Monday, June 14, 2021

My Interview with the Famous Baroness Susan Greenfield - Part 2


Two points that Dr. Greenfield made in my podcast interview with her: 

  1.  Life is made up of stories with a clear Beginning, Middle, and End and
  2. To learn from experience requires Reflection

Here is the story of and learning from my interview with Baroness Susan Greenfield.


It started at the Douglas Adam's Memorial event that I attended in March, where Dr. Greenfield gave a fascinating lecture about brain plasticity and creativity.  In that blog post, I describe the power of connections.. how Becky introduced me to Lee who introduced me to the books of Douglas Adams, which brought us all to the event at which Susan spoke.

I connected with Susan on LinkedIn and invited her to be a guest on my podcast, not realizing the huge magnitude of her celebrity and achievements!


When Susan's assistant got back to me and said she'd agreed to be on my podcast, I was a mix of elated and petrified! I'd done enough research at this point to realize she was a super-star and in a much higher league than my typical podcast guest.

I immediately became insecure about my knowledge of brain health, podcasting skills and speaking skills.  I like a challenge, though, and often take myself out of my comfort zone as a motivation to learn new skills.  

However, my cataract surgeries left my eyes unexpectedly impaired for the last month so I didn't do nearly the amount of "homework" I would have liked to do to really ask intelligent questions about the brain and Alzheimer's.

I was saving most of my preparation for the week before our interview because my expectation was that my UV lens treatments would have allowed me to see normally again by then. 

When the first UV treatment didn't work as expected and my vision was still really poor, I went into a bit of a panic - Were the lenses defective? ineffective? Would I never be able to read clearly again? 

After another visit to the doctor, it was discovered that my left eye was extremely dominant. The doctor said the brain is acting as though its hard-wired to use my left eye and we would have to wait and see whether or not it would be able to adjust to using the right eye, too.

Despite my vision challenges, I did the preparation work required for the podcast, enlisting the help of friends for question selection and role playing.  

Becky, especially, did an excellent job of role playing in a practice interview!  As a PhD Linguist, it turns out she has quite a bit of training about the brain under her belt herself! She also did a better job than my ophthalmologist of reassuring me that due to my own brain plasticity, she was certain my brain would adjust to using my right eye and giving me better vision.  (It IS getting better, though still has a way to go.)

The podcast went better than expected! No technology snafus. No awkwardness. Susan was as easy to talk to as any friend. She had a welcoming smile that put me at ease. All my worrying about my own lack of celebrity was completely unnecessary.

What was most exciting for me about this experience was learning how close our world is to a cure for Alzheimer's! And I got to speak and connect with one of the scientists who is directly responsible!


There were 3 skills that I'd felt insecure about and wanted to be better with before the interview:
  1. Podcasting
  2. Speaking
  3. Knowledge of the topic (in this case Brain Health)
I made conscious efforts to improve in all of these areas. For podcasting, I bought a new microphone and learned how to use Audacity better for sound editing.  I scripted and practiced the interview with friends so that when it came to the actual interview, I felt more prepared than usual. I learned so much about brain health. (More blog posts to come!) 

But beyond these skills I made an intentional effort to improve, I also made progress with growth in two unintentional areas.

  • Social Insecurity
I had felt so insecure about speaking to such an intelligent and academic super-star. In general, any kind of "public speaking" is very uncomfortable for me unless I feel very confident in the topic.  

Of course, it's much easier to ask questions on a Zoom call than to do a presentation, and it all turned out fine and natural. I feel grateful that Susan (as she asked me to call her) was so down-to-earth, despite her very lofty credentials.
  • Anxiety about the state of my eyes
This anxiety I'm feeling about my eyes has been pretty intense. It crossed my mind to cancel or postpone the interview because I just couldn't focus (with my brain or my eyes!)

However, the interview and the increased challenge distracted me from worrying about the unknowns about the future of my eyes.  I was forced to adapt. That's the very thing brain plasticity gives us! Adaptability!

I'm feeling a little less anxiety now that I'm seeing some improvement in my eyes.  And I'm confident that even if my vision doesn't get any better, I can wear glasses like millions of others.  Adapting to my vision issue is nothing compared with serious diseases like Alzheimer's

However that gets me again, to the most exciting thing I learned from this experience.

A cure for Alzheimer's is on the horizon

Sunday, June 13, 2021

My interview with the famous Baroness Susan Greenfield - Part 1

For the more professional blog post about the podcast episode with Baroness Susan Greenfield check out my CarpeDiemDay blog here.  This blog post is where I reveal the behind-the-scenes story of my interview with a woman who is changing the world.

I remember playing a family game once where I was asked the question, "Who is the most famous person you ever met?"  I answered "Ian Usher" which my family all said "didn't count" since he wasn't famous. (I just checked and he IS in Wikipedia. So there, Family!)

As of yesterday, I have an even better answer for that question: Baroness Susan Greenfield!

Other questions that I discuss often with people are these first three from the  36 questions intended to foster connection :

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

A1: I usually answer Oprah, but from now on my answer will be Baroness Susan Greenfield! ,  In preparing for our interview, I watched many of her lectures that are available on YouTube and I'd love to chat with her for hours on these fascinating topics of the brain! 

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

A2: I usually answer this: I'd like to be famous for playing a part in finding a cure for ALS. I know it's not realistic, but that's the type of fame I'd want and that's the type of fame I admire. 

Alzheimer's and ALS are two of the most tragic diseases imaginable. One robs you of your body and one robs you of your mind.  Dr. Susan Greenfield IS on the verge of finding a cure for Alzheimer's! Her work directly contributes to providing humanity with answers about the brain, leading to cures. 

In the interview with her, she said her company Neuro-Bio was maybe two years away from having a drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's available to the public! That type of achievement is absolutely incredible! That type of fame..  playing a primary role in putting an end to Alzheimer's.. that's bigger fame than anything! Bigger than the Queen or the President or Oprah and definitely bigger than any sport's celebrity or movie star or singer. I am in awe that I was able to get on her calendar!

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

A3: Yes. When you're about to talk to someone who is famous, highly intelligent, and on the very top of your "most admired" list, you want to make sure you make a good impression!  So yes, there was practice involved with this call with VIP Baroness Susan Greenfield!

Besides wanting to ask the best questions that would help podcast listeners, I wanted to show the proper level of respect. How does one address a Baroness? What's the proper etiquette in this type of situation?

Immediately following my introduction, the esteemed Baroness invited me to call her, "Susan." Her smile and warmth immediately put me at ease, and the podcast proceeded without a hitch.

We ended the interview with my question about what a meaningful life meant to her and she talked about "story."  Our lives are made up of stories. It IS what makes life so interesting.

So tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story of what I learned from my podcast interview with the famous Baroness Susan Greenfield!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Happy Brain Habits

June is Brain Awareness Month and I've been learning so much about the brain! Yesterday Action for Happiness hosted another awesome event featuring Loretta Breuning, author of "Habits of a Happy Brain."

It was a fascinating presentation and the event video is available to view for free for the next two weeks!

Quick take-aways:

Loretta talked about each of the four "happy hormones" and ways we could naturally increase each of these in our systems:

  • Dopamine - associated with anticipation of pleasure or a reward 
  • Serotonin - social recognition
  • Oxytocin - Trust, bonding, love, touch
  • Endorphins - Pain relief, runner's high, can be triggered with laughter

She explained how we make connections with events, foods, experiences that created these hormones from our past.  Those connections will trigger the hormone in the future.  A "comfort food" that calmed us when we were young, can be used to calm us in the future because there's a connection between that food and dopamine, for example.

Want to learn more? Check out these resources from Loretta's work:

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Would you rather be near-sighted or far-sighted?


This post is going to be short? Why? Because I can barely see.

I've been very challenged with my eyesight for the past few weeks while recovering from cataract surgeries.

I opted for the fancy UV Light-Adjustable Lenses. I have to wear special glasses to keep any UV light out of my eyes and it's been very stressful. Even a second without the glasses could affect my eyes.  I even have to wear them to sleep because any sun seeping through my window in the morning when I first wake up might cause a problem.

The glasses, though tiring to wear all the time, are not bad. It's more the fear of accidentally taking them off without thinking that's causing me the most anxiety.  

The other big problem has been my lack of near vision. I'm so used to reading my phone and computer, but now those things are a blur unless I wear readers on top of the UV protective glasses.

The doctor reassured me that after the first UV treatment, I'd have relief from this issue, so I was counting the hours until my UV treatment.  I envisioned myself walking out of the doctor's office with fully functional eyes again.

No such luck. 48 hours later, I was panicked that the treatment wasn't working since I didn't see any improvement in my near vision.  I went back to the doctor and was told that it turns out my left eye (which is adjusted for far sight) is extremely dominant. 

The doctor said my brain might adjust over time, and in the past 12 hours I have seen some improvement, which is a relief.   I'm still hoping that with further adjustments I might be able to see both near and far without glasses.  However, that's looking less likely.

It's seeming more probable that I will have to make a decision of either having poor near vision (and have to wear glasses all the time) or poor far vision (and wear glasses when I drive.)

I told the doctor, I'd much rather go back to having good near vision.  Readers give me a headache and do not give me good vision unless I look at a certain angle or hold my phone/book/computer at just the right distance. 

But having far vision is a benefit I'm enjoying now that I realize I'll probably have to give up in order to achieve the good near vision I used to take for granted. I love being able to see clearly in the distance whenever I step outside. I can read signs now without glasses and the subtitles on TV. 

Hopefully, my near vision will keep improving.   I guess the worst case scenario is that I'll have to wear glasses all the time when this is all over which wouldn't be the end of the world.  It's just a big disappointment when I'd been so excited about having super-vision.

Well.. never fear.  Mr. Magoo didn't stop driving just because he couldn't see and Super Carpe Diem Woman will not give up either! Near or far vision, I vow to keep blogging until I earn my $100 from Google AdSense..  45 cents more to go!

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Carpe Diem Connections Podcast: Retrospective


One of my big projects during Covid was to start a podcast: Carpe Diem Connections.  I feel quite proud of my little venture, even though I don't have many followers.  In some ways (just like with this blog) that makes it less intimidating and easier to experiment.

I wrapped up Season 3 in the end of March..  10 episodes including each of the 10 Keys of Happiness. I've been taking a little break from podcasting while I focused more on blogging in the last couple of months, but now I've decided to have a short Season 4.

In fact, I recorded my first episode of Season 4 a couple of days ago to demonstrate how to use a Retrospective.

This will help me decide what I might want to do differently in Season 4.

First we look at the "Why" behind doing the podcast in the first place and whether or not the objectives were accomplished.

Then I'll look at what worked well, what could've been better, and what I might do differently in Season 4.

Why do a podcast?

  • To learn how to publish a podcast
  • To learn how to edit audio
  • To learn more about the topics I'm podcasting about
  • To connect with like-minded people
  • To virtually socialize (during a time when I'm not socializing in the "traditional" way)
  • To gain followers for my Carpe Diem Connection community
  • To become an influencer! 
What worked well
  • I enjoyed finding guests and connecting with people I admire
  • I learned Audacity and some basic audio editing
  • I learned more about happiness and joy, and increased these in my own life
  • I had fun with this
  • I went on to host a professional Webinar for the Agile20Reflect conference with one of the guests I met
  • I did 3 seasons and did each a little differently
  • I stayed consistent, creating a blog post, podcast, and YouTube videos (in Seasons 1 and 3) each week.
  • It was good to have a "prompt" for each week (ie. the 10 Keys to Happiness)
  • I did get invited to others podcasts or radio shows to talk about Carpe Diem Day
  • It was good to Co-host Season 2 with Becky and learn from her
  • It was nice to get the support, comments or recognition from any friends who listened to an episode
What could've been better
  • Though my speaking and editing skills improved, there still is a lot of room to grow these skills
  • I don't enjoy the self-promotion and didn't engage much in promotional activities
  • I don't have many followers
  • There isn't an easy way to get audience engagement with a podcast, so I can neither have a conversation nor get feedback easily from listeners
  • I didn't really have a target audience
  • My equipment... and sometimes the equipment or comfort-level of the guest
  • I don't think I gained any additional followers for the Carpe Diem Connection Facebook Group.
What I'll do differently in Season 4
  • Continue to improve my podcasting skills - (I took a beginner Audacity class last week.)
  • Do a better job of getting the podcast listed in podcast directories
  • Identify and connect, via social media, with my target audience
  • Find a better way to engage with the audience
  • I have a new microphone, so that might help with the quality
  • I want to keep the episodes shorter (perhaps 15 minutes or less) maybe splitting my guest interviews into multiple podcast episodes.

I'm excited, specifically about the amazing guests I'm going to be talking to this season!

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Happy June - Let's celebrate Brain Health!

Yay! A new month is always motivation for me to celebrate and June is absolutely a glorious month here in Colorado. The weather is perfect, the flowers are blooming, we are socializing again, and soon, my eyes will be fully functional again.

Part of my monthly ritual is to pick a "theme" for the month and this month that theme is...

...Brain Health!

I've been blogging about Healthy Aging and Brain Health is part of that and (as I've highlighted below) there are several monthly themes in June that I will be celebrating:

  • Adopt a Cat Month
  • Adopt a Shelter Cat Month
  • African-American Music Appreciation Month
  • Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month
  • Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome Awareness Month
  • Aquarium Month
  • Audiobook Appreciation Month
  • Black Music Month
  • Cancer from the Sun Month
  • Caribbean-American Heritage Month
  • Cataract Awareness Month
  • Celibacy Awareness Month
  • Child Vision Awareness Month
  • Children's Awareness Month
  • Corn Month
  • Country Cooking Month
  • Cucumber Month
  • Dairy Alternatives Month
  • Dairy Month
  • Disaster Preparedness Month
  • Effective Communications Month
  • Entrepreneurs "Do It Yourself" Marketing Month
  • Fight the Filthy Fly Month
  • Fireworks Eye Safety Month
  • Fireworks Safety Months (June 1 - July 31)
  • Gay & Lesbian Pride Month
  • Georgia Blueberry Month
  • Great Outdoors Month
  • International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
  • International Men's Month
  • International Surf Music Month
  • June Dairy Month
  • June is Lane Courtesy Month
  • June is Turkey Lovers Month
  • Lemon Month
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month
  • Light the Night for Sight Months
  • Mango Month
  • Men's Health Education and Awareness Month
  • Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month
  • National Accordion Awareness Month
  • National Aphasia Awareness Month
  • National Bathroom Reading Month
  • National Burglary Prevention Month
  • National Camping Month
  • National Candy Month
  • National Caribbean-American Heritage Month
  • National Congenital Cytomegalovirus Awareness Month
  • National Dairy Month
  • National DJ Month
  • National Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Month
  • National Frozen Yogurt Month
  • National GLBT Book Month
  • National Homeownership Month
  • National Iced Tea Month
  • National Microchipping Month
  • National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month
  • National Ocean Month
  • National Papaya Month
  • National Pest Control Month
  • National Pet Preparedness Month
  • National Rivers Month
  • National Rose Month (Wine!)
  • National Safety Month
  • National Scleroderma Awareness Month
  • National Seafood Month
  • National Smile Month
  • National Soul Food Month
  • National Steakhouse Month
  • National Turkey Lover's Month
  • Okra Month
  • Perennial Gardening Month
  • Pharmacists Declare War on Alcoholism Month
  • Pluot & Aprium Month
  • Potty Training Awareness Month
  • Prepare Tomorrow's Parents Month - May 9 - June 20, 2021 (From Mother's Day to Father's Day)
  • Professional Wellness Month
  • PTSD Awareness Month
  • Rebuild Your Life Month
  • Rose Month
  • Skyscraper Month
  • Social Petworking Month
  • Sports America Kids Month
  • Student Safety Month
  • Vision Research Month
  • Women's Golf Month
  • World Infertility Month
  • Zoo and Aquarium Month

Here are some of the goals I hope to accomplish in June related to these themes:

How about you? How will you be keeping your brain healthy, happy, and active in June?