Archive | August, 2014

Game of the Week: Paying Attention As You Live

28 Aug

We walk through our lives enjoying the big picture and living beyond the tiny details. That is not a bad thing and personally, I love just taking it all in.

The past few weeks I have been adding to the Cranium Crunches photo well. That means taking pictures as I live. Cranium Crunches, here on the blog and in the interactive games and in the Cranium Crunches Apps, is about practicing thinking skills in the context of your life. I want you to feel like you are taking a walk with me each time you play a Cranium Crunches game, and together, we will have a few smiles, enjoy a good conversation, and nourish our brains.

I don’t have a fancy camera or even a removable or expandable lens. I don’t stop and focus on a shot. Honestly, that is not the way most of us live.  We don’t take the time to stop and focus-we just walk right through. And in the end, the photos I take with my every day no frills camera as I walk through my life, sometimes turn out every bit as beautiful as the scenes I experience. I could add color and touch them up but I prefer to leave them, as I took them, as I lived them.

Here are a few of my favorites from this last batch. I turned them into some One of These Things Are Not Like the Others puzzles for you!  Notice that I switched up the format a bit to change the experience. One of These Things puzzles in the online game have nine images-three rows of three. These only have 2 rows and have either eight or six images. You will have to challenge yourself to focus on the details to figure out which image is different.

This one was taken at the San Diego Astronomy Association’s viewing area in Tierra Del Sol, CA.

star gazing static


Another beautiful sunrise in San Diego….skyline staticI snapped this (on the sly) at the Trombone Shorty and Galactic concert at a venue I won’t mention here because…well, I was breaking the rules when I took this photo.  It was an amazing concert and we danced and danced and danced some more! Check them out!!!

shorty static

I took this photo from the window of the Amtrak Surfliner. This is what Los Angeles looks like from the train…..

tagger static


Don’t forget you can always play more brain puzzles and games at or customize some games using your own photos in a few our Apps!

Zooming Out: Hiking, Learning, and Honoring the Past

26 Aug

When you take a step back and look at the bigger picture sometimes the world becomes clearer and you see how everything just seems to fit together.  This week’s exercise is a great example of  just that.  Random slices out of a whole scene don’t tell you the whole story and you don’t get the rich in depth view of the experience.

My bigger picture includes living a purposeful life and I try to push myself each day to amplify my experiences by including those things that are meaningful and important to me on a deeper level. I look for those things I love-what makes me happy and feel fulfilled-and turn the volume up on those experiences.  So, when planning a trip, even a two day train get away, my husband and I try to amplify our experience, and make our travel purposeful where ever possible.

We love to hike,  learn, and uncover pieces of the past so a trip to Painted Rock. Carrizo Plain National Monument via Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner to check out an ancient Native American Chumash site seemed to fit our needs perfectly.

Of course you must always pack the proper shoes for the occasion. This is a photo of me, in my natural environment.

hiking boots

Pre-planing served us well on this trip. Carrizo National Monument is open to the public and there is no admission fee however, Painted Rock is behind a locked gate in a protected area.  From March to mid-July you must get a guided a tour and those can be arranged at the Education Center. The rest of the year, you can do a self-guided tour but you must apply for access, get approved, and get a gate code to access the site.  The night before we left for our trip we got our access code via email!

One of the first things we saw was this rock cluster covered with different colored lichen-the stuff that rock art paint is made of! Orange, green, red, and, at this site, even purple lichen covered the rocks.

paint material

Of course, these creatures (Dan and me), in their natural element must take photos!

shaddow camera

The whole scene was a bit eerie. Here we were, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, completely alone. Or so we thought.  Check out what is coming over the hill.

elk 2

And here he is, in all his glory, at full glide, across the side of the hill. It always amazes me just how graceful full grown elk can be.

Elk 1


At the end of 3/4 mile hike and some serious exploring and wonder, we came to another rock formation just sitting in the middle of this huge plain.  The rocks formed a protected bowl and here is just a sampling of what we found in that bowl.

rock art chumash

The Chumash used this area for ceremonies and gatherings. Standing in the middle of the rocks, you can almost feel the ancients, hear the drums and the singing, see the dancers and painters, and experience the rich history this place holds.

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And some bonus photos of this amazing site!

The trail in…. Hot, dry, and completely civilization-free!P1130001 (2)

Across the Carrizo Plain is the dried up Soda Lake…. More on this next week but this shot of the vast plain gives you an idea just how alone we were on this site. Very powerful feeling.

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And there, in the distance, was the Painted Rock site.

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Rock art is a generic term for the images left behind by the ancients all over the world. There are two types of rock art: petroglyphs and pictographs.

This etching is one of the first images we saw as we walked.  Carvings are called petroglyphs.

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Paintings like this one are called pictographs. This particular, was mostly likely painting using lichen similar to what is still present on the rocks less than 1/3 of a mile away (see above).  We believe that this is a symbol that represents and a blanket but no one is really sure.

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Many of the stories, legends, and meanings were lost over the centuries but this one is pretty clearly a lizard!

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Purposeful travel is such a meaningful and enjoyable way to see the world.  Learn as you go, gain a deeper appreciation, and come out on the other side with a stronger, more connected appreciation of where you and those before you have been.



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