growing pains...

>> January 22, 2009

Life is busy. Crazy busy.

At least my life is. (This is Sarah blogging here.) And in the past few months I've been slowly and reluctantly realizing something about myself.

I've plateaued. I've kinda quit learning new stuff. Aaaargh!

You have to understand - I'm a nerd. My whole life, I always LOVED school. Every term, I got this weird thrill from cracking open brand new textbooks and wondering what amazing things I was going to learn THIS time around. (In elementary school, I would flip immediately to the very back of the book, stare in awe at how advanced the assignments were, and run to my mother in tearful panic about how I'd never be able to learn it all. I did this every single semester. But I digress.)

So when I finished grad school a few years ago, my brain took a self-imposed and well-deserved break from learning. I didn't read books. I didn't listen to language tapes. I didn't practice musical instruments. I literally went into this mental hibernation zone.

And last autumn, I realized that I've been avoiding learning ever since. Of course, I've had to process at my job and figure out how to drive around new towns. But does that really count?

I feel the results, too. My memory ain't what it used to be. I forget where I put things, and can't recall phone numbers. Last November I went back to Russia (where I lived as a missionary kid in my teens), and this language that I used to speak sounded so familiar - but I couldn't remember what the words meant.

I'm thinking I need a new plan. Life has this way of running away with me, and I'm beginning to miss the joy of learning. Of self-expansion. Of challenging my brain to be sharper and more attentive. Of pushing past the status quo.

My solution:
- replaced the magazines by the toilet with a brain teaser book
- switched out some of my funkier music for the classical I used to listen to when studying violin a couple of decades ago (it really does stimulate the brain!)
- we designated one night a week as TV night, and now the rest are for reading/games/relaxation or other pursuits
- pulled out my needlework basket
- bought a set of colored pencils (i used to love coloring detailed pictures), but haven't found any great coloring books yet, so maybe that doesn't count...

I'm still thinking about what else I can do... maybe take a painting class? (I totally stink at painting and drawing, but maybe I could learn.) Maybe I'll attend that rag quilt workshop at the church. Maybe I'll get some Italian language CDs and play them while cooking - I've always wanted to learn a little Italian. (Prooowwww!)

What do you do to keep growing? Do you read? Do you take crafts classes? Are you in a book club or something similar? Do you practice an instrument? Teach a course?

How are you expanding the noggin God gave you?

4 comments:

Lily January 22, 2009 at 11:16 PM  

Good question. Lately I've been feeling like my brain was turning into day-old oatmeal. Mushy, but crusty on the outside. Eww... Not much getting in there lately. I've been thinking of going back to school in the fall-- just one class at first, just to get the synapses firing again.

Sandra January 23, 2009 at 9:38 AM  

I also have been missing school since finishing grad school in 2007. I keep reading, researching and thinking through things for my blog. I'm also teaching our 3 yo Spanish, which I've never been good (don't tell him that yet though!)

LeadHership: January 23, 2009 at 3:55 PM  

CROSSWORD PUZZLES. Been doing them since I was a tween. Whenever I complete one & see all the boxes filled in w/ letters, I feel like I just did my brain a huge favor.

spo January 28, 2009 at 2:55 PM  

The local high schools offer an array of adult courses at night as a way to help people get to know each other better. Last semester I took a class in cake decorating, and this semester I am thinking of doing Karate (always wanted to take Karate).

I also try to read as much as I can. Even trashy novels count because I think they help with my writing.

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