Slapdash thoughts on a sunny Saturday

I really like Gazpacho…LOL! The coolness and the crispness, combined with the taste of all of the veggies, simply makes my mouth happy 🙂 It also makes my tiny studio kitchen smell like cool summer veggies. Please don’t ever ask me for a recipe, as I no longer use one. I just start chopping the ingredients and tossing them into the pot until it looks right; the rest of it is all done by taste. This time I had some peppers that were given to me and I didn’t know they were hot until I tasted it. Oops. It’s delish though. The boys in the NOC have been asking me to bring food in again, so I’ll probably make a second batch tomorrow night to keep here at home for me and take what’s left of this batch into the office. They eat terribly anyway; only one of them do I ever see eating vegetables of any kind!

My thoughts are just random today, not really arranged in any topically organized fashion. That is probably due to the fact that today I am so relaxed, no obligations, no pressures, no work. I have some tasks I want to tackle, but the first one is done – Gazpacho 🙂 I tacked on an additional three tasks by getting hit with the ‘must clean the fridge’ bug when I went to get the veggies out. There are always odd leftovers in the fridge when cooking and eating for one. Many times I think “Why did I even SAVE that?” Multiple empty containers and a trash bag later, I now had a full sink of dishes to do before I could get the cutting board out. Silly me. My sink is tiny, and the other sink holds the dish drainer – no dishwasher here except for me. Any overflow then moves to the counter. So wash, dry, put away, do another sink full, etc. Then I could work on the Gazpacho prep. But I had music, and nowhere to go, therefore the tasks didn’t feel arduous.

Which leads me to music and movement. I get such joy out of both that I sometimes think I must still be five – you know, that age before self-consciousness but when we have mastered most of our body’s mechanics. Music can impact my mood like drugs do other people. Music can run me from intense classical driven focus on thought, to smiling like an idiot in my car, to can’t stop from moving my body mode. I’ve often wondered why music has such a powerful effect on me. Being a classic ‘why-does-that-happen’ kind of gal, and having an almost insatiable curiosity about neuroscience to boot, I dug a little to see if I could find some answers.

Here is what I learned from a brief perusal of some of the neuroscientists that also were curious. Music stimulates the nucleus accumbens, which is the same happy place that dopamine is released from during sexual activity,eating and, you guessed it, taking drugs. Hmm, does that make me a music ho? Possibly 🙂 Listening to music also triggers activity in the amygdala (associated with emotion) and the prefrontal cortex (abstract decision-making). In the Oxford Brain Journal (uh huh, I read it), neuroscientists and philosophers have noted that music takes us deep within ourselves, and allow us to experience passions and other things not yet known to us. Music can send some people into ecstatic and euphoric states, including erotic ones. People who have tight or obsessive control over their emotions can often find music upsetting, as music is deeply emotional and felt in the emotional part of the brain. Yet another article brought up the extremely complex neural symphony that goes along with listening to music, from the auditory cortex, to the multiple portions of the brain that become engaged in tapping your foot or moving your body to the rhythm of music. Tonality is handled by yet another segment of the brain. In other words, experiencing music brings together activities in all four lobes of the human brain frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital (the visual part of the brain) – an amazing thing to know. Music activates the human ability to imagine. Like I need anything MORE to stimulate my overactive imagination, hah! And a couple of other positive things discovered about music by scientists: music can repair some types of brain damage; music builds your immune system and decreases the amount of cortisol your body produces; and listening to piano music can improve your spatial reasoning and increase your I.Q. Glad to know that I now have scientific validation for the insane amount of music that I own, both in CD and mp3 format. I am a music junkie. By the way, if you’re curious, the science for this is called neuroaesthetics. And so we move to dancing. Dancing releases endorphins doubly since you’re getting the dopamine high from music plus the endorphins from exercise. It also activates all four lobes of the brain just as music does. One of the additional benefits of dance found primarily in free form dancing is that it interconnects both right and left brain activities; creativity joins with spatial and cognitive functions to form a whole brain massage. Not that I really needed any scientific backing to continue with these two very pleasurable activities for me, but at least now I know why I smile so much more on dance workout days.

Another random thought. Did you know that mother sandhill cranes sound remarkably like velociraptors when they are ‘chatting’ with their young or with each other? Neither did I, until this pair came walking through the office parking lot one day.

Parent Sandhill Crane and baby

Parent Sandhill Crane and baby

I now have two boxes unpacked too, since I’ve been meandering back and forth between posting and chores. I hope your day was good.

Be well. Listen to music. Dance daily.

~SE

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