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Memory Lane

It had been on the cards for a while; 10, 5, 2 and 1 year parental warnings had been issued repeatedly but I'd always mentally dismissed them as sometime in the "future". A lifetime away. But it's finally happened...the Watson family home has been sold after 36 years and my parents are officially downsizing.

Fond childhood memories immediately spring to mind; building extensive Swallows and Amazon-esque dens on the lawn to the annoyance of the old lady next door, daring my younger brother to go faster and faster on the ingenious yet lethal homemade bike, skipping rope and skateboard combination and flirting unashamedly with the boy next door.

Our childhood memories ripple across our lives, underpin our reality and influence our decisions. When pared back, these recollections involve three major processes: encoding, storage and retrieval (Cherry, 2010); yet science is only beginning to comprehend the depth of complexity in our brains. Psychological research indicates "memory distortions are basic and widespread in humans, and it may be unlikely that anyone is immune." (Hayasaki, 2013). Miller takes this a step further to suggest we “rewrite our memories every time we recall them” (2010) in a form of editing that enables us to compare old memories against everything which has subsequently occurred. This concept questions the accuracy of treasured memories as our current reality alters perceptions, which in turn modifies our views of our past.

The human “filing system” and its capacity to retain and recollect information is an essential part of our identity as individuals, yet each memory is literally a result of chemical and biological changes within our body. Stripped back to molecular level each memory is physically encoded, stored and retrieved by electrical connections firing across protein-derived neurotransmitters on synapses within our brain. These long-term memories are stored over one trillion neurons across our cortex with a 2.5 petabytes (a million gigabytes) capacity. This colossal figure and brain to memory connection reinforces the importance between our health, wellbeing, sleep, stress management and performance.

There are several nutritional brain hacks that can be easily adopted to promote “brain-boosting properties” (Yurgelum-Todd, 2016), for example the addition of turmeric which contains curcumin* mitigates brain inflammation and dark chocolate (70% plus) possesses high levels of flavanols a plant-based nutrient with antioxidant abilities where research has indicated positive impact on measured attention, memory and support brain health.

Everyone observes their past, present and future time line spectrum from a different perspective; a perspective that changes from moment to moment. Memories of Avondale, aka the townhouse in Newcastle, have provided a steady anchor throughout my life; an oasis to escape student life, a refuge during operational leave and an interim base post life in the green machine. My professional and personal exposure to coaching has dug deep to examine the power of memories, scrutinising limiting beliefs to create positive strategies moving forwards.

In the future my recollections will undoubtedly change as new experiences shift perceptions leading to neurological connections changing pathways and further “reality” shifts, blurs and changes. This notion opens up numerous positive opportunities as the journey of life unfolds and I fully intend to enjoy the ride…

Over a cheeky square of dark chocolate (70% plus) consider how your childhood memories have shaped you? What influence do these memories still exert?

Looking to the future how can your memories unlock and unleash your true potential?

Note* Curcumin is an active chemical ingredient in turmeric that is a potent anti-inflammatory and cancer preventative molecule.

Photo: My brother David and I comparing campaign medals in our British Army officers' mess uniform on the lawn at Avondale drinking champagne before the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme summer ball (2008).


Cherry, K. (2014). What is Memory? [Online]. Available at: Accessed 21 Mar 16.

Hayasaki, E. (2013). How Many of Your Memories are Fake? [Online] Available at: Accessed 8 Mar 15.

Miller, G. (2010). How Our Brains Make Memories. [Online] Available at: Accessed 21 Mar 16.

Yurgelum-Todd, D. (2016). Better Brain Hacks: Start by Stocking Your Pantry. [Online] Available at: Accessed 21 Mar 16

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