Author Jackie Madden Haugh talks about using your brainHave you ever walked into a room on a mission only to find you have no idea why you came in the first place? For me, it’s a constant battle. My blind eyes never see because my glasses are lost on top of my head. The car won’t start because I’ve misplaced my keys usually in the black hole I call my purse, and my four children are close to disowning me because I tell them the same story over and over. But my worst offense is I never get their names straight.

I’ve been told every parent does this from time to time. We start one of our tirades, and our tongues spit faster than thinking first. But how do you forget the only male’s name nestled among three sisters? I’m sure he’s developing an identity crisis and will spend his adult years in therapy.

But it’s late at night that I’m frightened I’m totally losing it. Conditioned to go into their domains and kiss my children goodnight, I find only empty beds. Sadly, I remember they’ve been gone for years in their new homes far away.

Once upon a time I was sharp. I could dot all the “I’s” and cross all the “T’s.” But mid-life crept in, and like an army of one-eyed monsters from another planet, my brain was swept away on their mother ship for galaxies unknown, toyed and tinkered with, and replaced when they realized there wasn’t anything of consequence to use.

I’m fearful I’m developing dementia, or worse, but when I think of what I deal with day-to-day, I’m shocked I remember anything at all. What between the check-off list at my job at Alain Pinel Realtors, caring for my ninety-five-year-old father, calming my children’s occasional emotional outbursts (along with my personal challenges), I’m shocked I can think at all. So what’s a woman to do before her family completely disowns her?

One day it dawned on me. Just like every other muscle in our body, I needed to exercise my brain before it atrophied. Unfortunately, I can’t take it out of my head, throw it on a treadmill and retrieve it forty-five minutes later all pumped up, but the answer is quite simple. To make my mind look like Wonder Woman with her gold headband and red, white and blue strapless leotard and stylish knee-hi boots, all I had to do was stimulate it with thought. No swords. No bolts of lightening. Just explore the marvels of the world around me with critical thinking.

First, I began with the enjoyable task of reading and books of all kind; memoirs, science fiction, drama, historical. Then I took a writing class and expanded my mind with the creative process of storytelling. I listened more attentively to the news and before I knew it, I found myself more comfortable while in the middle of heated conversations regarding politics and religion. Talk about a mind marathon. But the best place to pump my mental iron is trapped in my car.

Locked away in my Chrysler Sebring, I turn off the radio and let my mind wander to my past. I find myself rewinding my childhood and the key players who helped shape and mold me. Then I begin to explore how I feel about my life and finally, to what I truly want and what changes need to be made to get it. These quiet moments help connect me with me. And when there’s a traffic jam, I have no time for road rage. I’m too busy solving the problems of the world.

Technology helps us stay informed, but what about keeping in touch with the most important person in the world – you? Learning to let your mind go opens doors that were one sealed tight with a padlock without a key. Relish your memories for they are the creation of the person you were born to be. And, finally, allow yourself to dream for they are the manifestation for your future.

With all this mental stimulation, think about how strong you’ll be and what you’ll truly be able to conquer. Hell, you might even be able to remember your children’s names.