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The Best Thing I Did for My Brain in 2020 - Engage
Feeding your curiosity, learning new things and exposing yourself to new situations: Studies show that an attitude of growth can have a positive impact on brain health.
In 2020, many of us were able to start a new hobby. What new skills did you gain? Did you learn a new language or musical instrument? Did you channel your inner artist and take up a new craft? In what ways did you feed your curiosity in 2020?
Learn more about ways to keep your brain healthy as you age by checking out the book “Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age” by Sanjay Gupta, MD.
I started metal detecting and magnet fishing. PS - magnet fishing is taking an extremely strong magnet and lowering/tossing it into waters around bridges, docks, etc and seeing what comes up. I have found bikes, knives, auto parts, etc. Still looking for that elusive safe full of $$. Best thing about these two hobbies is you get to engage the body outside, and the brain as well..... by researching various finds and locations to go hunt in.
On the metal detecting, I only go on land, though I might go in water up to 8-10" while at the beach. I've gone down as much as 20 feet in a deep channel. Thing to consider the deeper you go, the more you have to pull up. Good exercise, but can get tiring after a while. Mostly I go down 3 to 10 feet. BTW, the magnet fishing is a completely different device than the metal detector. My magnet is slightly larger than a hockey puck, weighs a pound or two and will lift fairly heavy items.
My wife, Ruth and I worked several challenging puzzles this year. Ruth has taken up quilting and so far has completed 7 this year, amazing she is! Together we are taking indoor tennis and golfing lessons, masking when required. I completed a ceramic tile project, tiling our large kitchen island. The activities have really helped us endure the pandemic and keep our sanity through it all.
Started using AARP resources more extensively which has led me to a number of new or revisited activities. Since we suspended gym visits in March 2020, we've used AARP exercises, stretches, yoga, meditations, recipes and other activities at home. The other activities have resulted in a set of new hobbies, mostly related to mindfulness such as window herb gardening, journal keeping, meditation, etc.
My hobby has been collecting matchbook covers from different businesses. What I learned from the hobby was that they have just about quit making them and they are impossible to find anymore. These days everyone just wants to flick their Bic! So much for my hobby. 😢
You collect only the covers? How do you take them apart- just remove the matchsticks or cut them off? I collected a lot of matchbooks, then when I had a whole jar full, used to keep them on a shelf so I could see it and reminisce about where I got it from. Years later, I removed the matchsticks because I heard it might make the whole thing too flammable to keep. Now you never find matchbooks anymore. The funny thing is I don't smoke at all.
I used to collect matchbooks when I was a kid. For Christmas one year, I even got a frame that had a series of horizontal slats in it that you could hang the matchbooks on—but the problem was that you had to remove the matches from the books to display them in this frame. As I got slightly more into the hobby, I found that many people who collect matchbooks remove the matches. It makes sense from a safety point of view, but I couldn't reconcile that by doing so, they'd no longer be in no longer in perfect condition. So I never used the frame but just kept the matchbooks intact in jars.
I had them until our house burned down and I lost, among other things, all of my matchbooks as well as my collection of oily rags, which I kept near them.
Okay, I'm kidding about that last sentence. House never burned down. Not sure what happened to the matchbook collection after I left home. Matchbooks as restaurant giveaways really are a thing of the past. I imagine it's a very short list of eateries that offer them today.
I know that you can find old matchbooks on eBay, but a lot of the fun was getting them from restaurants and places I (or more likely) my parents went.
I have a massive gum wrapper chain that I had to stop years ago because gum just doesn’t have the same wrappers anymore. For a while, they had plain ones, but even the shape of gum has changed now. I like your handle... my grandkids used to call me 2 Nana... the other one (before she passed away) was 5 Nana.
I'd seen those a few times when I was growing up but never knew how to do them.
Evidently, this guy learned how to create them...and then things got out of hand!
That link brings you to a NY Post story from September, 2020. Pretty amazing!
I started learning the affinity software for fun. It's the competitor to photoshop and way cheaper. Also, my job requires me to us Tableau so I started expanding that knowledge base with cycling. Shooting for 3k miles this year on the bike and Tableau allows me to visualize/track the progress. I need to ride 285 miles a month to stay on goal but am getting about 400 so far -- credit miles for when Jun/Jul/Aug arrive!
Oh my, I think you'd get along with my partner. He's a data analyst (big into excel and learning Tableau). He makes excel spreadsheets with data visualization for so many random things, and he's also a cyclist! Keep us posted on how your cycling goes this year!
I’ve taken up cycling also but not the usual type. Unicycling! I was curious if I could do it and found out it’s not that hard. Started on a four footer and graduated to six. I’m working on the next step which is ten foot. Hopefully there will be a Memorial Day Parade or Fourth of July Parade this year so my unicycling group can exhibit our skills.
I see Affinity is on sale now (as I type this) for $25. That's tempting. I have never used Photoshop (except as a verb! and inaccurately!) and have always done any photo editing either in the photo programs already on my computer or on free online editors. But I know Photoshop is expensive, and it's yet another program you could once buy outright that is requiring an annual subscription now.
3K miles in 2021! Wow! Good luck. Sounds like you're off to a good start. I obsessively tracked my biking on Google Maps last year after the lockdown started and I ended up doing about an 1/8th of that.
Don't waste the $ on photoshop. I had it for years until they went to the subscription service and that was the last draw. Get Affinity when it's on sale. -- there are a ton of tutorials out there and to be honest -- once you learn the tools, it's WAY easier then PS. They keep added functionality in with every release as well.
Here is one from today. This was color but converted to B/W. If anything, you' can just play around and learn more stuff. Art is suppose to be fun!
The melodica opens up opportunities for me to write in a more Celtic style. That is one of the influences in my own music. The melodica has a nice somewhat accordion sound, and I can play little melodies reminiscent of Irish music, to record along with my guitar (I use the Garageband app on my iPhone to record my songs). You can also lay it down and play it like a keyboard (though you need the extra lungpower for chords, which I have, thanks to aerobics!)
I started doin' all kinds of craft nonsense with acrylic paints in mid- to late-2020. They're cheap, anyway. The paints, I mean. So there's that.
Here's a piece I completed that I'm particular proud of:
I call it, "All Those Paints An' Junk I Bought, All In One Big Plastic Tote And Maybe Someday I'll Do Something Creative With Them...Descending A Staircase." Sure.
I love hobbies of any kind, especially if I can make something to give to someone. I'm especially fond of etching designs or patterns on a mirror with a versa-a-tool. Hobby stores have many stencil patterns. My girlfriend completes 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzles she uses as gifts.