Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Improved Memory


The Creativity Empowerment Celebration for the launch of UPositive Creativity and Life Coaching on Friday was great fun! In spite of the Nashville gas crisis, which did keep a few people away. The rest of us shared good conversation, and funny and inspiring right brain/left brain skit, delicious food and drink (and scrumptious quadruple-chocolate brownies!), and won lots of door prizes!

I'm working on a membership program for UPositive. I'll post the details here as soon as I have them, so my blog-readers can have the first chance to participate. There's going to be a lot of value in membership, I can promise you that!

Improving Memory

Back in April, Gary Marcus wrote a short article for the New York Times Magazine entitled “Total Recall.” He described the difference between how a computer accesses its memory and how humans (and other animals) access memory. The computer, of course, is better at it. By the end of the article, he suggested that there might eventually be a “neural prosthetic” (implant) that would stimulate our memory pathways.

No thanks.

I’d like to stick with the human brain remaining human; I’m not interested in becoming even part cyborg, thank you.

But there was some interesting information in the article. For instance, there are studies showing that environment, body posture, secondary senses, all increase memory. If you learn a word while stooping, you will better remember it while stooping. It’s been known for a while that visiting the room where a test will be given beforehand, and keeping the image of that room in your mind while you study increases your score on the test.

I’d like to propose a different solution to improving memory than adding a computer chip to our gray matter. I’m going to try this myself, do an informal study. Here’s my theory:

Choose a different posture for different kinds of information input.
Keep a written list (so you don’t have to remember it on your own).
Practice, practice, practice. (repetition increases synaptic firing: think of a deer creating a path to the stream---it gets easier with each trip)
Reward any success. (behavioral modification technique).

Here are some suggestions (I want to make these so they’re not too obvious or distracting to others):
1. Rub the top of my ear as I learn someone’s name.
2. Put thumb to middle finger as hear people talk about computers.
3. Lace right and left fingers together for writing suggestions.

Do you have any experience with improving your memory in a similar manner? Did it work?

If you decide to try it, let me know what happens, please!


Monday, September 15, 2008

Time, Again


Big news this week: Creative Empowerment Celebration launching UPositive Creativity and Life Coaching is happening this Friday, 6-9 pm, at HA Gallery in Nashville, TN. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone there! I’ve written a short skit about conversations between the right and left hemispheres of the brain; we’ll be giving out a lot of door prizes; Shirley Geier’s brilliant illustrations for The UPositive Guide to Goal Attainment for Creative People and the first two for The UPositive Guide to Time Management for Creative People will be on exhibit; products and sayings from will be displayed, and lots of great people will be wandering through. And, yes, there will be nibbles to nibble.


Back to that annoying topic. My friend Heather is writing a truly engaging and well-crafted novel about time travel, which has gotten my brain thinking---and reeling!

My cyberfriend and most frequent poster on this blog, Elysabeth, just assumed that time flows smoothly. As we all assume. But what if scientists just conjured up measures of time in order to pretend control over it? What if time really is more of a subjective type of thing? What if all this clock stuff is one large agreement we’ve all made (especially the Swiss and Germans who are quite punctual) so that sometimes people show up in the same place at the same time?

We all know the difference between subjective time and objective time.

Case in point. Since I’m very much into balancing the right and left hemispheres of the brain I pride myself on scheduling. Last week time got all twisted for me. No matter what I did, it went wrong first, then went right. So I decided to stop fighting it and embrace it. I began to schedule my time to include the SNAFUs.

What happened? I sat in my car for an hour waiting for friends to show up for lunch---because as soon as I tried to have control over the chaos, the chaos tricked me and went away. The only thing that didn’t go right was the not-going-right part of the day. MetaSNAFU.

Yes, we need to schedule our time, because we still live in a world that has an agreement to operate by the clock: factual ticking or not. But we also need to give ourselves a break, regularly, when the clock and our schedules forget about each other and go their own ways.

That said, see you on Friday at the gallery, somewhere between 6 and 9 p.m.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More Creativity and Goal Attainment Blogs

Hi everyone!

Yvonne Perry, of, a brilliantly helpful website for writers of all kinds, spoke at our nonfiction meetup group last night. She mentioned that the more often a person blogs, the more the keywords will be picked up by the search engines and the happier those of us using blogs for our friends, families, clients, and potential clients, will be.

Well, I like being happy. My right brain loves being happy! And, as we all know, when the right brain is happy....everybody is happy!

So, I'm going to try to add a post or two a week. These will be short, and on helpful topics...bliphelps or something.

They will be about Creativity and the Creative Process. They'll also be about Goal Setting and especially Goal Attainment. Breaking through Creative Blocks. Time Management. Right Brain/Left Brain compatibility. And just plain ol' making-it-through-the-day thoughts.

Please feel free to participate in the discussion, in agreeing or disagreeing with my posts, in adding thoughts, info, ideas...whatever!

And, Elysabeth---special thanks to you for your continued support and posts to these blogs!


Monday, September 8, 2008

Is It Really Time Off?


We’re getting closer and closer to the celebration launching UPositive Creativity and Life Coaching. It’s Friday evening, September 19, from 6-9 pm at HA Gallery in Nashville. There’s going to be hors d’ouevres, of course, a skit about right and left brain conversations, motivational art, music, a Q&A period, and lots of interesting people with whom to mingle!

I tried last week, so I’ll just try again this week, to get the e-newsletter out. So far, I have the design of it (major cyber-accomplishment for me) and I’ll be adding copy, hopefully, tomorrow. Look for it by the end of the week. If you’re not already on my mailing list, please let me know, or visit the Website, for the newsletter link.

The second book in the series, The UPositive Guide to Time Management for Creative People, should be out by the end of the month. I’m waiting until after the party to finish it up and do the styling. So far, Shirley Geier has done two gotta-see illustrations for it!

Is it Really Time Off?

This was my birthday weekend. I decided I wanted to redo my back patio, as it had accumulated a lot of leaves and displaced dirt patches, and some potting soil bags from the front yard. The patio chairs needed some cleaning, and it was looking a bit neglected. I never spend a lot of time back there myself, but it’s the entrance to my finished basement where the nonfiction and other groups meet. I’d always had plans to plant some shade-loving greenery, like luscious ferns and columbine and all sorts of things, but never gotten around to it.

The patio’s an odd shape. Two triangular corners of soil, two short rectangular strips along the sides, and one long rectangular strip along the foundation of the house. Mostly boring pebble cement and very, very little planting area. There’s one Rose of Sharon tree beside the gate, which provides nectar for hummingbirds just outside the window here by my computer. Love that part!

I spent two entire days doing the physical labor of moving things around, buying and lifting and dragging a half dozen bags of marble stone chips and red lava chips. Another half dozen bags of topsoil. Eight decent-size plants (all on sale this time of year!), garden tools from front to back of house, up and down the hill. Swept the patio about three times. Laid brick as edging along about a third of the area, and put brick down along one of the short sides. Potted three of the plants for the brick area. Spray painted to my heart’s delight. (I love spray paint, but it doesn’t go very far, and always takes twice as many cans as I figure.) Since I decided on white rock with red lava rock as accent, I sprayed two of the plastic chairs a matching maroonish red, sprayed the containers for the plants; sprayed the wheelbarrow and two of the shepherd’s crooks a rust-reducer undercoat; sprayed the ugly blue trunklike storage bin, two ashtrays, and a garbage pail the matching red. Almost sprayed the visiting cat, but he moved too fast! Set white and red rock in two of the triangular corners, and put in one of the two spreading junipers. Tried that landscaper’s cloth, but I’d rather pull weeds.

All this to say: two days of doing purely physical (and enjoyable), non-brain-taxing (and enjoyable) work. Basically, a break for my left brain, which has been working overtime on UPositive Creativity and Life Coaching.

I love working on the business. I totally love seeing my clients. But working mostly from home on the Internet-based products and newsletter and invites and website and eBooks, and having an unending To-Do list (which is true for every entrepreneur), with my office in my home and no “going home” at 5 or 6 or even 7 pm, has been exhausting.

I slept really well the last two nights. And I woke up feeling remarkably refreshed, clear-headed, re-inspired without effort, and ready to go! Doing the opposite, using opposite energy not only lets your usual energy replenish, but gives it the space to readjust to itself, and to re-center from all the activity that part of the brain has been doing.

Take some time to do the opposite. Put it on your To-Do list. You accomplish much more afterward!

It reminded me that sometimes getting away from it all is the best thing you can to do accomplish it all. Gee. I kind of remember that from….oh, wait….yes, my own video!! And my own eBook.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of checking in with your own wisdom and actually listening to it!

As always, thoughts, comments, additional ideas are welcome.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Productive Sleep


The celebration launching UPositive Creativity and Life Coaching is happening September 19. If you’re interested in attending and haven’t yet received an invitation, please email

The website,, is running---except for the “subscribe” button. Again, if you’d like to be on the free newsletter list, email and I’ll be happy to add you. If you’ve already subscribed on the website, please send me an email; I haven’t been able to collect those names. The problem will be solved one way or another in the next few days (I hope).

Speaking of newsletters. The first issue should be out by Friday, although I’m fighting a computer glitch. Here’s hoping!

Productive Sleep

A number of articles have crossed my path recently about sleep. Sure, there were the gazillion about how to get a better night’s sleep (I run a two-hour seminar about that), but these caught my eye because they brought up a subject that had caught my eye decades ago: how to use sleep productively.

Back in the mid-1970s, Patricia Garfield wrote Creative Dreaming. Later on, Robert Moss, Stephen LaBerge and others expanded on the topic, exploring aware and awake dreaming in the spiritual realm and in the psychological realm.

Now, the topic seems to have awakened again.

One of the many marketing e-newsletters I receive focused on using the hours of sleep to add time to the day. He suggests assigning problem-solving tasks to the brain, extending the work day through the night. Does it work? Usually.

The Scientific American Mind, which I’ve mentioned before and which is one of my favorite magazines, included an article in its recent issue entitled: “Quiet! Sleeping Brain at Work.”

All these discuss the ways we can program the brain to solve problems while we’re sleeping. It takes time and persistence, but it works. I’ve done it myself!

My question is this: should we be doing it regularly?

Yes, it takes some consistency to train the sleeping brain to respond to direction. But after the training period, do we really want to keep our brain on-task 24 hours a day? It seems like we’ll be making robots out of ourselves.

Sure, if there is a pressing problem and we can’t seem to find the solution after a few days of concentrating on it (awake time), hand it over to the sleeping brain for help. Makes sense to me. After all, I am a proponent of whole-brain thinking.
But the sleeping brain already has its own agenda: processing daily activities, stressors, joys, experiences, thoughts, input in its own, subconscious way. It takes our awake time and sorts it out, works it through, and puts it aside with a finesse we couldn’t create if we tried. It’s already at work while we sleep.

My concern is that if we take the sleeping brain away from its subconscious, free-and-do-it-the-way-it-knows-best processes regularly, what will happen to the things that are usually processed at night?

Like everything, I think moderation is important---yes, let’s use our subconscious mind to help solve pressing problems. But let’s pick and choose carefully what we direct our sleeping mind to do…and leave it to its own brilliant work, in its own way, most of the (night)time.

Any thoughts?