Learning for Dummies

 This morning, I was interviewing a guest for my podcast via Skype.  Given the fact that I've had a few calls dropped midstream with Skype, I always go through a "schtick" with my guests before we start the interview, informing them what to do if the call suddenly drops and they hear silence.  My guest, a very funny woman, said  to me, "How do you know how to do all of this stuff?"  Her question gave me pause and I laughingly answered "Dummies books!"

Actually, my response was true.  It also reminded me that only six months ago, the whole prospect of producing a podcast felt beyond my grasp.  I knew the goal I wanted to achieve (hosting a show that would point to great things being done by other moms), but had no idea how to actually pull it off.  Now, I have the ability to record and produce two half hour shows per week.  Granted, I am still a rookie and have a lot left to learn, but I do need to pause and give myself a pat on the back for having the tenacity to even try.

I'm passionate about many things in life, and one of those is learning new stuff.  Whether it's the podcast thing, or something as simple as caring for an orchid properly, I think it's downright fun to master a new concept or skill.  I'm fickle – the things that interest me come and go.  One month, I may be obsessed by learning something new on my computer and the next I'm ready to move on to something entirely different.  It keeps life fun and interesting, but also means that I'm somewhat a "jack of all trades and master of none".  But that's ok!

Some of my favorite tools for learning are free and widely available.  My three most reliable resources are:

The Web – What did I ever do without Google and Wikipedia?  Granted, not everything we read online is 100% true or accurate, but when you've killed three orchids and can't figure out what you're doing wrong, it helps to be able to google "orchid care" and come up with 375,000 results!

The Library – Nothing beats it!  I could spend hours in the stacks of my local library.  I'm like a kid in a candy store there – I've checked out more than my fair share of "Dummies" books, saving a ton of money and grasping several new skills in the process.  To maximize my productivity at the library, I do my searches online at home before going and reserve books to pick up at my local branch.  I always allow myself a little "wandering" time though, to enjoy the sheer pleasure of holding a great book in my hands.

Friends – Want to learn something new?  Go to someone you admire who has that skill and ask for their help.  I am always pleasantly surprised with how generous people can be with their time.  I have a good cyber-buddy who routinely checks in with me to share his technological expertise.  His humble  spirit inspires me to look for ways that I can be of help to others who may need a helping hand.

So just as simply as I learned that over watering will definitely kill an orchid, you too can master something new today.  Think of something that interests you, whether it's a skill or concept, and take one baby-step today towards learning it. 

Life is too short and too sweet not to exercise our intellectual curiosity. 


Lisa Hendey, Catholic wife and mom, is the founder and webmaster of www.CatholicMom.com and the author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul and The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and hosts the Catholic Moments Podcast. Visit her at LisaHendey.com.

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