Spring has sparked a new season of growth for my whole being in body, mind, and spirit. Last week, I talked about my desire to change, baby steps to get there, and rewards along the way as I transform my flab to fit and tired to toned. This week, I’m focusing on growing my mind.

Confession time. I am an avid reader. Shocker, I know. But I usually read fun books as an escape from the stress or as a reward for getting my boring day job’s work done. Whether they are romance, suspense, historical, or dystopian, I like easy reads where I don’t have to do much in the way of thinking about individual themes or theological concepts. I could spend days on end falling deeper into a world of unending stories.

However, a mental diet of light fiction is like a physical diet made up primarily of chips and soda. There are times we need to chew on the protein-packed meat in order to strengthen our muscles. Likewise, it’s also important to sometimes really dig into a deeper topic and dust off those unused areas of logical thought in the recesses of the brain. That venture might be in the form of a non-fiction book or even a biography of an inspirational person, but either way, the choice must be deliberate.

So, during this season of growth for my mind, I’ve moved a few buried treasures within my to-be-read pile to the top of the teetering stack. Of course, I’m also setting aside time for reading, likely on my front porch where I can sit outside in the nicer weather for a change but still feel like I’m doing something productive. I’ll admit that I’m also alternating fun reads between these heavier books in the stack, but those will be my built-in reward for reading something outside my normal choosing.

There’s also a lot to be said in the field of neurological research about the importance of learning new skills or exercising neglected areas of our brains in order to prevent or hinder dementia or even Alzheimer’s. While I’m only in my mid-40’s, I’m determined to dust off a few areas of critical or logical thought. That’s why I bought a magazine filled with logic puzzles and hope to solve one a day in order to remind myself how to think outside the box. It’s not a huge step, but it will help move me in the direction I want to go by sharpening my mental acuity. Plus, the ability to connect seemingly unrelated things should help with the plotting of my next book.

At our last meeting, one of the member’s of our local writers’ group presented us with an overview of how to use Photo Shop and the cheaper Photo Shop Elements program to create layers with a picture. She will be doing a follow-up session specifically on how to create full book cover layouts for indie publishing and since my writing career is likely headed back that direction, I am looking forward to learning more about both this program and this process while I acquire a few graphic design tools along the way. I’m not exactly artistic so this will certainly stretch my mind by actively learning the program, but the reward will be the ability to create my own book covers on a budget I can afford.

Between books, puzzles, and a self-taught class, it’s a season of growth in the way I’m taking care of my mind. What are you doing to exercise your brain?

A Season of Growth – Part 2
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