Hissy Fit...because everyone deserves one once in a while.

Building your Brain

There's a commercial campaign on television right now that truly annoys me. It's for a major credit card company and each spot is some variation of consumers dashing through a retail environment gleefully purchasing coffee or toys or donuts with a credit or debit card at light speed. All happiness comes to a screeching halt when someone pays with real cash. What this of course implies is that paying with cash is dated and paying with a credit/debit card is hip and cool. What the commercial does not reveal is that, if we were to take a closer look, the reason things come to a screeching halt when someone pays with cash is because the person behind the register does not know how to make change. After all, that would require knowing currency denominations and how to do simple math. Come on, we've all been there. You are getting rung up at the register for $17.58, you hand the cashier a $20, they type it in and hit enter, and then you realize you have three singles after all and exchange a ten, a five, and the three singles for the twenty. That's when it happens. The cashier's eyes glaze over when they realize that the amount displayed on the LED screen for change due is no longer correct. They are actually going to have to count 58 cents up to a dollar. I am dismayed at the number of occasions where I have actually given instructions on how to make change. It is difficult to leave the dismay out of my voice when I do.

I generally write the fitness article and talk about how to keep your body healthy. This month I wish to address the other component for healthful living, our minds. In my opinion technology and the pell mell lifestyle that accompanies it has the potential to atrophy our brains and anesthetize our learning skills. Don't get me wrong. I am something of a techno-geek myself. We have a TIVO and an XBOX 360. I love my MacBook and am a devotee of the internet. I have a cell phone and a bluetooth earpiece. I am proud of my knowledge of computers and do everything from writing to book-keeping to graphic design on mine. HOWEVER. Technology should enhance and compliment our thinking and doing, not replace it. For those of us that actually remember a time before home computers and mp3 players it is relatively easy to jump start our brains in times of need, but for our kids and grandkids it is another story. I can understand when my niece questions the need to learn spelling and punctuation. After all, with spell check and computer proof reading why should she have to know these skills? All her reports are written on the computer where it does it for her. What is the point of honing our math skills when there are calculators so advanced that they can resolve almost any equation?

Somewhere along the way we have lost our fascination with the how and why of things. Maybe it is because computer sciences have become so advanced that we have given up trying to comprehend how things work and simply accept the fact that they do. We have also, as a society, become so enamored with convenience that doing things manually or from scratch just seems like a waste of time. This makes me so sad. And a little scared as to what the future holds. In addition to being a techno geek I am an avid reader. I am fascinated with word origin and have a passion for the English language. I knit, needlepoint, and crochet and have an appreciation for all kinds of fiber arts. I can read music and I am pretty handy in the kitchen. I'm not bragging, just trying to make a point. All these things do take time. They are about loving the how and why and taking the time to explore it. We need to pass that adventurous spirit on to our kids. Not just for the sake of stretching their brains but for the sake of relating to them.

The further our children get from understanding the strength of mastering all things "old-fashioned" the bleaker things get for those of us heading into middle-age who want to have a prayer when it comes to understanding all things "newfangled".

Arts and literature span generations like little else. My husband is 10 years younger than I and yet we both love the Rolling Stones and The Who. We both love movies that were made before either of us were born. When I sit in Needlepoint Junction with my knitting group we have a forum that draws women together that range in age from 30's to 70's. My interest in writing allows me to communicate with women of all ages and origins through this publication. That is something that text messaging can't do. Not even email or websites can do that. The further our children get from understanding the strength of mastering all things "old-fashioned" the bleaker things get for those of us heading into middle-age who want to have a prayer when it comes to understanding all things "newfangled". This does not have to be a case of never the twain. On the one hand we can encourage our kids to read, learn and appreciate craftsmanship, cook a meal from scratch, and make sure they can calculate change for a dollar. On the flip side we can make sure we slow ourselves down long enough to have a complete thought. Turn off the TV for a couple days. Put your credit cards in a drawer for a week. Write your next round of thank you's by hand rather than by email. Sew on a button or make a loaf of bread. Do something new that demands your full attention and takes a little time. As long as we can imagine life without the instant gratification technology provides than I feel comfortable finding a place for it in my life without feeling like it will take it over.

I love teaching young women to knit. I thrill when I can figure out what a word means by breaking it down to its origin. I am proud to be that person in line who opens my change purse and counts out exact change. The people stuck behind me in line can pass all that extra time by pulling out their Iphones and jumping on line or texting their friends. Or maybe, just maybe, they will take that extra moment and look at the person next to them and smile. That alone is the only argument I need for paying cash.

Anneliza Itkor is a nationally certified, licensed massage therapist (#3946) at The Center for Health, Fitness, and Sports Performance. She specializes in chronic condition management, sports massage, neuromuscular deep tissue, and hot stone therapy. She can be reached at (843) 422-3395.

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