Author Archives: admin

The Magic 8 Ball

My memory behaves a lot like a Magic 8 Ball these days. My thoughts stay on the surface of my mind briefly and then retreat into the background and are difficult to summon again. This is common with aging, but it is something to be fought. There is too much at stake. I look for ways to adapt and compensate for memory loss.  I have developed some systems for keeping track of paperwork, things, and time. They all involve the same items:
  • a calendar
  • a tickler file
  • file folders labeled with the months of the year
The calendar represents the present, orienting me in time. The tickler file represents the future, helping me keep track of upcoming events and needed actions. The labeled monthly file folders keep track of the recent past…here is where I find proof of a paid bill or correspondence.

Continue reading

April! Time to Take Down the Christmas Decorations

Here in Maine the snow has mostly melted and people can reach parts of their house where the wreaths and other holiday decorations were marooned. Many people put wreaths over each of their windows, both upstairs and down. These require a ladder for putting them up and taking them down. The ground may have been bare when they were put up after Thanksgiving, but then the snows came. We often joke about the wreath’s becoming “St. Patrick’s Day wreaths” or even “Easter wreaths”. When winter releases its hold, however temporarily, home owners start raking gravel from their lawns where the plow drivers pushed the snow when clearing the driveway, and removing the vestiges of holiday decorating. Spring moves slowly here in Maine.

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
“You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”
(Two Tramps in Mud Time by Robert Frost)

Meantime, inside the house, the effect of approaching spring is felt, as well. Rooms that were closed off in order to save heating them are once again left open. Windows get opened for short periods of time when the sun is out. We cautiously dig out a few pieces of warm weather clothing, but when we wear them we dress in layers such as an over-shirt to peel off and put back on as the day progresses. We look for garden tools we set aside without much thought back in the fall. We try to look optimistically at the dismal flower beds and vegetable garden which don’t yet show any promise. But then, on our village street, neighbors re-appear, kids are bicycling and the song birds are returning and gathering nest materials. Spring may be slow getting here but we get to appreciate in increments as it progresses.

Memory Systems

My major effort these days is to counter the effect of aging on my short-term memory, and my increasing reluctance to make decisions.

I have come to rely on a system I created that I trust more than my short-term memory. The basic unit of my system is a tickler file. It’s called that because you go through it frequently, your fingers tickling through the dividers for days of the month and months of the year.

Another part of my system is my Bullet Journal. Bullet journaling is very popular right now and it is refreshing to see a non-digital system for recording actions and follow-ups being appreciated by young adults. They see it as their own invention. The name comes from the use of bullet points at the start of items listed in it.

But before I use either my bullet journal or tickler file, I use my commitment-scale. This is an internal process. I consider every thing I have to deal with and ask myself, on a scale of 1 through 10 what is my level of commitment to seeing this through? If an item is a “1” on the scale then it is of no importance. If it is a “10” on the scale it is so important it must be dealt with this moment – right now. “1’s” are not keepers. They go in the trash, the recycling, the donation box, depending on what they are. If an item falls any where else on the scale, then a decision needs to be made about when to do it and where to find it again. If an item is digital,such as an email or a website article, I use Evernote as an online filing system.