10 January 2009

Old Dog, New Tricks...

The other day, I read post on the Simple Dollar blog that resonated with me. Trent, the blog master, had a conversation with a friend. Below is an excerpt from the post:
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?

22 comments:

Gwen said...

I am going to learn how to weave. I got a floor loom for Christmas and I am so excited to get started!

loopylulu said...

I do this too, try to focus on one new thing to learn each year. Sewing for me is a continuous goal so for me this year it is to strengthen my practice of yoga. Cheers to you for tackling calculus again.

Vicki said...

Thought provoking post. I have not really make a lot of jackets, certainly not tailored ones. Perhaps if I spent an hour a day on the task I should be an "expert" by year end. Have fun with the calculus!

Toby Wollin said...

I'm going to start Spanish this year and I've also been working on Access 2007. We are using it more and more at work and I hate being one of those people who has to say, "No, I don't do that".

Mardel said...

This year it is my sewing skills, actual skills, as opposed to knowledge and virtual skills. My goal is to get back to sewing proficiency. Other than the gardens need to be rebuilt, I have plans that require some carpentry skills to be learned, and for the first time I have to dig and build flower beds for sunny gardens, something I have never had. I think there will be many learning opportunities this year.

Summerset said...

Hmmm. Well, it *won't* be calculus. I've done my two semesters and then when I was done found out I didn't need it! UGH. I'm not sure, it would probaby be fiber related in someway. Learning Spanish better would probably be a good idea.

Lindsay T said...

Me too, I want to learn espanol. I'm pretty sure I'm going to take a crochet class in March. And I'd love to really learn Photoshop and web design.

Sewfast said...

I have a beautiful guitar sitting in the corner of my living room that I have wanted to learn to play FOREVER! Your post is a good old fashioned kick in the pants to get started! Thanks! Mary

Barbara at Cat Fur Studio said...

To deliberately set out to learn something new -- a good thought. The wordle is a lot of fun, too. Thanks.

The J said...

Business. As in run-my-own. I've been dabbling a couple of years and it's finally sunk in that I need to dive in or not do it at all - at least the lure of doing it successfully has eclipsed the distaste for the words "marketing" and "financial" :P.

Sew Passionista said...

Shannon,What a great philosophy! When I turned 60 this year, I decide I wanted to learn something new. I decide it would be blogging. When I started, I didn't even know how to get my pictures up on my computer.
Now I'm no expert, but I have learned so much and I even find that my memory has improved since I started this. I still have a lot to learn,so in 2009 I will continue this and enjoy every minute.journey.

Anonymous said...

What a great question! I, too, realized that I purposefully learn something new/acquire new skills each year, but I have never started with that simple question. Last year it was cooking proficiency in my outdoor woodburning oven, the two years before I designed our mediterranean terraced organic garden and then managed installation of the hardscape and the outdoor kitchen/woodburning oven and acquired and planted almost everything myself (big two year job), the year before it was jewelry making. This year there is a clear focus on sewing. Next week I begin a class on couture sewing techniques (3 hours of class time and 2 to 3 hours of required lab time)at a nearby college. The semester runs January through the end of May. I am so excited about it; I am going to love the homework!! Linda

angie.a said...

I'm with Summerset...it definitely won't be Calculus!! SO like you to wan to learn math, hahaha!!!

I want to learn the fiddle. I don't even have one, but that's just a minor setback. My dad does have 2 banjo's and I wouldn't mind that either. Maybe I'll start with that!

Jessica said...

I've tossed around the idea of relearning calculus, organic chemistry or physics (didn't really learn that one the first time). However I really need to locate an answer book to my texts before I start. I read that article too and decided that guitar would be my thing for this year. I put it down five years ago when I was 6 months pregnant and haven't picked it up since.
I'm not starting out with an hour a day. That just hurts too much. Once the calluses are back though I will be committing to an hour most days. Allowing room for missing a day here and there will help me not feel like a failure and quit.
I will be working on sewing and yoga too but those somehow are different. Guitar is the one to really work at learning.

Anonymous said...

Your post really registered with me. For years I've wanted to learn to knit but haven't. I read your post, scheduled a series of knitting lessons, and began on Monday. I'm loving it! I've decided to knit each morning and evening for about an hour. That schedule has worked well for me with past learning endeavors. Thanks so much!

Teddylyn said...

I read your post the first day it was up...and I've been thinking about this for quite a while since that day! I am one of the "mature" readers out here, retired from a terrific career as a teacher/administrator in public education. I believe in being a lifetime learner and I read foolishly. But to really seek out something to study, hmmmm. I decided. DH and I are going to Spain and Portugal in May so I am going to begin tomorrow to study Spanish. I know I will not master a language in a few months, but I will be able to ask for a few directions and to be polite to the residents of my host country. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

Lynda in LV

Linda T said...

Calculus--Wow--I'm struggling with learning to knit a pair of socks! but I'm going to finish and WEAR them!

Tany said...

Great post! This may come to you as a surprise, but I always wanted to learn Martial Arts!

Nancy K said...

I have been using your spread sheet this last year, but now how do I list what I bought previously, but sewed this year?

JustMeriMaat said...

This is TOTALLY off topic, but I'm honestly not sure how these things work.

So, here I go: I have nominated you for the "Nice Blog Award" because I enjoy reading your blog now and then.

According to the person who gave me the award, this is how it works...

When given this Award You are expected to:

- Post a picture of the award in your blog
- Link to the blog you received it from
- Give it on to as many blogs you like and link them
- Leave a message so they know they´ve been given the Award

Anyway, clearly tons of people like your blog because you have lots of comments on each of your posts. And you already have a blog award. But, here is another one. I got it from someone in Sweden, and I'm in the USA, so it's going around the world (at least a little bit). :)

The award is yours to do with what you will. Enjoy! :D

Kat said...

Well, definitely not Calculus LOL ;) . But I've always wanted to be my own boss and own my own business. It was official last month so this is THE year. There are no entrepreneurs in my family, but I'm the youngest, the rebel, the risk taker and I intend to go where no family member of mine has gone before! And be successful at it of course. Which is why I'm going back to my computer stuff right now...

Michelle said...

BTW, I hope you don't mind - I saved that 'sewing words/terms' pic in your blog here, blew it up and printed it on nice photo paper and hung it up in my craft room : ) Love it!