Why trying new things matters.

Last fall I finally got around to reading The Nightengale. (So good! Highly recommend!) Set in France I quickly found myself drawn to all things French. I signed up for a French food cooking class. I bought books about Paris. I started bugging my husband about taking me to France. ("Think about all of the French wine we can drink!") And I started taking French lessons online.

Have you ever heard someone with an Okie accent speak French? It isn't the prettiest thing you've ever heard. I stick my headphones in during my lesson so I don't have to listen to myself. Right now I'm not confident enough to actually say something out loud. If you asked, "Say something in French!" I would politely respond with a, "non, merci" and try not to blush.

I'm in a constant state of searching for something new. Not a new life. Not a new job. I'm very happy with both of those. I'm defined as a wife and a mother and... well, that's about it. I am honored to hold those two titles, and I take my overlapping jobs seriously


My life is often monotonous. Wake the kids, feed the kids, feed the dogs, make the lunches, start the laundry, all before 8AM. Every day is the same and every single one of those tasks holds value. Yes, these tasks matter, but they are mindless. I don't have to put a lot of thought into them. And doing these mindless tasks day after day after day leaves my brain screaming for attention.

So I search. I search for new things to do, to learn about, to try. I read. I listen to podcasts. I take classes. I find new hobbies. I'm in a constant state of searching for something new. Some people fear trying new things. Others, like me, crave it. I need the benefits that trying new things brings to my life.

A Few of the New Things I've Tried:

  • Took a pottery class. (Made several salsa bowls.)
  • Learned to knit. (I'm good for a long scarf and not much else.)
  • Taught myself how to needlepoint. (My last project took me 10 years to complete. I wish I was kidding.)
  • Learned HTML. (Back in the day when creating your own blog was still a new thing.)
  • Self-published a book. (Because sometimes you have to make your own dreams come true.)
  • Taught myself embroidery. (Made some fun Christmas decorations.)
  • Learned how to make homemade croissants. (Might be the best and most dangerous thing I've learned how to do.)
  • Take cooking classes at Sur La Table whenever I can.
  • Learned how to Stand Up Paddle in the ocean. (One word: seasick.)
  • Re-learned how to snow ski. (Because if you only do it once every 10+ years you go through a re-learning process.)
  • Bought a sewing machine and taught myself how to hem some jeans. (Much harder than it looks.)
  • Currently learning French. (Oui.)

Trying new things isn't always successful. I might discover I don't like something. I might find that no matter how hard I try I will never be good at it. But I never regret trying. It is never time wasted. So here are my reasons why I suggest you should step out try new things:

  1. It gives you something new to talk about at parties. Or anywhere really. I get tired of always talking about the same subjects and talking about today's politics and whatever the latest sh*t show is on the news tends to bring everyone down. When you are learning about something new you are exposed to new ideas. Whenever I'm exposed to new things I can't wait to share my new knowledge with someone, to talk about it, to share what I've learned

  2. It brings fresh energy into your life. Trying new things creates a spark. It gives us something to be excited about. Something to look forward to. New things bring optimism and positive energy into our lives. In our current world, filled with lots of negativity, it is important for us to find things that bring joy into our lives, things that we love to do. When you need something positive to focus on, trying something new is a great way to make that happen.
  3. It might expose you to different people or cultures. Immersing myself in all things French has exposed me to a whole new culture. It has gotten me out of my bubble and into a world that is much bigger than the simple suburb that I live in. And a few years ago when I took a pottery class, I met a bunch of new people that I wouldn't have met otherwise. Exposing yourself to different cultures and different people helps you to have a better understanding of our world.
  4. It boosts your self-confidence. Every time I learn how to do something that I didn't know how to do before, I feel good about myself. You get that "I did it!" fist-pumping feeling. Learning a new skill, no matter how big or how small, makes us proud of ourselves. Conquering something that we were afraid to try, let's say like paddle boarding in the ocean over gigantic wads of aggressive kelp, is a huge boost to your ego. (I know that of which I speak.)

  5. It will help you learn to make mistakes. Rarely can you try something new and instantly be good at it. There are a few exceptions, but most of us aren't genetically blessed with the talent of being good at everything. It is normal to make mistakes, probably lots of them, when you are trying something new. Personally, I have found the more mistakes I make, the more used to it I get. I don't get upset when I fail. I realize that it is part of the process and the more I try, the more normal making mistakes feel.
So step out. Try something new. There's nothing to lose and everything to gain.

And something new to talk about at parties.

Take time to stop and smile at the pumpkins.

Walking into Whole Foods this morning, I stopped to smile at the pumpkins. I'm not ready to buy any, mind you. No. Still a tad too early. I believe that purchasing a pumpkin prior to October 1st is sacrilegious. It's like turning on Christmas lights before Thanksgiving or still having a tree up after New Years. You just don't do it. But I was happy to see the pumpkins nonetheless. Living in a part of the country where one season flows into the next without much change, seeing pumpkins at the grocery store lets us know, "Hey, look! Fall is here!"

Welcome, Fall. I'm so glad you're here.

  • I love the cooler days and wearing long sleeves. Long sleeves and maybe (maybe) a light sweater is as much as you need out here in Sunny CA in the fall. After we moved here we kept our wool sweaters and heavy coats in a bin in the garage...just in case. I finally took them, bin and all, to Goodwill because this is Southern California and you need wool sweaters and heavy coats as much as you need a pumpkin before October 1st (which is not at all.)
  • I love pumpkin patches and cute little kids in costumes. Some of my favorites memories of the boys when they were little was getting them all dressed up in their Halloween costumes and taking their pictures at the local pumpkin patch. They were so cute it hurt. My mom would come with her fancy camera and we'd hand a 2 year old a 10 pound pumpkin to hold and tell him to smile. (Often these excursions would end in tired tears staining the fronts of their precious costumes, but I digress.) My boys no longer dress up for Halloween. You'd think I'd be sad, but I'm not. I have the cute little pumpkin patch pictures of what used to be and that's all I'll need to keep me warm in the nursing home one day.
  • I love those Brach's pumpkin shaped candy corns (do those things have a name?) that I pretend not to eat. I saw a bag of them in Target last week. I sped up like an Olympic mall walker and spoke out loud to the Target Gods or anyone else in the store who was listening, "I will NOT buy them yet and you CAN'T make me!" When I do eventually buy them, and I will, they will not be displayed in a cute candy dish on the counter for all to see and enjoy. No. They will be quietly stashed away at the top of a cabinet so no one else can enjoy them but me. In the fall my inner only child rears her ugly, selfish little head and refuses to share her no-name pumpkin candy corn candy.
  • I love thinking about how the holidays will be here soon, but how they are still being far enough away so I don't have to actually do anything for the holidays yet. I love that it is still this distant thing with plenty of time left to procrastinate, that I can think about things I need to buy or make or decorate but not feel the pressure to actually DO any of those things yet.
  • I love making apple bread and apple butter (to be eaten separately, not together.) They make your house smell like Fall the way God intended, with clove and cinnamon and sweetness. I made two loaves of apple bread last week with every intention of sharing one with someone, a friend or maybe a neighbor. Nope. Ate them both ALL BY MYSELF. Because I'm talented like that.
  • I love watching college football every Saturday and having an excuse to make chili or stew in the Crock Pot. Instead of sleeping in on Saturday mornings, I get up early to watch ESPN's College Gameday ("Yeah...we're coming...to your citay!") I could be resting, catching up on my beauty sleep, but no. I don't need more sleep. I need to feel the energy of game day. I have said it a thousand times and probably will a thousand more: the thing I miss most about living in Oklahoma (specifically Norman) is waking up and feeling the electricity in the air on a college football Saturday. It's real, people. Those of you who live or lived in Norman are nodding your heads because you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. ESPN's College Gameday is a poor substitute, but's it's all I've got.
Oh, Fall. What's not to love?

Why I Need to Start Planning for Long-Term Care

On the way to school yesterday...

Youngest Son: Mom, how old are you?

Me: I'm 44.

YS: So you're almost 50. That means you're halfway there.

Me: Halfway to what?

YS: Halfway to 100 years old.

Me: You think I will live to be 100?

YS: No. You'll probably live to be around 91 or 92 or something like that.

Me: Well that's still pretty old. Are you going to take care of me in my old age?

YS: No.

Me: No? You won't take care of me?

YS: Mom. I'm going to be busy doing my own thing.

Me: Oh really? You know, you'll be in your 60's by then. You think you're going to be too busy to take care of your dear old mom?

YS: (Sighing. Exasperated.) Yes, Mom. I'll be busy doing my own thing.

Me: Okay... I'll remember that.

Long pause and the car gets quiet as my emotions vacillate between wanting to crack up and being scared for my future. The conversation resumes...

YS: Mom, can we sell those games I want to get rid of on eBay tonight? Please? Will you help me?

Me: Sorry. I'll be too busy doing my own thing.

YS: Fine, Mom. I'll take care of you when you're old. (This kid can change his mind/attitude/emotions on a dime!)

Me: Oh! (Laughing.) Now you change your tune!

YS: Well...yeah...I mean only a horrible son wouldn't take care of his mom when she's really old.

Me: Yes, a horrible son indeed. Well. (Arriving at the school.) Well have a good day. Go do your own thing.

YS: Really, Mom?

Yes, REALLY! I see how it's going to be. Depending on how valuable I am at the time, my precious Youngest Son will decide whether or not he has time to take care of me in my really old age. Thank goodness I have another child who might not be as busy (insert eye roll here) and maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll have a couple of daughters-in-law that like me enough to put me in a nice home. Total. Crapshoot.

Go ahead and start praying for me now.