Monday, May 16, 2011

Playing With Words

We read over and over about the benefit of exercise to keep our bodies flexible and in good shape as we age. How many times have you seen a healthcare worker push the "Walk 10,000 Steps A Day" program? Or heard about the good results of yoga or tai chi? The older I get, the more I pay attention to these suggestions.

I think mental exercise is every bit as important as the physical. I've read more than once that two activities that bring benefits to us as we age is to play bridge and do crossword puzzles. I'm happy to say I do both and have for many years. Bridge is my greatest relaxation, but it also makes me think

A crossword puzzle is a word game. I loved the simple ones we did in grade school, and I've moved on to adult puzzles. I'm  a word person, not one who likes to deal with numbers. People who love numbers excel in playing Sudoko. Give me a bunch of clues and a crossword grid to fill in any day.

Our Kansas City newspaper has a daily crossword puzzle that is of medium difficulty. I'm about 99% on completing it. The New York Times puzzle that many newspapers carry is a different story. I've never finished one, which tells me my vocabulary is not at the highest level. But the more we do the puzzles, the more words we learn.

Playing with words in a crossword puzzle can only help us as writers. Take a few minutes each day to work on a puzzle. We exercise our minds and store new words for later use. Now, if they'd only stop using rock stars as answers, I'd be able to do more of the harder puzzles. Just this morning, I quickly filled in the five letter space for a star named Clark. Being a senior citizen, the most famous Clark I knew was Gable. Fit right in, too.

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