Five for Your Eyes – 007

Five for Your Eyes – 007

Five for Your Eyes” is a new series of posts where I share five features that I found to be interesting or worth reading.  I read a lot of books, but I also love reading long-form pieces in publications like the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the New Yorker, looking into slices of the world I was previously unaware of, or have held interests in. I hope some of these articles will interest you as well!

☆ What does running do to your brain? (The Guardian)

A 2018 experiment from West Michigan University, for example, showed that running quickly for half an hour improves “cortical flicker frequency” threshold. This is associated with the ability to better process information. Two others, from the Lithuanian Sports University and Nottingham Trent University, showed that interval running improves aspects of “executive function”. This is a suite of mental high-level faculties that include the ability to marshall attention, tune out distractions, switch between tasks and solve problems. Among the young people studied, measurable gains were clear immediately after 10 minutes of interval sprints. They also accumulated after seven weeks of training.

A brain imaging study led by David Raichlen at the University of Arizona ties in neatly with these results. They saw clear differences in brain activity in serious runners, compared to well-matched non-runners. For obvious reasons, you cannot run while you are inside a brain scanner, so the neuroscientists studied the brain at rest. First, they saw increased co-ordinated activity in regions, mainly at the front of the brain, known to be involved in executive functions and working memory. This makes sense. Second, they saw relative damping down of activity in the “default mode network”, a series of linked brain regions that spring into action whenever we are idle or distracted. Your default mode network is the source of your inner monologue, the instigator of mind-wandering and the voice that ruminates on your past. Its effects are not always welcome or helpful, and have been associated with clinical depression.

☆ 1% Better Every Day (ConvertKit)

What are your most important goals in life? What habits fuel those goals? What if you were able to get 1% better at each of those cornerstone habits everyday?

How would that change your life? That’s the topic of James Clear’s talk at ConvertKit’s Craft + Commerce 2017.

☆ The Age of Grandparents Is Made of Many Tragedies (The Atlantic)

Children play next to their grandfather at a viewing gallery at Changi Airport in Singapore May 17, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su (SINGAPORE – Tags: SOCIETY TRANSPORT) – GM1E95H16IK02

When Barb’s son showed up at her house with his daughter Avery, 2, on a frigid night in February, it was long past the toddler’s bedtime. So Barb (who asked me to use only first or middle names for her and her family) hustled them inside and set them both up in the guest room. The next day, Valentine’s Day, she searched Craigslist and found a used crib for her granddaughter. She thought the arrangement was temporary.

“I was probably delusional,” Barb told me over the phone recently from her home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. At the time she believed her son, who had a long history of abusing drugs and alcohol, was just going through another brief bit of “drama” with his girlfriend, who had her own problems with substance abuse. But a few months later, he moved out of the guest room for good, leaving the little girl behind. That was six years ago.

Barb’s son has been granted full physical custody custody of Avery, but even though he lives nearby he hardly ever comes around. Neither does his ex-girlfriend, Avery’s mother, with whom he shares joint legal custody. So it’s been left to Barb, 68, and her husband Fran, 69, to raise their granddaughter. The only one who regularly shows up to help is their daughter, 37, who has no children of her own.
“No one expects to spend their retirement raising a child,” said Barb, a former teacher. “It changes everything. Your life is turned upside down.” But she’s not complaining. Sure, she can’t travel as much as she’d hoped to, and she has no social life; all activities revolve around Avery, now 8, and the other kids’ mothers aren’t really friend material for Barb. But she gets great joy from being with her granddaughter. “I really think of her as my third child,” she told me. This time around, though, “I have learned not to sweat the small stuff,” she said. She doesn’t stress out about Avery’s test scores, or about the “little-girl drama” of third-grade cliques. Instead, she focuses on giving Avery love, stability, and the skills to fight her own battles.

☆ How I learned to read- and trade stocks- in prison (TED)

Financial literacy isn’t a skill — it’s a lifestyle. Take it from Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll. As an incarcerated individual, Caroll knows the power of a dollar. While in prison, he taught himself how to read and trade stocks, and now he shares a simple, powerful message: we all need to be more savvy with our money.

☆ Motherhood in the Age of Fear (The New York Times)

I was on my way home from dropping my kids off at preschool when a police officer called to ask if I was aware there was an outstanding warrant for my arrest.

“No, no,” I told him. “I didn’t know that.”

I needed to call my husband, but my fingers were shaking. I don’t remember if I was crying when he answered, only that he was saying he couldn’t understand me, that I needed to calm down, to tell him what had happened.

What happened began over a year before on a cool March day in 2011, at the end of a visit with my parents in Virginia. I needed to run an errand before our flight home to Chicago, and my son, then 4, didn’t want to get out of the car.

“Come on,” I said.

“No, no, no! I wait here.”

I took a deep breath. I knew what I was supposed to do. But I was tired. I was late. I didn’t want, at that moment, to deal with a meltdown. And there was something else: a small, quiet voice I’d been hearing more and more lately. “Why?” the voice asked.

Why did I have to fight this battle? He wasn’t asking to Rollerblade in traffic. He just wanted to sit in the car. Why couldn’t I leave him, just this once?

If it had been warm out, I would have said no. I knew about how quickly a closed car can overheat, even on a 60-degree day. But it was cool and cloudy. I’d grown up in that same town in the 1980s and had spent hours waiting in the back seat of my parents’ station wagon, windows open, reading or daydreaming, while they ran errands. Had so much really changed since then?

So I told him I’d be right back. I cracked the windows and child-locked the doors and set the alarm. When I got back five minutes later, he was still playing his game, smiling. We picked up his sister and our suitcases back at my parents’ house and caught our flight home.

It took me a while to figure out what had taken place in the parking lot — that a stranger had watched me go into the store, recorded my son, recorded the license plate on my mother’s car and called 911.

Five for Your Eyes – 007

So that was the seventh installment of “Five for Your Eyes“! I hope at least one of the articles intrigued you! Let me know what you think, or anything you thought was interesting!

If you have a recommendation for an article, please share them with me!

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