Learning New Things in the New Year

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t believe in starting over or changing overnight. But like most people, as the new year approaches, I reflect on where I’ve been and where I want to go. My 50th birthday is coming up in March, so 2015 has a monumental feel. I’ve been an adult for decades, but it’s amazing how often I don’t feel like one. And at the same time, I look ahead and realize my limited time on this planet is running its course. I haven’t got forever, and there’s so much I want to do.

One of my friends who will also be fifty this year has decided to work through her struggles with aging by challenging herself to avoid habit and ruts. She’s going to do fifty new things this year, including traveling to new places and trying new activities. Some of her plans are big, like visiting foreign countries, and others are small, like learning a new knitting stitch.

My first choice for travel overseas? Scotland. Yes, I've already been there.
My first choice for travel overseas? Scotland. Yes, I’ve already been there.

I’m not up for fitting fifty new things into a single year. I’m not very comfortable with new. Given a choice, I will pick the familiar activity, the same old restaurant, the same route to the store. But I know my friend is right. One of the things we need to do to stay healthy as we age is keep active and to engage in new activities.

My solution? I will spend time on four new activities this year, taking lessons, practicing, whatever I need to do to develop better skills in these areas. Two I’ve never done before, so part of the experiment is to find out if I enjoy them at all.

Drawing: I’ve signed up for an online drawing class that starts on January 2nd. Despite my fear, I hope the class will inspire me to draw regularly, because I know the real key to improving is lots of practice.

Agility Training: Our minature poodle Dory is an active little dog. She can jump like you wouldn’t believe. When we took obedience classes, I intended to move on to the next level, with the goal of getting into agility training to see if I could do it and if she liked it. But my poor health and other obstacles got in the way. Checking the class schedule and signing up to refresh her obedience training will be my first step.

Zumba exercise classes: Our gym offers these dance classes. I have been looking for a way to get more exercise and I love to dance. But I’ve been afraid to try a class. This is my year to go to classes and see if I like it or not.

Canoeing lessons: We have a canoe and a two-man inflatable kayak. Kurt talks constantly of wanting to get out on the water more, and I am always hesitant because I am so unsure about my skills. This year, I’ll take lessons so I can learn how to maneuver. I’ll bet we get more time in boating after I do.

Photo by Mike Casey
Photo by Mike Casey

I now feel like I have dug the pit and jumped in. Writing these things down in black-and-white makes them real. A famous Harvard study shows that people who write down their goals are much more likely to accomplish them, and my experience with goal-setting proves it. Even if I don’t get things done in the time frame I imagined, I follow through on the goals I’ve written down and get much more done on them than ever before.

Here’s to 2015, My Year of Learning.

What new things are you hoping to do this year?

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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

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