My Write Brain by
(121 Stories)

Prompted By Brain Games

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Cartoon by Retrospect contributor Marcia Liss

As I watch my husband devour crossword puzzles and Ken-Kens or my granddaughter, who is the wizard of all word-search games and jig saw puzzles, I worry about my poor brain. I have never enjoyed any type of game that requires concentration and am only good for flipping over the pieces of jig saw puzzles and looking for straight edge pieces or coming up with an occasional answer for one of my husband’s endless puzzles.

I was 68 when my “write brain” took over. I have written over 800 stories and a book since I retired. While I don’t do brain games, my brain is far from idle. In fact, it may be a bit too busy.

This prompt caused me to worry. Have I neglected to exercise my brain? Is this why I forget names or the reason I came into a room? And where did I leave my iPhone? On the other hand, as my husband pointed out, I never forget a birthday, anniversary, bill to be paid, or social arrangement (remember those?). Perhaps my brain game is life, not the board game, but keeping it all together.

It may not seem like such a big deal to remember birthdays. Facebook always reminds me. But what about all of the kids in my life who are too young or cool to be on Facebook? In addition to eleven grandkids, I have ten great nieces and nephews, with another on the way. Our families have been thoughtful about gifting our kids and grandkids, so now it’s payback time.  Yes, there’s one thing that keeps my brain busy.

Framed on the wall and officially retired

Before I retired in 2013, I was running a school with 250 young children and over 30 employees, give or take a couple in any given year. That kept my brain in pretty good shape. When my grandkids started to arrive and I couldn’t manage helping my daughter with them and do my job properly, I stepped back and then out. I was “retired,” but my brain didn’t thrive on babysitting and lunches with friends alone.

A binder for everything

In addition to keeping track of our daily lives and staying in touch with all of those kiddos, I put together binders or made lists for every aspect of our finances and genealogy research. I also created annual photo books as well as one for every trip or special occasion in our family. Still, despite my husband’s reassurance that these tasks constituted brain food, my post-retirement activities seemed lame compared with folks who do puzzles and play “Words with Friends.”

Annual photo book

I was 68 when my “write brain” took over. I began with writing pieces mostly focused on what I knew best, education and children with special needs, in ChicagoNow (400+ posts) and Alternet (only twenty posts, but they paid me). At the same time, I was writing a book of essays and memoir pieces, Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real, which was published in April 2016. I have been blogging on a series of websites for seven years, including a stint as a Huffington Post contributor, when they were accepting pieces submitted by writers, from April 2014 to January 2018 (164 posts).

I also have been a contributor on Midcentury Modern and Medium (116 posts), starting in September, 2016. One of these stories led me to Retrospect when John Zussman asked if he could publish it for the prompt with the same title as my story, “Lines of Communication,” in August of 2018. To date, I have written 113 Retrospect stories and agreed to become part of the Retrospect Team in March, 2019.

My brain had quite a workout researching information for this prompt. It also made me realize that I have written over 800 stories. Writing this has made me realize that, while I don’t do brain games, my brain is far from idle. In fact, it may be a bit too busy.

I invite you to read my book Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real and join my Facebook community.

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: right on!, well written


  1. Don’t fret Laurie, your brain seems to be working VERY WELL!
    Wishing you a sweet new year!

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Exactly, Laurie. I keep lists and check lists for everything, a little diary of my life (that’s why I seem to remember everything), and I take photos for memories. But writing is really mentally stimulating. I totally agree.

  3. John Shutkin says:

    First off, great, punny title.

    Second, and as Betsy has also noted, writing is terrific brain exercise. And you have exercised in that way way more than most of us. So it is we mere crossword puzzlers who should be in awe of your regimen, and not vice versa.

    Do keep on writing — both for your sake and ours!

  4. Suzy says:

    Laurie, I think your brain is doing just fine! I don’t know where Retrospect would be without it! Your stories, here and elsewhere, are always fabulous, and I am in awe of your photo books and neatly labeled binders! Also love your clever title with its pun on Right Brain. You are tops in my book!

  5. There is NOTHING wrong with your brain, my friend!! I love “my brain game is life.” L’chaim!

  6. Marian says:

    Quite an achievement, Laurie, I think your brain will do just fine if you keep writing.

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