Sharpen Your Brain

| September 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Retirement was not easy for me. I loved my job; in fact, I defined myself by my job. Without it who was I? But the time had come and suddenly I found myself going from an exciting and rewarding life, to days without purpose. Each morning I woke up and had to remind myself what day it was. With all that time on my hands I began to explore various options. I tried many volunteer jobs, learned some new skills, took lots of walks in the park, and still it wasn’t quite right.

After surfing the web, looking to find something that piqued my interest, I stumbled upon the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UCSD (OLLI). This learning environment for people who are 50 years of age or older, offers a stimulating program of classes, seminars, lectures and discussion groups entirely free of the pressures of grades and exams. Classes are taught by distinguished faculty, scholars, and community and national leaders in an array of subjects: history, art, science, literature, economics, politics, medicine and much more. Live drama, music and movies add to the choices.

For one membership fee, members may choose as many or as few activities as they wish. I enrolled and from my first experience, I was hooked. The people I met were from all walks of life and yet at Osher we were all alike, retired people looking to stay vitally alive in our senior years. We all were starting from the same place.

At first, what we did in our lives before retiring was an unknown. As time went on and relationships were formed, past lives became a topic for discussion. I met retired professors, doctors, writers, attorneys and as vast an array of backgrounds as there were students.

Friendships were made with people I may never had met while working. Discussion groups were lively as people from all backgrounds, religions and political persuasions shared their views with friendly arguments and interesting banter. At first I took the classes that interested me or confirmed my point of view but as time went on I began going to classes that seemed out of my sphere of interest and that’s what surprised me most.

The lecturers were so engaging that topics I thought would be boring came alive in the presentations. I learned about everything from quantum physics to opera. I read books that would never had been on my reading list before. Suddenly my brain was filled with stimulation and armed with knowledge and I found myself transported to my college days again without the drudgery of studying for exams or handing in a term paper. I was loving it; and my days began to fly by.

It’s been seven years now and I have another new experience thanks to OLLI. I became part of the theater world, acting and directing plays with other like-minded would be thespians. To tweak that creativity even further, some of us are now dipping our toes into unknown waters with the goal of writing an original musical. None of us had done this before and we are not giving ourselves a deadline. However long it takes, it will be quite the experience.
OLLI has several membership options. They offer full year or semester memberships and all classes are included at no additional fees. An open house will be held on campus on September 12 at 9:30 a.m. For more information, visit or call (858) 534-3400. It’s the best way to keep your brain young and vital no matter how mature you are.

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