When I was eight I learned how to do origami at the local library during a week long series on paper.
When I was ten years old my mom signed me and my sister Melody up for a Wilton’s cake decorating class at our local Michaels.
When I was twelve my dad asked me to take ballroom dance classes with him at the local senior center.
When I was thirteen he insisted on a hunter’s education class at the sporting good store so I would know how to use a shotgun. Can you imagine how much mortified I was to be in that class? Ugh! You’ve never met someone less inclined to be a hunter… but I took the classes just the same.
Sometimes I liked the classes my parents pushed me into, sometimes I didn’t. But to this day I can fold a paper crane, make royal icing, dance a tango and load, clean and fire a shotgun– all because I was willing to learn. Some of these things have come in handy… some I’ll never use again. The point isn’t that found my calling or even my new favorite hobby, the point is that I learned something new.
I know most of us parents are deep into back to school. We’re packing lunches and organizing backpacks and filling out the mountain of paperwork the school office sends our way. I wonder though, if in all the chaos of making sure our children get the best education, if we sometimes forget about our own. So I thought I’d ask– or maybe challenge you with this question –what are you learning for back to school?
Fall is an awesome time to think about challenging yourself in a new way. Heck, every time of the year is an awesome time for that but since we’re headed into fall let’s go there. I love trying something new and learning something different. About eight years ago I took guitar lessons just so I could learn to play one thing on my brother Ryan’s guitar. My Ode to Joy is pretty terrible but I’m still proud of it. About three months ago I took an online calligraphy class because I’d always wanted to know how. I’ve taken classes on photoshop, blogging, business, and motherhood. Some of them were expensive, some of them were freebies in my community. The point is, you are capable of so many great things! Consider a knitting class, a new language, or line dancing. Try out karate, tap dancing or yoga. Get your scuba certification, your scooter license or just watch a You Tube video about how to properly install a light switch cover (You know what I’m talking about right? Why do they always crack when I screw them on? I probably don’t know my own strength.) Just try! And don’t worry about being perfect. Heck, don’t even worry about being mediocre! The only goal here is learning. Last night Jackson came home from his first day of third grade with bright happy eyes and a blossoming crush on his new teacher. Mommy, my teacher taught us about the word Fail today, do you know what it stands for? He asked me as soon as I walked in the door. And like all dutiful mothers I answered in the negative because it’s not nearly as exciting if mommy already does know. No buddy, what does fail stand for? His grin was huge when he answered, First Attempt in Learning. My eight year old is so right– and his new teacher is clearly a rock star– because it’s impossible to fail at something if you only see it as part of the process of learning something new.
Challenge yourself with a new hobby or skill and you’ll be surprised in all the ways that you grow. Maybe you’ll absolutely love it. Maybe you’ll absolutely hate it… but at least you’ll know. And the next time you’re chatting with friends and someone mentions Irish dancing or model airplanes or macrame you can say, “Oh my goodness, I took a macrame class and it was macro-licious!” Instead of saying “Oh, I’ve always thought about trying that.” I don’t know about you, but in the grand story of my life when I’m ninety seven and my hair is blue and I’m rocking on my front porch in my kaftan and recollecting on my life, I want to be the old woman who remembers all the things I challenged myself with instead of regretting never having taken the chance. xo, Rachel