Thursday, April 07, 2005

What Am I Fanatical About

The question was asked today... What am I fanatical about?

Easy answer - Washing my hands. I do it dozens of times a day and no, it's not something my job requires. I've been this way all my life.

When they redid the bathroom in my mom's house when I was about 3 she had them put the sink at a height I could reach on my own. My dad was saying, "Mary Lea, she'll grow!" My mom was saying, "put it right there. You don't know how many times a day I wash this child's hands." As she always told it I would toddle up to her and say, "Mama, wash my hands... my hands are duh-ty."

Anyway, I carry wet wipes with me at ALL times so when I can't wash my hands I can use those. I also have purell, although it's not my favorite thing. But I cannot eat without washing my hands. If I go outside, the first thing I do when I come in is wash my hands. If I go shopping the first thing I do when I come home is wash my hands. If I'm getting clean laundry out of the washer to put in the dryer I wash my hands first (it's clean, after all!). If I go to the basement, when I come upstairs I wash my hands. And yet, I'm not a very good housekeeper. Go figure...

I hate shaking hands with people, although I will. I hate touching things I know jillions of other people have touched - like shopping cart handles and such. I make it a point to NEVER touch my face after being out until I can wash my hands. All those things are just crawling with germs and getting passed from one person to another. It's why people stay sick all winter long. Someone wipes their kid's nose, then puts their hand back on the shopping cart handle. Then you come along and touch it and now it's on your hands. You rub your eyes and voila! you're now sick with whatever their child picked up from the kid at preschool.

People have always made fun of me for my handwashing, but you know what - I *rarely* get sick. I can't stand for my hands to be duh-ty.

Theta Waves and Creativity

I've been reading about creativity and brain waves. Pre-adolescents have an abundance of theta waves, which we know are associated with creative thinking. Theta waves are associated with fresh perceptions and wild ideas. This may be why children are so open to bizarre and zany ideas - their brains are wired to be open to them.

At puberty, the brain starts to change. At birth and all through childhood, the brain has a ton of neurons but at the time of puberty, the brain "prunes" some of the connections that haven't been used a lot. They die off and others become the patterns that we maintain throughout life. It's interesting to consider that this may be why things that appeal to us in childhood still do in adulthood - perhaps those connections survive this pruning.

It's also why it's so important to give children time to play and repeat tasks and learn. Unlike other species, humans have to learn so much of what we do. Creativity and curiousity seem natural companions for this process.

After puberty, we have many fewer theta waves in our brains - those waves linked to creativity. Edison apparently had a trick for waking himself from the state of just going to sleep so he could write down anything that had occured to him during this critical, theta-wave rich, time. He would nap with his hands full of ball bearings, resting on the arms of his armchair. As he relaxed and went to sleep he would release the ball bearings. They would drop into the pie plates he had conveniently placed below his hands and wake him up. He would immediately write down notes on what had occured to him in those moments.

I'm sure I've mentioned here before that I have a very weird sleep pattern - very odd - always have, my whole life. I don't seem to need as much sleep as other people and I wake up many times during the night. I always have. I'm also known to be a little bizarre. When I read this it made me wonder if all the multiple times I wake up and go to sleep increases the time my brain is producing theta waves and if there's a connection.

In adults, theta waves are much more rare. The one time we have a large amount of them is in that time between sleep and waking - when we are just falling asleep.