Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, July 9, 2010

Getting new information into my brain

I've been singing along with records since I could talk, which amounts to about 60 years. I remember lyrics to most of the songs I've ever sung along with. That's probably thousands of songs. Even if I haven't heard a song in years, if it comes on the radio, there I am, singing along, remembering every word. But trying to get new lyrics into this brain of mine -- that's another story.

I know it's probably an aging thing, but sheesh, that makes me mad. Why can't we do a brain dump or something to rid our brains of data we no longer have use for to make room for new stuff? Today it is so time-consuming for me to learn lyrics. I have to sit down and think about the story arc of the song--what's it saying, in what order are things happening, what triggers can I use to remember the sequence. Then I have to sing it over and over and over and over again until it sinks in. Oy!

The same with names of things. This weekend we hiked in the Pecos, where the wildflowers were spectacularly sprinkled throughout the forest and in the meadows. I don't know the names of most flowers and plants, but my friend R. does. No sooner would she tell me the name of one, then we'd see it again a few minutes later and I couldn't remember what it was called. Sigh!

What I've realized about all of this is that one, I have to accept this--I really don't think I can be doing more to keep my brain active than I already am. Two, if something is really important to me, I have to work much harder than I used to to get it into the brain and keep it there. And three, getting upset about it only adds stress to my life that I don't need right now.

Truly, my goal is to age as gracefully as I can, rather than go kicking and screaming about the changes that are sure to come along. So, how about you? Are there things you've noticed that don't come as easily? Do you have any tricks of the trade for remembering new things?



Cyndi said...

I have ALWAYS had problems remembering names of people and things the first, second, even third time around. It's not an age thing for me, it just leaves my head almost as soon as I hear it. I'm told you're supposed to immediately repeat new names and then continue to repeat the name in your head a few times. It's never worked for me though. :)

Song lyrics...that's another story. I listen over and over again and look up the written lyrics online until they're stuck in my brain.

Jody Hedlund said...

I love your philosophy about aging as gracefully as we can. As you said, the changes are sure to come. We can try to hold them off as long as we can, but they come anyway. I'm noticing the effects and doing what I can to try to stay a little healthier and take better care of my body.

Mary said...

Karen, If we could do a "brain dump" how would anyone write a memoir?
I had your memory complaint and my dad (95 at the time)told me this: "Mary, it's not Alzheimer. It's too much. Too many things for too many people, you need to think of you for a change." When I'm overwhelmed now, I pull back for a while.
So you know--Dad did advanced math in his head until he died at 97.
Take care! Prayers for you.

Giggles and Guns

Tabitha Bird said...

No. Sorry. I am really bad at remembering any new thing, unless it means something to me personally, and then I link the information to the event or thing that means something to me.
I don't want to age gracefully. Is that disgraceful? I want to kick and scream and in general do all those things I dare not do as a responsible mother of two :)

Vicki Rocho said...

No advice for you, I'm afraid. I'm all for a selective brain dump though! Can I get rid of some of those awkward cringe-worthy memories to make room for more pleasantness?

Mohamed Mughal said...

Don't overthink it. Live.

Joanne said...

I think it's a more selective process, and what you need to remember, you will. And don't forget all those songs you sang along with back in the day, how many times were they repeated on the radio back then? Probably hourly, over and over again! So be easy on yourself, and when you think about it, maybe the process is actually pretty much the same now as then.

Ann said...

I have never been able to memorize anything. As a child the hours and tears that were spent trying to learn my times tables!!! I have been singing the same song at family gatherings for more years than I care to count and can still make a hames of it. My brain is slow to grasp, but I console myself with the belief once grasped it is held. Not everyone who knows me would agree...but hey it's my belief!!!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I was born with a horrible memory, so I'm right there with you. It's certainly not improving as I get older! I tend to outsource my memory to my calendar, a to-do list, other people (I ask them to remind me of things), and devices (my phone, my computer, etc.) :)

Anonymous said...

Memorizing the songs like you are doing, and learning new dances will keep your brain elastic. Keep doing what you are doing. Yes, it takes a little longer, but isn't it worth it?

Patricia Stoltey said...

My worst problem is remembering names to go with new faces. Since I'm meeting lots of new folks these days, I have to focus on a face, listen to what the person is saying, repeat the name over and over to myself.

The weird thing is that I'm having no trouble remembering my dozens of passwords, even those I change every month or so. I even remember the whole number on my library card which is 14 digits long. Crazy brain.

Glynis said...

I am right alongside of you on this one. I keep my brain active, and eventually it sticks.

Janna Qualman said...

No trick here. The more years I see, the worse I am with faces and names, and memories. I don't suppose there's any way around it.

I have heard, though, that doing brain puzzles (like crosswords and the like) can keep a mind sharp.

The Old Silly said...

Faces I remember easier than names ... one trick I learned in sales/marketing/networking training is, right after being introduced to someone use their name in a couple sentences during the initial conversation. You know, "So, Karen ... it was Karen, right? Yes, well, Karen, I've noticed that as well ..." And so on. End the conversation with, "So good to meet you, Karen." Or something like that. Helps.