Keep Learning – Keep Growing
There is nothing in the world worse than personal and spiritual stagnation. We, as humans, were designed to continue growing, whether physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. To quit growing means that we are dead, or in the process of dying. That is a thought that I just can’t stand to consider. Here on the farm, I am forced so many times to learn something new – whether dealing with livestock that is having health issues, a garden that just won’t produce well, or tackling the constant litany of repairs and how to do them right. And then, Nature gives you another little shove.
Right now, we are besieged with heavy winds and rains, to the point where many of our surrounding areas are tormented with flooding. Our nearest small town is currently landlocked, and if we headed in any other direction, we wouldn’t be able to make it but a few miles before we would face water racing over the roads. And this will be our situation for the next few days. As adverse as I am to cleaning house, I can only do so much housework before I go crazy. Instead of looking at this with a grumpy attitude, I choose to see it as a challenge to learn something new.
For Christmas, The Country Boy was kind enough to build three rug looms – one for me, one for Lorea, and one for Kathleen. This loom is adjustable, and we can make rugs, placemats and a runner, all on the same loom. On a quiet Saturday several weeks ago, Lorea and I decided to tackle learning how to use it. Yesterday, while stuck inside, I finally finished the rug, tackling the ‘finishing off’ portion with a few grunts, frustrations and determination. The determination came in because I really wanted to move forward and try my hand at placemats.
As I am the one who usually has several creative irons in the same fire, I also wanted to finish another project on my floor loom, and am curious to try another ‘new’ technique: tying on to the current warp after this project is finished, to roll on a second project in a different color, thereby not having to dent and heddle the loom again. I also have a knitting and crochet project sitting close by, and a Bible study I am working on, so boredom won’t come into the picture this weekend.
When I hear people talk about being bored, it makes me wonder. For a few hours, or even a day, boredom isn’t such a bad thing. It’s an opportunity to rest your weary bones, and rejuvenate your mental health. Longer than that, though, I can only wonder just how much laziness is involved. If you are bored for any length of time, maybe it’s time to stretch your wings.
We as humans should constantly be in a state of learning. It is how we grow and make a better life for ourselves. As with a child, when his body starts stretching in an upward growth pattern, you will most definitely experience some growing pains and stir up the dust bunnies by stretching your mind. There will be uncertainty. Mistakes. Failures. And plenty of returns to the instruction page. But when the dust settles, you will be able to add to your life’s resume in a positive manner.
Ask Yourself ‘What’?
Not sure what to learn? The first question you should ask yourself is, what interests you? For the cook/baker/chef, go ahead and tackle that new recipe you have been wanting to try. I spent several weeks housesitting years ago, and had to stay in residence. I had always wanted to learn how to make a soufflé. So I tackled it. 12 dozen eggs later, I finally made one that didn’t fall, and that I couldn’t use as building material. Would I ever do it again? Only if someone extremely special to me asked. And I don’t think Jesus cares if I make Him a soufflé or not.
Are you interested in history? Take a tour through your local museum. Choose one venue, and go to the library and read everything you can find about the subject. Look for local groups or people who would have knowledge. Ask them if they would be willing to talk to you. If they say ‘yes’, then bake (or buy) some cookies and head over to a prearranged meeting place. (It isn’t wise to meet strangers in their home or yours. Choose a public location for at least the first meeting, and until you are absolutely sure of your safety.) We have wonderful plantation homes within an hour’s drive, and I can’t tell you how many times I have visited them. It’s where I learned the history of The Stranger’s Room, and find that aspect of our Southern Plantations absolutely fascinating.
It was on one of these Plantation tours that my love for fiber arts ignited. The Weaving Room at Melrose holds an old loom, and it was love at first sight. Since then my heart has stretched to include most fiber arts, and I am still learning how to knit and crochet. Do you love the feel of yarn or fiber running through your fingers? Find a pair of knitting needles, a bit of yarn, and get clicking.
Got a new Bible study? This is a perfect time to do more than a surface reading. You can really dig deep, and research a bit more than normal. Go past the study – check on the study guide, read the explanations, follow up on the other referenced verses.
Learn a New Skill – or – Improve One You Already Have
The Country Boy considers himself a wood butcher, not a carpenter. But his desire for perfection makes him an ideal candidate for building some of my crazy projects. With each one, he learns a little more, and uses that knowledge to apply to the next one. Right now, he is fighting, trying to get out of building me yet another loom – but since I love learning and really want that loom, I will ‘gently’ keep encouraging him until I get my way! Still, by being out there with him, I am learning another new skill, and learning how to handle various tools. I now know ten different uses for pliers, hammers, wrenches and grinders, so be afraid. Be very afraid of a Farm Wife bearing tools!
Speaking of which, ask yourself, “What do I depend on my spouse to do, that I can’t do for myself?” I have an independent streak a mile wide, so if something comes up that I have to have the Country Boy do, then I go with him, pay close attention, and then work towards being able to do it myself. Except for today. Our generator just quit, and I’d rather not get in his way so we can have some semblance of power while the electric company works to restore it. But after the rain….
The Mother of Invention
Necessity is truly the mother of invention, so on one of those rainy days, look around the house and see what needs fixing or changing. Then look around to see what you have that can do the job. If it’s a loose plug, take the time to figure out how to turn off the power before repairing it. Then get a book that shows you step by step how to do it. Do your cabinets need organizing? Find baskets that will fit to store the small stuff, and jars with lids to store the dry goods. Get some chalkboard paint and design labels on them. Not only will your cabinets be clean, but they will also look fashionably fun.
No matter what you choose to do, just don’t stop learning. Don’t allow the excuse of age, lack of income, or too much television to get in your way. Take a leap of faith in yourself; make room for mistakes; and get busy. And if you will excuse me, I have a loom to build. Much to the chagrin of The Country Boy, but he already knows he lives with a very determined woman!