Tag Archives: adult learner

Made to Measure


Some people are good with rulers. I’m not one of them. My best relationship with a ruler occurred decades ago when we lived in England for a year. Every new entry in every essay book we kept for every subject had to have a perfect line drawn separating it from the entry above, a little the way you use those long black thingies in a check-out line to separate your groceries from those of the person ahead of you. I was good at drawing those lines, once I learned how not to leave long smears of ink from the fountain pens we were required to use.

So the task of creating an arrangement of family photos on our living room wall continues to daunt. Aka frustrate. (Aka madden.)

pics on floor

Because I have to measure. (Not to mention use a level.) I know that in this, the continuation of my second freshman year, I’m supposedly reveling in learning new skills. But precision work like that makes me want to throw things.

You might ask, why, then, am I so interested in learning to quilt? A craft that requires precision at every infinitesimal step? Answer: I’m still in the delusional, what-pretty-fabric stage.

It hasn’t helped my photo project that some of the frames I’m using come from my grandparents’ house and are some sixty fragile years old. Nothing worse than finally getting to the hanging-picture-on-accurately-placed nail moment and having the frame fall apart. (Glass breaks when it hits a wood floor.)

My point (I do have one) is that I’m just not a precision person. The art of eye liner, for instance, continues to elude. One of my uncles (now deceased) a physics teacher at Exeter was probably a precision person. One, at least, of my sons has inherited the gene. And while it’s true we can learn new skills, and especially as we age probably should to stimulate our brains, we can’t become what we’re not. Which I’m always wanting to do. Become the person who’s the life of the party instead of the empress of all introverts. Become the person whose phone vibrates every few minutes because so many friends are texting in (see above). Become, for the moment, anyway, the person to whom marketing oneself comes so naturally that it won’t take longer to write the query letter to prospective literary agents than it did to write the 60,000 word novel.

But–I’m stuck with me. Like it or not. And maybe that’s one of the most basic skills I need to be learning: how to live with what I’ve got.



Stand Up for Yourself

photo (18)


What’s the easiest thing you can do to improve your immediate health and prolong your life?

So easy you can do it while reading, watching TV, surfing the Net, and even eating?

Just stand up.

I thought this was one of James’s flakier ideas, but it seems there’s a lot of medical research to back up the claim, including from the Mayo Clinic. The head of exercise medicine at the Institute of Sport Exercise and Health at University College London, former chief medical officer for the Commonwealth Games, says that 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, of standing up has “the same health benefits as running 10 marathons a year and can extend life by two years” (Daily Telegraph, 10/7/14).

Which would you rather do?

I’m not about to hang up my swim bag, and I’m definitely not suggesting you stop lacing up those walking/jogging/stair stepping shoes. ┬áDoing my laps most weekdays first thing in the morning keeps me sane. I feel better physically and mentally, and not being able to see or hear underwater means I’m forced to get in some meditation time.

photo (19)

Plus the arthritis pool exercisers and a couple of the lifeguards are a hoot to talk to.

But I’m also going to figure out a way to type standing up. Remember those tall desks Dickensian clerks like poor Bob Cratchitt had to stand behind while copying out in longhand those endless documents, back before the invention of the mimeograph machine? I want to find me one of those.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll imitate James and put my laptop on a pile of books.

Isn’t your health worth getting up off your chair for?



My Second Freshman Year!

So, how can a fifty-something mother of three mostly-grown kids, who lives in the rural middle of nowhere as a sometime-hermit, claim this as her “freshman year”?

I mean, didn’t I do that already, many decades and many (geographic) states ago?

Well, yes.


And no.

Decades ago, I pretty much went where I was told and pretty much spent most of my college time either earning the money to be there or adjusting to a culture which was–well–alien.

This time around, I’m choosing for myself: the “where” (here in my fairly isolated mountain cove). And the “what” of my learning (whatever catches my fancy).

The “why?”

I’ve just sent my last child/student off to college after 25 years of homeschooling. So I’m not only an empty-nester, I’m in major career transition.

There are empty rooms in my house (relatively speaking: still a lot of unfolded laundry piled on your bed, daughter). And there’s space in my brain. For the first fall since I was a very young mother of a very wiggly first toddler, I’m not planning curricula, compiling reading lists, creating schedules.

Well. Except mine.

So what’s a second freshman year?

Ah, that’s what this blog is going┬áto explore.

I hope you’ll tag along for the ride.