Beautiful Minds

mother

We do have a number of things in common 

One Christmas season many, many years ago, my mom and I spent a morning sorting the Christmas gifts we bought, making sure we had all the gifts properly labeled and checking who else we missed buying a gift for.

We came across this big box, beautifully wrapped, yet unmarked. No name on the card, no secret marks, whatever. My mom wondered out loud whose it was supposed to be. I said I didn’t know… because truly, I didn’t recognize the box when I first saw it.

And so my mom fidgeted. She held on to the box, turned it around, surveyed it up and down, weighed how heavy it was, shook it over and over, hoping the sound that it makes will make her remember what was inside.

After a few minutes, I realized that it was supposed to be our Christmas gift for her. My sister was the one who bought and had it wrapped, that’s why I didn’t recognize the box right away. Casually I told my mom to just leave the gift alone. But before I could stop her, she tore off the gift wrapper and ripped the box open.

After taking a peek at what’s inside, she got more confused. In a daze, she muttered, “I don’t remember buying this…”

“Why don’t you just put it back?”  I said, trying to salvage whatever’s left of the surprise.

In a tone full of dread and with sheer panic in her eyes, my mom said, “My memory is failing me!!!”

At that point, I knew I had to confess. I told her that she wouldn’t remember nor recognize the gift because she did not buy it. I told her that the gift was supposed to be for her – but now she ruined the surprise.

I also told her that no, her memory was not failing her. Not yet, at least.  

She was probably, at that time, the same age as me now.

That line — My memory is failing me — became a running joke between us, though.

I have always prided myself with having a good memory.

I’m the type who can tell a story of something that happened ages ago and I can remember and relay the details like they just happened yesterday. Try doing something bad to me and most likely I will remember it for life (holding a grudge is another thing, though).

Lately, however, I seem to forget things quite easily. Small things, like passwords… or people’s names… or where I put things.

Like this afternoon, I realized I was losing an ID card. I knew I used it sometime in the not so distant past, but I just couldn’t recall when, where and why. I knew my husband had something to do with it… I insisted that I entrusted the ID to him. But I couldn’t remember why so I started doubting my memory.

Whenever this happens, me not remembering something, I can’t help but panic.

I’ll first try to rack my brains to remember the detail that I forgot… When racking my brains doesn’t work, I’ll freak out internally – all the more reason for my brains not to cooperate.  And then I will start feeling bad, and resignedly sigh, “My memory is failing me.”

But I am much too young to accept that. 😦

Just recently, I watched CNN’s Fareed Zakaria talk to neuroscientist Lisa Genova about Alzheimer’s disease — a progressive disease that destroys memory and other mental functions*– and how to prevent it.  It was a very informative segment.

According to Ms. Genova, one can have the disease for some time without it manifesting right away. She said we can actually help prevent the advancement of the disease. Having enough good sleep, exercising, having a heart healthy diet, are among the things that one can practice to stave off the disease. Basically, I believe she meant taking care of one’s body by having a good lifestyle.

One more thing she mentioned was learning new things.  It is more than just restoring knowledge that’s already there. She pointed out that learning new things make you build and connect new neural connections, or synapses. This, I deduced will help keep your brains from degenerating.

The human brain is a beautiful, complicated organ. Like the muscles in your body, the brain can be trained to improve its function. And for it to stay healthy, it requires great care, exercise and yes, stimulation.

One is never too old to learn something new. In a way, the more we use our brains, the more we keep it from getting old fast. Interesting, huh?

After watching that segment, I made a resolve to care for my brains and keep it as healthy as possible. I promised to be more mindful of things, make an effort to remember names and details.  I will read more and learn new words. I will also write more… and use the new words that I learned.

I will learn new things.  

Besides, a beautiful mind complements a beautiful face, right? ❤

***

PS…

I found the ID I was looking for. I racked my brains, retraced my steps, and proved my memory did not fail me. It was with the file that I gave to my husband. He couldn’t remember having it at all! So I blame him. 😉

 

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Credits and sources:

*Alzheimer’s disease definition from Mayo Clinic.

Fareed Zakaria is a journalist and author. He is the host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS. You may watch his segment on Alzheimer’s via CNN video.

The picture is mine 🙂

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My Instagrammable Life

I just finished reading Sophie Kinsella’s latest book, “My Not so Perfect Life.”

I have always liked reading Ms. Kinsella’s works (e.g. Undomestic Goddess, Can You Keep a Secret, The Shopaholic Series, to name a few) because the stories are light, funny, and the characters are pretty relatable. Her main characters could very well remind you of your best friend, your sister, or in most cases, yourself. A lot of times I catch myself thinking, “She’s just like me…” or “I could be her.”

My Not so Perfect Life (according to the blurb) is Part-Love Story, Part-Work Drama. One thing I found interesting, though, was how Katie, the female protagonist, portrayed her life on Instagram (living in an exciting city, doing cool stuff with marvelous friends), versus her reality — job issues, financial struggles, simple life, really small apartment.

It got me thinking… Haven’t we all, at some point in our social media obsessed lives, projected an alternate version of our reality?

(I will not spoil the book any further for the sake of my chick lit-loving friends, but it is a good and entertaining read. You won’t be sorry if you grab a copy.)

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Ahh, Instagram.

On any given day, we see something nice… or we go somewhere nice… or we think we look nice… And so we decide to take a photo — click, and then post. Then we add cute, interesting captions. We explain further by adding a number of #hashtags.

Then we wait for a hundred hearts (signifying that our follower friends liked the photo). Sometimes we feel bad when only a few people would “heart” the photo. Of course it hurts when you are not validated. (Personally, I am easy to please. I am happy with 10 likes. Anything beyond that to me is already a blessing — or a miracle.)

When you think about it, how much of our real lives is posted on Instagram? Or maybe the bettter question is… What stories do our IG accounts tell?

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Out of curiosity, I checked MY Instagram account.

If a total stranger will make a story about me based on my IG photos, what will he come up with…

From the 12 latest photos I posted, one will see: My latest selfie (with me all dolled up)… My bruised knees… Dining with my BFF… More selfies… A promo of my book… A collage of old photos with my son… A throwback photo with friends circa ’90s… And still more selfies…

image

Basically from my IG, one will gather that 1) I have a book, 2) I have a son, 3) I was much thinner in the ’90s, and yeah 4) I am a selfie master — and I love myself so much.

My Instagram account pretty much depicts how self-absorbed I am. Yep, narcissism at its finest.

That’s my Instagrammable life. #ialwayswakeuplookinglikethis.

Alternate version or reality? 😉

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When we share photos on Instagram, we allow other people to take a glimpse of our lives.

It is easy to create a perfect, always exciting version of your life. Just carefully pick the photos you will post — Choose the ones that will tell the version you want your followers to see.

I bet our Instagram stories are all exciting.

Don’t be fooled, though. Things are not always as good as they are depicted on IG. That is why it is not wise to judge — nor envy– someone, based on what you see on Instagram.

I also believe that every photo has a backstory… And often times, it’s the backstory that is truly more interesting… and real.

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Example of Perception vs Reality / Alternate Version vs Backstory

latest selfie

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#selfietime #chilling #memyselfandi

Perception created: She’s so chill… She’s so vain… She’s always made up…

Backstory (Reality): Photo was taken after four (4) hours of sitting through the College graduation rites of our helper. FOUR HOURS. But it was a momentous occasion, a celebration of someone’s educational achievement. I had to keep a smile on my face, even after four hours…

Plus I looked good that day. So, I just had to take a photo…

So, yes, maybe I am quite self-absorbed. Quite. 😉

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What is your Instagram story???

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photos are mine 😊

No.Internet.Connection

The first thing I do when I wake up on a normal weekday morning is to go to my corner in the living room, play worship songs on YouTube using my iPad, then open my Bible app and read verses. 

After quiet time, I go and check my FB messenger to see if there were messages that came in middle of the night. After which I go and check my Yahoo mail for more messages. Then I go to my WordPress account to look at my blog stats. On some mornings I do online banking.

My best friend normally messages me early morning and on days when we are not rushing to go somewhere, we end up chatting online. Some mornings I chat with my person from LA, too. 

Eventually I will check my Facebook notifications and news feed and I will find out what’s happening in the world. I see pictures and get updated on previous day’s happenings… I will see sunrise photos from various places… I will find out what certain people had for breakfast… I will know the traffic situation.

I haven’t stepped out of the house — have not finished my first cup of coffee even — yet I will already know so much about what has transpired, and what is currently transpiring, in the outside world.

I am just so connected.

***

My plan for today was to stay home and write. I planned to blog. I also planned to write another article for an online publication.  

I have been out a lot lately, thanks to all the Christmas shopping and get-togethers, that I haven’t had the chance to write much. So last night, I promised myself that today, I will just stay home and write.

I will drink lots of coffee and I will blog. I will blog about my upcoming birthday and how the thought of getting another year older stresses me out.

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Writer Me

I had it all planned. It will be a quiet “writer’s day” for me.  Even my YouTube playlist is all planned and ready.

***

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was to check my mails. Couldn’t connect. Hmm. Something must be wrong with the network. I tried to access YouTube. Nothing. Facebook Messenger. No internet connection. Hmm. That’s weird. I was online ’til before midnight last night…

I checked my cellphone. No signal. Goodness, what is happening?? I can’t send messages online, nor can I send text messages using my cellphone.

I felt so cut-off from the outside world and I was getting destabilized. How will I upload my blog? How will I message my friends?? How will I listen to my worship songs?? I CAN’T even access my iPad Bible!! 😦

As I felt the panic starting to rise from within, it then dawned on me that — uhm, I forgot to pay for our phone and internet bill which was due last Friday.  Because of the hustle and bustle of the season — and yes, with all the shopping and lunches that I have been doing, I completely forgot to pay my bills. Ergo, my internet got cut.

My cellphone signal is another issue altogether. I think it was really just weak. In my case, dead. 

It wasn’t even 6:30am, yet I was already frazzled. Not exactly a pleasing sight on an early Monday morning.

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I was on the verge of a tantrum. I wanted to kick myself for being forgetful and I wanted to curse the cellphone network to high heavens for having weak signal. I was seriously contemplating throwing my cellphone away. 

And then I caught myself… and I stopped.

A voice in me asked, How difficult would it be to last a morning without gadgets… without the internet… without wi-fi?  Is it really that bad?

Gadgets vs Old-school

Sure, I said I’ll write… But I can write the draft first on a pad paper. I have always liked writing my thoughts long hand before transferring them to the computer, anyway. I enjoy seeing my erasures.

I don’t really need my Bible app since I have my old reliable Bible that I can open and read. Plus, I don’t think the earth will stop spinning if I don’t get to text or chat with my friends in the morning… Nor will I miss out on a lot of things if I don’t get to check Facebook.

And I can always sing worship songs a capella…

Perhaps a few hours of disconnect will do me good. 

Maybe a few hours gadget-free and without social media will give me the peace that I need. 

It is quite liberating when you think about it.

***

shopping

Favorite past time…

I ended up spending the rest of the morning doing more Christmas shopping with my mom (yey!) while I asked someone to settle my phone bills. My mom and I even met up with my sister for lunch. My day of recluse was instead spent with family, with actual conversations happening face to face. 

When I got home mid-afternoon, I noticed that my internet has been reconnected. I did not rush to check anything online, though. Instead I fixed the gifts that I bought, and I talked to my best friend on the phone. 

The online world probably did not miss me… which was okay since I was busy living life in the real world.

The day was light and easy, gadget-free. It was a good day after all.

Tomorrow, I will write my birthday blog. 🙂 

barbie-bday

the Betsy cake 🙂

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photo credits: Writer, shopping and Barbie cake photos via google images