Tag Archive for memories

Boost Your Memory with this Blissful Activity

I just had to tell you about this study. It really is a great study and can benefit your marriage a great deal. Researchers at McGill University explored the possible link between engaging in regular sex and memory. They asked 78 young women between 18- and 29-years-old about their sex life and then gave them memory tests involving facial recognition and verbal recall. The results: women who had more frequent sex had significantly better scores on the verbal memory tests.  In other words, regular sex was associated with better memory in verbal areas (not so much for facial recognition). (Read more about this study in Sex on the Brain). A similar study involving men is currently in process and seems to be leaning toward similar results. Regular sex is associated with better memory.

The authors suggest that making love may benefit the participant’s memory in a number of possible ways.

  1. It may boost the level of neurotransmitters in the brain which, in turn, supports new brain cell growth in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a brain structure important for memory.
  2. It involves exercise; and exercise promotes new brain cell growth in the hippocampus as well.
  3. It increases blood flow to the brain, which also supports new brain cell growth.

Interestingly, previous studies have also found an association between regular sex and lower risk of dementia. In other words, making love to your spouse could help you both increase memory and stave off dementia.

So, I figure we may have found this year’s New Year’s resolution, one you and your spouse can enjoy while enhancing your memory and helping to shield one another from dementia. Enjoy regular times of physical intimacy and love making. Only one caveat to remember: making love is more than just jumping in the sack. It all begins in the kitchen (Read Improve Your Sex Life…Before You Hit the Sheets and Forget the Flowers & Do the Dishes for more on starting in the kitchen).

What I Learned at Family Camp, 2015

My family and I just returned from our annual trip to Family Camp at Camp Christian. Once again, Jim and Terry Jones organized a wonderful weekend of relaxation, fun, and worship. We enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and making new friends. This year, Tim Jones was our speaker. Tim and his wife, Lisa, minister through “Windows of Hope” with BLOC ministries in the inner city of Cincinnati. They are passionate, loving people with a great sense of humor and a deep love for Christ. Tim encouraged us to do several things to strengthen our families.

  • familysunheartHe encouraged us to “Be Real” in our homes. No one’s life is perfect. We all have our ups and downs. We grow closer, more intimate, and even stronger when we do not hide those ups and downs from one another but use them as opportunities to connect instead. It may feel vulnerable to “open up”, “get real,” and share our deepest emotions, but it will give your family an intimacy and strength you will never know otherwise.
  • Tim also asked the question, “What’s The Big Deal?” In this workshop, Tim shared the impact of sin in the lives of individuals and families. Every sinful action is connected to wires that “blow up” a series of consequences that can kill relationships and destroy lives. We may ask, “What’s the big deal?” but the consequences are deadly! In response, Tim encouraged us to live a life of faithfulness and integrity in our families, a life to protect them from the deadly consequences wired to sinful behaviors.
  • We also learned about “God’s Secret Weapon” (one of my favorite lessons, I might add). God has a “not-so-secret” weapon He has given to us, a weapon we can use to touch other people’s lives inside and outside our families. This weapon is “God’s favorite move” and has become one of mine as well. It brings release of pain and breaks the powers of loneliness. It breaks down walls and overcomes barriers. What is God’s favorite move, the secret weapon He has given to us? Kindness. One way to show kindness is through the open arms that welcome one another into the grasp of a loving hug! I think I’ll give a few extra oxytocin hugs (read 3-2-1 Release to learn about this “move”) today to celebrate “God’s favorite move.”
  • Finally, Tim reminded us that we have a “built in, self-activating, guilt free, God ordained party package”…and we need to use it to Celebrate family and life every day! Celebrate family and life by sharing activities like singing, dancing, laughing, and playing. After all, life is a gift. Family is a gift. Friendship is a gift. Every breath we take is a gift. Celebrate! If you have trouble coming up with ideas to celebrate family, try some of the ideas on the “Celebrate Page” of the Honor Grace Celebrate website.
  • One other thing, unrelated to the worship times, that I always find inspiring at family camp. Every year we have a talent show. People from preschoolers to adults share their talent. And, we truly witness some amazing talent at Camp Christian. Many times we experience the joy of watching this talent mature and grow as children grow up. Most of all though, I love that the talent show is fun and encouraging. The audience encourages each and every person who shares. There is a real sense of love and encouragement permeating the talent show. No competition. No ridicule. Just fun, love, and encouragement…a real celebration of the life and talent God has given.

Well, that’s what I learned at family camp this year. We had a great time. Thank you Jim and Terri for organizing another great weekend. We look forward to next year. Will you join us?

Boost Your Memory & Have Fun Doing It!

School time has returned. Morning routines need adjusted to accommodate school’s early start. Afternoon schedules get adjusted to fit in homework and extracurricular activities. In the midst of these adjustments, I recommend one additional change to your routine. ClimbTreeYour children will likely enjoy this small change. In fact, my daughter used to make this change because she thought it was fun. She climbed a tree, sat down in a nook between branches, and read her book.  Why would I suggest you make climbing a tree part of your children’s daily routine? Because this kind of activity can boost your children’s memory and potentially increase learning. It’s true! A recent study conducted by researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Florida found activities like climbing trees, walking or crawling on a three inch wide beam, running through an obstacle course barefoot, or lifting and carrying awkwardly weighted objects can boost a person’s memory by 50%! Why do these activities boost memory? Well, these activities require at least two things: 1) an awareness of where your body is without stopping to look at it and 2) planning some route of movement. That skill combination enhances working memory… boosts your memory and potentially enhances learning. If that sounds like recess, I agree. It also sounds like we need to encourage our kids to climb a tree or run through an obstacle course after school. It might make their homework go faster…and improve the quality of work they complete. And, if you participate in these activities with them you will boost your memory too! So, rather than sitting back to watch your children climb a tree, get out there and join in—climb a tree, race through the obstacle course, boost your working memory and your children’s working memory while having fun with your children. How can you beat that?!

A Two for One Family Fun Night

I wish I had done this family fun night when my daughters were in early elementary school. Actually, this family fun night will result in two family fun nights: one now and one in the future. On the first family fun night, gather your family together to create a family time capsule. Here are 7 suggestions for creating a family time capsule. As you proceed through the steps, have fun learning about one another and sharing the objects you choose to place Education School Boy Thinking on Whitein the time capsule. Talk about the object each person chooses to include in the time capsule and what makes that object important to them. Here are the steps.

  1. Get a water proof box to use as the time capsule.
  2. Have each family member write a letter to him or herself. In the letter, each person can explain what he/she enjoys doing and what he/she find most exciting and fun. Put the letter in an envelope and drop it in the time capsule.
  3. Take a photo of each family member to put in the time capsule. Take a family photo to put in the time capsule as well. And, don’t forget to include some photos of your pets; they are family, too.
  4. Let each family member pick an object (or some representation of an object) that has special meaning to him/her. Put at least one object in the time capsule for each person. This might include a stuffed animal, a matchbox car, a favorite book, a nick knack, etc. If someone does not want to part with their special object, take a picture of it to put in the time capsule.
  5. Add artwork, school reports, movie stubs, or other objects that say something about your family’s current activities, values, and priorities.
  6. Make a list of your family’s favorite activities and current “best friends.” Drop the list into your family time capsule.
  7. Pick a date (15 to 20 years into the future) to open the time capsule. You can choose a holiday (like New Year’s Eve), a birthday, or some random date to gather as a family. The purpose of this gathering will be to open the time capsule. Write the date on the time capsule and put it in a safe place.

 

You have just enjoyed the first of two family fun nights. As the day you chose to open the time capsule draws near, you have the opportunity for the second family fun night with the same time capsule. Print out invitations for each member your family reminding them of the upcoming “Time Capsule Opening.” When the “day of the opening” arrives, gather your family in one room and open the time capsule. Enjoy celebrating your family as you review the contents of the time capsule. You will have a wonderful time sharing family memories of the last 15-20 years. Who knows, you might even choose to create a new time capsule to open in 20 years with your grandchildren!

The Family That Laughs Together…

My family loves to laugh. Just last Friday we were walking back to the car after eating dinner at a local fish fry when my daughter said something that struck her older sister’s happy brother and sister laughing isolated on the whitefunny bone. She started laughing. She laughed so hard we had to stop walking to allow her to wipe tears of laughter from her face. Several weeks ago we were enjoying a little jovial banter around the dinner table when something struck my wife as funny. She started to laugh. My oldest daughter caught the “bug” and joined the “laughter contagion.” My youngest daughter and I looked at each other before sitting back with a chuckle to watch them roll around and cry in laughter. (PS—this happens a lot at our house…my youngest daughter and I actually instigate it when we can). And, we love it. I love to see my family laugh. I love to laugh with them.

  • Laughing together creates wonderful memories filled with unconditional acceptance. Laughter within a family indicates a feeling of acceptance, a sense that one is safe enough to “let go” and laugh. Laughing together bonds us together, increasing “group cohesion.” Who doesn’t want to belong to a family filled with memories of warm acceptance experienced in laughter?
  • Laughing together replaces fear and shame with togetherness, hope and well-being. It reframes fear into moments of acceptance and events that we can manage and resolve, even laugh at. It releases shame and replaces it with the knowledge that we are accepted in spite of our shortcomings, mishaps, and failures. Laughter also increases hope, self-esteem, and well-being.
  • Laughing together builds a sense of safety for everyone present. If we can laugh together, we can approach one another with humor and resolve differences together as well. After all, laughter enhances problem-solving ability, creativity, and perspective. We can all feel safer knowing we approach differences with the creativity and perspective provided by a good sense of humor and laughter.
  • Laughing together is contagious. One person with a genuine laugh will bring at least a smile to the face of each person present. As that smile turns to laughter, our lives become entwined in the joy of the moment. We become more intimate as moments of laughter release the frustrations, tensions, and even anger that separate us.

 

A family that laughs together stays together. So look for those moments when you might share a good laugh with your family…and let it out. Laugh it up…together. (If you have trouble finding something to laugh about, watch this video with your family.)

A New Christmas Tradition

African American father and mixed race son making Christmas cardsWhether we are savoring a slice of homemade cheesecake or the accomplishment of a life-long dream, we enjoy it to the fullest. When we savor something, we take the time to relish in the moment, get lost in the experience, and mindfully focus on every joyful sensation. I want to encourage you to have that same enjoyment by savoring your family this Christmas. Savoring your family builds intimacy. It establishes a family environment of safety and security. It creates joyful memories that will last a lifetime. How can you savor your family? Let me share four ways.

  1. Laugh together. You can laugh at funny stories, jokes, or even TV shows. Whatever you choose, find ways to share laughter. I don’t mean just a little chuckle now and again. Share belly busting, rip roaring, roll on the ground, bring tears to your eyes laughter. Let the laughter bring down the defenses and draw you into one another’s joy.
  2. Acknowledge your pleasure. Give voice to how much you are enjoying the family experience or activity. Talk about it. Tell your family how much fun you are having with them in the moment. Let them know how much you value your time spent with them.
  3. While you acknowledge your pleasure, label any positive emotions you experience and share them with your family. Happiness, joy, peace, calm, delight, elation, glee…name them all. If you find something beautiful, exciting, hopeful, or lovely, go ahead and state it for all to hear. Pleasure increases and positive emotions grow when we verbally share them with others.
  4. Take some pictures. Pictures keep the moment alive. After all is said and done, you can review the pictures and relive the joy. You can even put a few pictures on the fridge where everyone can see them. Every time you look at the pictures you can savor the moment of remembered joy…and repeat steps one through three for even more savoring!

 

Savoring family builds intimacy and establishes a family environment of joy. It builds a deeper sense of safety and security. It creates joyful memories that we will cherish throughout our life. These four ideas can get your started. Why not start today? The Christmas season presents an excellent time to build a tradition of savoring your family.

S’More Family Fun

Couple cook by bonfire romantic night countrysideI love the fall weather. The cool fall nights are perfect for a sweatshirt and a campfire. And, you can build a great family fun night right around your campfire. First, tell some stories. Tell funny stories. Reminisce about your favorite family outings and vacations. Share your favorite family stories. Tell your kids stories about your childhood and even stories about their grandparents. Share stories about family members who have overcome adversity or survived embarrassing moments. Weave together a series of stories that exemplify the strengths of various family members. Sharing these stories can lead to laughter, a greater sense of security, and a stronger identity for your children.

There is no need to limit campfire to storytelling. Bring out the graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows so you can build some s’mores to have s’more fun. What could be more fun than sharing family stories and serving one another s’mores? Oh, I know…get some hot dogs, too. I love a hot dog roasted over the open fire. Go ahead. Live it up. Hot dogs, s’mores, family stories, and great family fun!

Did It Again-The Emotional Cocktail of Parenting

Well, I did it again. For the second year in a row I took my daughter to college, unpacked her belongings, said good-bye, and left her hundreds of miles away from “home.” I’m not complaining. I am proud of her…and excited to see where life takes her. She has grown and familysunheartlearned so much in only one year of college. Still, I find myself holding back the tears when I drive away after dropping her at college. In fact, several diametrically opposed emotions fill my heart as I drive away—pride in her growth and excitement for her future, yet heart-breaking sorrow that she is growing up to leave home and deep pangs of missing one of “my little girls.” I’m not sure why I’m surprised at this mix of emotions. Parenting has always led to the uncanny experience of having more than one emotion at the same time. I remember the time my then 3-year-old daughter decided she did not want to eat her dinner. She got her mother’s (my wife’s) attention and began to talk to her in an animated manner, one hand making broad gestures. She maintained great eye contact and a wonderful give-and-take conversation. She held her mother’s rapt attention, face to face and eye to eye they carried on a conversation. In the meantime, I watched my daughter, unbeknownst to her mother, use her free hand to carefully remove pieces of meat from her dinner plate and deposit them under the table. We had to discipline her. She can’t go through life deceiving the authorities in her life in order to avoid tasks she did not like (I know, a little melodramatic). At the same time, I have to admit to a bit of pride in her creative ability to do two things at one time (hold her mother’s rapt attention and carefully get rid of her food) to achieve a goal even at such a young age. There it is…concern for her future and pride in her ability—a mix of emotions.

In elementary school our daughter decided she did not want to attend gym class one day. Having seen other children hand in notes to “get out of gym,” she decided to do the same. She got her crayon and very carefully, with the penmanship of any first grader, wrote: “Please let me out of gym today” (or something like that). Being the diligent student, she flower girlcarefully signed her name. The gym teacher was a little angry at her seeming deception and push against the system. Our daughter ended up in the office. She got in trouble and we got the call from the school (go figure). Her only excuse: “I didn’t want to go to gym today.” We had to talk to her about the whole incident, even discipline her so she would understand what she had done and not do it again. But, when she was in the other room, my wife and I admired her ingenuity and laughed at her ill-conceived attempt.

And then there is the “wedding incident.” Yes, parenting is filled with mixed emotions. Like me, you can probably recall moments when you were angry at your child’s behavior, but also extremely, gut-bustingly funny…or, times when your child’s risky behavior raised concern and worry, but also filled you with pride. And then there is college…filled with excitement for their future, but concerned for their safety; filled with pride while worried about their wisdom and the choices they have to confront while away from home; filled with joy for all the new experiences while experiencing your own heart-breaking reality that they are leaving home and, in fact, will call some other place their home while merely visiting your home.

Yes, parenting is filled with mixed emotions. We let them learn how to walk on their own. We watch them fall down. We help them stand up again and we send them on their way. We celebrate their successes and encourage them to “chase their dream.” We trust they have learned what we tried to teach them. We pray that God will keep them safe and guide them. Oh…and we look forward to the emotional cocktail of walking our daughter down the aisle of marriage or seeing our son marry the woman of his dreams. What can we do?  Enjoy the journey.

Arghh Matey, Send Your Family on a Treasure Hunt

Pirates always seem to have fun in the movies. They search for treasure and share fun times together. (I realize the realism of the movies may be somewhat lacking, but we want families happy pirate familyto have fun not suffer scurvy or malaria.) This family fun night will allow your family to “sail the high seas” of adventure in search of the greatest family treasure of all—fun times together. Although this activity involves some planning, it will prove very “rewarding” in the end (I mean you get a treasure…how much more rewarding can it get?)! Here is what you do, step by step.

  1. Think of a simple activity your family enjoys. It can be anything from swimming, getting ice cream, having a campfire, or meeting friends at the park.

 

  1. Find a picture of that activity. Laminate the picture and cut it into pieces to form a puzzle.

 

  1. Think of different hiding places for each piece of the puzzle. You can hide the puzzle pieces in your own back yard or, to create a bigger adventure, hide them around your neighborhood or in a shopping center. (Do not hide the puzzle pieces yet. Read steps four and five before you actually hide the pieces of the puzzle.)

 

  1. Write a clue, on a plain piece of paper, leading to the place you plan to hide the first piece of the puzzle. Then write a clue leading from the first piece of the puzzle to the second, from the second puzzle piece to the third, and so on. When you have a clue leading to each piece of the puzzle, move on to step five.

 

  1. Hide the puzzle pieces. Keep the clue to the first puzzle piece wherever you plan to start the treasure hunt. Hide the other clues with the puzzle pieces. The second puzzle piece will be hidden with the clue to the third puzzle piece. The third puzzle piece will be hidden with the clue to the fourth puzzle piece and so on. Each puzzle piece will have a clue leading to the next puzzle piece hidden with the next clue.

 

  1. Now you are ready for a family fun night. Read the first clue and let the treasure hunt begin. When all the pieces are found, put the puzzle together to discover the activity pictured. Then, enjoy the activity together. (I am partial to ice cream as an ending, btw.)

 

Enjoy your family fun night sailing the high seas of adventure and following the clues to your family treasure.

The Story That Will Change Your Family Life!

newly married couple chasing each other in fieldThe TV sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” communicates a profound family principle in its title. Seriously…the story of how we met our spouse is one of those questions kids really want to know. Actually, it is more than a mere “want to know;” it is a boon, an asset, a huge benefit to children’s emotional health and family life. Research tells us that children who know more about the stories of their family and their family history have a higher self-esteem, a stronger sense of personal control, and a belief that their families function well. They also revealed greater resiliency, bouncing back more easily after stressful events. Adolescents who know more about their family history have a greater sense of self-worth, more self-confidence, and a stronger sense of identity!

Family researchers tell us that children and adolescents who have a greater knowledge of their family story have a strong “intergenerational self.” They know they belong to something bigger than themselves. They have come together with their family for family meals, family gatherings, and family activities and heard the stories of their family. They have learned about the good times, the hard times, the setbacks, the recoveries, and the successes. Through it all , they learned that they come from “something bigger than myself.” That “something bigger” is a family…a family that sticks together through thick and thin…a family that survives…a family that accepts struggles but bounces back…a family…and not just any family but their family!

So, go ahead and tell your children the story of how you met their mother or father. Tell them about your crazy aunt’s all-encompassing hugs, your grandparents hobbies, your own embarrassing moments, the obstacles your family has overcome, the day they were born, and…the list goes on! While you’re at it, you might tell the “stories” asked about in the research described above. Here are the 20 questions they asked children to see how much of the “family story” they knew.

  • Do you know how your parents met?
  • Do you know where your mother grew up?Father and Bride
  • Do you know where your father grew up?
  • Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up?
  • Do you know where some of your grandparents met?
  • Do you know where your parents were married?
  • Do you know what went on when you were being born?
  • Do you know the source of your name?
  • Do you know some things about what happened when your brothers or sisters were being born?
  • Do you know which person in your family you look most like?
  • Do you know the person in your family you act the most like?
  • Do you now some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger?
  • Do you know some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?
  • Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school?
  • Do you know the national background of your family (such as English, German, Russian, etc.)?
  • Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young?
  • Do you know some awards that your parents received when they were young?
  • Do you know the names of the schools that your mom went to?
  • Do you know the names of the school that your dad went to?
  • Do you know about a relative whose face “froze” in a grumpy position because he or she did not smile enough?

One last thing…my wife loves to watch home videos of family. She has the right idea–home movies are a great way to share the story. So, gather the family, make some popcorn, pull up a chair, and watch that baby take her first steps again!

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