Is a good memory needed for travel?…How I improved my memory after it started to decline…

Peculiarly, my memory is better now than when it was when I was 20 years old (so I think).  When I turned 50, while working at a stressful job, my memory started deteriorating rapidly. I expected to be a mindless blob at 60, let alone, my now almost 65.  

I’d find myself wandering around a room, wondering why I was there, forgetting my keys (don’t we all?). On occasion, I’d get into a stranger’s unlocked car in a parking lot that
happened to be the same color and model as mine. That scared me. Remember names? Forget about it! Impossible, at that time.

About 10 years ago, I started working out after a five year hiatus during the stressful job.  The more I worked out, the more I noticed that my memory was gradually improving over time.  
Changing to a low inflammation diet and upgrading my exercise routine over the past year as I wrote in a post two weeks ago, gradually enhanced and thus, creating a leap in my memory. Plus, spending seemingly endless hours researching for our adventure, pushed my memory to a whole new level.
To sum up what worked for me:
3. “Exercising my brain” via hours of research, learning new information, decision making.
4.  Being passionate about any topic of interest which fires up brain cells.
Many studies suggest stress relieving activities such as meditation, yoga, and Pilate’s may be instrumental in improving one’s memory.  For me, learning new information is fuel for my soul, providing great stress relief and enjoyment. Thus, my memory improved.

Through this lengthy and time consuming process of planning to travel the world for years to come, I discovered that good memory was a benefit of good record keeping.  

Documenting our travel plans in a methodical order on an series of Excel spreadsheets within a single workbook was highly instrumental in building a foundation for our itinerary.  Keeping detailed records of our itinerary, deposits paid, balances due, a to do list, an estimate of eventual “actual” travel and living expenses, cruises, flights and other means of travel is a constant point of reference leading to building my memory.  

Subsequently, referring to this Excel workbook, without even trying, somehow I’ve memorized every detail.  Much to my surprise.  Its seems to me that, “the more I remember, the more I remember.”  This is a far cry from where I was over ten years ago.
Dementia is a common and expected fact of aging.  We see it in our family members, friends and acquaintances.  We witness lapses of memory in our loved ones, dismissing it, in part for fear of embarrassing them and also, for our own vulnerability. 

Perhaps, we may be able to prevent our own memory loss by being physically active, eating healthfully and living a proactive life. If we stay engaged, busy, passionate about our lives, purposefully and frequently memorizing tidbits of information while entering into lively animated conversations (easy to do in this heated political environment), we can retain and actually improve our memory. 

If we read to learn, not only to entertain and listen to others with undivided attention, maybe, just maybe, we will remember, not only what happened 40 years ago and also last year and… most of all, minutes and hours ago.

After all, every step of our lives is but a memory only minutes later.  Drawing upon those memories is the essence of life’s richness to share with those we love, to gather into our hearts in times of sorrow and to take with us into our old age.
As I close for today, it would be typical for one to make a joke, a play on words on memory loss. I won’t. I can’t think of any!

Giving up habits..Wean me slowly!…

 

Bye, bye tea!

“They,” say it takes three weeks to break a habit.  Yes, we still have six months and fourteen days until we leave for our adventure, but I feel compelled to start weaning myself off of some of my habits and routines.  Most likely, Tom will bring his habits with us! 

We often chuckle over our routines and habits, as written in the first entry in this blog on March 14, 2012, describing in painstaking detail how we jointly manage to change clocks twice a year for daylight savings. That bi-annual event is but the tip of the iceberg!

Creatures of habit, we are! As we anticipate the homes we will occupy in the countries we will visit, many of our familiar and comforting routines will be tossed aside.  Never staying long enough in any location to firmly establish new routines, we will strive to find ways to feel at ease and comfortable in someone else’s space.

The master bath in our home has a sink with brass fixtures, a bit outdated, but still attractive and befitting our lodge-like home on a lake here in Minnesota. The faucet in the pedestal sink drips.  Over the years we’ve had several plumbers looking at it, telling us that the faucet cannot be repaired and must be replaced with a more current design. It still looks quite nice.

The faucet leaks when not shut off tightly (mostly by me). It drips onto the brass ring and stopper at the drain. This annoys me. Two to three times a day, I get out the Barkeeper’s Friend with a little sponge kept at the bottom of the closet (have to bend over each time), wet the sponge, sprinkle the Barkeepers and scrub the drain until it sparkles, drying off every last drop of water with a piece of toilet paper. 

Good riddance!

Throwing the t.p. in the toilet, I consider flushing it but don’t. Why waste water?  Why don’t I throw it in the little plastic bag inside the little decorative brash trimmed, off-white porcelain trash can?  Simple, I don’t want to have to feel compelled to empty the trash! (Now you can see why the details of planning this extended many years vacation, make me feel right at home as if you didn’t already know)! Two or three times a day, I do this! Twenty-six years!!!

Will I immediately go to a grocery store upon arriving in Belize, buy a Barkeeper’s Friend equivalent, and a small scrubby sponge to run back to our little ocean side house and start scrubbing the sparkly stainless steel drain two to three times a day?  I don’t think so.  Some habits will die on their own.  Good riddance!  

However, other habits will be harder to break. This morning, as usual (another habit) I awaken at 5:30 am.  I get up, hit the loo (Ha! Look I am already getting more familiar with foreign expressions!), brush my teeth, wash my face and put in my contacts in order to see and go back to bed to look at my phone, an AndroidX loaded with 100’s of apps but only a few I habitually use: Gmail, Facebook, Pulse, and Amazon Kindle Free App (containing my latest reading obsession).  

This morning I realized that this may not be possible once we are no longer on US soil.  Yes, we will have access to the Internet on our laptops, many times provided as wireless broadband by the property owners.  During these periods, we will be unable to use the Internet on our phones unless we are willing to pay outrageous fees. 

When I calculated the possible fees, it would be about $5000 a month for playing with our phones, considering our current megabyte usage, utilizing our current service provider!  No thank you!  (We will get into this in more depth on this topic as we move along here and discuss XCOMGLOBAL and SIM card options).  Thus, another habit to break!  Playing with our phones! Yikes!

We have three flat-screen TV’s as do many Americans, one in the living room, one in the bedroom and one in the kitchen. From the moment we are up and about, until going to bed, the TV is on in the background, quietly or off when talking or loudly when watching due to Tom’s hearing loss (42 years on the railroad).  

Although recently distracted with our laptops; Tom with ancestry, me with travel stuff, we usually spend most evenings together watching shows we programmed during the week.  This “getting outside your head” form of entertainment is a delightful respite from the stresses of everyday life.   

Most of the vacation rentals will have tiny hard to watch old TVs with shows in foreign languages.  No more piling up our plates with tasty homemade dinners to sit and watch yet another episode of “Downton Abbey” “Dexter” or one of our favorite mindless, sinfully deliciously reality shows.  

Guess we’ll watch TV on our computers when we have Internet access or watch the many movies we plan to download to a yet-to-be-purchased portable four terabyte external hard drive.  

Here’s another habit, hard to break. Every afternoon at 4:00 PM, I brew tea, one cup at a time, at exactly the correct temperature, with precisely the same pot, for exactly three minutes, with a certain strainer, a special timer, a sterling silver spoon, in a pale green cup, with 3 drops of liquid Stevia, my own version of Happy Hour.  
I only like one type of tea, Pouchong, a hard to find, buy-online-only tea grown in the spring in Taiwan.  I have tried numerous other teas to no avail. Oh, no! The bag of tea, the strainer, the cup, the timer, the Splenda, the pot, the spoon all weigh 2.7 pounds which equals 3.85% of our allowable luggage when we fly. Bye, bye tea!