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Lifelong Learning

July 22nd, 2011

I’ve always enjoyed learning. I didn’t even mind school (except for the part about getting up early), and I went right from undergraduate studies to grad school. I had a master’s degree by the time I was 23, and I was the first person in my immediate family to attend college.

But then life and career got in the way, and I spent 25 years building a business with only occasional bouts of “class taking.” Most of the formal learning for me during that period was in the form of workshops or daylong intensives, on topics related to business or the advertising/design industry that I was a part of. The notable exception was the month I took off to receive training at Living Light Culinary Institute. It was an indulgence I thoroughly enjoyed, even though I continued to work on my design business in the evenings, after eight hours (or more) of class time.

When I was setting my personal goals earlier this year, I made a commitment—a recommitment, I guess—to learning. I told myself I would take a live class every week, and I have managed to stick to it so far. Many of the courses have directly related to my health and nutrition counseling practice, like the one-hour workshop on pickling I took this week. Others have been more directed toward self-care, such as a five-week class called “Yoga Off the Mat,” while the remaining are general skills-building things, like the free “Going Further With Your iPhone” session that I took at the Apple store.

I confess that there are times I dutifully report to a class or workshop when I really would prefer to be doing something else. Sometimes I sign up for a course only to wish I wasn’t committed. This week is a good example. My friend Jennifer asked me to meet her for a drink the same night as the pickling class, which was being held in a college town 45 minutes away. On a whim, I asked her if she wanted to go, and to my surprise, she said yes. Well, what a bonus that was! We had a full 90 minutes in the car to get caught up on each other’s lives. We both enjoyed the class, and our excursion was much healthier for us than a couple of martinis would have been. A true win/win.

As I look ahead to next week, I have a several things going on, including another freebie class at the computer store and a session on essential oils. What I love about these courses is that I invariably learn something I wasn’t expecting. The pickling class gave me insights into how other presenters give live cooking demonstrations (I do a lot of those in my work). Yoga off the mat covered topics I had not previously considered in the same context as my yoga practice. In short, just as I have never, ever regretted getting up early (think about it: have you ever wished you had not gotten up before the alarm?), I have never regretted taking advantage of a learning opportunity. Some I have enjoyed more than others, but I don’t think there’s been one time that I didn’t leave without some sort of take away (even if it’s “how not to teach a class!”).

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