When I came to know that Ruth Curran, a wonderfully smart women, I met through a midlife group, had recently published her book, I wrote to her immediately for a chance to share details of her book and interview her here. I’m happy to introduce to you Ruth and her new book, which I hope to review soon.
Description of Being Brain Healthy
The journey to wellness when coming back from a brain injury can be a long one. It is one author Ruth Curran knows well. Faced with myriad cognitive challenges after her own traumatic brain injury resulting from an automobile accident, Curran decided to “turn up the volume” on the things that she loved in order to expedite the healing of her brain. She found ways to work through the discomfort and discouragement that can plague those suffering from traumatic brain injury as well as other conditions, chronic illnesses, and age-related changes that affect cognition and brain health.
In Being Brain Healthy, Curran shares her 18-month path to recovery along with the techniques she used—and continues to use—to amplify her everyday experiences with the goal of maximizing brain health and function. Her book is one of hope, not only for those whose brains have been compromised through injury or illness, but also for anyone who wants to think better and improve their cognitive abilities.
Curran has the unique ability to share her insights on brain health and healing in a manner that makes complex neuroscience matters make sense to even those taking their first frustrating steps toward recovery. Convinced that everyone can build better thinking skills and work their way out of what she calls “the fog” regardless of its cause, Curran shares how she did exactly that and made her entire life more fulfilling.
Being Brain Healthy combines the most cutting-edge research with what works in practice and fits in daily life. Curran helps readers understand how the brain and body work together and how the partnership between the two can be utilized to create a more healthy brain. Curran outlines how the newest science, activities, and exercises can help those with thinking challenges make the most of every day. Her “being” brain healthy methods—and book sections—include Be Active, Be Social, Be Engaged, Be Purposeful, and Be Complicated.
Also included in the book are personal stories from individuals on their process recovering from brain challenges. Their accounts along with insight and information from Curran will inspire readers to amplify their experiences and take their own brain functionality to the next level.
About Ruth Curran
Ruth Curran drew on her experience successfully overcoming a traumatic brain injury suffered in an automobile accident to become an expert on maximizing brain health and function through lifestyle modification and “turning up the noise on life.” Curran is passionate about the connection between the brain and daily functioning and believes everyone—regardless of age or stage of life—has the ability to use neuroplasticity to live a richer, deeper, more fully engaged life. She has created a series of photo-based thinking puzzles, games, and apps that help players work on cognitive abilities such as attention, memory, and executive functioning. Curran has a master’s degree in cognitive psychology as well as more than 28 years of experience as a strategist, business development executive, and organizational behaviorist. She shares her insights and proven techniques for amplifying everyday experiences in Being Brain Healthy and at www.craniumcrunches.com/blog.
Ruth, I’m curious to know if you grew up in a home that promoted reading or writing?
My mom was a teacher and preached the value of books, good grammar, and an ample vocabulary. She shared her love of reading with my brother (a recently retired high school English teacher) and me. It seemed as if my mom always had at least three books on her night stand, a newspaper in her lap, and a stack of New Yorkers waiting for her. As I got older, books were my escape. When I was a teenager my aunt got me into reading mysteries. We picked authors (and their detectives) and followed them from start to finish. I waded my way through bogs, pubs, and smoke filled interrogation rooms, and strolled the streets of so many foreign cities courtesy of amazing mystery writers – ones that took me somewhere I had never been and seamlessly planted me right in the middle of daily life. I am always reading something, listening to at least one audio book, and have a stack of publications calling me. I guess I paid attention to my mom!
Have you always wanted to write a book or were you compelled to write this one for personal reasons?
I remember the day that my freshman English teacher, Mrs. Chang, told me I was good writer. I was shocked. My handwriting and spelling were (and still are) horrendous so I was used to pages filled with red marks and comments about the benefits of taking my time and neatness – nothing beyond the surface and certainly nothing about the quality of my writing.
Enter Watergate and Woodward and Bernstein and my passion for writing took another turn. I was going to be a great investigative reporter uncovering the lies and injustices in the world.
Life, as it does, eventually led me in a different direction but every job I had involved some kind of writing. I don’t think I ever saw myself writing a book until recently. This book got in my head a couple years ago and it was not letting go. I started out writing a much expanded version of my blog on brain health, brain healthy lifestyles, and that connection between how we act and how we think. It was good information with great practical, everyday applications but it was not relevant.
After some persistent questions and urging from a dear friend’s husband (who is also a treasured friend but she came first), I got it that I had to tell the story of how I got here and to own the fact that the value of my journey was being lost – especially if I just kept it locked up in a safe in my head. There are moments in our lives that feel safer tucked deeply behind the curtain. I was afraid of again finding myself vulnerable and exposed, and that made me horribly uncomfortable. That piece, just like the practical pieces, became something I needed to get out. My accident and the 18 month journey out of the paper bag that was my life poured out and the rest made sense.
I’m always fascinated about the famous ‘writing space’. Do you have a dedicated writing space?
I guess the song Poppa Was a Rolling Stone applies here: wherever I lay my laptop is my home or, in this case, my writing space. It is that feeling when I place my fingers on the keys – the one that allows my thoughts to connect with the screen – that makes a mobile writing space possible. Since writing has always been a part of every job I’ve had or project I’ve been involved with and many required travel, I had to develop this habit. It got easier over the years and now this whole traveling office feeling is very freeing. I do have favorite spots and favorite parts of the day (see photos).
How do you warm up to write? Do you have any pre-writing rituals?
I really don’t have any pre-writing rituals. Some days I have to push myself to sit down at my laptop but most days, once I do, often I have to be reminded to get up! I hit “grooves” where everything flows – not always good stuff but it flows!
This is a bad question to ask. But do you only write? Or do you have a ‘regular job’?
Cranium Crunches and Brain Based Solutions Inc., both my companies, are my main focus these days. Cranium Crunches is a photo-based interactive puzzle and game website with two blogs and a whole bunch of information about the brain, and it requires new content all the time. I take photos, create puzzles, keep the content fresh, and promote it. Brain Based Solutions Inc. is a vehicle for brands and destinations to promote their products, services, and offerings through customized puzzles and games that feature their photos. Same drill but these puzzles, games, and content are branded for others. I also am working with my husband, a serial entrepreneur/inventor, to find the right market and the most appropriate approach to roll out a small yet powerful wind turbine (fits in a suitcase) that I believe will change the face of medical relief efforts around the world. All keep me incredibly busy and fulfilled!
Ruth, I know you and your husband had a fascinating adventure recently. Please tell us about your recent trip and the purpose?
My husband and I took a trip to Anse la Raye, St. Lucia with Global Volunteers. This is a demonstration project intended to show how providing services essential for brain development in children by working with families through local organizations can raise the IQ of a community. This whole concept fit so well with my approach to brain health and I am a huge proponent of promoting personal brain health by finding and serving a purpose. So, that is why we went. I worked in the Primary School and my husband worked in a last chance school for those 16 to 20. It was an amazing, perspective shifting experience and not at all what we thought we signed up for but oh so good. We walked away with a new understanding of how we fit in the world and how much we, as individuals and together, can really do to change lives.
What are two of the most important things we can do to keep our brains healthy?
Move your body and smile. Your brain will reward you when you feel good and you make efforts to take care of your heart, so do that every single day. Music, laughter, hanging out with those you love, taking walks, challenging your thinking – all those things that make you feel good and accomplished will help you support your brain health. Add in some heart pumping exercise and you take that all to a new level.
Thank you, Ruth. May we all continue to be seek to be brain healthy!