Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Vigorous Mind

by Ingrid E. Cummings

This is another book suggested by Jenclair. It's absolutely dangerous for me to read her blog because I am tempted to add just about every book she reviews to my TBR list. I know I've mooched or bought several books because of her reviews. I shouldn't grumble because I enjoy every single one.

Author Cummings contends that it's important to cross-train our minds in much the same way we cross train our bodies by engaging in different types of mental activities. If your job requires specialization you should something to do with a few minutes of your spare time that takes you in a different direction. You might be a brain surgeon so you should spend some of your off time playing a musical instrument or playing a musical instrument.

She suggests spending 20 minutes a day on an interest that you've been putting off. Those 20 minutes add up over time. Many times what we learn from doing distinctly different activities will aid us in our area of specialization and vice versa.

Cummings suggest activities at the end of several chapters. One of those was to make a Bliss List - a list of 20-50 activities you'd love to try (or return to) if only you had the time, energy, strength, courage, and so on. Then in the next chapter we chose 3 of those activities we were willing to spend 20 minutes a day doing.

I chose 4: gardening, journaling, writing a better book review and geography. I have spent lots of time preparing a vegetable garden plan. I studied about companion plants. I also spent time taking pictures of both our vegetable garden and flower beds, including them in an digital notebook with comments about care and any changes I would like to make. I've been extremely pleased with my progress on this activitiy.

I've done pretty good on my geography goal, too. I look up places on Google Earth when I read or hear about someplace. I have a niece who went on a mission in Uruguay so I looked that up and zoomed in on Montevideo. I love Google Earth because people can post pictures of places and the rest of can look at them. I decided I would like to visit S. America. From there I found myself wandering over to Africa. All-in-all I've had fun learning about new places and becoming more knowledgeable about more familiar places.

I have done a little studying about writing book reviews but I still need lots of work. I have discovered that I would benefit with some tips on reading. You know - understanding characterization, plot, etc.

My last activity was journaling. I've only made a thimbleful of headway. I ordered Ira Progoff's At a Journal Workshop and even read a few pages, but that's all. Maybe there's something to only choosing 3 activities at a time.

Let's get back to the book. One thing I really liked was all the quotes that Cummings sprinkled throughout the book. I always had my highlighter with me while reading. Another was the examples of people who have accomplished so much in their lives by devoting small chunks of time, over time, to various activities. Cummings throughout basketful of suggestions, thinks I may never have thought of and many that I wasn't interested in but many that I was. I've started drawing Zentangles and learning French. Neither were on my Bliss List, although I've always wanted to learn French. I'm finding it a bit difficult at 57, but I'm bound and determined. It's a little hard when I'm the one reading the words, seeing the pronunciation hints and listening to the narrator and my husband and daughter pick it up so quickly and easily and all they do is hear the narrator. (I think that was a run-on sentence!)

Obviously, this book fired me up and encouraged me to pursue some activities I've put off for years. Now if I could just remember better. Don't suggest any memory books, I've already read at least 5 or maybe 10. I'd hate to think where I'd be if I had not gleaned some helpful skills from those books. After rambling through this post, I think I should focus on 'how to focus'.


Thoughts of Joy said...

I enjoyed reading this, Booklogged. :) I have explored the Earth with Google Earth and love it, too! I'm sending you productive thoughts as you persevere in accomplishing your goals.

Anonymous said...

I'm too old and set in my ways to try and put this book into practice. Ya gotta have more brain cells than I do but I'm cheering you on--YOU GO GIRL!

christina said...

Excellent. I got this book (for free) a couple of weeks ago, having heard nothing about it. Thanks for the review. I looks like a must for me over the summer!

Suko said...

What an interesting blog you have! I may need to add you to my blogroll.

jenclair said...

I'm so glad that you enjoyed the book, too! My highlighter was active, as well. Great quotes and book titles that I highlighted for further reference.

I like the topics you've chosen for focus. Reading about gardening is entertaining for me in general, and I'm always checking out why my SIL's gardenias have some yellow leaves (they need iron!). Also love books about journaling, even though I never apply what I read to my own journals. Love Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.

Kailana said...

Yes, Jenclair does have good taste, doesn't she! I probably will have to look into this book now that I have seen two reviews.

joesanchez said...

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same and still retain the ability to function...One should, for example, see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise." ---F. Scott Fitzgerald

Zibilee said...

I had heard of this idea, but haven't read much about it. It sounds like I seriously need to pick up this book and give my brain a workout. Thanks for posting this!

Becca said...

This sounds like a great book to bust you out of a rut! I could put some more passion into my day, that's for sure. I've got reading and reviewing and movies and music and writing down. How about getting back into my other hobbies, such as drawing (which I am very bad at, but try anyway) and I could try to keep a house plant alive (it would be a first) and get back into some more active pursuits, too, like swimming and hiking.

And I know what you mean about blogs that are dangerous to read because you add so many books from them. Heather of Book Addiction is my own dangerous blog!