Monday, July 07, 2008

Letting the Left Brain Take a Rest

Yet another BBC quiz revealed the well-known fact that I am quite left-brained:

Your answers suggest you are a Realist

The four aspects that make up this personality type are:
Planner, Facts, Heads and Introvert
  • Loyal and steady workers who meet deadlines
  • Believe in established rules and respect facts
  • Think of themselves as mature, stable and conscientious
  • May appear too logical or tough-minded and forget their impact on other people
Realists are loyal to the people around them and work hard to keep their promises. They are honest and straightforward with others and expect the same in return. Realists believe in standard procedures and will only support change when there is a demonstrable benefit.

Realists respect factual information, which they store up to use when making decisions. This group likes to have time to think quietly and carefully before taking action.

These extremely productive people like to be occupied in their leisure time with pursuits such as craftwork, hiking or reading.

In situations where they can't use their talents or are unappreciated, Realists may become obsessed with schedules, critical of others or have trouble trusting other people to get the job done properly. Under extreme stress, Realists may complain loudly that events have taken a turn for the worse and predict negative outcomes.

Realists typically only share their opinions or personal experiences with trusted friends.

(Queue the nodding heads of all those who know me...)

I recently heard this wonderful interview of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor on NPR's Fresh Air.  She also has an interview on NPR's Talk of the Nation. Dr. Taylor was a Harvard neuroscientist who suffered a stroke the left hemisphere of her brain.  This allowed her to experience what some people call nirvana, by being totally present in the moment using her right brain only.  Through her eight year recovery, she relearned everything as though she were an infant, and put back the pieces of her existence through the critical eyes of a neuroscientist. I was fascinated by her recount of experiencing pure peace and euphoria with none of the "chatter" from the left brain, reminding you of who you are, your roles, responsibilities, worries, analyses, etc.  Things that drive me crazy every microsecond of the day.

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey

Lately, I have been quite "lopsided" mentally, with unexpected health problems, terrible stress from work  (two people leaving our team, one contractor off on medical leave, another off for the summer, and one challenging report remaining), and those darn kids of course.  There are mounds of papers piling up around the house - snail mail, a ton of finished schoolwork, and a ton of new papers from the new summer camp.  There's no time to cook a decent meal, no energy to deal with whiny kids, and no time to spend with the husband, especially since I need to leave on a business trip that will overlap with our anniversary. I still get to knit or cross-stitch while I put the kids to sleep, but there hasn't been much in the way of music or reading, or even enough sleep.  I cannot even imagine what losing your sense of self would be like, to let go of being mom, wife, manager, etc.  If I let go for even a second, I fear things will spiral out of control, the carefully scheduled and choreographed days will end in disaster.  Of course none of this is true, I know that I can go on vacation at work and my colleagues would function fine without me.  I can take a business trip and Doug and the kids will be fine (well, for the most part, there have been disastrous days).  But endless chatter from my left brain, the endless planning, analyzing and worrying, is totally draining.  Even processing all my photographs has become a left brain activity - How's the white balance?  Is it too bright?  Too dark?  Straight enough?  Tagging the photos in Flickr is an exercise putting left brain words onto a right brain picture to organize it. It is really time to give my left brain a break, to let the right brain have some air time. Maybe a time for music if I can ignore the complaints or the crazy roughhousing from the kids. Maybe a time for yoga or a massage.  Now, if only I can schedule and plan it...

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