Posts Tagged With: learning

 
 

The Things You Learn Whether You Know You’re Learning Them or Not

It’s Gratituesday! I’ve thought this one over for a while. I’m grateful to my parents for teaching me some cool stuff.

For instance, Mom taught me to sew as a little bitty thing. I remember sewing little drawstring bags and carrying my treasures in them. Not sure what had more value, the bag or the things in the bag. I’ve since sewn a few thousand things. I’ve made  quilts, baby blankets, skirts, dresses, shirts from scraps, pillowcases and a zillion other projects. I’ve hemmed countless pants and dresses, and altered clothing beyond imagining. I even made a living for a while using my sewing skills. How about that?

By Dongui (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Dongui (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mom also taught me the basics of playing the piano. Then Dad and Mom both put up with listening to me crank out bad versions of pop songs and classical music. And Dad, he paid for lessons from Mrs. Kump, since they  thought I’d learn better from a different teacher for a while. I’ve played for a zillion different things and have even segued into playing the organ occasionally, which rocks, in case you’ve ever wondered. Of course, this lead naturally to a love of all these musical.

Mom sang in a music group and I learned to sing alto by listening to her practice as well as by sitting next to her while we sang hymns in church.

Dad instilled a love of all things gardening and growing. I still recall his engineering quality maps of our yard with every single plant mapped out in amazing detail. I loved getting my hands in the dirt, watching the veggies grown, picking fresh raspberries, mowing the lawn. I still prefer doing yard work to house work, even in Arizona.

They also taught me, indirectly, the satisfaction that comes from serving others. I learned, without words, that you stay and help clean up after an event. By example they let me see and feel the joy of helping others whether by bringing in a meal, helping shovel a neighbor’s driveway or listening to someone’s worries with genuine concern. Some of my happiest memories link to volunteer work, freely giving of my time and being available to share my talents just like I saw them do so often in my childhood.

Photo By Joe Tordiff [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Joe Tordiff [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Both Dad and Mom gave me experiences that brought me to love the outdoors. As a family we went on hikes, motorbike rides, sledding, camping, horseback rides, trips to Yellowstone and Grand Canyon and countless other state and national parks. We got out on snowmobiles and hung out in a canoe fishing. We build snowmen like no one else could. We had an epic treehouse that Dad designed and built complete with a sandbox, both of which fueled out imaginations. We spent tons of time in the mountains, which feel like a second home to me.

Mom taught me the basics of canning and preserving food. We used to make the yummiest apricot fruit leather this side of anywhere! I still get kind of puckery in my cheeks remembering that sweet/sour taste. Her pickled beets are the bomb. And no one, and I mean nobody anywhere, makes raspberry freezer jam like my mom does. I’ve tried and mine’s only a close second.

I learned to laugh from both Mom and Dad. Raising all of us kids wasn’t easy, to put it mildly, so to hear them laugh out loud was a treat. Their laughter dispelled some of the tension that inevitably snuck into family life and always reminded me that recreation and relaxation and daily laughter help balance out the tough times.

Photo By dave_7 from Lethbridge, Canada (VW Van) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By dave_7 from Lethbridge, Canada (VW Van) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons (Not the one I actually drove.)

I know how to drive a stick shift! How many people do you know can drive a vehicle with a manual transmission nowadays? I learned to drive on hills in a dual wheel converted flatbed truck as well as in a VW van. Because of that, driving the largest rental moving van across the country wasn’t all that intimidating a few years later.

I love to read and learn new things. I got that from both of them. That right there is probably key to all the rest of the stuff they taught me. And even now, they’re still learning new tricks, as Dad likes to call it. I hope I’m still soaking in the knowledge when i reach my grownup years like them.

These few things I learned from Dad and Mom have bounced around my head lately. I’m sure grateful to have learned so much. I think I turned out okay, so far at least. They must have done a good job.

P.S.

I’d still like to learn how to whistle like Dad does. Maybe this summer he can teach me.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Unicorns and Happiness

image by ChristerD

image by ChristerD

Don’t you get a buzz when you run across something the confirms and validates something you already believe or do?

I sure do.

My buzz started humming last week when I watched this TED Talk by Shawn Achor from May 2011 about Happiness.

I’ll wait while you watch it if you want.

Or you can click on it to open it in a second window and watch it or listen to it later. It’s only about twelve minutes long and worth every second. You’ll laugh. You’ll have a smile on your face when you’re done watching.

(You could even listen while you’re eating your cereal tomorrow morning, or while you do your hair or your makeup, or while you’re driving somewhere. Please, just watch or listen to it.)

So, why am I so adamant that you watch?

Because I want you to have more happiness in your life. If you’re happier, people around you are happier. And if they’re happier, then others are, too. And eventually, those ripples reach me. Theoretically, anyway.

Here’s info from one of the visuals he pops up on the screen for us.

Creating lasting positive change

  • 3 Gratitudes

  • Journaling

  • Exercise

  • Meditation

  • Random Acts of Kindness

That first item?  Well, it’s made a difference in my life over the past twenty years. I’ve been paying attention and keeping a gratitude journal, mostly, over the past twenty years.

Yes. Twenty.

I’m my own study. And the results rock!

And that’s just with item one on the list.

  • Shawn recommends taking two minutes every day and listing three things you’re grateful for.
  • “Journaling about one positive thing from the past twenty-four hours allows you to relive the positive emotions.”
  • Exercise floods our system with endorphins which are the happiness chemicals that we could all use more of.
  • Meditation allows us to briefly focus on one thing in a world where we’re constantly multitasking.
  • A random act of kindness is as simple as sitting at your desk and writing one positive email to someone in your social support network, thanking them, praising them, encouraging them.

Do we have time for any of this?

YES!

Can we afford not to make time for it?

No.

In just twenty-one days, studies show a marked difference in happiness level. And consequently, they experience greater productivity and enhanced learning ability of people who implement the five steps outlined above.

Please watch and put a smile on your face and a bounce in your step.

Here’s the link again, in case you missed it.

 

 

Categories: Happiness, Mondaze | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

“As If You Were to Live Forever”

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m thankful that I’m still learning. My brain had to kick things up a notch or two during this past month in a multitude of ways. I’m happy to report that so far, it’s been equal to the task. At least, no one has complained about my progress so far.

I don't think of myself as middle-aged, but in my second young-adulthood.

Describes exactly how I see myself.

I don’t learn things like other people do. I’m not good at simply memorizing words or facts. My brain needs to wrap itself around the whole concept, the what, the why, the relationships, the where is this going, the sense of it all before I can grasp specifics.

(From what I can tell most people need specifics first, then the whole kind of falls into place.)

Once I get the big picture then the little parts of the picture sync nicely into logical order. Understanding dawns, and my mouth says, “Ah, ha!!” I get a little chill up my spine when something new clicks in my head.

I keep thinking I’m going to get brave and sign up for one of those free online courses from the library, but then I chicken out. Not sure why. Time constraints mostly, I suppose. Plus it’d be an almost public failure if I tanked while trying it.

A few of my favorite textbooks.

A few of my favorite textbooks.

What I’d really love is to be one of those old ladies, twenty or thirty or even forty years from now, sitting in a college class full of eighteen to twenty-two year olds, soaking in knowledge like a student on spring break soaking up the sun. I loved school, (the learning part of it, not the social part of it,) as a kid. I loved college as an almost adult. I loved college as a returning student after five years away from it.

Of course, now it’s not even necessary to go to a classroom to get that sort of learning. But there’s something about interaction with real live people in person that gets my heart pumping and makes me smile all the way to my toes. And the discussion afterwards with a professor reminds me of dessert bars on a cruise ship, absolutely heavenly!

I must sound like such a nerd.

That’s okay. At least my brain isn’t shrinking or empty.

If I ever get to the point where learning doesn’t happen, just set me out to pasture and leave me alone to munch on my granola and yogurt while staring at the horizon. Or better yet, put me out of my misery.

Ah, learning! How do I love thee? Let me do a little math and I’ll get back to you.

 

Two quotes from a couple of brilliant dudes:

 

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”  ~ Albert Einstein

and

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Education, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

What I Know, A Very Short Treatise

At age eighteen I thought I knew so much. That may have been true if you compared me to other eighteen year olds. I read more than the average teen. I took Advanced Placement classes. I took life pretty seriously, and yet, at the time I enjoyed myself. I had some brainy and quick-witted friends.

Ten years after that I looked back at my oh-so-wise-in-my-own-eyes teen self and shook my head. What a naïve girl! A lifetime of non-book learning seemed to occur in those ten short years. I’d put in some college time, sure, but I didn’t learn much the first time as a freshman. Who does, right? Distracted by trying to pay for the privilege of being there, I missed out on a ton of fun and opportunities. I had the dumbest work hours. Missed all the parties, missed all the camaraderie, missed learning how to get along with people.

Then I got to go back to school as a slightly older student and I soaked it all in like a sandbox and water. I had a couple of writing classes that kickstarted me in the sanity direction that words spilling out on paper became.

photo 2-1

One professor in particular encouraged and praised my writing beyond anything I’m sure I deserved. I reread that stuff and wonder how he ever saw potential there. His last  bit of advice to me hit me like an anvil dropped from an outcropping cliff by a road runner. Mind you, as a twenty-five year old mother of two I thought I had some life under my belt.

He said, and I paraphrase, “You’ve got real talent there. Give yourself ten or twenty years of life experience and then you’ll really be a great writer.”

It was like getting a hug while a wearing a burr covered shirt. Ouch!

No, I didn’t set out to live some amazing life of adventure. Having children and my particular husband served well as adventure fodder and life experience. “Sure it is,” you’re thinking as you shake your head “no.”

Let me just insert here that after that first move which pulled me out of college one year shy of a bachelor’s degree, we moved eleven times and added two more children to the mix. From the Northwest to the Southeast to the West to the Midwest and then back to the West. Include a couple or more bounces in each region. Add in two stints of wearing out various relatives for several months in between homes.

I’ve met a wide variety of people. Granted, most of them are American, but not all of them. I learned to get along with people, make friends quickly, climb out of my shell, ask questions, act independently and confidently and navigate the weirdest roads without a smartphone or GPS.

Throw in life’s natural disasters and dramas add a generous mix of teenage angst and a bit of insanity from several directions. What you have several decades later is one woman with a head filled to overflowing with experience but not necessarily wisdom trying to make sense of what she’s done with and to her life.

My own personal bluebird of happiness. He hangs in the laundry room and occasionally chirps out bits of advice.

My own personal bluebird of happiness. He hangs in the laundry room and occasionally chirps out bits of advice.

I look at what I thought I knew in my thirties and shake my head in embarrassment. I look at what I thought I’d figured out in my forties and hide my head and shudder. I look at what I think I know now and at least I know that I know very little.

You know who really knows what’s what? People nearly twice my age. People ten years older than me, twenty years, thirty years older. Where is their wisdom? Why aren’t they out there blogging, writing, sharing, spilling, imparting, enlightening?

Oh yeah, because anyone younger thinks they’ve got it all figured out and they don’t pay attention. Including me to an extent.

What a dingbat.

I know some thirteen year olds who swear I know nothing about the real world. Eh, maybe. But I’m pretty sure I’d beat them in almost any game of life put to the both of us.

There’s no convincing anyone. You have to come to that conclusion yourself.

How?

By getting older. By living.

By time you figure it out, it’s too late to profit much from the wisdom of any other person. Unless you’re willing humble yourself and listen. And then follow through.

Is that what the great circle of life really is? Learning that the stove is hot by getting burned? Figuring out the water is too deep and fast by wading in and being swept away?

I suppose to some extent there’s no way to replace experience. But there’s a few thing I would rather not have had to learn.

And I’m certain there’s more on the horizon I still don’t want to learn. I wish I could just read a book on whatever it is and take a test.

I guess I’ll try to relax and breathe deeply, so when the vehicle starts to roll, or the avalanche lets loose, or the tornado hits, or life spins wildly into vertigo I won’t get too banged up.

Anyone want to volunteer for me? Anyone? Anyone at all?

Katniss?

Ah, well. Life isn’t a novel, or a movie.

Age

Age (Photo credit: garryknight)

In the meantime, I’ll write about it all, a little hear, a little there. I’ll try to make sense of it and share what I can along the way.

You’re welcome to take it or leave it.

I don’t really know all that much, after all.

Categories: Education, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Just What I Always Wanted

When I turned nine years old, as I opened each birthday gift I said, “oh, just what I always wanted!” I said that over and over. “Just what I always wanted!” It seems like that year I got a Barbie and some Barbie clothes Mom had sewed along with a few other things I adored and gushed over.
A picture of a birthday cake

Happy Birthday!

Dad documented the day on 8mm film. A trip to the zoo was also part of the day’s celebration. I felt like a princess. That particular birthday along with other family event he recently transferred to CD for the family’s viewing pleasure. What a wonder-filled time of life that was.

I used to anticipate birthdays with pleasure and excitement. Not so much in the past few years. At a certain point getting older feels like less of a bonus and more of a deficit  It’s better than the alternative though, right? I should probably change my attitude.
It embarrasses me when I’m the center of attention. At the same time being recognized, wished happiness, gifted or wined and dined has its perks. What a conundrum!
As a way to address my desire for a better birthday attitude I looked up a few of birthday jokes:
An old lady was being interviewed by reporters on the occasion of her 110th birthday.  “What do you think is the reason for your long life?” they asked her.  “Oh,” she replied, “I suppose it’s because I was born such a long time ago.”
 
Q:  What do you always get on your birthday?
  
A:  Another year older!
Some employees bought their boss a gift for his birthday. Before opening the gift, the boss shook it slightly, and noticed that it was wet in the corner. Touching his finger to the wet spot and tasting it, he asked, “A bottle of wine?”
His employees replied, “No.”
Again, he touched his finger to the box and tasted the liquid. “A bottle of scotch?”
His employees replied again, “No.”
Finally the boss asked, “I give up. What is it?”
His workers responded, “A puppy.”
 I thought those were good for a few laughs!
Seriously, I think this quote best captures how I’m feeling this year on the anniversary of the day my mother labored to bring me into this world:
“Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it has given me me . It has provided time and experience and failures and triumphs and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. I have an organic life, finally, not necessarily the one people imagined for me, or tried to get me to have. I have the life I longed for. I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I would be.”
present | the both and | shorts and longs | ju...

(Photo credit: shorts and longs)

Time and Age have gifted me something rare and unique;  they have made me into the woman who writes, laughs, loves, rolls with the punches, loses her temper occasionally, wonders about life, feels grateful, shares what she can and revels in living.

Although far from finished and perfected, the person I am today is “just what I always wanted!”
Categories: Gratitude, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Six Things I Learned (or Relearned) Recently

You know those moments when the lightbulb goes on over your head? Or maybe it’s not a lightbulb. For me it’s more like this sensation of balance, like everything, just for a moment, is just right. Fleeting and tenuous, those bubbles of perfection or insight can disappear without even registering on our consciousness.

idea

idea (Photo credit: Tony Dowler)

I’ve had it happen several times lately. In an effort not to forget the moment, the cogs all clicking into place, the wholeness of the idea, I’m putting them into words.

1. I need to spend time outdoors more often!

Hopped on my bike a couple of days ago after work to ride home, the temperature somewhere in the 100’s, and my body just synced with the wheels turning. I felt pleasantly warm, at peace, free. I reveled in the feeling of the ride even in the blaze of the early evening sun.

2. I want more fresh air in my days.

Stepped outside this morning to a pleasant cool, (yes, cool) breeze. A couple of hummingbirds are chittering and playing tag. The leaves on the tree shush and wave. The air hasn’t heated up yet. A young adult walks past with a lilt in his step and singing aloud along with his tunes. I could have missed this if I hadn’t been planning on a walk.

3. I need to think a few seconds longer before engaging the gears on my mouth!

Started telling someone about a negative experience I’d had, meaning only to skim the surface of the story, leave out details, gloss over the bad stuff. Instead I find myself dragging out every dumb detail and spilling my guts. Ugh! I didn’t want to relive it all, didn’t want it out there in the air. At once time I kept myself so restrained. What’s the deal? I’ve swung to the other side of the pendulum, blab, blab, blab, blab, blab. Shudder!!  Think first, speak last!

4. Be careful what you wish for, pray for, hope for, because you just might get it.

I had been wanting more alone time, quiet, peace, silence. Not for necessarily selfish reasons, but wanting to write more, connect with the deeper, more significant parts of my life without interruption. Now I’m on the verge of a completely empty nest. Sigh…Sure there’s some great things about that. I can see some downside to it, too. It’s gonna take some adjusting.

Bronze figures, Fleetwood, Lancs

Bronze figures, Fleetwood, Lancs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. Say goodbye like it’s gonna be a while until you see them.

You never know if it will be the last time in a long time, or the last time, period. “Goodnight.” “See ya’ in a few.” “Talk to you next week.” Maybe the morning isn’t like every other morning. Maybe the quick trip to the store has a horrendous detour. Maybe next week doesn’t arrive for them. I don’t want to wish I’d said “I love you,” I’m just going to make sure I do, so I’ll know I did.

6. Honesty is easier.

Sure it might be more painful, more direct, ruffle some feathers or strain relationships, but it’s always the better choice. We all need a little thicker skin, to take offense less easily, to cut each other some slack. I know I do anyway.

That’s all. Nothing earthshaking in my little learning curve. Just reminders that I needed.

Any lightbulbs in your life lately?

Categories: Wondering | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Few Fun Words to Play With

Snickerdoodles and Chocolate Chips

Snickerdoodles and Chocolate Chips (Photo credit: jeffsmallwood)

In all my reading I often run across some new word that catches me unaware. I used to write the word down and look it up later. Now that I listen to books, instead of reading the hard copy version, it’s trickier to catch the unfamiliar word. It’s not as easy to stop and reread the word, or capture it for later look ups. So I haven’t been picking up new ones as well as I’d like.

I do have a few lists around with words I’ve found over the years. Some of them are “old-fashioned” words that are seldom heard, but ought to be used more. Some are nonsense words like those often created delights hidden in the writings of  Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein or Lewis Carroll.

This short list isn’t so much new words as it’s words I like the sound of. The way they bounce off your tongue, or imitate the thing that they are makes them especially appealing. Sometimes it’s a word I’ve heard often enough but was uncertain of the definition.

They’re easier to appreciate if you say them out loud.

Humdinger –  somebody or something exceptional

Snog – to kiss (doesn’t sound all that wonderful, does it?)

Snickerdoodle – a crisp cookie with sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top

Scooch – moving a small amount or distance

Smooch – kiss (this version sounds much more inviting)

Diddle – to cheat, swindle or hoax “hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon, the little dog laughed to see such a sight and the dish ran away with the spoon.”

Dillydally – to waste time by loitering or procrastinating

Chortle – a breathy, gleeful laugh

Scrumptious – splendid and delectable, like a snicker doodle

Bumptious – noisily self-assertive

Do you have any favorite words? How about a new word you’ve heard recently? Please share if you do!

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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