Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Challenging Myself in Retirement-Keepng the "Mental Computer" In HIgh Gear

If  I never learned anything new, I would not have a boring retirement. I have a variety of hobbies, an active church life, social friends, and family that is close to me.  All this results in my having the schedule that works for me-half a day at home and half a day of doing "something" most days.

Even with a variety of hobbies, including doing crossword puzzles and reading, I think it's both fun and imperative that I continue to try new things and stay involved in lifelong learning. Studies have shown that physical health and mental engagement are important to long term mental health.  More importantly, some of those same studies have shown that simple "book learning" is not as effective as learning hands on skills. We actively learn by doing, whether it is cooking skills, photography, playing the piano, wood working, knitting or crafting. We challenge our brains on a completely different level than, say, when we attend a lecture.

Folks who have been reading this blog for awhile know that just a few years ago I was a real full time student, attending classes 12 hours a week with college kids 20 years old-and mainly loving it.  After my move, my time constraints changed (along with becoming an out of state student) and i put that on hold.

Lately however, I have been missing that "school like" level of challenge and have been looking to add a few new activities to my retirement schedule.  Some are more challenging than others, some of them more active than others. Since I like to try new things and challenges these things fit into my day (and night) and keep me on my toes, at least for now

For example, once I week I am taking a college class on The Hebrew Bible in it's Cultural and Historical Context (at heart somewhere, yes, I am a geek).  This is a once per week three hour class that is participatory and requires up to six hours some weeks of homework. This is actually part of a four year course on religion and culturalism.

I'm taking an online class in how to draw with colored pencils.  While this is not participatory in the true sense, it is very participator  on my end as I attempt expand my limited drawing skills anyway I can.

As mentioned elsewhere, I've joined a "drawing from the right side of the brain" class once a month, with each month being a different activity. This month we are supposed to bring our favorite poem, and we will be writing our own poem as well.

And finally, I've been talking about joining a book group for awhile-if only so I would force myself to read something other than police procedurals and I finally found one.

Trying new things is always good, in my opinion. Most of these new activities are free.  Added to my Living Richly in Retirement book, my other hobbies and life in general they will, I hope, continue to keep me challenged and ready to learn more.

And now, to do the reading for my bible course................

8 comments:

  1. Barb, it sounds as if you are keeping busy learning something everyday. I loved going to book club and I need to make time for this activity once again.

    God bless.

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    1. I need a book club because otherwise I will only read mindless drivel. LOL

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  2. Our local community college offers ALL their classes FREE to over-55! I am already in a Drawing Class.next semester I will take Watercolor and a Tai Chi Class. There was a Cultural Anthropology class I wanted but the hours were not good.I also participate in an art league craft group, volunteer with a Meals on Wheels program, and go to the library weekly. I study Astrology and Tarot online, in books, and I also do readings. I am ALWAYS learning something new in those fields! I have 2 Scrabble games gong on, online, at all times! And I love to cook.. am working on becoming a true VEGAN, using new cookbooks and making up new menus.. life is filled with ways to keep buy and to keep the mind, body and spirit active, if you just open your eyes,right? I know YOU know that! Love your sharing,,,,

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    1. I so wish school was free here, but no such luck. Wow to the scrabble games. My son sometimes comes to be in desperation after playing words with friends. A true Carnivore, am I. sigh

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  3. I'm busy with a variety of things, too. I'd be bored otherwise. I'm a post-retirement certified mediator. Learning Spanish. Reading. Engaged in a community project to build tiny houses for the homeless. I've taken nearly a dozen online MOOC classes (no credit, no cost). Water aerobics three times a week. I'm convinced that mental and physical exercise, plus a comfortable level of socialization and conversation, are key to my health.

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    1. Me too, I've just got to get to those silver sneakers classes

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  4. Sounds like you're keeping busy and mentally alert. Someone told me recently that a great way to sharpen our aging minds is to learn a new language. Actually, my sister is learning Italian (and just got back from Venice). But, jeez, it seems like a lot of work!

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  5. What you say is so true: we have to keep our minds working and ourselves interesting. I have been learning Spanish, traveling as much as I can afford to, volunteering at a food shelf, and working a part-time job. Thanks for your post. I invite you to check out my newest post on building a legacy, at www.thingscouldbeworse.org.

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