We were simply talking to each other about our reflections on the past year - both personal milestones and otherwise. I reflected on the true birth of my writing career and the growth of my children (especially the change of my daughter from a newborn to a walking, talking toddler), while he related some of his own personal successes.
Then he asked me an interesting question. What will you learn this year?
I didn’t really know what he meant by that, so I asked him to elaborate a bit. He told me that each year, he chooses a particular skill that he wants to learn and devotes an hour a day minimum to learning it at an adequate level, with a goal of devoting at least 500 hours to the skill over the course of a year.I was struck by the question, "What will you learn this year?" because this is a philosophy I have always had, but I had never formally voiced it to anyone. I love to learn new things and I enjoy the process of attaining a new skill. Unlike Trent's friend, I don't guarantee a set amount of time will be spent on my knowledge acquisition, I just let my level of obsession with the topic guide me. Over the years, I have allocated large amounts of time to the pursuit of knowledge on a wide variety of topics.
For several years I was obsessed with all things related to outdoor gardening - I would spend months at a time focused on specific subcategories like shade gardening, xeriscaping, native plant gardening, hostas, daylilies, irises and hummingbird gardens, to name a few. I even worked for a friend's landscaping company for a few years (in addition to my regular teaching job). I can still rattle off the Latin name for many common garden plants, shrubs and trees. (The photo to the left is a small portion of my shade garden - some of the hostas I collect can be seen.)
My biggest obsession to date has been with sewing - big surprise, eh? Although I began sewing in my late teens, I was never truly interested in the technical aspects until recently. Over the last four years, I have read about every nuance of garment sewing and with hands-on practice, I have become a skilled seamstress. (To the right is a sewing wordle that I created based on my blog - give it a try, it's totally addictive).
After reading Trent's post, I realized that I haven't focused on a new skill in a while. So, the beginning of 2009 seemed like a good time to set my mind to a challenge. I have decided to relearn calculus. I always loved calculus in university, but without practice for the last 12 years, I have lost my abilities. I have already made it through chapter one in my calculus book and I hope to complete one chapter per week until I am finished the book. The book has 40 chapters, so even if I lag a bit, I should still finish by year's end.
So, dear reader, what have you always wanted to learn?