Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Teaching an old broad new tricks

Every year in September, when my daughter goes back to school, I get restless. It's not that I want to go back to school (shudder), but I long to learn new things, to have my brain challenged (though perhaps not too much), and to meet new people who share my interests*. (Writing, especially writing from home, about the same thing, month after month, year after year, is lonely and mind numbing.)

So, for several years now, each fall, I have signed up for some sort of adult education class. One year it was jewelery making; another photography; last year it was drawing and bridge. While I haven't made any new friends (sadly), I have learned new skills and/or unmothballed some old ones -- and felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

Typically, I play it safe, picking classes I feel I will be good at, where I'll learn something but won't put too much strain on my brain. (I seriously underestimated the brain power, or memorization and rapid addition and subtraction skills, necessary to play bridge, however, even on the beginner level. Bridge is hard! Though I would love to find a friendly threesome I could play bridge with, preferably of my generation.)

This year, however, I decided to kick things up a notch -- and signed up for Pilates, advanced drawing, and beginner Italian.

Today I had my first Italian class. I really enjoyed it. The instructor is fabulous. But I was embarrassed and frustrated at how tongue-tied I was trying to speak Italian, even the simplest phrases! I was a straight A student in French and Russian! Then I remembered, Italian isn't French, and I'm not 16. (God, old age sucks.) And it's much harder to learn a new language in your 40s than it is in your teens, or even your 20s.

As for Pilates, which I started earlier this month, it's teaching my body a new language.

While I've been a gym rat most of my life, and have worked out with personal trainers, what I like about Pilates is that it combines strength training and flexibility with proper breathing and alignment and coordination (kind of like yoga) -- no deafening music that is de rigueur with spin and aerobic classes; and no flailing around in a classroom with 20 other sweaty women trying to figure out what the heck you are supposed to be doing.

I also really like working out on all the different Stott Pilates machines, many of which wouldn't look out of place in a torture chamber. (Fifty Shades of J.?) Best of all, not only is my body getting a good work out, my brain is, too.

Who says you can't teach an old broad new tricks?

Finally, to nourish my creative side, I'm taking a drawing class, the follow-up to last year's class. Hopefully, I will learn how to draw people and animals this session, two things I've never been good at. And who knows, maybe I'll make a new friend.

So, what classes are you all taking? Anything you'd recommend? (I'm dying to learn how to build furniture, but I don't have the time or patience at present, nor someone to teach me.)

*I am still looking for females to watch Giants and/or Jets games with me -- and go to Mets games with me in the spring.

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