Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Adventures in Left Brain - Right Brain Thinking

What’s right about my left brain?

I came from a home with a genius in residence. As Beethoven played, it was admirable to discuss and THINK about others’ creativity, but spontaneity was thwarted. Stargazing, gardening, and reading, reading, reading, especially (shudder) scary sci-fi stories were the closest we were allowed to the edge of the corpus callosum bridging our strict left brain lives to that strange world of originality on the right.

While I was by night in my secret dreams, a rebel, fighting against the encroaching unjust empire, in real life I was a “good girl” who lived up to every left-brain expectation made of me. I was a terrific speller, understood the finer points of grammar and sentence structure or science and as time went by chose trigonometry over choir. (Yuk!) My first job after graduation was as a competent and well-paid assistant bookkeeper in the main office of a large credit agency.

It all sounds good, except I would periodically need sick days to prevent permanent melt-down. This did nothing to allay my preconceived notion that genius was to be feared as a door to insanity. Every day for forty-two years, I was an exhausted butterfly with wet wings straining to break free of my cocoon. I couldn’t even put this in words. I only knew something wasn’t right. It turns out the something was my brain, and left-brain living was not right for me.

What’s left of my right brain?

Once I identified the problem, I tried to use both sides equally. My husband and daughter do this without effort. For me, not so much. If I rose to giddy creative heights, I'd strain to function in foreign left brain territory until one day I accepted who God made me to be.

Now, at fifty-five, I flutter about my colorful day singing, serving up new and delectable dishes for my husband, dabbling at homemaking, and creating people, places, and crises on paper or computer, which I then solve.

I’m having a blast and I haven’t needed a mental health day in years. I am learning to live out-of-the box. Plus, I have a plethora of survival stories from which to draw. This leaves me in the position to write, write, write. Ahhhh! Home, Sweet Right-brained Home. The only thing finer would be a book contract.

The caveat to this new brain-style is I can no longer spell correctly, my grammar is atrocious, and as Rachael Phillips can testify, I can’t add or subtract anything over $5.00. I can live with that.

Are you right- or left-brained? One isn't superior, but how do you reconcile differences between the two? Do you have special exercises to move from one to the other? Does the time of day make a difference? Inquiring minds want to know


  1. As I read your post, I wanted to raise my hand and wave it in the air yelling, "me too!" I took two math classes my junior year of high school and skipped home economics. Maybe not the best decision. I still can't cook or sew. But I want to. LOL. Great post!

  2. I got As in Engligh and math and won the Boshch and Lomb (spelling?) science award (at a very small high school without much competition). That means I can handle the accounting for my writing business as well as doing the creative work. I also love both working with words and researching. So for me, it's great to let the two sides of the brain compliment each other.

  3. I love the comment. "it's great to let the two sides of the brain compliment each other." That is exactly what we each need to do. It'll be different for each, however, my left-brain training insists there should be a precise mathematical formula for that and my right-brain wants to lie in a field of daisies, watch the clouds and let it work itself out. I can hardly blame it, after all it was squelched for a very, very long time.

  4. I love reading this kind of thing, Mary. I studied learning theories in grad school and still find as much as I can about this. Saying that, though, doesn't always mean I have it all figured out.

    I am at war in my brain half the time. (LOL.) It's been a dilemma to work on one side, when suddenly the other side wants to take over. I am most comfortable with left-brain activity, and have fought against the probably more natural right-brain tendencies way too much.

    What a good post!