Memorization is My Mental Tool

Try-It-With-Me Tuesday, an interactive weekly time and place to foster connections that challenge and encourage the process to become a well-rounded person.

The April Reading Challenge was to memorize something you have read that inspires you, and today is the time to tell how you did. What did you memorize? Did you complete your goal? What did you learn in the process?

My goal was to memorize The Family: A Proclamation to the World. My reason for this mental challenge to memorize was to create a mental tool for myself. I can replace negative, anxious or wandering thoughts at any time and in any place with inspiring words.

Originally I made this goal at the beginning of the year as personal gift to myself for Mother’s Day. But I could see that I was not progressing in my goal so I made it the April Reading Challenge. Like many personal goals, it is easy to set it aside our own commitments when other choices or responsibilities arise. That happened to me, especially in the last week of my goal.

So how did I do? Better than I expected—I am 95% complete with my goal. I can recite the nine paragraphs or 29 sentences of this document today with only six or seven corrections or prompts. That is far enough that I will have 100% completely memorized on Mother’s Day.

Trying to Memorize is a process. I write the document on note cards and study them one at a time. Then, when I think I know each card, I study the document as a whole and try to say it from beginning to end.

Moving from the note cards to the document was a difficult but important shift in the process. I wanted to keep the small sub-goals of memorizing individual paragraphs. I lacked confidence that I was ready to recite the whole. But once I changed to recitation rather than just memorization, I achieved more success.

When the final week of my goal collided with other reading, writing and teaching assignments, the recitation didn’t add to that stress—it minimized it.

One of those added stresses was a CT scan on my sinuses. Ironically, it was while this machine created a diagnostic image of my head that I knew my true purpose of finding inspiration in any moment was fulfilled.

Did you Try It With Me? Tell about it in a comment below. If you would rather write about it in a post on your own website, leave a link to it here or send it to me and I will publish it.

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Next week’s Try-It-With-Me Tuesday will be my 101st post! Celebrate with me May 6, when I will announce the May Reading Challenge.


  1. Julie Q.
    Apr 30, 2008

    Wow. This is a great goal (and I’m impressed that you’re mostly there). I’ll have to try the note card method with my kids. McKay has to memorize the Gettysburg address this year.

  2. camille
    May 17, 2008

    Ok, quite a delayed response, sorry. But I did try to memorize something. I wanted to memorize the words to the hymn, “Jesus the Very Thought of Thee” to use as an escape, a calming down tool when things are too chaotic or I’m too upset or too irritated. The first three verses went well; the last one is a little rough. I’m still going to keep working on it. And it has been nice to help me calm down, to kind of “leave the room” and “put myself in time out” when I need to. It works kind of like the thing mom used to always say to us, “Count to ten before you talk.” So my new phrase, “Sing your calm down song, before you respond.” Not a bad idea to teach my kids to try! They could use a calm down song!

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