Monday, April 19, 2010

Pass It On.....

One of the things I love to do is learn. I love learning all sorts of things like: how to use a table saw, how to knit, how to rock climb, how to play the guitar, how the Constitution of the United States works, etc. Obviously, there are some things I enjoy learning more than others. Take math.... I hate learning math. I'm pretty darn sure that a 3rd grader knows more math than I do. Ask my kids, they will confirm this. I haven't been able to help them with math homework since 2005. But, I know even though I hate it, I'll be taking a math class one of these days, because it's something I really need to conquer -- my fear of long division, and x over y
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(whatever that means.)
And scuba diving, don't get me started. Can I just tell you that learning to scuba was the most terrifying experience I've ever had. Ever. It's a miracle that I certified and lived to tell the tale. I think I could write a book on what not to do when learning to scuba -- because I pretty much did, or saw, everything you were not supposed to do. I saw a woman with bulging eyes because she did not clear her mask properly. Bulging eyes!! It was horrifying. On the last day of our last shore dive, I was so fed up with the whole thing that I got into my car wearing my full scuba gear -- wet suit, hood, weight belt, booties, etc., and drove off. Onlookers laughed and pointed as I peeled out of the parking lot, and so did my roommate Kathy when I arrived at home wearing my scuba attire. And, I must say here that I am so grateful for my scuba instructor. He never gave up on me -- even when I had a panic attack at the bottom of the ocean and nearly choked him to death when it came time to "buddy breathe" -- which means: sharing an air regulator underwater with "your buddy." I did not want to share .... so I choked him. True story.
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As much as I hated learning to scuba, I later discovered that I loved scuba diving .... in warm, clear water.... without a wet suit. Right after I certified, I went diving in the Bahamas. It was one of the most magical experiences of my life. Magical. It was like being in a Jacques Cousteau movie -- or the Little Mermaid, complete with Flounder. As I sat on the bottom of the ocean (at night in total darkness), holding hands with my husband of five whole days, I was so glad that I didn't give up. I would have missed out on an experience of a lifetime. Learning is good, it helps us to grow.
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Last week, Claire and I spent some time together learning. I've discovered that having experiences like this with your children makes a great date. We took a cooking class and learned how to cook Chinese food. Although the class was a little disappointing from my point of view (I was expecting a chef with serious experience cooking Asian food), it was perfect for Claire. The techniques offered were for a beginner and they were not intimidating at all. We had a lot of fun. Now Claire is all fired up to cook a Chinese dinner, which we will do next Sunday. We have it all planned, which is another great thing about learning -- sharing what you know.
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I'm a firm believer that once you master a skill you should pass your torch, and light the spark of someone else. You don't have to have a teaching certificate to do this, nor do you have to be a certain age. We can all share what we know to make the world a better place. Torch bearers do not use their talents to make people feel inferior or stupid, they lift and build those around them. They know a secret: there is enough good to go around. There really is. I am so grateful for the people in my life who have lit the spark within me. There have been many and they are all bright lights.
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Last week, not only did I learn, I had an opportunity to assist a Torch Bearer -- my friend Lilly. She is an expert in the field of cake decorating. I am not an expert, but I know how to make cakes -- so that was my part of holding the torch -- I was was the sous chef. It was fun collaborating with Lilly. She does amazing things with frosting. But even more fun was watching the way she lit the spark of the women who attended the class. Before she began Lilly said "I want you all to leave today thinking: I can do this. I can do this." You can you know -- you can really do this!"
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At the end of our session, there was frosting everywhere, including my hair. But, on each table sat boxes of beautifully decorated cupcakes. Everyone looked pleased. As the women left, I heard many say "I can't wait to go home and make these for my family. I had no idea that it would be so easy!" It wasn't easy.... Lilly just has a way of teaching that makes people feel at ease, so that they can learn. She was patient, she was kind, and she was a cheerleader. Torch bearing at it's finest.
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1 comment:

Nanette said...

I decorated a cake once...I took a picture because I don't know if I have what it takes to give it another go. I need to hunt down your friend and beg for lessons.
I love this post.
Lucky for me, my son teaches me something new every single day-he keeps trying to teach me patience but I'm not having it. :)