Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Memory Triggers Good and Bad

There are so many things that trigger memories, many of them have to do with the senses: smell, taste, hearing, and vision; but there are also places and actions that can spur a memory recall, some of them good, some not so welcome.  I find that the older I get and, I suppose, the more experiences I have, the more often these triggers are tripped and I remember something or someone.  The inspiration for this particular post topic came recently when I was blow drying my hair.

Because my hair is thick and wavy, I blow dry my hair with my head upside down.  I learned this trick from my cousin Wendy, a childhood best friend and a professional hair stylist. 
 Never dry your hair from the top down,” she told me years ago. 

Since then I have followed her advice.  Although that comment came, I’d guess thirty years ago, I still have Wendy pop into my head when I do this routine task.  Not too long ago I called her when this happened to share with her that I was thinking of her.

My Aunt Rita is another person who I learned a lot from.  I lived with my aunt and her brood many times throughout my life.  I'm sure I've never told her this stuff, but it was from her that I learned how to put on a bra and shave my legs.  And nothing brings back sweet memories more than a meal of pork chops, rice with gravy, and applesauce.  That was one of the meals Aunt Rita made and when I make it I am taken back to those days living with their large family and being counted as one of them. 

The many dishes I make that I learned from watching my grandmother make the loss of her in 1998 a little less sad. 

Eating a cucumber fresh from my garden reminds of my big brother, Mike.  I visited him at his home in Gowanda, New York many years ago and he proudly plucked one of these vegetables from his own garden and convinced me to take a bite, even though it hadn’t been peeled.  It was the delicious!  Now, I wash, not peel my own organic vegetables.  It was Michael, again, that I think of every time I shower with Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint soap. 

Then, there are the memories I wish I could banish from my mind and consciousness.  Sometimes I can’t figure out why they crop up when they do.  Why is it that I always think of a woman I had a particularly deep conflict with when I am emptying the dishwasher?  Why, when I’m in the garden pulling weeds do I think of the man who caused my family such distress?  I can only conclude they come up when they do because those were the locations where I spent time contemplating the problem and looking for solutions. 

These are just a couple of examples of incessant thoughts that come uninvited into my head that I find, if I don’t acknowledge them and replace them with happy thoughts, I obsess over.  There are some more that are much too personal to share here, but I will say they pop up at the worst times and those are the ones I wish I could banish forever.

For a while, I really thought I was going crazy because I couldn’t control the thoughts.  Having songs play over and over in my head give me the same feeling.  A little research proves I'm not nuts- that phenomenon is called "earworms!"    When these negative thoughts and reruns get stuck in my head, I have had to come up with methods to rid myself of them.  Whenever they make an appearance, I overpower them with affirmations that I repeat over and over.  It might sound like I am nuts, but I have to say the trick works.

If having to deal with some unpleasant memories is the price I have to pay to keep all of those wonderful ones in my mind, I am glad to do it.  Hey, I’m just thrilled that I still have memory recall; to me, losing my memories would be as horrible as losing my sight. 

What are your memory triggers?

“A moment lasts all of a second,
but the memory lives on forever.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

Look in the mirror and what do I see? An old lady looking back at me!

It’s happening.  I have entered the old-lady-itis stage of life.  Yep, it’s arrived proclaiming, “I’m here! No fear!  Get used to it!”  How do I know it’s here and not just around the corner?  Let me count the ways.

·         I used to color my hair for fun, oh, maybe twice a year or so.  Then I took to putting the $7.98 box of hair color purchase into my quarterly budget because I’d notice a stray gray here and there.  Now, according to my calendar calculations, I am going to the professionals every four weeks because my temples glimmer with silver that are too noticeable to ignore.

·         The McDonald’s cashiers rarely question my senior coffee claim anymore.
·         I get words and names mixed up.  I’m calling one of my dogs by the name of a pet that died eight years ago.  When I make appointments, March is May or April is August and I don’t know the difference until someone points it out to me.

·         “You’ve told me that story already,” is mentioned to me on a regular basis.

·         My son-in-law claims he was “only joking” when he asked his wife “where the old lady is.”

·         I pass gas* when just walking sometimes, never knowing when the humiliating sound will occur. (*Okay, I also have the old-lady prude thing going on because I had to come back and change the "f" word that refers to passing gas because I couldn't stop thinking about it and being embarassed that I'd used it here for all the world to see!)
·         Speaking of humiliating sounds, I grunt and groan when getting up off the couch or bending down to pick up something off the floor.

·         My best friend said, “Yeah, right!” when I said let’s pretend that the babies we were each carrying were our own.  She didn’t think it was a believable prank anymore.

·         No matter how hot it is I have to wear shirts with sleeves, especially in my college class because the arm flaps are distracting to my students.   
·         Shorts, cropped pants and bathing suits are no longer an option.

·         My hairdresser insists on giving me bangs to cover up the forehead wrinkles.

·         Getting eight-hours of sleep is a nostalgic memory.                        

·         I don’t care anymore that my husband sees my full-body Spanx in the laundry, or on my body, for that matter.

·         I shun the camera because I can’t figure out “my good side” anymore.

And, I remind myself that someday in the future I will look back at this time and long for how good I looked at 53!