Brain Food You Don’t Eat

Our neighbor across the street drives a school bus. Each weekday morning we hear a deep rumble as she starts the bus engine, rev’s it up, and then goes back inside to enjoy a cup of coffee while it idles to warm. Her route consists of elementary aged children she transports to and from school so they can learn reading, writing, arithmetic, and numerous social skills.

I would venture to guess that most of the people reading my blog no longer ride a school bus, but we do continue to learn. Whether it’s for our job, a hobby we enjoy, or out of necessity like troubleshooting an issue on our computer or mobil device, the lifelong practice of learning benefits us in so many ways—it broadens our horizons and makes us much more interesting to be around.

Several years ago Len and I attended the Center of Deafness in Northbrook, Illinois where we learned American Sign Language (ASL). We soon discovered, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Since my right leg has been in a cast, I’ve refreshed my knowledge of the alphabet and I’m re-learning a new word each day.


What’s your most recent learning?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

The Book — Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience — Life Harmony

© 2013 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

Find me on Twitter @HolEssence

92 thoughts on “Brain Food You Don’t Eat

  1. I have recently discovered coursera and and have started taking business courses. Being that I have a humanities background, this is new for me and so much fun!

  2. Hi Laurie

    Today I have read a couple of articles on brain research, worked out how to use a new headlight for cycling (a Gloworm X2), read the daily feed from KurweilAI, and the ANG Question of the Day posts. Lots of new stuff there.

    Today I have also taken Ailsa out to lunch, to celebrate our 19th Wedding anniversary, and written a program to create a set of spreadsheets from a database in one of the systems I maintain, plus watched a documentary on David Attenborough and then a movie called “Lars and the real girl”, and communicated with a couple of people about recovery from illness.

    So lots of new stuff – as is normal in my life.

  3. Hi Laurie, Your blog just grabbed me by the neck and said “read me”… I love learning and feel honored to have met you to learn from you over the past couple of years. You are such a kindred spirit to all of us. I just edited a post on study yesterday over on Squidoo because management said they would take it down if I had too many links… grrrr!! (I just checked it and they left it up). Learning is something I’ve spent years on because I had such an authoritarian education, I had to go back and teach myself some things so it has become a passion for me. Currently I go to course five nights a week and will graduate from my course some time in July. After that I will have to learn something new. I am studying space and electricity and how that affects our being and to create more healings for humankind.

  4. I try to learn something new on a daily basis. Not everything is of great value and I file it away under ‘Maybe Later’. Recently I rediscovered my joy in hammering nails into lumber, not only for the fun of making a loud noise and seeing the nail go home in just a few smacks, but in joining a community effort to build a home for a deserving family. There is much for me to learn in paying it forward and the lessons are gratifying.

  5. Yes, I am a member of the continued learning club! Everyday there are opportunities for learning. I am fortunate to live near my youngest nieces and nephews. I learn from their openness and generous outpouring of love. I am learning to cook and bake better from recipes I experiment with. I learning how to sew, craft, create things through create TV shows and pinterest. I’m growing as a family genealogist through free webinars offered by ISGS (IL State Gen Soc) and reading books on related research. I’m learning about memoir writing through references shared by Laurie, online webinars (for fee ) offered by Linda Joy Myers (NAMW) and Brooke Warner … just about to start my third webinar. And I network with a small group of leadership coaches (also my friends now) … we continually share resources (including some on neurobiology and coaching) and aspects of coaching (just learned about a new free course on coursera as mentioned by someone above and signed up). And, I’m fortunate to learn from my friends posting on Facebook every day … so amazing (few post garbage). Thanks for asking this question Laurie … I didn’t realize how all this was adding up!

  6. Laurie,

    I am always reading about photography, looking at photographs, they inspire and inform my creativity.
    A life changing event due to my Mom’s aging and Alzheimer’s, I am discovering new paths or at least trying. I have stood stunned for some time now unsure, feeling clueless.

    • Jeff – I really appreciate the two “I’s” you used: INSPIRE and INFORM. Those are great ingredients to feed one’s creativity.

      I’m so sorry for your mother’s Alzheimers. It’s hard to see someone experience the ravages of any disease, especially when our own hands are tied.

  7. What comes to mind is the thought: the more you know, the more you realize how little you know. You gotta keep at it though. Hope your healing is going well, Laurie.

    • Winsomebella – Isn’t that the truth?! Just when I think I’ve got all my ducks in a row, they jump back in the pond and splash around merrily 🙂

      TODAY I transition from a non-weight-bearing fiberglass cast to an air-boot-cast. WHOOHOO!

  8. Admire you learning those words. I think it’s wonderful. Been doing a drawing program and I’m amazed at what one learns when it comes to deeper observation. Great post. Thanks Laurie.

  9. I, too, had the pleasure of learning sign language through the Red River Community College. Our instructor was deaf and so welcome us into the deaf community. A highlight, for me, was attending a social.

    • Leanne – A deaf social sounds wonderful! At the school we attended, there were deaf signers, hearing signers, and people who read lips. We discovered that a wide variety of people come to sign language for a world of different reasons 🙂

  10. Hi, Laurie. When my son was younger he took to computers so much that he took over maintaining them for the family. Any time I had a problem I would let him know and watched him as he loved the work so. Then the day came he moved out on his own, and a couple years after was relocated by his employer. I was stuck with trying to figure out the computer issues on my own. Most times I would let them go until he could visit or I took it to him on one of my visits. This week I ran into a problem that couldn’t wait. After talking over what it could possibly be with him, I then hung up and went to work. I fixed it and it wasn’t as bad as he thought it could be! So proud of myself right now.

  11. Laurie great post! So true if we don’t use it we loose it – I am learning to grow my own beautiful greens in the garden. It’s a miracle how those tiny little seeds grow into something so nourishing and delicious. I actually love it – garden therapy 🙂

  12. I am attempting to learn LINKED IN right now, because the 2 years I have been on it, it does not seem to be doing anything for me or my business – so I switched email addresses and now am starting to get it figured out – but only so/so… I have discovered that many of the folks I used to share with on Facebook are now on LInked In and not so much on FB….that is where they have gone.
    I am always learning something new, but watching documentaries and reading books….I sometimes sneak in the news.
    I am also working on taking my one book group to a new level and working on thinking exercises to increase their ability to read and their capacity to analyze what they see. I am working on introducing the idea of metaphor into a simple romance that they read for tonight’s discussion

    Although Laurie, I have been led to believe that reading is 39% helpful brain food. Reading with deep discussion and debate is about 56% helpful
    on the top of the list is dancing with a partner – like ballroom dancing at 76% helpful to maintain brain health and avoid the dementia problems. ( I think that would be dancing without drinking alcohol/drugs because I know a couple of great dancers who have alcohol related dementia now)

    • Patricia – It sounds to me like you’re becoming a pretty strong swimmer in the social media pool 🙂 I enjoyed reading the statistics you provided regarding brain food — it clearly shows that ACTION (not just absorption) is vital.

  13. Ah Laurie, I learned quite a bit over the last two days in researching a film review I agreed to write for a blogothon. It was actually the behind-the-scenes preparation and comments made from some of the principals that had be amused and enlightened. Though you certainly have gone through a rough time the last few weeks, I am delighted that you are entering the pantheon of circulation now, and can point to some insights you picked up while riding this out. Welcome back my friend!

    • Sam – I can just see you studiously hunched over your keyboard, light from your laptop screen washing over your features in the wee hours of the morning as you prepare for a blogothon!

      As of last night (Apr 9) I’m in an air-boot-cast now. It’s weight-bearing. I can progressively add 15 pounds of my own walking weight every three days. Whoohoo!

  14. Laurie- I took American Sign Languge a long time ago and used it when I first started in my profession. I don’t use it as much anymore, so like you said I’ve lost some of the language.
    My most recent learning is how to fully utilize my iPad in the workplace. The apps you can download are limitless!

  15. It seems like computer software is constantly changing–and that I’m forever needing to learn new processes and procedures to make it work. 🙂

  16. Laurie, glad to know you are feeling better! I enjoyed reading all the comments and learning what other people do to feed and develop their brain. I have begun crocheting! l have found it fascinating to observe and often struggle with my hand, eye, brain cross patterns. It is a joyful and exhausting nurturing for all my Brain Colors and the physical and mental enhancement of my Brainbow! 😉

    • Sheila – In days gone by, I remember being mesmerized by my grandmother’s hands as she knit and crocheted. She would hold a conversation — never looking down — as her hands zipped along without hesitation.

      My hat is off to YOU for taking up this wonderful brain exercise!

  17. Hi Laurie! I would say applying to Graduate School and studying for the GMATright now is reminding me of everything that I learned in the past and refreshing my mind again. I would say I am re-learning 😉 I can’t wait to start Grad School in the fall of this year so I can learn new things! 🙂

  18. My new learning has been working with technology as an elementary school children. Each of my students has their own iPad to conduct much of their learning. hence I have had to learn not only about the iPad, loads of apps but also how to mesh this device with quality learning. I have also become quite an expert using a Mac computer. It has been a lot of work and an incredible amount of learning for this 55 year old teacher. But i love it! It has been fabulous for my brain. ~Thea

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  20. I have been learning how much I really don’t know … unless I ask. I teach adults. I teach them the curriculum (according to Hoyle) (really according to the government). I realize how inadequate it is to teach everyone the same material – as most of my students have lived life so deeply. Never would I have had the opportunity to learn about them – had it not been for the ice storm. I learned a lot today – and it was all about people. Best teaching day ever!

    • BillDuff – I love that your students have lived life so deeply, and I resonate with your observation about the inadequacy of teaching everyone the same material (or in the same manner – we all absorb information differently. some people have to see it, some hear it, or like me – feel it; I’m a tactile learner). Thank you for the gift of your reflection here today 🙂

  21. I’m trying to learn to breathe, to feel my breath and let it go. I know just about enough Spanish to start WW3 – so for my birthday, my son gave me French Lessons with Rosetta Stone. I’ll probably never go to France, but it keeps my brain a tad more fluid. And who knows, someday our country may need someone to start trouble with France and I’ll be the girl! 🙂

    • I am so glad you’re learning Spanish: that’s what I teach! Don’t say never. When I was learning French in northwest Spain as a child, I never thought I’d come to France, as we were rather poor. Later on, when I left school, I started learning English, still not sure I’d ever leave Spain. Well, I came to England when I was 18 and I’ve been here for 30 years now. I visit France every year, so I have a chance to practise this wonderful language too. And I’m now learning German, as we have also visited this amazing country a couple of times and plan to go back this summer.
      Once you start learning languages, there is no knowing where you might end up! Enjoy 🙂

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  23. Thanks for visiting my blog!:) I love this post. It’s so important to keep your brain active with new knowledge! I have lately tried to learn a few ASL signs myself, but mostly I have been learning a lot about gardening as I try to plan, plant, and maintain a garden for this summer! I enjoy being involved in the travel industry since it is ALWAYS changing! I learned SO much in 1.5 years of travel agent work..probably more than I did in the 3 years I studied tourism 😛

  24. Hello, Laurie – I discovered your blog via Ajaytao nominating you for an award. I love finding informative blogs that others consider valuable resources and Alaytao always seems to hit the mark exactly right. My learning has been lifelong but my principle for learning started early with my father. He was adamant that his children have a proper education both about life and one learned in the classroom. When my father was 94, I asked him what his secret was to being so happy and his contentment with his life (my mother had passed away after they had been married 64 years and they had been life-long sweethearts). At the time i asked him the question, he had been a widower for about 20 years and survived a courageous bout with cancer and was still going strong. His answer to my question was three part. My father, not a wealthy man by any means, told me, “I do something for someone less fortunate than I am every day, I thank God each day for my blessings and study his Word, and I learn something new every day.” I am my father’s daughter and am doing my best to follow in his footsteps. I’m not perfect but am doing my best to carry on his advise.

  25. I enjoyed reading everybody’s comments…. a learning experience in itself. I am a lifelong student… once I have a general idea of a subject I am on to the next thing…. I’ll never be an “expert” at any one thing and sometimes I regret that… but I get bored too easily. But one of the things I really would like to become an “expert” at is WordPress…. been using it for quite a while now but never took the time to figure out what exactly I can do with it!!! I am planning to take a couple of days to investigate at some point in the near future…

  26. How beautiful, Laurie, that you used your challenging time with your cast to learn something new. You are the coolest! I am learning to *sometimes* speak some challenging truths instead of simply keeping the peace. Yikes! Am also learning to be more tender when pain arises, sticking with the pain instead of checking email. (May be a lifetime learning…)

  27. Here’s something I learned this morning. It’s a statement by Loren Eiseley in “The Secret of Life”:

    “I am sure now that life is not what it is purported to be and that nature, in the canny words of the Scotch theologue, ‘is not as natural as it looks.’”

    What I haven’t learned is the identity of the Scotch theologue he mentioned.

  28. ASL is a great tool. I hope you get the opportunity to learn more signs and use them. I use some of the basic signs with the special needs students I work with and would love to learn more. My niece learned ASL with her friend and they often use it as a way to communicate in parties or at the bar when it’s too noisy to talk to each other! 🙂

  29. I am in the midst of learning Spanish…and now I may have to switch to French, since my daughter has been accepted into the Peace Corps and is leaving for Togo, West Africa, in 10 days! In addition to that, I am trying to improve my outlook on life—being more positive..loving each moment…living in the present. Last Fall I found the Mindfulness Center in Milwaukee–and have restarted my mediation practice from my convent days. The transition from teaching for 36 years to being at home is gigantic for me.You have a very interesting blog! Thank you for visiting and following mine! I am returning the favor!

    • JohannIsThinking – Your brain is definitely getting a healthy workout with all the language-learning exercise you’re putting it through 🙂 And what a wonderful contribution your daughter is making to humanity, my hat is off to her!

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