Did You Know You Can Over-Insulate?

Last night, I start to worry that our home is too drafty.  No matter how insulated the house is, it still seems that freezing air seeps into the house by doorways and windows. 

But then I learn that too much insulation destroys air quality. A draft allows outside air to circulate in the house, freshen things up, and keep air quality healthy.  Often in the winter, folks seal up their homes too much.  Residents get sick, and they experience a build up of toxic air.  Who knew that one could over-insulate?  You can!  When you block air flow, you also create moisture traps that lead to mold and rot.  Healthy houses have regular fresh air flow, even during the winter. 

I fling wide the back door and let the night air flow in.  It’s uncomfortable.  

But it’s healthy.  

I realize that some amount of drafty living guarantees a healthy mind.  I don’t want to over-insulate my heart and mind from whatever remains outside my routines, my particular philosophy of living, or even my community.  I want to remain open to new practices, new ideas, and new friendships even when they make me uncomfortable.  I learn and grow in the presence of difference; I find that my mind, faith, and neighborhood grow stronger when I don’t over-insulate. 

Living with flair means I open wide the door and make a new friend, read a new book, or try a new routine.  I let fresh things circulate to keep me healthy.    

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Layer Up

On a cold day like today, with temperatures below 20 degrees and a wind chill that takes your breath away, I have no choice but to face my day with layers.  And I’m especially cold since I’ve barely recovered from my illness.

With tights, long johns, knee-high pink socks, black boots, wool skirt, wool sweater, wool jacket, hat, scarf, and mittens on, I walk around campus.  I’m cozy, tucked-in, secured like a newborn swaddled in quilts.

I’m actually a little warm.

Layering is the only way to survive the winter.  In fact, layering will always keep you warmer than a single heavy coat.  Layering acts like insulation on the body and slows the transfer of heat.  Heat trapped between clothing layers works as thermal insulation, and I stay warm all day. 

Layering my clothing to regulate body temperature made me seriously consider the concept of other forms of regulation.  Hasn’t my weight loss journey been about layering up my surroundings with good choices–veggies, then fruits, then whole grains, then lean proteins, then dairy?  Hasn’t my mood regulation been all about layering the day with good sleep, positive relationships, spiritual practices, and exercise?

I start the day, add layers of good things,  and eventually feel the warmth of thermal insulation protecting my mind and body from whatever comes against it.   Living with flair means I layer. 

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