Monday, July 6, 2015

Movement Heals the Brain

I first learned of The Cleveland Clinic when I read The Brain That Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge.  I have since followed TCC on social media and via Google Alerts.  They do some incredible work and provide an atmosphere of encouraging thinking outside the box and learning more about this wonderful creation--our bodies.  They have done incredibly amazing work in learning about the brain--my passion.

I read today of a study conducted at TCC about movement and healing after brain injury.  Nurses have long worked hard to get people up and at 'em soon after surgeries and injuries, but the prevailing wisdom said rest was the best protocol after brain injuries.  And then the questions began.  And guess what---movement after brain injury promotes faster healing!!! 

I am not the least bit surprised by this finding.  In fact, I'm a bit surprised it has taken this long for that discovery to be validated by research.  Every single neuroscientist I have studied and/or had the privilege to study with personally has echoed this sentiment, "You can't change a brain without movement."  

My friends, the evidence is mounting higher and higher.  BRAINS NEED MOVEMENT.  Infants who do not move almost inevitably have learning disabilities.  Elementary students who do not get adequate exercise struggle both socially and academically.  People who become "couch potatoes" aren't generally the brightest crayons in the box.  Depression and other mental challenges benefit from exercise as much as medication.  And now we know that even after injury, brains need to move.

Whatever you can or will do---move. Every day. For the rest of your life.  And take your family with you.  Your brain runs your entire system---and it needs movement.

Human development is largely measured by movement.  Learn about those stages and their importance by taking the online class here .  

You can read about the study done at The Cleveland Clinic here .

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Movie Review---Inside Out

I went to the movie this past weekend----it's something I don't do often because I think it is really expensive.  But the occasion presented itself and the two 19-year-olds I was with actually wanted to see the same movie I did.  "Inside Out" looked really cute and funny to them---they have a LOT of respect for Pixar---and anything about brains makes my antennae wiggle.

And it was A.D.O.R.A.B.L.E!  I highly recommend it.  It was funny, touching, and insightful.  It gave very simplified and entertaining explanations about what is going "in there" and how that translates to behavior.  Giving credible reasons for the sulky, volatile actions of an 11-year-old in a way that makes you laugh and yet still want to be more understanding is an impressive feat in my book.

Most of all, I hope it makes us all stop and think about a couple of things:

1.  There are legitimate reasons and developmental tasks for the alternating baffling/infuriating things our children do sometimes.  Learn about those developmental tasks so you can clearly see them coming.  You could even help them go more smoothly if you are an over achiever. (Wink Wink) Understanding our children makes the relationship stronger, and I am here to tell you, stronger relationships are MORE FUN.  Seriously, when you understand someone it is easier to have fun with them.  And I love fun.

2.  The attempt to understand the inner workings of the brain has reached all the way into animated movies!  The efforts have affected marketing, education (still hoping that one will go a lot deeper), automobile design, medicine, and just about every field on the planet.  While I believe this is a good thing, I also have seen this information completely misused and abused for the sake of making a buck.  

There are drinks full of sugar, artificial colors and other junk that are marketed as helping certain brain functions go better.  It's a pile of crap, plain and simple. But I've seen them on the shelves for several years so someone is buying them. Maybe if we had a basic understanding of neuroscience, we wouldn't fall victim to some of the lies.  And that would be awesome!

On the flipside, we could also adjust our actions---sometimes in the smallest of ways. (Like turn the math flashcards over to SHOW the answer.  You want them to know the answer, right?  So teach the answer!)  Those changes could make someone's life better, and THAT should be the point of all the new things we are learning.

So if you get the chance to see "Inside Out" do it, you'll enjoy it and you might learn something---I did!

P.S.  I was not in any way compensated by anyone associated with the movie "Inside Out"---in fact, I paid $23 for the tickets and we won't mention how much at the concession stand.  Still worth it.

Learn about the developmental milestones of your children in an easy-to-understand format by taking our online course--Brain Developmental 101 .

Friday, June 12, 2015

My Biggest Regret

My Biggest Regret

I only got 4 hours of sleep last night---more about why later---so I was REALLY tired this morning when my 19-year-old daughter came into my bedroom at 8:30 am and plopped into a chair and started talking to me.  She shared her experiences as a nanny to two different families.  She talked about the stress of driving a mini-van full of children around during rush hour traffic. And on and on.  She was an HOUR late to work because she was just chatting it up with me.  (Her work hours are flexible, so it wasn't the end of the world.)  She decided it was time to go and hopped up and dashed out the door---leaving her empty cereal bowl sitting on an antique chair that belonged to my husband's grandfather.

Fast forward to the time this morning when I was finally awake and coherent and cleaning up all the breakfast mess.  AFTER I loaded the dishwasher and went into my bedroom to get ready for the day, I saw the empty bowl on the chair.  And I nearly cried.

I remember a time in my career as a mother when I would have been angry about that misplaced cereal bowl.  I wouldn't have abused her, but my actions would have had an angry tone.  I would have chastised her.  I would have read her the riot act about how many things I have to pick up around the house and how outnumbered I am by messy children. (Remember there are EIGHT of them---NINE if you count the husband, but that is another topic.)  And I was certainly RIGHT about how messy my family is---they are REALLY messy.  But I was also wrong---so very wrong.

I am NOT in any way, shape, form or fashion trying to say you shouldn't have rules or expectations of your children.  I believe just the opposite.  I believe we should do our best to teach our children to live in the best way possible.  Give them every advantage in knowing how to care for themselves and others around them---including putting your cereal bowl in the dishwasher.  Apparently, I was not very successful in the endeavor. And I think I know why.

Sitting here in the waning days of "raising" my children---my youngest is 15 and there are only two of them home during the school year---I see what I believe to be my biggest regret of motherhood.  Anger.  I almost cried at the sight of that bowl because I am so sorry for all the anger.  I am sorry for how quickly I let those small things make me mad.  I took all the overwhelming mess as a personal assault and came right back at them.  And looking back, I am so sorry.

Patience---it is the word that used to cause shudders to run right up my spine.  But now, I wish I would have been so much more patient.  I wish I would have known that they will "get it" over time.  And if they don't, their future family will have to live with whatever messy habit they haven't yet overcome.  And that wouldn't be so bad either.

I was so glad my sweet, beautiful, kind daughter came in to talk to me this morning.  I loved watching her VERY expressive face regale the tales of dealing with children hiding markers in the Monopoly game and then lying about it.  I can't get enough of watching her eyes fly wide open as she described people pulling in front of her and slamming on their brakes--especially since she was able to stop in time.  That cereal bowl was the evidence of the time she took to share with me this morning.  She is only home now for a few weeks each year, and I really treasure the time I have with her.  I wish I would have seen all the shoes, dirty socks, sports equipment, books, and yes, even cereal bowls with a brown ring in the bottom as a sign that my precious children were here.  That we lived and loved together.  

I believe if I had been more patient---yet still persistent---about teaching them without anger, I would have been more successful.  Perhaps they would still be messy, but the time would have been more enjoyable for all of us.  It takes a LOT of energy to be upset. That energy could have been much better spent in countless ways.  And mis-spending that resource is my biggest regret in motherhood.

Most of my children are adults now.  They are some of the kindest, hardest working, smartest, talented, HILARIOUS people I know.  I did do a lot of things right.  We have so much fun together now.  So please, if you are a young mother (or father) learn from my mistake.  Count to ten. Take deep breaths.  See the hilarity of spilled drinks---they made a fortune for Charlie Chaplin.  Remember the glory of athletic performances when you pick up dirty socks.  Be happy that your child is a bibliovore when you gather scattered books.  And cherish that conversation when you see the cereal bowl on Grandpa's antique chair.