Archive | September, 2014

Photo Walk: Paying Attention to the Details and Perspective Change Everything

29 Sep

Last week, as part of my friend Elin’s quest to explore and find those treasures just beyond her own backyard in San Diego, we set out to explore some bridges (some hidden and some in plain sight), and take a walk in the park.

I love taking walks with friends. It feeds our brains with those great boosts we get from being active, being engaged in conversations big and small, and learning along the way.  I particularly love walks when both my friend and I have our cameras poised and ready for action! We can see, first hand, how even like-minded people can experience the world through a slightly different lens and it all changes.

We met at the Spruce St. Bridge – a beautiful old suspension bridge that connects the two sides of a canyon just outside of downtown San Diego.  As you know, I see puzzles where ever I go. As we approached the bridge I saw colors to change (the top of the trash can), signs to duplicate, and bushes to make large.

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As we got closer, my eye (and camera) was drawn to the signs.

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And the irony….

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As Elin’s eye, trained on beauty, looked across bridge’s path….

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I saw strings of metal cables, held together at key spots – amazed at the structure and the strength.

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I was thinking about how it all held together and the welds that held together the anchors.

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So, as we walked across the bridge and started to notice padlocks lining the sides…

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And we took a closer look, I was still thinking strength and structure.

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Elin knew better though and looked even more closely and a sweeter story emerged….

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Symbols of love locked on the bridge that brought Elin back to a story of bridge in Paris (she recounts the story here and history of the bridge here).

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Where I saw puzzles with items to change and a structural bridge held up by connections and welds, my wonderful friend unraveled a beautiful story filled with love and commitment.  Perspective, perspective, perspective shapes our perceptions and how we see the world.

Moral of this story? Fill your life with people who see things through a different lens and use a different filter. Your (and their) life will be richer, fuller, and filled with a wide range of colors !

Brain Blips and the Order of Life: A Closer Look at Sequencing

26 Sep

I took a long, wonderful walk with my friend and talented author Elin Waldall this week. We covered so  many topics as we explored a few historic bridges (more on this later) and Balboa Park’s gardens.

One stuck with me. It was a conversation about an overlooked brain function that  smacks most us in the face as we age without us really understanding what it is or how to approach it: sequencing or, in simpler terms, the order of life.

Sequencing is part of a larger group of executive functions that allow us to handle more complex situations and solve problems so it is a pretty important part of successful thinking. It is, however, something we take for granted. Of course you know all the moving  parts of everything you do during the day and in what order to perform each part of the process… don’t you?

This is a tough concept to wrap your head around.    How about an example?   You want to boil an egg.   Sounds simple enough?   Let’s look at this process more closely.

  • Get a pan out of the cabinet.
  • Fill it with water.
  • Turn on the burner.
  • Take the carton of eggs out of the refrigerator.
  • Take an egg out of the carton and put the egg in the pan.
  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Turn down the temperature so the water does not boil over.
  • Wait 5 minutes.
  • Take the pan off of the burner.
  • Turn the burner off.

Is there a step you could leave off or could you change the order and still end up with a boiled egg?  Not likely but there are also steps you could skip and end up with a pan on fire or an egg sitting in cold water.   Now try to shuffle those steps and what happens?  Every process — making a phone call, starting a car, brushing your teeth, as well as boiling an egg — work best when you take all the steps in a pretty consistent order.

Like other executive functions, successful sequencing does not happen in isolation – it starts with attention and is tied to memory/recall, language processing, problem solving, and in many cases, emotional control.  It is a great thing that, like many other brain processes, challenges with sequencing can be improved and respond really well to training and games.

Yep, you know what is coming next – some exercises in the form of 2 types of games – both challenging and both meant to help you stretch your limits just a bit.

Check out the completed sample of Word Sequences.

Word sequences EXAMPLE


Got it?  Try this one:

Word Sequence 2

Here is another type of word game you can use to practice the order.  This one makes you think in degrees or magnitude.  What word goes in the sequence?  Fill in the blanks! (Hint there might be several logical answers to each but be mindful of the sequence!)

What comes next?


Were these easy for you?


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