Italian research has shown that mental acuity in increasing years is best preserved and improved by struggling, experiencing moderate amounts of stress, grappling with the emotions that come with a healthy social network, and learning new skills from the ground up. Do you like to paint? Try writing. Cooking? Head to the garden. And on. Don’t stay to your well-trod path. Find a new one, or be grateful if life leads to one.
The study found that a simply pursuit of Sudoko or crosswords is insufficient as they fail to fully stimulate the “giro cingolato” or the “corteccia insulare.” The emotional aspect Italian researchers emphasize that getting out regularly for consistent exercise is still a critical part of the equation. It is best if this exercise might be combined with the aspects listed above. Perhaps the best prescription is a daily passegiatta, where you might get in your 10,000 steps while struggling to maintain a budget as you pass shops, or finding a shoe bargain, or bumping into some Salvatore or Federica with whom you have a well-managed but infrequently strained friendship.
At this rate I am going to live to be 100. Especially with a long-term Italian soggiorno, as we hope this will be. I am reminded of our friend Alice, who often invoked the importance of neuroplasticity, and I am happy that we have this situation where my neuroplasticity is growing on a daily basis. Language, culture, city, cuisine, career, working remotely, growing a personal network, feeling at home while encountering new situations and people daily. Or answering the door buzzer as I did just now. I am pretty sure she is from an agency of some sort … condominiums.
Today marks the recommencement of our regular schedule: Kids in school at i Scolopi by 9:30 am, Jason to work, me to home to work before getting lunch and heading into town on my bici to put in my east coast afternoon from Firenze. The holidays in Italy are so. Long. Advent to Natale to the holiday week to capodanno to Befana. Yeah, like a month and a half later I am ready for some normal time in the familial liturgical calendar. Victor was aggrieved that we did not get to take the 19 even though we got out to the busstop in time – Jason and I surmised that it came early. However, we were able to compensate for this tragedy by ensuring that we caught the C1 from San Marco, which always makes everyone very happy.
Eleanor accompanied me to St. James Episcopal yesterday for mass. I could not be more pleased with my tiny, savvy, open traveler who loves to sing. Much like her mama, she becomes quickly cranky when cooped up. A janut into town of about 3 hours for a noble purpose is balm to the soul for both of us.
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