April 5, 2010 at 11:56 AM (Energy, Mood) (, , , , , , , , )

The weather has an inordinately strong effect on my mood. For as long as I can remember, it seems that a sunny, warm day brings out my doingest, most optimistic and energetic self; grey and cold, especially rainy and cold, drive me underground with a furrowed brow and a short temper. According to my therapist, this is giving too much power over my life to the vagaries of Mother Nature, especially here in New England – you know, “if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.” I should be much stronger than giving up a potentially good day in the face of crappy weather. Not to mention that this puts me in a pretty foul mood from, say, January through April.

Nonsense, I say. Ask Louis Armstrong: when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you. Why shouldn’t the weather affect us the same way? I understand that I should be able to keep a civil and patient (I’m thinking specifically of my reactions to the short people in my house) tongue in my head on a truly gale-ful day in February, but I think it’s okay to grouse about it, too.

Potentially this has more to do with my dog-walking habits than any other reason: he and I have established a (lucky dog!) schedule wherein we spend 45 minutes to an hour every day in the local state park, a hundred-acre wooded and fielded dog’s paradise that could possibly give Mt. Washington a run for its money as the windiest place on earth. We’ve been there on hot days in the summer when you couldn’t stand to go outside after 10 AM, and on blustery days in winter with eighteen inches of snow and howling northwest winds, when I wore nearly every piece of clothing I own. But once in the woods, even on the snowy days, we find so much peace and quiet and kumbaya-good-for-you-hug-a-tree-nature that despite my hothouse-flower disposition I keep coming back.

Good excuses for my weather focus abound: neuropathy makes my hands and feet ACHE unbearably in the cold weather. I’ve gotten so temperature-sensitive that long underwear are de rigueur on any day below 40 degrees. But the less time I can spend at the park, the rammier and more annoying the dog acts for the rest of the day. So we go.

I imagine that, before our climate-independent lifestyles developed, before we slipped from warm house to warm garage to warm store and back to warm car, when you had to leave the house to do just about everything, most people felt better on days when they didn’t have to rub the ice off the seat in the outhouse. When being really cold was a bit more life-threatening than just needing an extra four ounces of latte on the next Starbucks run. So call me a throw-back, but I’m going to stick to being temperature-sensitive. I’ll try to maintain a civil tongue in my head, even when it’s freezing out.

My family, it must be said, are very excited that we’re having a warm and early spring.

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Drat. Mom Was Right Again! And Here’s A Cornell Study To Back Her Up.

January 11, 2010 at 7:44 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

When we used to go outside to play in the snow, Mom always told us to put a hat on. We’d ignore her (hats were NOT cool in the ’80s – hard on the feathered hair or some such) and slog around for twenty minutes, then come inside complaining that our feet were cold. “If your feet are cold, put a hat on,” she’d say. What kind of fool sense was that? If your feet are cold, clearly you need better boots. With wedge heels and faux shearling peeking over the top. Or possibly we just needed hot chocolate.

Now that I’m a cancer chick, I’ve come to realize that there may be something to this “cold feet/body = cold head” thing. Without hair, I’m FREEZING. All the time. From mid-June to mid-October, I’m okay, but the rest of the year? Cold. Layers, and lots of them. One of the layers must be wool (ok, cashmere), including the socks, or I’m shivering. I have rediscovered the magic of hats (and thank Kors they’re fashionable again!), and wear one all the time, inside and out. (Side benefit of baldness regrowth: no hat-head!)

My constant hypothermia has become a bit of an inter-gender needling trigger chez moi. Mr. Wonderful, whose metabolism usually runs at a high boil, is comfortable in the house in a t-shirt and jeans, bare feet. Occasionally he’s been known to take the dog out in the snow in said bare feet. He’s comfortable with the thermostat set at 64 (financially as well as thermally). My boys are always complaining that when I’m cold I make them put on sweaters. I, as previously noted, am only really warm in a hot shower or tucked into bed in (dead sexy) flannel PJs and a (dead sexy) fleece hat. Oh, and please set the thermostat to at LEAST 67. Preferably 69. All three boys find my shivering amusing, and think I’m making my griping up (but have come to expect that I’ll get them with my frosty fingers in the ribs at least once a day).

Today, there’s proof for the ladies. I discovered that some researchers at Cornell have released a study that proves that bald people are colder than people with hair! That’s right, four Biological and Environmental Engineering students put sensors on the heads of test subjects and put them in a cold environment for twelve minutes. They already knew that the head is a major source (60 to 80%) of heat loss (Mom was right!). The test subjects with hats showed little difference in head temperature regardless of hair length or thickness, but subjects without hats showed much higher heat loss through the head if their hair was shorter than one cm, and once their hair length reached two cm it started adding significant insulation to the skin.

I don’t think my hair is two cm long yet, but even if it were, I’d still quote this study. Rock on, my hatted bald-chick peeps.

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