I find them to be a crutch, and think they weaken the message.

On day 7, I wrote, “Learn to be comfortable with silence.” This applies far beyond this exercise.

This exercise, however, is not solely about speech. It’s also about seeing “how entrenched our unconscious behaviors are.” The use of filler words is an unconscious habit, and like most unconscious habits, is quite difficult to change.

But there’s hope. Becoming conscious of this habit is the first step. And with continued mindfulness, it’s possible to work toward long term change.

I’m not done with this one, but I don’t need to pause here exclusively. I found with Leave No Trace that an exercise like this sticks with me even after I move on.

Elephant Adventure 4: Appreciate Your Hands *high five*


I promised to cheer after dialing it in with a lip synch last game, and was rewarded with progressively better cheers, from THE Double Stuf to Dessert First! to CAPTAIN DESSERT.

We made up for our previous tiny rink showings with a ridiculously good one tonight. That, despite the game starting at 10:45 instead of 10:30. I really hope super late games aren’t the secret to our success.

Irene and I got our Fun Passing on. Mostly, Irene did all sorts of magical things like catch pucks out of the air and set Ellen up for goals. Picked up a couple assists on the night. Final score: 6-1.


Half my team subbed in the next game. The same goalies played, I shot on my goalie from the first game, and ended up with the same score. Well, darn.

Glutes so tired. I’d like to think that’s because I’m getting low. No idea.

Final score: 1-3

Double Meh

8 out of 10 players showed up for our game. It’s really hard to feel motivated when your teammates flake / don’t say what they’re going to do / don’t bother to show up.

It’s really hard to cheer when you feel that way about your team. Or when you don’t understand why your team is named after a double helping of your least favorite part of an Oreo. Or when you’re being told to cheer but there’s no enthusiasm behind it.

I may have lip synced our cheer in the 2nd period. Because meh.

The game itself was fine. And I got to choose a cookie of my choice if I would cheer for them next game. So I chose Fruity Pebbles. Mmm…

Final score: 1-3, including empty netter.

Elephant Adventure 2: Leave No Trace

The directions for this adventure said to pick a room and leave no trace of my having been there. In short, clean up after myself. This was not really that much of a departure from my usual habits. I leave most places in the same state I find them. So instead of picking a room, I decided to apply this everywhere. At home, this mostly meant I washed my coffee cup before leaving the house, instead of leaving it in the sink. In general, I noticed more when I did my usual cleanup with furniture reset, at home, at work, and just about everywhere else.

I did find that with this as a project, I realized it was actually pretty easy to do those few things I considered okay to leave for later. Like the coffee cup. According to the book, that’s exactly what this exercise was about. It’s about showing us how we tend to be lazy about little things, and how easy it is to just take care of those little things on the spot.

Here’s the thing about little things: They add up. If you always do the little things and leave no trace, your world is always orderly and spacious, for what feels like not a lot of effort.

Elephant Adventure 3: Um, like, Filler Words, you know?

– – –

Update: 2017-06-25 @ 6:51 PM

One thing I didn’t mention from the book was going from leaving no trace to leaving things better than how you found them. I’ve done this on occasion since high school, but I find myself doing it more now that I’m more conscious of it. That extra bit of effort is worth it.

Don’t Do That

June is one week on, one week off month at Thursday night hockey. This was on week. I heard last week was rough. Today was kind of our usual, with a pile of subs because it was the 10:45 game. Thanks, subs!

I played D, and in the first half of the game went for the puck and got burned on a couple 1-on-1’s. I jokingly said to our goalie that I let him by so she could shut him down. “Don’t do that,” she replied. I had 4 more 1-on-1’s against that guy the rest of the game. He did not get by me once.

Sometimes I need my goalie to remind me to do my job.

Thursday night league is funny. All the subs think it’s their job to play D because no one wants to. There is always confusion that I choose to play D. Yes, I want to be back here. Because how else am I going to get better at it?

Final score: 5-1.

Ring Ring, Hello?

Niecey Poo, asking to FaceTime with me a month ago: Auntie Viv.
Niecey Poo, asking to FaceTime with me two weeks ago: Auntie Viv. iPad.
Niecey Poo, asking to FaceTime with me today: Call Auntie Viv.

Aaron says she’ll probably be calling me directly two weeks from now.

Manual One-Two

The other day, while watching random bike skills instructional videos on YouTube, I came across this guide to manuals:

I’ve watched quite a few videos on manuals and none of them have magically imbued me with skill. This time, however, my staunch belief in the benefit of new skills explained 5 different ways by 5 different people paid off. Starting at 18 seconds into the video, the instructor goes over how to get into manual position. Instead of the usual “get your weight back”, it’s “Step 1: Pump down. Step 2: Weight back.” They even draw imaginary video lines, and explicitly state that combining steps 1 and 2 won’t work.

Today, I found myself at a pump track, land of rad skills like manuals. There’s a baby step up roller I don’t have enough hops to jump, so I decided it would be a good candidate for a manual. When I came here 2 weeks ago, pre-video, I shifted my weight back in futility on every attempt.

Today, I remembered those imaginary video lines. Pump down, THEN weight back. And whaddaya know, it works.

Video screen capture or it didn’t happen:

It wasn’t anywhere close to perfect, or even good, but it was better than I’ve ever managed before.

Aaron says I should practice this skill on flat ground before trying it on a pump track.

Crazy talk!


Right after #imacat I played D for Dena’s team. I enjoyed it more than usual. Not that I don’t like playing D, but there were a lot of rushes and I really got to focus on patience and positioning. Did not get burned; I will call that a win! Even though we lost. Final score: 2-3.


My Thursday night goalie is super tiny, and shuts it down like nobody’s business.

On Saturday, I had to play against her. She shut it down like nobody’s business.

It was fun to sub, though. Got to play on a line with Jilly and Sam. And we got to cheer for, hrm, I don’t remember. #imacat?

Final score: 0-2.