Arts and Health, Sisters is devoted to exploring creative problem solving and coping strategies in our world, especially the links between artistic expression and personal and spiritual growth. It is also dedicated to honoring the value and power of women.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Apps for Memory Training

We all want to preserve our ability to remember. Even if there are things we wish we could forget!

These are some of the memory apps I have tried so far:

1. Lumosity: The presentation and quality of the games are fine and varied. I'm a bit skeptical of the science involved since the goal for most people is to prevent dementia  and maintain function, not just improve function. Unless you have a stroke or some other cataclysmic event, dementia generally develops quite gradually. It is this silent, slow progression which makes it so creepy and frightening. 
Putting that aside my other complaints are that I found the puzzles either so challenging as to be frustrating or too easy. It may just be me, but emotionally I found the experience to evoke feelings either of smugness or incompetence. To me that is not helpful. Also I didn't like their model (which may have changed since I played) of so many free sessions and then no access. Naturally one of their goals is to make money, so I can't say I blame them, but to expect someone to really see results and appreciate their product over 2 weeks is unrealistic. 

2. Clockwork Brain: I really enjoyed the puzzles in this game, and the artwork, Steam punk themed, is gorgeous. I got it when it was newish, and was frustrated by the lack of new challenges. Since that time they have expanded.

3. My current favorite is Elevate. It focuses on verbal skills. It has definitely helped me tackle some of my chronic spelling weaknesses. It automatically makes challenges more difficult or more simple depending on how you are doing right at that moment. You play each game until you finish the mission, whether it's making a small flock of birds fly, reaching a distant planet in the Space Shuttle, building a shape, etc. This makes the emotional feeling one of success and of overcoming a realistic challenge, even if the score for the day is worse. As you play your score ranking (across all users) gradually goes up, if you play regularly. It keeps track of your playing streak. It does not take a lot of time to get through the 3 games a day you can play for free, and there is a lot of variety in terms of the games, some are auditory challenges, some more visual, some use a combination of visual and auditory techniques to improve memory. I have no idea if it "really works" in a scientific sense. I remain skeptical since I believe we are still in the baby stage of learning about learning. I do know that I look forward to my several minutes of "training" each day. 

As I find new apps I will update this post and "bump" it.
And if anyone has similar apps they enjoy, please post a comment. I review the comments before they appear so you won't see it right away.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Understanding Illness: The Spoon Theory

I wanted to add this link because it is a great description of how anyone suffering from a chronic illness eventually starts to use as a strategy for living. It is interesting because I believe it used to be a part of general human consciousness before people started to believe that we could just run like machines, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with ocassional off days for maintenance.  The Victorians in particular saw personal energy as limited and something to be carefully meted out. Of course, this didn't apply much or at all to lower classes, and was misapplied to middle class and upper class women, who had to reserve all their energy for child-bearing and rearing. That aside, there is a certain logic to acknowledging that no one can do it all, and for many of us there are additional challenges that sap the day's energy away.

Hope it is helpful.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Anger Thoughts

ANGER. We all feel it, it's like what Erasmus said , "Bidden or Unbidden God is present", only substitute anger for God. Fortunately, I am not angry ALL the time. However I am often angry and do not realize it or pay attention to it. I often think I'm angry about one thing that more acceptable for me to be angry about, when actually, my anger is about something else entirely. 

I wrote this word poem about my typical trigger for anger:

Not Seen or Heard

The irony is that often I am the person least willing to acknowledge and accept my own anger. So I try to be more aware of even annoyance. For example today I was training my dog and I started to feel impatient. I noticed my impatience and (this time at least) did not fuss at my dog. Instead I noticed that my neck was hurting and decided training was over for the moment. 

I made a list of anger queries for myself:

- Do I listen to my anger, with compassion? Without judgement? With curiosity?
- Do I remember that anger increases energy, focus and motivation (not necessarily bad)?
- Do I use the products of anger (i.e. that focus, motivation and energy) well? 

Often I stuff or ignore my anger which means that whatever triggered the anger, like my sore neck, gets ignored  and worsens. It's so much better when I listen, see if there is something sensible that can be changed. Surprise, suddenly I have the best dog in the universe again! (except of course for your dog).