Updated: Sep 3
...the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught.
From the time we are born, we learn. We learn the names of familiar faces: mommy, daddy...and from that moment on...our curiosity takes hold and learning becomes equivalent to breathing.
The month of September brings school to mind. I loved attending school. I looked forward to selecting composition books and lined notebook paper at the department store. New shoes made me smile. The smell of chalk dust and pencil shavings, and then the fresh air on the playground during recess are still with me. Excitedly I joined friends I hadn't seen in months and shared summer adventures in whispers and giggles. I anticipated meeting new teachers and diving into the next level of reading and writing (math? well, not so much).
(Photo of the K-6th grade Lakeland elementary school I attended in Jermyn.)
And now, decades later, in my mind's eye, I watch Dad carefully cut paper grocery bags to size for wrapping textbooks to protect them from sticky fingers. He would fold the paper so that the grocer's logo would not show, allowing me plenty of unmarked brown paper for doodling. I watch Mom prepare my favorite lunch: a tuna fish sandwich with mayo on toasted wonder bread wrapped in waxed paper and tucked into my lunchbox.
And then there was Junior - Senior High School and following that, Junior College. A secretarial career and the challenges of married life and child-raising followed. In my mid-thirties, I began night classes (at the time, I didn't realize I would be attending college on the ten-year plan while raising a son, keeping house, and working full time) and, at 43 years old, received a Bachelor's degree.
After two decades of marriage, I adjusted and learned how to live independently and painfully learned how to 'start over.' After that, it was courses and training for residential appraiser licensing and certification.
And as retirement rolled on, my plan to write a book came to fruition. Then I learned how to independently publish. This learning came from participating in writing groups, webinars, and online courses during COVID lockdown when ZOOM was the safest, and only, way to socialize.
What was the most challenging learning experience for you? As a teen, was it how to drive a stick shift? As a young adult did balancing a checkbook come easily? Maybe it was surviving your child's 'terrible twos' or their Goth phase in Junior High? Or was it re-entering the job market after years of raising children? For many of us nowadays, we are learning how to be caregivers for parents.
If you could write a letter to your younger self about learning, what would it say?
Life is full of opportunities for learning.
Right now I am watching YouTube videos to learn how to direct a short play I have written. YouTube has millions of viral videos...while these are fun and informative, I'm not suggesting we sit in front of the TV or computer for long periods of time, but it's another way to learn.
What I'm suggesting is, as September unfolds, look for opportunities to learn. Libraries, colleges, and senior centers offer a wide variety of free or mostly free classes. If you enjoy reading, join (or start) a book club. Start a game night and learn new games --- I recently learned Rummikub and it's a whole lot of fun! Organized walks like 'mushroom excursion walks' and 'bird watching' can be great social events. Rather have alone time? Go for a solo hike with the Merlin app and learn to identify those feathered creatures on your favorite trail or in your backyard. And don't discount volunteer work. By volunteering for an organization like Habitat for Humanity, you'll learn how to use tools.
I suppose the gist of this month's post is my challenge to Embrace Learning!
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