Memory and Movies

Coursera Class: Understanding Memory through Movies

This month in my Year of Learning, I’ve been focusing on Memory. It’s been enlightening and interesting, and … well, hopefully, memorable!

I enrolled in the Coursera Class: Understanding Memory: Explaining the Psychology of Memory through Movies offered by Wesleyan University and taught by John G. Seamon. By the way, Seamon has a book available with the same content.

John G. Seamon does video lectures in the Coursera Class about Understanding Memory

This has been one of my favorite Coursera classes. Each lecture highlights a movie. Seamon gives an overview of the plot and then explains concepts from the movie that help us learn more about how our memory works.

I’ve seen many of the movies that are from the course, and it’s been super-interesting to me to dig deeper into the psychology of the characters and the plot and for Seamon to help us understand what’s realistic and what’s not.

First Lecture: Sometimes Life Imitates Art – Film:Fifty First Dates

In the first lecture, Seamon gives us an example of how the movies we see may influence what we believe and affect our brains in unexpected ways.

He showed us clips from the movie, 50 First Dates, in which Lucy (played by Drew Barrymore), suffers from a type of amnesia that she gets as a result of a car accident. Each day when she wakes up she can only remember her life up until the day of the accident (which she doesn’t remember.)

She creates new memories only for a day, but she loses those memories at night when she goes to sleep.

We learn in this first lecture that amnesia doesn’t really work this way.

If Lucy’s brain damage were severe enough to stop her from making lasting memories, she would find it hard to remember anything new for more than a few minutes. 

Lucy would be able to follow short commercials on television. But longer stories would leave her baffled and confused, as she would forget earlier scenes.

Lecture 1: Sometimes Life Imitates Art – Film: 50 First Dates

However, shortly after the film came out, there was a patient (known as FL) who experienced a similar type of amnesia as Lucy. The doctors were baffled because the brain scans did not indicate any damage that would cause this amnesia, but also didn’t think FL was faking her amnesia.

They discovered that FL’s favorite actress was Drew Barrymore and that she had seen the movie, Fifty First Dates, before her accident.

The researchers surmised that FL was experiencing amnesia, but it was functional not organic amnesia. The origin of each type of amnesia is different. Functional amnesia has a psychological origin, while organic amnesia has a biological basis.

Lecture 1: Sometimes Life Imitates Art – Film: 50 First Dates
Amnesia can be either Functional (psychological) or Organic (biological)

Movies and other media affect our beliefs and our brains

I found it incredible that a movie could affect someone’s psyche enough that it could create functional amnesia. I’m finding that there is so much more that might affect our brains than I realized. And, in turn, our brains and what we think, affects our health – mental and physical!

News, social media, music, and movies will influence our beliefs and our brains!

Summary

  • Coursera’s class about Memory and Movies is very interesting and informative!
  • There are two types of amnesia: functional (psychological) and organic (biological).
  • Movies (and other media) can influence us into believing a false reality.

Memory Improvement Podcast Binge: Kwik Brain with Jim Kwik

Listening to Podcasts for Learning

My 2023 Project is to do more focused learning, picking a new topic each month. The 3 topics for the first quarter of 2023 were Purpose, Blogging, and Taxes, specifically in retirement.

For April, my primary topic is “Memory Improvement.” (Stay tuned for my end-of-month summary post.)

One of the awesome ways we have of learning in this modern era is by listening to podcasts. Each month, as my primary topic has changed, I’ve searched for podcasts related to my primary topic. (By the way, listening to podcasts while doing my daily walk, has been a great way to keep me motivated to always get those 10K+ steps in.)

When April rolled in, I searched for podcasts having to do with Memory Improvement.

I’ve always been pretty good at memorization and some of the podcasts are specifically designed to help learn and practice memorization techniques. For example, a few years ago, I learned 100 digits of Pi, and this month, I’m learning about the 46 US Presidents (which is also helping me learn more about US History.)

Kwik Brain with Jim Kwik

Even though memorization skills are handy, what I like about the Kwik Brain with Jim Kwik podcast is that the topics he covers are all about Brain Health which is a lot more than memorization skills.

I’ve been so interested in Brain Health that after doing the “Napkin Test” with Richard Leider, I discovered that my “purpose” was to “Have a healthy mind and help others with brain health.” This is exactly what Jim Kwik is doing with his books, podcasts, and coaching!

At the end of each podcast episode, Kwik encourages his readers to leave a review about what they learned. Since I’m always walking while I’m listening, I don’t have a very handy way of doing that, but I’m going to summarize some of my takeaways.

Brain Health Takeaways from the podcasts

  1. Having a positive attitude about aging is one of the most important things we can do to maintain a healthy brain. With all we are learning about brain health, scientists are finding that are brains can continue to improve throughout our life.
  2. From 314: Lessons From The World’s Longest Study on Happiness with Dr. Robert Waldinger: Relationships are key to mental health. We need to have people we can trust and confide in who will listen to us and help us “destress” at the end of the day.
  3. MEDSRX Acronym to help remember healthy brain habits: Meditation, Exercise, Diet, Sleep, Relationships, Xtra!
  4. From 311: Simple Ways To Get Your Daily Brain Nutrition with Maria Shriver and Patrick Schwarzenegger I learned about Mosh Bars, a health food bar that I want to give a try.
  5. From 326: Revitalizing Your Brain: Unlocking the Power of Mitochondria with Dr. John Lieurance I learned that Dr. Lieurance practices in Sarasota! He’s doing exciting work with regenerative medicine.

Next steps

There’s a lot left to explore in this area and I’m excited to keep learning! Besides the many podcast episodes I have yet to listen to, I also want to check out Kwik’s books and classes.

Kwik’s podcast doesn’t have ads, and he depends on listeners for reviews and to spread the word, so I wanted to leave this blog post. I’m very impressed with all of his podcasts. They’re interesting and he has a lot of high-profile, trustworthy guests.

Brain health is an important topic at any age, but especially can affect those of us who are in our 60’s and worried about the possibility of decline. I highly encourage anyone who wants to maintain a healthy brain to check out Kwik Brain with Jim Kwik.

Making a Trip to the Museum Fun

How to Make A Trip to the Museum Fun

This blog post was inspired as a response to a recent episode of the Happier Podcast by Gretchen Rubin.

As is often the case, Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, provide happiness hacks.. their own and those from their large base of followers.. on everything under the sun. In this episode, they talked about different ways to look around a museum that might make it more fun or enjoyable than usual.

And, as always, they encourage listeners to write in with their own ideas.

Gamify!

My family loves games. While my kids were growing up, I made games out of everything. This was especially effective at getting chores done. Note: A “Beat the Clock” strategy is highly effective at getting chores done quickly, though can lead to some breakage and poor quality.

A “scavenger hunt” strategy is often something done at museums to make museum-viewing more fun for kids. And even for adults! If one isn’t offered at the museum, then with a little research, you can create your own.

The scavenger hunt doesn’t necessarily need to be researched ahead of time. Instead of having a list of what to look for, you can ask everyone to find their favorite piece in each room. Taking a “scavenger hunt” daily walk looking for things that brought me joy was something I did regularly during the pandemic. I discovered so many treasures this way!

My Unique Game at Museums: Guess Favorites!

And this brings me to my own unique idea at making museums more fun. I ask everyone to secretly pick out their favorite piece in each room and also guess what the others will pick.

We then ask each person what their favorite piece is and why. Sometimes people like the colorful pieces or a certain style of art. Sometimes it’s the composition or something unique about the piece.

As we go through each room, we discover more about the taste of the people we’re with. We also discover more about our own taste. What draws us to a certain piece of art? What feelings do we have when we view different pieces?

This “game” is not one where we keep careful track of how many correct guesses we have. (Well, maybe Scotty does. He can be competitive that way!)

It’s not about winning the most points, though. It’s about observing, discovering, and embracing what brings us joy. At the same time, we are learning what brings our companions joy.. deepening our understanding of them.

And sometimes what we learn is that they’d rather stay home and play a “real game” instead of going to an Art Museum.

Note: As adults, my kids still will play these “games” with me that originated in their childhood. They pretend that they’re doing it for my sake, but I can tell they love it. Well, except the one about picking up dog poop. I could not convince them that it was just like an Easter Egg hunt.

Celebrate love by sending cards

Celebrate love with DIY Cards. This screenshot was taken at the AARP free class: Make Your Own Valentine’s Day Cards and Envelopes, Hawaii 1/31/23

It’s February! That means it’s Carpe Diem Seizin’ – or for you language purists, Carpe Diem Season (I love a good pun!) There are so many February holidays that celebrate love.

We all know about Valentine’s Day, but peek into one of those sites that list all the many, many holidays you never heard of and you’ll find that February also has little-known special days that celebrate love.

Of course, you can celebrate love by sending a card on any of these thousands of holidays, but I’d like to highlight a few of my favorites:

Carpe Diem Day (Feb.26)

Celebrate Love during Carpe Diem Seizin'
Celebrate Love during Carpe Diem Seizin’

That’s right people, Carpe Diem Day is coming up on February 26th, but of course every day is a good day to celebrate! (Note that this Website carpediemday.com, was created in honor of CarpeDiemDay!)

I love that Walmart has an option to create your own custom cards with photos! This was such an easy and affordable option! For those of us that have difficulties getting our traditional holiday cards out on time, this is an opportunity to write back to those who sent us holiday cards! I love including photos with memories of the times I spent with the person I’m sending the cards to.

Random Acts of Kindness Day (Feb.17)

February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day.

Celebrate love with kindness

Not only does kindness spread happiness to all those around us, but it improves our health and longevity!

Letter to an Elder Day (Feb.26)

I love that Letter to an Elder Day is on February 26th! That’s the same day as Carpe Diem Day! This is a NEW special day. But what’s even more cool is that I’ve volunteered for the organization that created this day: Love for our Elders.

As I blogged about before,

Every Day is a Good Day to Celebrate Love

Whether with a card, eCard, text, phone call, smile, song, picture, hug, kiss, or whatever else you can think of, seize this day and show your love.

2023 Tuesdays with BB & Yvy #1: Robinson Preserve

Yvy (pronounced “Evie”) and BB at Robinson Preserve

Last year I blogged at least once a week about my Microadventures. This year I’ve been going with “Healthy Aging” as my loosey-goosey theme. I’ve also thought about blogging each week about someone I admire. I can do a twofer with this post by blogging about Becky and how she contributes to my brain health!

Healthy Aging

One thing that’s super-important for healthy aging and brain health is having good friends. Having new experiences is also great for the brain, so new experiences with good friends is like a double-dose of brain food!

During my snowbird months while I’m in Bradenton, FL, I’ve wanted to get into a routine. My best and very wise friend in the area is Becky Burns. We are both busy with our various projects, but I asked Becky if we could have a weekly get-together while I was in Florida. I love weekly rituals and rather than comparing calendars every week, it’s so much easier to just have a regular day/time blocked off so I can look forward to “BB Time!”

We agreed that Tuesday mornings worked well for both of us and Becky suggested that each week we could do different “microadventures” such as walks, paddle-boarding, cafes, beach, etc. Perfect!

A New Experience: Robinson Preserve and Sage Biscuit Cafe

I asked Becky to pick our first outing. The next morning I got an email titled, “2023 Tuesdays with BB & Yvie #1: Robinson Preserve.” I love the title of the email, both because it caters to my systematic titling of activities and uses my self-suggested nickname! (Though, I like spelling it Yvy, even more to really confuse people!)

Our scenic walk through Robinson Preserve was followed by a healthy brunch at Sage Biscuit Cafe. CarpeDeeLicious!

Robinson Preserve is a 600+-acre coastal preserve located in northwestern Bradenton.
Plenty of scenic hiking for Jack, Becky, and I to enjoy.
Delicious healthy brunch at Sage Biscuit Cafe in Bradenton

Someone I admire: Rebecca Burns!

Becky is a wonderful blog-post topic for a variety of reasons:

  1. She’s always interesting, fun, creative, witty, and willing to try new things.
  2. She doesn’t mind being the topic of blog posts!
  3. She’s one of the few people who reads my blog and often sends me a supportive comment, even when I know I’m being lazy about the writing.

In the Spring of 2020, we were Covid Lockdown partners at her home and she was my co-host on Season 2 of my Carpe Diem Connections Podcast.

In fact, I’ve blogged about Becky quite a bit, as an example of beauty and birthday-celebrator, as a supreme listener and animal-lover, as a guest on my podcast talking about self-acceptance, and on countless other posts as a fellow-adventurer.

BB & Yvy!

I’m so grateful to know this wise and wonderful friend and I bet my brain is 10x healthier than it used to be, thanks to our friendship!

Adventures in Water Drinking

Water Drinking is not usually considered fun, but it’s time to change that!

It’s a new year and I’ve really been struggling with figuring out my 2023 “theme.” The year of Microadventures was so successful and I wanted to figure out something equally fun that I could blog about each week.

I had a lot of different ideas that sort of fizzled.. a year of learning, a year of helping, a year of new people, a year of healthy habits. My friend, Michael Bolé shared an article about a woman who did a new thing every day! Oh! That’s appealing!

I’m nixing any of the “every day” ideas, though. I’m already pressured enough not to break my Duolingo streak (I’m on Day 1403, thank you very much!)

Healthy Habit For Week1: Drink More Water

The “healthy habit” I was focusing on for Week 1 was “Drink More Water.” So trite and boring. Been there, done that. Certainly water-drinking is about as opposite of a “new thing” as you can get. We literally do it every day and it doesn’t even taste that good! Which I guess is why it’s so hard to drink as much as we’re always told to drink. And don’t get me started at how inconvenient it is to have to pee so much!

Making Water Drinking Fun: Hydration Bars

But that new-thing-every-day article got me thinking: How can I have an “adventure” with water drinking – do something I’ve never done before.. I’d remembered hearing something about “hydration bars” and I excitedly googled “Hydration Bar near me” and several local-area options came up!

“That’s it!” I thought. “I will have an adventure at a Hydration Bar this week!” I pictured myself in a new-age spa doing something really edgy and trendy, yet healthy… a healthy version of a Hookah Bar experience. (This idea excited me. I once wanted to try a Hookah Bar experience… but then I learned it involved smoking.)

Anyway, I checked into Hydration Bars and found out that these aren’t really “bars.” They are IV treatments that start at about $150!

This idea quickly lost its appeal. I’ve had an IV and it’s not at all exciting. Also, I’m really cheap. I don’t even like to pay for the fancy waters in the grocery store.

And just because they call it a “Cocktail” does not make it a fun drink! Those are cockamamie tales! “Crocktales!” That will be my new word for these “Hydration IV Treatments” that you get at “Hydration Bars.” (Not to be confused with Mocktails, which really are quite lovely non-alcoholic drinks you can now get at some real bars.)

Poor man’s “hydration treatment”

I googled “Why do people go to hydration bars when they can just drink water?” thinking I must be missing something. The AARP article, The Truth Behind Trendy IV Vitamin Water Therapy confirmed my assumptions that basically, this would be a ridiculous over-priced “adventure.” (Come to think of it, that’s true of many “adventures” but I’ll save that rant for another day).

Cheaper Ways to Make Water Drinking More Fun

I decided to “be me” and do something cheap, yet pretty and different to liven up my water-drinking experience: Making infused water.

My attempt at “infused water”

The result was not nearly as pretty as the pictures in the article.. are the strawberries supposed to float? Of course, the “Squeeze the Day” quote on the water bottle makes it fun even if this doesn’t look like the magazine or taste much different from water.

I also splurged on a “fancy water” from the grocery story! ($2.49 is much better than a $239 Kate Crocktale!)

This was surprisingly delicious. It was sweet. I’m guessing that whatever sugar (or fake sugar) they put in this drink to make it so tasty negates any of the health benefits from drinking it. Oh well. It still was a new experience.

Finally, to round out this exciting water-drinking adventure, I bought a new water filter pitcher. This will not only keep my water clean, but helps me monitor that I’m drinking my daily quota. (Logging was not working for me.)

As for me 2023 theme? I’ve decided on “Healthy Aging.” .. on the cheap!

Microadventure #99: Arvada Trick or Trot with the Tidds

Pizzas do well at the Arvada Trick or Trot!

This Microadventure made me very happy! My daughter, Megan, invited me to run this Arvada 5K with her family in costume. Running in costume is my specialty! In 2014, I ran a race every month in a different costume!

I gave up running about 4 years ago because of back problems, but I figured I could make an exception for a family 5K. I ran slowly. (This was entirely due to wanting to protect my back, of course! It had nothing to do with my fitness level!) Still, I managed to snag second place for the Women’s Over 60 category. And Diego scored first place for the Boys 13-18 so we both got medals. What an unexpected surprise and very exciting!

This proves my theory that competition is so much more fun when there are very few competitive competitors.

The Tidds win best group costume!

Not only did Diego and I win medals for running, but the whole Tidd family won for best group costume. They were a Food Buffet, with Megan as a sushi roll, Reneya a burrito, Diego, a pizza, and Chris, spaghetti and meatballs. They are always super-creative with their costumes.

The whole event was so much fun. The weather was absolutely perfect and there were plenty of games, food, and decorated pumpkins.

Diego voting for Best Decorated Pumpkin
Pancake Breakfast! Yum!

All-in-all this experience brought me such joy! I’d thought my days of running races were over, but, not only did I get to run another race, I was able to do it with family. I’m so grateful that we are all healthy enough to run, to celebrate, and to share in the excitement of a successful race!

Carpe Diem Seizin’ 2022

Seizing the day can be as simple as enjoying a meal. Every day joys are especially important during difficult times. Come share your joys on the Carpe Diem Connections Facebook page.

Woo Hoo, People! February 26 is Carpe Diem Day so we are in Carpe Diem Season or as I like to spell it Carpe Diem Seizin’! Let’s seize those beautiful days of February.

Last year, I created a video and hosted theme-day contests throughout the month:

Even though we still have not completely kicked Covid to the curb, we have made progress. Still, 2021 was another tough year for our country. And it ended with the most destructive fire that Colorado has ever seen, right in my neighborhood!

My house was spared, but over 900 homes in Superior and Louisville were burned to the ground. While I certainly was relieved that my house survived, it hasn’t felt right to promote “Seizing the Day” when so many people are experiencing so much grief.

On the other hand, I know from personal experience, that finding and celebrating every day joys is more important than ever during times of sadness or grief. Gratitude for what we do have and for the people we love is what helps us get through those very difficult days.

My project for 2022 is to have a “Microadventure a Week” with someone else and to blog about it. This has been fun and it often pushes me a little bit out of my comfort zone. It takes planning and finding someone to join me and involves learning and socializing – two things that keep my brain healthy.

So, that takes care of “Seizing one day a week” but what about the other 6 days? Every meal is an opportunity!

Yesterday, I “seized the day”, enjoying a refreshing glass of white wine while having a healthy dinner with the lentil and eggplant meatballs that Becky had made. Becky lit some candles and joined me for a delicious conversation to go along with the delicious food.

This morning, I spontaneously bought an unusually vibrant blue and purple orchid. I was so impressed with the color that I bought it (and only slightly disappointed to learn that it was artificially colored.) I love orchids and will still enjoy it when it comes back white after its dormant period. Eating a big healthy breakfast is always a “Carpe Diem Moment” for me and now I can do it in the presence of our new orchid.

Even though I’m not hosting contests this year, I’m still hoping to see pictures on social media of those every day joys that we all experience and so often take for granted.

Please come share your pictures or Carpe Diem moments on the Carpe Diem Connections Facebook Group!

Baroness Susan Greenfield talks about the future of Alzheimer’s

Baroness Susan Greenfield talks about Brain Plasticity and the Future of Alzheimer’s in this interview with Carpe Diem Connections.

Dr. Susan Greenfield talks about Brain Plasticity and the Future of Alzheimer’s Disease

I’ve been looking forward to my interview with Baroness Susan Greenfield since I heard her speak at the Douglas Adams Memorial lecture in March.

Besides being a world renowned neuroscientist on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, she’s an interesting and entertaining speaker! She’s the epitome of what many of us yearn to be: highly intelligent, funny, and working on unraveling some of the biggest mysteries of the mind, including the meaning of consciousness.

She also is an entrepreneur. In 2013, she co-founded Neuro-Bio, a company that develops diagnostic tests and therapeutics to help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.

In our interview, I asked Dr. Greenfield about her views on a cure. She mentioned the recent FDA approval of the controversial Biogen announcement of a drug claiming to slow down the progress of Alzheimer’s.

She expressed more hope and optimism about the approach and drug under development at Neuro-Bio. Though not available to the public yet due to regulatory phases, Dr. Greenfield indicated that, with fair winds, it might be “two years away.”

“We are on the case. It’s in the foreseeable future, ” she says.

I’m so impressed that a woman of this caliber would make the time to speak on my podcast. When I sent her the request, I hadn’t realized the extent of her achievements and fame.

What a honor for me to have personal time with someone of such status and influence. She is someone who is making breakthroughs in the treatment of one of the world’s most tragic diseases!

In preparing for our interview, I’ve learned so much myself about the brain and its adaptability.

I’m excited that there is hope for a cure for Alzheimer’s in the not-so-distant future and that we all can take control over maintaining a healthy brain by living life to our fullest potential!

Carpe Diem!

Alzheimer’s diagnosis motivates Dan Jaworski to fulfill his dream: Participate in the Kona Ironman

Dan Jaworski is fighting Alzheimer’s and participating in his dream of participating in the Kona Ironman.

“I thank God for the gift of TODAY – CARPE DIEM!” ~Dan Jaworski

When Dan Jaworski received a devastating diagnosis and a recommendation from his doctor to move forward on his bucket list, he knew what he needed to do.

“Within hours of my diagnosis, I contacted Sarah Hartmann at The IRONMAN Foundation. I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity to race Kona on October 9, 2021”

The month of June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.

You can read more about Dan and his inspirational story here. His attitude of resilience and strength is the same “Carpe Diem spirit” that I saw in my friend Craig Dunham when he was faced with an ALS Diagnosis. It’s the reason I started CarpeDiemDay.com.

Rather than ask for money, Dan asked for 140 names – one for each of the 140.6 miles of the race – of others who are battling Alzheimer’s and related diseases.

His list of 140 names, along with notes and tributes are listed on his site. And despite not asking for money, he has currently raised over $70K in donations for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Gratefully, I don’t currently know anyone personally suffering from Alzheimer’s, but I certainly understand the devastation and fear most people would have in the face of such a diagnosis.

Dan’s optimistic attitude, his drive, tenacity, and resilient spirit will most certainly work in his favor in the coming months, both in his training and in his overall health.

Let’s follow his lead! Whether it’s participating in an Ironman, writing a book, or repairing a relationship, don’t wait. Follow your dreams.

Carpe Diem!