Updated: Nov 18, 2019
Sickness stopped me, and why its not all bad.
At first I was really disappointed I couldn’t compete in the 2018 IAM Australian Memory Competition, held in November.
About two days before the competition I was struck down with a particularly nasty flu. I could hardly remember my name let alone thousands of numbers and binary digits. As the weekend approached I worsened and knew that I would not be flying to Melbourne to compete.
This was a bummer.
Many 5 am wake-ups this year saw me training diligently for this competition and the hard work had been paying off with some great scores. I was confident of hitting more Aussie records and was shooting to hold the current Australian title for a 3rd year in a row.
On top of that the Australian competition was strong this year which excited me. Last year I won by a mile which somehow I found a bit depressing. I was keen to have to work hard to win again.
The truth is though that I have been burning the candle at both ends and I think my body just decided to say no. I have been working full time in finance, have 3 children and have a second job as a dance teacher. Memory training, speaking and coaching is something else I have been doing on the side.
But as I lay on the couch in my bleary state I had an epiphany.
Next year, rather than focus on training numbers and other competition events, I will use my skills to learn the things I want to learn. I love to learn new things - that is what attracted me to cognitive training in the first place.
I remember first learning these techniques and feeling I could learn as fast as inserting a usb into my head (think the Matrix). It was thrilling and liberating and I started to feel like the clever person in the room. I felt excited that I could fit two lifetimes of learning into one.
But somewhere along the way the competitive ballerina in me decided that I would become the best mental athlete, just for the sake of it. I would compete!
Then last week I saw it. Sick as a dog, fever raging high, feeling that my year of study was for naught. I suddenly saw that I did not need to be the world’s best mnemonist to get the benefits that drew me to the sport.
Mental athletics is just like physical training. You get to train your brain so you can get more out of life, like going to the gym for an hour a day. It makes you fit, happy and able to succeed at the things you do. But it doesn’t mean you need to train all day and win gold medals at the Olympics. I may well still compete, but now for enjoyment and to learn more from other athletes.
Suddenly I felt elated. Next year I am going to get to learn lots of fun stuff, just because I can.
Maybe a language or two or a whole dictionary word for word (geeky I know). It can be done. Maybe I’ll plan a long family adventure in Germany and learn German for the occasion, and chuck in a good amount of Spanish in case we decide to do that instead.
I am also going to make sharing memory techniques and dance teaching my full time gig.
Being fit mentally and also physically is just too fantastic a secret not to share with everyone.
Lots of people know the benefits of physical fitness. I’d like to give others the freedom that comes with having a fit mind as well.
Anyone can have an amazing memory - they just need to know how.