Well, nothing stretches your brain more than venturing into the unknown and learning new things and that is exactly what I am doing.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” ~ Henry Ford
At age 71 I didn’t expect to be in such a learning mode, but for some reason I find myself engaged in three new activities that are stretching me in different ways. On a whim, my sweet husband, Dean Evenson, gave me a ukulele for Christmas. I had been noticing ukuleles lately and thought I might like to try playing one and presto – there it was at the foot of the tree looking very much like a miniature guitar. So, then of course I had to figure out how to hold it and tune it and position my fingers in strange contorted ways to make chords and then find ways to strum it in a rhythm and make it sound like music.
It’s so cute and tiny and much lighter than the hand harp I am used to playing. My first step was to get a lesson from a friend who happens to play one. She showed me the basics and then I was off and running and looking at a month long trip where I could focus on practicing some chords and learning songs and such. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve gotten pretty good at ‘You Are My Sunshine’ which happens to be a favorite song of mine anyway and since it only has three chords, I’m good for now playing C, F and G but I will keep learning more.
Another thing I am doing that I have never really done is writing a book. Oh, I have written articles, blogs, stories, copy and flyers for 80 albums, an unfinished memoir and all sorts of short pieces, but now I am actually working on a whole book which I intend to publish. Well, it probably won’t be a big long book but it does involve something I have been interested in most of my life and have taught workshops about and pretty much lived for the past 40 years. It’s a book about how to meditate with music. I am bringing together material from courses I have taught and the numerous articles and blogs I have written – all about the many ways music and sound can be used to support the meditation process. Do you think you would want to read a book like that? I hope so.
The third big new thing I am doing is taking a professional life coach training class. This is a twice a week live call with an experienced coach trainer and involves lots of hands on coaching and all sorts of things that help a person develop a professional coaching practice. I have always been interested in coaching and tend to often be in the position of mentoring or encouraging friends and family on ways to improve their lives. I have been part of a local coaching group and was trained to be an AARP Life Reimaged Checkup facilitator, but now with this class, I am really getting a sense of the potential for taking the life coaching path much more seriously. I am enjoying learning new things in the class and no matter how far I get in the field, I am already benefiting by learning to be a better listener and ask powerful questions.
Like stretching and exercising our muscles to keep our bodies healthy, we need to stretch our brain to keep it in shape. There has been lots of research showing that people who engage in active learning can improve their memory. Just keeping busy and being social isn’t enough. Lead researcher of a University of Texas study Denise Park says “It is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially.” The report published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science studied two groups of older adults. One group was engaged in challenging mental activities and it was found they actually improved their cognitive functioning. The other group just kept busy with familiar social activities like listening to classical music or doing crossword puzzles but showed no improvement.
So there you have it! Keep learning. Keep stretching. And above all – enjoy yourself. As always I love to hear from you. Especially if you are getting out there and stretching yourself and learning new things. And when you comment, I’ll send you a free mp3 track of our music.
*NOTE: It looks like the comments section is working now. Thanks for letting me know your thoughts and I’ll send you a free mp3 download. No ukulele music yet but something from our peaceful music collection. Thanks! Dudley