Focus on the big L – Lifelong Learning

In addition to exercise for the body, we must not forget to exercise our minds.  Now this is the kind of exercise I can get excited about!   No matter what our age or how much education we’ve had, we must continue to challenge our minds if we are to retain a sharp, focused intellect into our golden years.  Just as our bodies are faced with changes as we age, so too is the mind..  And just as forms of physical exercise can keep the aging body agile and fit, so too can exercises for the mind.  Keeping the mind alert and active can help us avoid too many “senior moments” from creeping up on us and  help us retain our independence longer. Keeping our minds challenged can stave off depression and the feeling that life has passed us by. And the best news is, you don’t have to get sweaty and hot and bothered to do it!

There are so man ways to exercise our minds.  Lifelong learning is now easier than ever  before.   From taking continuing education courses at a local community college to solving crossword puzzles, to playing games online, there is a virtual buffet of ways to stay focused  as we age..

One of the best ways to keep the old bean challenged is to learn something new.  If you’ve never gardened before, sign up for a class in that.  How about trying to learn a new language?  Or learn to sew, play chess, play a musical instrument,  make jewelry?  There are limitless possibilities.  By choosing to learn something completely new to us, we challenge our brains to create new pathways and connections, to keep those neurons firing away instead of fading away.

Spending some time each day working on crossword puzzles, word search or suduku puzzles are important in keeping problem solving and logic abilities sharp.  I never felt that I had truly grasped algebra in high school.  Being a word person, I took as little math as I needed to get into college  So I am working on that now.  Practice with both words and numbers is important.

.Games on the computer, like Gardens of Time or Mystery Manor, where you search for hidden objects are fun, and can be a great exercise in focus and concentration.  Or perhaps you’d like to try your hand at Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy..  The more you play these games, the better you get at them and the healthier your brain becomes.  Games like Bejeweled  Blitz or Tetris Battle are great for eye/hand coordination, challenging you to think and respond quickly.  One of my favorite games is that old standby, Scrabble, which you play with friends across the Internet.

Speaking of the Internet, it is a marvelous source of learning, right at your finger tips.  From  taking courses for college credit, to free online access to college classes, such as at open.yale.edu/courses, to those offered by community colleges and public school systems, the possibilities are  endless, With the open Yale courses, you “virtually” sit in on an actual class being conducted at the university.   Never thought you’d get into Yale?  Well now you can — for free!

It can be overwhelming, the amount of information and learning available to us these days, so focus in on a few topics at a time and you’ll be surprised how much you cn learn –  if you put your mind to it!

the bell has rung
the time has come
for us to heed the call
this must be the day
we cast fear away
and climb over that limiting wall
where we will find
freedom of mind
and a wide open road that twists and winds
its way to a future we cannot see
do we stay where it’s safe
where we know our place
or forge with our hands our own destiny?
—   pc 2012
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