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How’s Your Memory These Days?

How’s Your Memory These Days?

Do you sometimes feel you’re losing it?
Do you remember details about the past, but often
wonder where your short-term memory has gone? 

July 20, 2022 Brabec Bulletin

Recently when I was looking through my journals for details about something I knew had happened in 2016, I found what I was looking for. But I was stunned to realize that nothing had changed in the past seven years. I’d written:

August 8, 2016: In reading The Devil in the White City—Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America today, a few words uttered by Olmsted, one of the characters in the book, upset me:

“It has today, for the first time, become evident to me that my memory for recent occurrences is no longer to be trusted.”

Later in the book, now ill and ready to quit the work that was taking its toll on him, Olmsted wrote, “I am older and more used up than I had supposed.”

Those words—“more used up than I had supposed”—made me realize that one day, perhaps sooner than I think, I may suddenly conclude that I am more “used up” than I want to believe. Maybe this is just the normal cycle of aging and nothing to fret about, but the memory thing . . . well, that’s a different matter.

Near to this 2016 journal entry was one about a conversation I’d had with two friends over coffee one Sunday after church. One asked if we were all going to the Air Force band concert the next Saturday at Cantigny Park (there was a reminder in the church bulletin about it). Only then did I realize I’d completely forgotten that the Sunday before I’d signed up for the concert and had talked to the friend I was sitting next to about her picking me up. Now the other friend said she could take me too.

As the two of them debated which one was going to pick me up, I was trying to justify how I could have forgotten the upcoming concert and my ride to it. I remembered that I’d made my usual after-church grocery shopping stops, but by the time I got home and put groceries away and thought about lunch, I’d forgotten to add a reminder about this concert to the calendar in my office, which I’d be lost without. At the close of this journal entry, I’d written:

“It’s a scary realization to accept that my memory can no longer be trusted and that I must make a written note about everything I need to remember.”

Even though my office calendar is always filled with reminder notes now, sometimes a note doesn’t do the job. Example: I make a note in the kitchen to remember to bring up paper towels the next time I go downstairs. Later when I go downstairs with that thought in mind, I may get distracted by deciding to load the washer or bring something up from my pantry. Once I’ve done such things, I go back upstairs and suddenly remember that I forgot the paper towels. (But at least this forces me to exercise a little more each day.)

The only thing that has changed in the past seven years is that my life has gotten more complex with each passing year. I’m busy every day with a variety of work and life-related issues from the time I get up until after dinner when I finally relax. Because I cram so much into every day, by Friday I can’t remember (without looking at my calendar) all that I’ve done that week.

Doing Things by Rote

I’ve come to some conclusions as to why my short term memory is so bad now. I believe it’s because as we age, we do many more things by rote, “a memorizing process using routine or repetition, often without full attention or comprehension.”

For example, every morning I walk the hall from the bedroom to the living room to open the blinds, then go down six steps to the entry level to flip the switch to shut off the porch light.

This is habitual for both me and my cat. When I excitedly say “Window!” to Liza, she races ahead and jumps to the back of the couch to “help” me open the window (and get some extra petting). Then she follows me down the stairs to help with the light, too. Quite often at the bottom of these carpeted steps, I grab an ostrich feather (gift from a cat-friend) that she loves to chase up and down the stairs. After playing with Liza, I go up the companion stairway leading to the kitchen. No sooner do I get there that I wonder if I flipped the switch or not. I have to go back down to see if I did this by rote with no memory of it, or simply forgot because my focus shifted to playing with the cat and caused me to forget why I’d gone downstairs in the first place.

So . . . how many things do you do by rote each day without thinking about it? Maybe take a pan off the stove, take it to the sink to drain water off the veggies, empty the pan and set it in the sink, completely forgetting that you didn’t shut off the burner before you lifted the pan? Or do you quickly take something out of the oven, place it on the stove to do whatever is necessary, and forget to shut off the oven? I sometimes realize this only when I return to the kitchen for a bedtime snack and either see the gas burner still on or feel the heat of the oven as I walk by.

I wonder if my forgetfulness is simply because I have so many to-do lists and so many things on my mind all the time that it’s simply too much for my tired old brain to deal with without a lot of visual help. Or maybe this is another reminder that I need to slow down and focus on what I’m doing in the moment throughout my active day instead of habitually projecting my mind to the next thing on my to-do list that day.

Comments, anyone?
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Related Article:

The Brain Connection between Writing and Remembering

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How to Find Your God-Given Mission in Life

 How to Find Your
God-Given Mission in Life

This post was inspired by Eric Metaxas’ interview
with Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, and Tim Tebow,
who share how faith impacted their careers.

June 20, 2022 Brabec Buletin

Do you know that God has a plan for your life and a special mission too?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

I was delighted to catch Eric Metaxas on TBN in April when he interviewed Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson about their movie, Father Stu, and asked each of them to share how faith had impacted their Hollywood careers. Their words were inspiring, but it was Tim Tebow, Eric’s guest on the second half of this program, that gave me the fodder for this Bulletin.

I’ve never had any interest in football, but even I knew that Tebow is a famous football player. What I didn’t know until I visited his website was that he’s also the author of several NYT bestsellers and a Christian with an encouraging message people of all ages can relate to. As his site proclaims, his mission is “to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.” It was inspiring to learn about his Foundation, which is currently fighting for people in more than 70 countries who can’t fight for themselves. What a unique ministry Tebow has built!

To live a “mission-possible life,” he urges us to “Find your mission, pursue your purpose, and go create a life that counts!” I jotted down a couple of Tebow’s comments from the Metaxas interview (a little paraphrasing here) that I wanted to remember:

“I want to encourage people that we can truly have a life that counts by living out the mission God has given us. God wants a personal and intimate relationship with you,” he emphasized. “In Christ Jesus, we are a masterpiece, and God has good works for each of us to do.”

And then he referenced Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Finding Your Mission in Life

The title of Tebow’s latest book, Mission Possible: Go Create a Life That Counts (March 2022), reminded me of the popular TV show of the sixties, Mission Impossible, which aired three decades before I learned that God had given me a special mission in life. I became a serious student of the Bible in my first year as a baby Christian, and this excerpt from the journal I began to keep in 1995 after I was born again—via radio—will explain how I discovered my mission in life:

February 15, 1995: “Last night I read a booklet on how to know God’s will. It stressed the importance of listening for God’s messages. So I prayed before going to bed that God would let me know what he wanted me to do with the rest of my life. At 4:00 I woke up, turned on the radio, and heard a sermon by Chuck Swindoll that emphasized the importance of not waiting until you’re old to do God’s work (a message I know I’m supposed to share with others). At the end of this sermon, I fell asleep with the earphone still in my ear.

Precisely at 6:30, I awoke again to hear Greg Laurie’s timely message: How to know God’s will and recognize the gifts he has given us. I learned that Mother had the special gift of giving, and my sisters and I have it too; we’re always trying to be helpful to others. And I learned that I have the gift of both teaching and exhortation, which translates to being a motivational teacher or speaker. I don’t have to preach the gospel to reach people; all I have to do is continue to be myself, share what I’m learning in life, and encourage others to follow in my footsteps by turning to God and Jesus Christ.”

And that’s what I’ve been doing since 1995 when I discovered God’s mission for my life. If you need help in figuring out what God wants YOU to do with your life, you’ll find many books on Amazon that address this question.

When I did a few keyword searches for “mission in life,” “God’s will for my life,” etc., some had millions of web pages; one had more than a billion, proving that countless people the world over are looking for answers to the questions discussed in this Bulletin. Do a few keyword searches of your own and ask God which articles or books He wants you to read. (You might be surprised.) 

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Related Article: Barbara's Testimony for Christ

P. S. Visit HOME page to find links to featured articles of the month. And thanks for linking others to this blog. New readers, click here to join my mailing list.

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