Category Archives: Break the Rules

I Think I’ve Broken My Brain—and Invented a New Word

Are you a hyperlearner? Maybe it’s hyper-learner. I think I just made up a new word. Hyperlearner. And it’s not related to “hyperlearning,” which is education made possible by using technology and “hypermedia,” which is a system in which various forms of information  (data, text, graphics, video,audio) are linked together by a hypertext program. And “hypertext”  is… well, never mind. It’s not connected to my definition of ‘hyperlearner.’

So, here it is. Sharon J Little’s official definition of ‘hyperlearner.’

A hyperlearner is someone who constantly crams huge amounts of information into the brain, through various media, such as reading, webinars, teleseminars, CDs. A hyperlearner has an educational CD in the car, has filters in her inbox for each of a dozen or more authors, speakers, coaches, mentors who teach on a wide variety of topics within one larger topic. This hyperlearner tries to read, listen to and watch everything; typically she does NOT have the same kind of filter in her brain as in the inbox. A hyperlearner could be seen to be trying to learn too much on too many things in too little time. A hyperlearner is, by definition, overstimulated, overinvolved, over the top, about learning.

This is not just your typical lifelong learner. That would be a lifelong learner; someone who keeps the brain in gear,

Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning (Photo credit: Stephen Downes)

exploring new and interesting things, la de dah … de dah…. de dah….

A hyperlearner absorbs more information than a monster sponge. Holds onto it and then wrings it out in all kinds of ways—speaking, writing, teaching, seminars, workshops. But before the wringing comes the overwrought! The over absorption. The point after which not one more speck of information can be absorbed…. and then, the hyperlearner tries to suck in more.

Raise your hands, hyperlearners.

The sidebar to the constant learning is the inner demand, determination and directedness, which leads the hyperlearner to think that one cannot take a break. Or, rather, that breathing, doing a little nothing, listening to a little music or taking a full day off just to dream and think and sort it all out, is ,well, a waste of time.

Now, I KNOW that it’s OK to take a break. I know about walking, about smelling the roses (or, at this time of year, the composting leaves). I know about tai qi in the morning and having tea. And I do all that.

The problem right now is that I’m so interested and excited about what I’m putting together, that I don’t want to sleep, I don’t want to break. I want to dig in and get all kinds of content written and interviews set up and teleseminar series created….

And I will.

But today, before I launch into concert week and shore up some PR and get the groups focused on the last few things to get together…. I’m giving myself a break.

Not in the “You deserve a break today” (remember that McDonalds tune in the 70’s, which I don’t buy and which I think was a curse of an ad campaign, leading a generation of people to think they “deserve” things. That’s another post…) but in the… “It’s OK. You can take a day off and NOT hyperlearn. It’s not an excuse to let it all go. It’s needed and OK and everything will carry on. Just STOP” kind of way.

And I just bought the domain name… http://www.hyperlearner.com

Don’t go there… there’s nothing. But I’ve got the name. I’m gonna OWN this!

“Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break and do nothing.”   Sharon J Little

Advertisements

One Thing a Week

It’s not just the big things, like jumping out of an airplane.

When I came across this idea last week, the first thing that came to mind was… jumping out of an airplane. Something I would do—and my hubby wouldn’t.

But then I started thinking about small things I haven’t done or places I haven’t been.

walked in a Santa Claus parade

played the bagpipes, a sousaphone

learned to speed read

explored any of a number of buildings on the campus of the university

eaten oxtail

climbed a really big mountain

hiked pretty much most of the Bruce Trail

walked all the trails in the London area

biked several of the bike trails in London

explored Elgin county from end to end

driven a combine

attended a polka dance, punk rock concert, heavy metal concert or monster truck rally

It’s now on my weekly list… to do SOMETHING or go SOMEWHERE I haven’t yet.

This week, it was to the Danforth and Greektown. And into Leonidas Chocolates on Danforth where they serve a civil cup of hot chocolate.

Highly recommended. Hot chocolate comes with a small chocolate on the side.

And I sat outside on a warmish November day to enjoy it. And I loved the kale garden in the parkette I was sitting in.

a beautiful fall garden at Danforth and Logan, Toronto

Simple, small, memorable.

Rite of Spring…in October?

When the Rite of Spring (Stravinsky) premiered in 1913, a riot ensued at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees. If you haven’t heard it, you should. If you haven’t seen the ballet, you should. I should.

 

La façade du théâtre des Champs Elysées

La façade du théâtre des Champs Elysées (Photo credit: dalbera)

 

Live is better, but Disney’s Fantasia (the 1940 version) gives you a taste. (Would love to see a contemporary animation of it!) Just as a side note, check out the Rite of Spring 100 celebrations here.

 

In any case, it’s an aggressive, lurching, severe, brash, exciting piece of music. Oh, to have been in that first audience!

 

I heard it on the radio on Saturday as I drove north along Highway 76, heading home. (I’m listening to it now!) The wind was forcing its way across the fields, bending trees over, the leaves clenching, gripping  the branches. Roiling, stormy clouds bowled across the heavens, tumbling through open blue spaces, dragging a storm with them, pushing, shoving everything ahead of them.

 

The match was perfect.

 

What’s Old is New Again—I Can’t Believe I Think I’m in the Same Place—But I’m Not!

I began this blog about 2 years ago. Almost to the date! I had just returned from a spectacular weekend with Music for People grads, the first time in 10 years. Inspiration, sadness, joy and a desire to give myself a quick kick in the butt. Which I did.

Is it something about October?

 

Routines, Limits and Creativity-Breaking the Rules

I broke all my rules this morning. (Rebel)

And I did it to fuel my creative self. (Good girl)

I slept in until after 8 (nearly three hours late), I didn’t do Morning Pages, Meditate, Mantra and heart coherence, Qi Gong or read right off the bat as I usually do. I had a quick bowl of Chex  rather than the hearty grains and chia and hemp and kefir concoction, and contemplated changing the homemade cocoa (recipe below) to a cup of Murchie’s CBC blend tea, but that was as I was pouring the drink. I left the house with my morning routine in tatters and went to a business showcase in the next town.

It’s Saturday. I remember it being housecleaning day as a child. It was watch cartoons and eat whole wheat Shredded Wheat rather than eggs and toast. (yup, on Saturdays, all hell broke loose at breakfast!) Saturday should be about something more relaxed than the rest of the week, but, seeing as I’m trying to corral my distractions, stay focused and keep the end in mind, I’ve been disciplining myself quite rigourously. And I need to stop some of that.  You CAN go overboard.

Routine? Discipline? Limits? and Creativity? They go together?

Creatives claim that limits and structure and discipline limit their capacity for creativity. They say that they need total freedom to contact whatever it is we contact that fuels the creative fire. Creatives claim that setting a schedule is impossible and, worse, useless.

This is hogwash of the highest order. Or disorder.

The reality is that the most successfully, consistently, productively creatives have a routine, some kind of regimen.

My morning routine and other “systematic” actions give me intense freedom within set limits.

When I follow the routine I’ve set, when I sit down and follow a task list, when I plan out my time, I eliminate a lot of possibilities, usually the ones that are distracting and take my eyes way off the goal. It sets the ground so that the niggly little things run under the radar, and the more important things have their time and space in my head and life.

But sometimes, you have to break the routines. They can become too restrictive. It’s not good when I get up and feel completely BOUND by the limits I’ve set myself. Eventually, the rhythm of work can move from a dance groove to a dried mud rut.

Today, I broke the routine. Intentionally. That’s the critical piece.

When we set out, with good intentions, to develop a good habit, or untrain ourselves from a bad one, we often go about it mindlessly. We don’t mean to miss, but we do, just because we forgot. We follow the same path every day and it becomes not only subconscious, but unconscious and unthinking.

I guess what I’m trying to build into my practice is the quality of conscious choice, of mindfulness, of clear awareness of how and where I move, think, speak and act.

The challenge was, though, could I still complete the things that I’ve set out as daily actions (meditation, mantra, morning pages, reading, movement—qi, walking, stretching—a blog post) but in a different order, at a different time, in a different place, even? Would I forget something? Because usually, once I’ve ‘done’ the morning, I’m off to the next thing.

Our brains seek novelty. New colours, textures, shapes and sounds, new places, new people, new experiences—these all stimulate our brains in a good way. I regularly go into new shops and just look around. I spy on the new colours, the shapes… and then walk out. (yup, I do! ) It wakes me up and sets up new neural connections. I’m good with that.

In the interest of novelty and poking at my brain,  I took my mala with me and did the mantra as I was driving. I asked questions or engaged every vendor (connect with new people and friends, ask people’s names, create new connections). I walked along the old railway line for the first time, then discovered the snowmobile trail that runs parallel. (new colours, sounds, smells). Went into the town’s grocery store (almost never go there).

Drove home. Shortened morning pages, a shortened reading time. Yes, not ideal, not what is most helpful, but today, it was enough.

And now… day 6 of the 30 day post a day challenge… done at a different time of day. Done and done.

Here’s that cocoa recipe… it’s pretty easy.

Mix cocoa powder ( I use Camino brand) with 1/2 tsp each of raw cane sugar and cinnamon. For variety, add 1/4 tsp ginger.

Pour in hot milk or milk substitute, just a little to start, to make a paste of the powders. Then stir well. Sit down with a good book or a lap cat and look out the window. Don’t do whatever was on your to-do list. Just for the next 15 minutes.