Days of pushing, days of rest

I rested when I needed to, I did my best to fit in as well as I could. And I rested.
When I need to rest… I rest.

I’m taking it easy today. I rode my bike this morning, but I didn’t do any weight lifting. I’m still sore. Plus, I swam last evening after work, and I was still feeling it this morning.

So, I let myself rest.

I’ve made the mistake in the past to not get enough recovery time.

I paid for that.

I know better now – more importantly, I’m doing better now.

And it’s good.

Keeping fit, keeping strong, keeping safe

iceberg field in a body of water
I have to be able to handle the obstacles in my way

I’m a little glad my mini-vacation is over. It was great to have the time off work, but it’s also great to be getting back into my weekly routine and seeing people I work with.

I worked from home yesterday, and that was great. I wasn’t ready to go back to the office, just yet. And I got some important things done in the quiet of my own home. I love the quiet of my own home. It’s very soothing for my jangled nerves. I can do a pretty decent job of jangling my nerves myself, so being in an environment that doesn’t make things worse… well, that’s a good thing.

I didn’t get as much exercise as I should have, though. I did a lot of reading, a lot of writing, a lot of thinking, a lot of sleeping. And I did do a lot more exercise bike-riding, than usual (because I didn’t have to be anywhere, first thing in the morning). But I didn’t get up and move as much as I normally do, when I go in to the office.

This morning, I did my bike riding, and then I did more weight lifting that I usually do. I did 20 reps, instead of 10. And that felt good. It feels good to push myself. I haven’t done that, physically, for several weeks, and I can definitely feel it. I need that.

I need it to keep myself strong, physically and mentally. I need to the discipline, the dedication, the unwavering determination to take good care of myself, so I can rise to the challenges that confront me each day. Winter is coming. And I may have to do more physical work then – shoveling and such. I have to be in decent shape, so I don’t knock myself out. I also need to not get stiff and sore and locked into a certain physical position from sitting for hours and reading/writing. I need to break up my activities and take time to keep strong and fit.

I also need the exercise to keep my head clear. It’s been the number one factor in my accelerated recovery, I believe. Not everyone is the same, but I noticed a huge jump in my capabilities, when I was exercising regularly. And when I slacked off for about a year, because the migraines were bothering me, I noticed a decline in my mental capabilities.

Especially now, when I feel like we’re under constant ideological assault by the different political parties and vested interests, I need to be able to reason and think clearly, to be able to tell truth from lies and defend myself from people who are preying on me because they think I am weak. I also need to defend myself from well-meaning people who think that sheltering me or protecting me from my “diminished” state is the thing I need — rather than pushing myself to improve.

I saw a friend of mine yesterday who knows about my TBIs. They also seem to think less of me, because of the injuries. They say things like, “Don’t push yourself too hard” or “Make sure you don’t over-extend yourself.” They talk to me like I’m a bit dense. Huh. I guess they don’t realize that having a slower processing speed doesn’t mean I’m stupid. It just means I process information differently. I guess they also don’t understand that extending myself and pushing myself is what actually helps me get ahead in my life. It’s what helps me grow. It’s what helps me exceed the expectations of anyone and everyone around me.

I need to push myself. I need to over-extend myself. And then recover. Take the time to regroup, heal up, and then get back into the midst of things. I hate when people do that. It’s demeaning to me, even though I’m sure they mean well, and are only trying to help.

But for the record, it doesn’t help me. It just holds me back.

So, it’s back to pushing myself a little bit. Each day is a stretch for me, to be perfectly honest. It’s difficult, and it gets progressively more difficult over the course of the week. Mondays are not easy. Tuesdays are harder… Wednesdays take a little more out of me… Thursdays are like walking into a fog… and on to Friday is just one long exercise in wading through fog and confusion.

But as long as I rest up on the weekends, I can get myself in decent shape.

Of course, this is all dependent on me keeping myself physically active. The past week has been kind of a “test run” for me, in how I would live, if I didn’t have to go into the office every day. Or even if I didn’t have to go to work. True, I’ve got like 20 years before I’ll be in retirement age (they keep moving it back), but I need to think about how I’ll live my life, once I’m not going into an office every weekday. Plus, I might get a remote job at some point, where I won’t be required to go anywhere. How will I live? How will I take care of myself?

Clearly, I have to do some more thinking and planning around that. So, now’s a good time to start.

Anyway, the workday is upon me, and it’s time to get moving.

Onward….

Then again, the weeks after the election have given us plenty of reason to be concerned

person sitting on a park bench looking at a coming storm
Photo credit: Myshelle Congeries

A little while ago, I posted that I wasn’t going to be whacked about the election anymore.

I was wrong.

I am whacked. Way whacked. And very, very worried about what’s transpiring before our very eyes.

If you’re not whacked about it, you’re not paying attention. And you’re not really thinking this all through.

A lot of people are going to get hurt, because they believed a classic con man. Bait and switch. Ditching his promises, left and right. And putting exactly the people in place he said he never would.

Of course, it’s all very predictable.

People have been predicting this for months and months — much longer than anyone has been paying attention.

So, I’m back to being whacked about it.

But I’m not stopping there. I’m really taking the time and making the effort to think things through and reach my own conclusions. It’s tough, because we are in unprecedented waters, and it’s like none of the rules apply (either because people are refusing to follow them, or others are refusing to enforce them, or both). And there’s a whole lot we don’t know about how things are supposed to work, because the people whose job it is to make sure they keep working fell asleep at the wheel. Or they became corrupted by outside influences, themselves.

The most important thing, right now, is to not let my thinking process be overtaken by the slogans and the jargon of this rising gang of spin-meisters. They’re throwing around different words like “alt-right” and “unity”, to cover up the truth of white supremacy and fascism.  It’s all a big thought-control campaign, as far as I’m concerned. So, I’m going out of my way to keep myself from falling into using those words.

I’m also taking good care of myself, which is really important. I have to keep my head level in these times of danger, and I’m not doing anyone any favors, letting myself get over-tired and bent out of shape.

So, maybe it’s still true that I’m not letting myself get whacked about this. Yes, the democratic process has completely broken down, and it appears that the very party that said they could do better than Trump has turned tail and run. I’m not sure they’re ever going to recover their legitimacy, after this. They’re certainly not going to get my membership. I dropped all political affiliations a few years ago, and since I live in a state where I can vote for anyone I like, if I’m independent, I’m actually better off.

But in terms of the country – this bait-and-switch scheme may turn out to be pretty painful, in the end. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot — in the short term, anyway. But long-term? Who knows? If nothing else, I hope we learn to not take for granted something we just always assumed would work: Democracy.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Just a little hope for our times

dark clouds with light appearing behind
Some light always finds a way through

Like a lot of people in America – and the world at large – I’ve become increasingly concerned about what’s going on in Washington, right now. The “joker” who people either loved, or who didn’t take seriously, is putting people in power with a demonstrated track record of racism, discrimination, and attacking people who are not like them.

And I’m not okay with that.

Likewise, I’m not okay with the media downplaying the risk. Nor am I okay with the Washington politicians who are aiding and abetting this — or simply not standing in the way of these people who are shredding, piece by piece, even the faked appearance of human decency. Shouting “Hail Trump!” with Nazi salutes, quoting Nazis to justify their positions, and so blatantly aligning themselves with the ideology that killed millions up on millions of people in Europe, as well as worldwide. I just don’t understand how anyone in a position of influence in Washington can sit by and not throw themselves between these people and their constituents.

I don’t understand why more elected officials aren’t standing up and denouncing this direction we’re headed. And it is we who are headed there. It’s not just someone else. It’s all of us… getting dragged down by people who do not value the full range of human life, and who feel completely justified in making life so difficult for others.

I understand why people voted for Trump. But now that he’s showing his colors, I don’t understand why they continue to support him. People seem to think they’re immune, they’re safe. All his behavior and priorities won’t work against them, and so that’s okay. Except, at any time, in the most unexpected ways, any one of us can end up on the business end of his political cattle prod. Especially those of us with disabilities like brain injury, that happen as a result of chance or dumb luck… or just happen… and leave us vulnerable and living in constant fear for our lives.

I’ve been in that position for many years, now. I’m not sure I’ve never been in that position, to be honest. I’ve had hidden difficulties that I didn’t dare show to anyone. I’m anonymous on this blog for a reason — it’s often not safe to reveal to others that you have sustained a brain injury (or two or three… or nine, like me). That disqualifies you instantly from so much, simply because of people’s misconceptions.

And now it’s even worse, because it’s not just people’s perceptions and their personal sentiments that work against you. Very soon, unless that man is stopped, it can be public policy, as well.

I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to cover up my difficulties and “do the dance” of hiding my challenges and deficits. I’ve spent a lifetime refining my techniques, and they work. Most “regular” people never want to think you’ve got difficulties. They never want to even remotely suspect that there’s anything “wrong” with you. They want to think “the best” of you and not so much as imagine that you’re different from them. They don’t want to know that you have any particular needs. They don’t want to see that you “can’t keep up”, and if you fall behind, they either prod you to work harder, or they distance themselves from your vulnerability.

Especially now, when the disdain and disgust for anyone who is “less” than the Aryan ideal is an open target, from the very top, down. I’m going under deeper and deeper cover, as the days go by. And I’m not sure when it’s going to change.

Because now my faith is so eroded, I just don’t know who to trust, anymore. People I once counted as friends were willing to look past ignore and discount the bigotry and white supremacy of someone who aspired to take over the highest office in the United States of America. And they helped him in that bid. They decided to ignore the plight of the poor, the disenfranchised, the non-white, the disabled, the non-male… anyone who did not match the ideal held up by the neo-Nazis… it’s open season on them.

Of course, is it really any different, for many types of people? I’m thinking particularly of the protesters out in North Dakota who are protesting the threat to their water. The Native folks out there – indeed, all through this nation – have been on the receiving end of that kind of behavior for centuries. Indeed, anyone who was original to this land “got it” from the European settlers – whoever had the power, got to do whatever they wanted to everyone else.

And so it goes. Misery upon misery. Injustice upon injustice.

Where is there hope?

I believe there is hope in the small places of our lives. The times when all the distractions of the world fall away and leave us with a chance to come to life in the moment. When we help someone with a door that won’t open easily. When we help someone up, after they’ve fallen. When we take steps to help others in even the smallest ways. When we see others doing that, as well.

Ultimately, yes, I know – the rest of the world can be a terrible place, and people who abuse power… well, they abuse power. Takers take. Haters hate. And all around us, we see signs of fear running people’s lives. But there is hope. In the help we offer to others. In the help others offer to us. I’m not saying don’t call your representatives. DO call your reps in Washington. Prod them to do their jobs and discharge their duty to protect this nation from a fascist takeover. And at the same time, do what you can to assist others… as well as help yourself. Civilize your own world, one act, one decision… and another act at a time.

Most of all, don’t despair. There is always cause for hope.

Because the broken places are where the light gets in.

Okay, I’m done being whacked out about the election

Snoopy sitting on his doghouse, which has been shot up
I’m feeling a little shell-shocked from this week.

It’s been a week, since the election happened. And now the dust is starting to settle.

Time to get back to work, doing what I do. Writing about living life, in spite of all the hurdles that get in the way.

I have no idea what’s coming down the pike, but whatever it is, so long as I take care of myself and keep myself headed in a direction that is true to ME, I will be fine.

Case in point: Over the past week, I haven’t gotten as much sleep as I needed. This is brutal. I get progressively worse, over time.

So, last night after supper, I lay down on the couch and took a little nap. I slept for about an hour. Then I went to bed and got nearly 8 hours of sleep. Then, today, after I spent most of the morning at the dealership getting my car serviced, I took another nap in the afternoon – I got a little over 2 hours of sleep. That means, in the last 24 hours, I got 11 hours of sleep.

And I needed it.

Now I can deal with … well, anything that comes my way. It’s raining. I have to go get groceries for supper. My spouse is sick with a bad respiratory infection. It’s cold and it’s dark. But I got 11 hours of sleep, and I feel more human than I have in a week.

So, off I go…

Onward.

A much-needed change of pace to stave off the whirlpool

I have to be careful of how I used my energy

I’m working from home today. I started the day with a 7:30 a.m. call with someone in Germany, then another call with a co-worker in Australia, and now I’m on a four-hour marathon of multiple conference calls.

My days have gotten a whole lot longer, as well as a whole lot more complicated, over the past 6 weeks. I’m not happy about this. Yes, I’m taking on more responsibility and my role is getting more visibility with the right people, so that’s good for my job security. I think… But my quality of life has dropped dramatically. I’m in constant reaction mode – along with all the other folks I work with. We’re so behind on our collective tasks, and I’m not sure when we’ll be dug out.

Everybody’s struggling, pretty much. We’re just so swamped. For me, though, I think the cost is higher, due to fatigue. I get tired, and then I don’t think as well. And when I don’t think as well, my life doesn’t go smoothly. And it adds to my stress. And that makes it harder to sleep.

I’ve been messing up making supper. And when I went to vote earlier this week, I accidentally voted for the wrong local candidate. Oh, well. I’m sure my vote will be canceled out by somebody else. But still, it’s a little disconcerting to see I’ve filled in the wrong circle. And there was no way of reversing it, because it was in that special black ink. A bunch of little things keep falling through the cracks. But what can I do? I try to get to bed at a decent time. And I’ve been doing pretty well with that. But it’s hard to get to sleep, lately. And then I wake up early. Which adds to my stress, because I really wanted to sleep.

It’s a vicious cycle. Once I start getting pulled down that whirlpool, it can be very difficult to get out. And being at the office — first, off, driving in during peak rush hour traffic, and then being constantly bombarded by a steady stream of interactions — just makes it worse. I lose track of what I’m supposed to be doing, and I lose track of what I’ve lost track of. It builds up. It adds up. And it piles more stress on top of it. I get stressed about being stressed.

So, I’m taking the day away from the office to actually get some things done. I have a lot to do, and it will be great to have some peace and quiet around me while I do it.

I also sorely need a nap today. I’m starting to get the “adrenaline shakes”, where my hands have a tremor whenever they’re resting. My stomach is in knots, over my concern about getting things done on time.

Of course, none of this is really that visible to others. I don’t want other people to know, and in fact, I can’t go around telling people how badly off I am. That’s not how my world works. If I let on, how much I’m struggling, it will cause others to doubt me — just at the time when I have to be the most reliable. Telling people about what’s happening with me, will hurt me more than help me. So, I just keep going… keep on… and maintain my steady focus… with the eventual confidence that things will get sorted out in due time.

I can manage this. I know what the deal is with me, and I know what it takes to keep myself going. So, that’s what I’m doing.

Today.

At home.

I am very much looking forward to actually getting something done.

In peace.

And quiet.

At home.

Onward.

Strengthening my executive function – one unexpected change at a time

Making myself stronger in ways that keep me headed in the right direction.

I’ve been away from this blog for a few days, because I’m shaking up my routine, and that’s taking a bit of adjustment.

I’ve been getting up about the same time, sometimes earlier, and I’ve been going to work earlier, as well. That leaves less time for blogging. And it’s also been making me more tired. I went to bed before 10:00 last night, which was really good for me.

That change is partly my doing, partly because of meetings and conference calls I’ve had to attend. But that’s how things are shaping up. Also, summer’s over, and all my coworkers’ kids are back in school, so their routines are more pronounced. That carries over to mine, as well.

It’s not easy. I am so used to having each morning happen in a certain sequence, at a certain pace. But lately, I’ve been picking up the pace and pushing myself a little harder. It’s good for me. It’s unfamiliar, and that’s good for me, as well. It forces me to keep my act together — even with the little upheavals. No, especially with the little upheavals. Those throw me more than the big things. So, my life lately has been about handling the little changes that come my way, while keeping calm. And also apologizing when things aren’t going well.

I had a flat tire, last night when I left work. The right rear tire on my car has a slow leak that I’ve been topping off every week or so. I went a while without checking it, and sure enough, when I went out to my car to go home, I saw the vehicle was listing to the right. And the tire was too flat to drive on. No big deal, right? Just put the spare tire on, which I’ve done many times before. The thing is, one of the lug nuts on the spare requires a special wrench to get off, and I didn’t have that wrench. Supposedly it’s to keep the tire from being stolen, but I don’t live in an area where that’s a big problem. Argh! So frustrating.

I was pretty put out, because I had gotten off work earlier than usual, and I was intending to go home and work on some of my projects. As much as I hated to do it (I have my pride, after all), I called roadside service, and they said they’d show up in about an hour, which wasn’t bad. But it really put me out of sorts. I wanted to be at home, reading and writing and working on my stuff, not sitting around waiting for help.

Then I realized that I could be reading and working on my stuff while I waited for them. Plus, I wouldn’t be at home, where my spouse is under the weather and needs a lot of attention. So, that actually worked out pretty well. I got some good reading and writing done.

Then my spouse called and told me I needed to drive two towns over and pick up their antibiotics the doctor had prescribed. So, more time was lost to that… time I was really valuing and hoping to get. I got pretty irritable and snapped at them. Then I realized I was being an a**, and called them back to apologize. They need their medicine to get better. It’s important they take the antibiotics right now, so it doesn’t get hold of them.

Roadside service showed up, but they didn’t have the type of wrench I needed. We looked at the tire, and it actually was holding a bit of air, so they just topped me off to get where I was going. I’ll take my car to get serviced (and get a standard-issue lug nut put on that spare) this weekend. I can use my spouse’s car in the meantime – they’re sick, so they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

All these changes — big and small — are practice for me. I need to be able to hold myself together, to adjust to changes, to plan things, initiate doing them, and then follow through. It’s not just living life. It’s practice doing little things, so I can do better at big things. I’ve struggled to keep myself on track for so long. It’s very important to me, to get my act together and live up to my full potential, no matter what the circumstances. Especially when things don’t go the way I want them to.

I’m not a child. I need to act like the grownup I am, and if I’m not up to snuff, I need to get myself in line and figure out how to get myself up to snuff. Everybody falls short. I’m just not using my circumstances as an excuse.

So, that being said, it’s time to get myself in gear and go off to work. I’m getting mobilized about an hour and a half earlier than I normally do. I have an early meeting, and I’m driving to the office, rather than taking the call at home. It’s more work, and it’s not pleasant, but it’s necessary. Because the easier it is for me to do the hard things — through practice — the more fun it will be to do the easy things.

And who doesn’t like a bit of fun, every now and then….

Onward.

Shaking things up just a little bit

railroad tracks on a gravel bed, one of them ends in the gravel
Time to step off the track and improvise. It’s good for my character.

I took a break from my memory training yesterday. I need to let my system just chill out and acclimate. I pushed myself for several days straight. Now it’s time to let the new connections in my brain (and all-over nervous system) chill out and have a rest. I’ll come back to my exercises in another couple of days.

I’m changing things up a bit. Heaven knows, I love my routines. I have had a lot of trouble in the past with getting things done – especially everyday things – so I have routinized many, many aspects of my life. It’s to the point where I don’t even need to think about doing a lot of things that used to really trip me up — getting myself out of bed, showered, dressed, fed, and out the door to work. It used to be such a trial and a pain — and every morning started with rage.

That’s a terrible way to live. So, I did something about it. I developed a routine I would stick with, each and every morning. It was rudimentary. It was far beneath my actual capabilities. But it relieved me of the need to think everything through, each and every day. So, it served a truly valuable purpose. I credit that routine with giving me a functional foundation again. And saving my self-respect in the process.

Now it’s time to shake things up a little bit. Change up the routines to get my brain to work a little harder.

As helpful as it is to do things the exact same way, in the exact same sequence every day, it’s also easy for my brain to just check out and not have to work at things as hard. When you’re struggling just to get out of bed and out the door to work each day, routine helps. But when you’ve got that down, and you know how to do it rote, sticking to the exact same routine can be a little deadening.

Because if you’re not continuously moving forward, then you’re actually moving backwards. Maybe not right away, but over time, if you don’t move… you’re in trouble.

So, I need to switch things around a little bit. I’ve been doing that at work, where I’m getting there earlier in the day. And I’ve been handling a wider variety of work, interacting with different people, taking on a wider array of responsibilities. I’ve been stepping into the kind of role I want to play in the future, and it’s been good. I figure I have the next year to figure out where I want to go and what I want to do — and that includes money. It turns out, I’m under-compensated. I checked on Glassdoor.com, and apparently, people are making a lot more money than I am, for doing the same work. I tend to lowball myself, because I tend to think that expensive people get cut first, but I may be wrong about that.

Anyway, I’ve been doing a wider array of things in my everyday life, too — more cleaning around the house, organizing, freeing up space and seeing how I can improve my living environment. I’ve been exercising religiously each morning, which itself is a bit of a change (I used to do it every now and then). I’m lifting weights differently. And I’m working on my swimming, doing more strokes that are harder for me and demand more of me. I’ve also been pushing myself to do extended laps, rather than just floating from one end of the pool to the other. It feels great to be in the water. And it also feels great to be tired, when I’m done with my workout.

I haven’t been doing as much walking on the weekends as I should. The summer was so hot and buggy. I just didn’t want to go out. I was also pretty tired. But I have to push myself to do better about that. I need to get out and walk today. Just up the road and back. Maybe on the hiking trails. It’s been raining for the past day or two, so things are wet and slippery, so I probably won’t go into the woods, where I could slip and fall and maybe not be found right away. I need to keep safe.

My spouse has a business engagement tonight, so I’ll be helping them get everything together for that. I have been more involved in their work, lately. It’s not quite to the point where I used to be involved, but I am doing more than I had been, over the past few years. They have lost a lot of supporters, over the past few years. I think their erratic emotions and highly demanding nature has put people off. Plus, my spouse expects people to do a lot for free — or be compensated just with words of thanks and gratitude. There’s more to compensation than that, but the don’t seem to understand that.

Well, that’s not my problem. I just need to take care of my own stuff.

But that also includes taking care of them. Because they’re getting older, and they’re not going to be 100% functional forever. We’ll need to make some changes — as my spouse becomes less able, and I continue to need to keep my career going, keep working, keep taking care of myself. I can’t see the point in sacrificing my success for them — no, our success, since everything I do really benefits us both. I am the breadwinner, after all.

So, I’ve been doing some research with regard to in-home care. It’s a thing now. I’ve had people tell me I should put them in a home, right after they had their severe health collapse, about 10 years ago. I was having trouble dealing with their constant neediness and the increased responsibilities of helping them get back on their feet, and a number of people told me I should look into some sort of managed care — that I shouldn’t stick around and have their bad decisions and habits affect me.

It’s just so bizarre to me, how people can be so cavalier about just ditching people who aren’t 100% functional and able-bodied. And I also can’t believe how easily others give up — that they don’t see how you can help someone work their way back to functionality (at least, without professional help). What a shame and a waste. Maybe if fewer people gave up, and more people realized just how much you can really do, we wouldn’t have as much human suffering. Maybe…

Anyway, after months and months of concern about how I’m going to help my spouse if/when they are unable to care for themself, I now know — I will find in-home care. It will be someone who they like, someone who’s really good and helpful. And I think it will be affordable. My spouse is on Medicare, so that might help pay for some of it. If not, I will find another way. If I can just stay at my current earning rate for the next 20 years (even if I never get another raise), I can afford to pay someone to come for 4-6 hours a day, four days a week. And if Medicare can help, even better. Unless something terrible happens to me (which is always a possibility), I can maintain my own state for the foreseeable future, just as-is. And that will let me adapt to my spouse’s changing status, as well.

This is yet another reason why I need to change things up with myself and my daily routine. I need to be flexible and capable under a variety of circumstances. I need to know how to keep my cool and soldier through. I need to be adaptable and not lose it, when things shift around me — as they invariably do. My current job is not secure, it’s not stable. It’s there for the time being, but I am pursuing different opportunities within my role at the company so that I can add them to my resume and beef up my desirability in the job market. Everything around me is an opportunity to improve and make myself stronger, more valuable, and able to command a higher dollar amount. I need those higher dollar amounts. It’s just ridiculous, that I should be paid less than I’m worth, so I need to start doing something about that.

And I am. Both by doing new and different things, and training myself to do those new and different things without losing my cool.

Onward.

#Brain training test results – 10-20-16

Here are the results of my testing yesterday. I got my test sheet and folded it in fours, then I studied the image below, committing it to memory. I traced the lines with my finger, and I also stood with my shoulders wide and my hands on my hips, to have a kind of physical memory of it, because it looks almost like a robot standing with its hands on its hips. I tried to take my time, but I was distracted by my busy day ahead.

Starting Image
10-20-16-start

I noticed when I was starting out, I was a bit impatient. I was tired (still am), and I was running behind schedule. So, I felt very antsy while I was studying the image

About four hours passed until I did my first attempt at recollecting.

First Attempt
10-20-16-try1

I did pretty well, getting the lines and all the pieces correct. However, I was a bit rushed, and the proportions were not correct. The top bar was too “chunky” (even though I remembered that the bar doesn’t go the whole way across). And I remembered the location of the circles in the middle. But I crowded them, and the bottom squares are too small. For some reason, I start out big, then I get smaller. I get nervous. I get rushed. And it shows.

At the end of the day, I took another shot:

Second Attempt
10-20-16-try2

I was clearly tired and rushed — I started drawing the bottom squares too quickly and forgot that I needed to leave room for the circles. Then I caught myself and course-corrected. The bottom squares are still too small, proportionately speaking. And the right one is smaller than the left. When I’m tired and nervous, I draw smaller. And I was rushed. I didn’t take my time — I think because I was nervous about possibly forgetting what I had in my mind.

So, what does this teach me?

Mainly, that I need to come up with a more effective technique for remembering things and keeping them in mind. I also need to relax and not rush. Because that gets me in trouble. It might not seem like that big of a deal here — it’s just a drawing — but that generalizes to other parts of my life that I really need to keep clear and steady. The skills I build while doing this can come in handy in other ways.

Here you go – downloadable memory training/tests you can use over and over.

Well, that took less time than I expected

I’ve collected 17 similar images for memory training into a single document. Here it is: Memory Training with Circles, Squares and Lines

It’s a PDF you can download and print out. It’s 17 different versions of the circles and bars and squares training I’ve been doing. From the introductory text:

This collection of geometric shapes is designed to help train memory and attention to detail.

How does it work?

First, you fold the paper into four sides – in half in one direction, and then in half in the other direction.

fold the paper twice, in directions, then use the blank spaces and also the notes
Here’s how to fold the memory test sheets

Then, you study the image for a while, committing it to memory as much as possible.

Then you put the image aside and go do something else – you can think about the image a lot, occasionally, or not at all. You just get on with your life.

After an hour, or several hours, or maybe a whole day, you draw what you think is an exact replica of the image on one of the blank sides of the paper.

Then, you open up the sheet, so you can see your image beside the original, and you study it to see where you got details wrong, as well as where you got things right.

You can write down notes about your observations of your memory – what you remembered, what you forgot – and if anything “jumps out at you” about your drawing.

Repeat this process again, drawing what you think is the right image on the other blank part of the paper. Then open up the sheet and compare what you drew with the original.

Writing down notes can be a good way to train yourself about the kinds of details you missed. Nobody’s perfect, and some of the images are trickier than they seem.

Also, the images on all the pages look enough like each other that, as you do this exercise each day, you may find yourself remembering things that you committed to memory from before. This is on purpose. It’s meant to test you, to get you to really focus in on the unique and original image in front of you – not something you saw before.

At first, it may be tricky. And you may find yourself noticing things or forgetting things that surprise you. Let yourself be surprised. Learn about your mind and how it works. And learn how to memorize, one day at a time.

This collection of sheets is meant to be printed out, and each one used separately. You can re-print sheets to re-try. You can also make modifications to the original images to make them your own. You can also color in the sections of the original image and work on your color memory, too. It’s up to you.

You can use this however you want – just use it. Get better. Be better. And have fun, while you’re at it.

I hope this helps you and you find it useful. Just after doing my memory training for a few days, I was able to remember three items on a shopping list I’d left at home that morning. There were three items on the list. And I remembered them all. I was able to recall them mainly because I was able to visualize the writing — I didn’t remember the things, as much as I remembered the look of the writing of the list. But either way, it’s good. And it was such an awesome feeling to be walking through the grocery store with my other list (which was pretty long) AND remember the three items on the little list I’d forgotten at home that morning.

Obviously, I can’t guarantee results for everybody else. We are all very different from each other, and I’m a very visual thinker. So, my results are going to be probably be different from someone who is a verbal thinker, or someone who needs audio prompt.

But my philosophy is that every little bit helps, and strengthening one part of your brain can — and will — strengthen other parts as well.

So, give these exercises a try. I’ve made it easy for myself — and others — to use this. It’s not cumbersome. You have a rectangle of paper you keep around for as long as you need it. And then when you’re done with it, you can either toss it in the recycling (please don’t just throw it away – recycle, please), or you can keep it in a folder to track your progress over time.

It’s funny – when I think about my test the other day, I never even realized that the two squares underneath the bar were supposed to be separated. I totally missed that, both when I was drawing, as well as when I was reviewing. It took me a day to realize that. And then it was so obvious! Duh! But that’s how it goes with me, sometimes. So, I’ve gotta cut myself a break. For sure.

I hope you find this tool useful. I will absolutely be making more. It’s fun! And it helps! What could be better, than making life better for everyone?

Here’s the PDF download link again: Memory Training with Circles, Squares and Lines