Remember being a kid and really not wanting to go to school? Or, being in college and skipping class so you could sit outside with your friends under your favorite tree? It’s strange how when we are required to go to school, we don’t really want to go, but after it’s done, sometimes we find ourselves with the serious need to keep learning. I have found myself craving knowledge and having new experiences since I graduated college (in the very old year of 2002) and have tried many classes to satisfy my knowledge craving. On this Self-Care Sunday, let’s talk about ways to get in more learning, but not ever once getting in trouble with the principal or getting called to the office!
I am not a great student. I have a very hard time learning in classroom environments, especially if I’m being made to learn things I really don’t care about. I don’t excel in math at all, so I’m not happy when I’m in classes pertaining to the subject. I also have test anxiety, so exams aren’t really a strong suit. This isn’t to say I didn’t excel in school, but I was never in the Top 10 and certainly didn’t graduate with any sort of honors. I scraped by, and I was okay with it. I think it has something to do with being told what to do, and I have always had a tendency to rebel against authority when people want me to do things. I’ll do them in my own time, but if you want me to do something at the present moment, and I’m not quite up to it yet, it’s not happening.
In my quest for knowledge, I’ve dipped my toes in the water of many different classes: Gender and Sexuality, Broadway musical singing, tap dance and even a regular old choir. These are the kinds of classes I can get behind. If I’m paying for something, I want to get some enjoyment out of it! Perhaps one of the biggest turning points in my life was when I was beginning a spiritual journey to Judaism. I won’t go into my beliefs here, but let’s just say that the road to conversion begins with an 18-week course with a lot of information and all Rabbi’s in Portland and the surrounding areas. It was intense, hard, frustrating and enlightening, and something I’m still following through on, though slowly at this point. However, it showed me that I do have a thirst for knowledge, and I do have the stamina to take a class as long as it’s interesting. I followed that up with a beginning Hebrew class, which was another 15 weeks, and that was hard but satisfying. Some day, I might talk about the desire to convert, but for now, just know, I can read the word “Shalom” in Hebrew and I’m pretty proud of that.
I think we all attend college with the faint idea of what we’re going to do with our lives, and I began my college career as a Theater major. That quickly led to an English major, which then led to a Journalism major, which went back to English. I don’t know how you’re supposed to know what you want to be at 18 because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be until about 36. I suppose the journey has been interesting, and I wouldn’t trade my English degree for anything. But, it wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve really honed in on what I wanted to learn about, and I came around to wanting to be in Women’s Health. I have never wanted to be a nurse or a doctor, but I knew I wanted to do something in the field. One day, I was literally sitting around my house and I thought: “Hey, I could probably be a doula!” and then it all clicked for me. I set out at the beginning of 2016 to take a doula course and see what it was all about, and by the middle of June 2016, I had finished my postpartum doula course. It was about 12 weeks or so of weekly classes. Not only was it weekly, but it was really, really far from my home, and the bus ride was about an hour and a half to get there from work, and about an hour to get home. So, it was hard to get to, but ultimately, I do think it was worth it. I learned so much about sitting in class with other women, and learning what it would take to become a postpartum doula. Ultimately, I’m not sure if that’s the right path for me, so I haven’t pursued my certification in it, but it did open up a world for me that I didn’t know I could be a part of.
Recently, I completed a two-day intense Labor Doula training course, and it was two of the best days of my entire life. They were long days, combined with a long train ride, but so worth every single minute I spent there. I learned so much, again, from sitting with women and talking to each other, and learning what it’s like to be in the birthing experience. I finally felt as though all the learning I had been searching for lead me to that exact time and place. The teacher I had was, actually, my postpartum teacher, so seeing her was familiar and easy and I adored her teaching style. The class was small and everyone participated, which makes it easy to get out of your comfort zone really quick. The days zoomed by in a blur, and I’d never had a learning experience quite as intense. Though it was overwhelming and so much information was thrown at us, I really felt like I could do what would be asked of me.
Even though the class is over, I’m still learning. I’m learning every day as I read more books, and take more tests, and I’m learning that it is good to be patient and not to rush. I’m also readying myself to help a beautiful friend usher her baby into the world next month, and though I’m terrified, I’m honored she has asked me to do this. I’m also curious to see if, in reality, this will be what I end up doing with my life. Who can really say? But, the idea, for me, is to keep learning. I don’t think the need for knowledge ever ends, and we here at Cushy are all big advocates for lifelong learning, so I don’t regret taking classes for things that I might not ever pursue. I use the knowledge I’ve gotten, from all of the classes I’ve taken, and in some way, I put it to use. I hope the doula teachings stick, and I hope that I can be around to help those families with their births, but if I only help with one friend, I think I’ll be satisfied. At least, I hope so.
What will you do to continue your life-long learning? You can do this any time, and not just on Sundays! Perhaps there’s a class you’ve always wanted to take? Maybe there’s a knitting class you’ve been dying to try but are afraid? What about a dance class, or even a yoga class you were interested in? Don’t let things stop you for fear you might not be good at them, or that you might not utilize the information you’ve been given. After all, you won’t know if you don’t like it until you try it. So, think about what you want to learn about, and go after it! Even at the age of 38, I’m wondering what my next learning adventure could be. And, I have to say, it’s pretty exciting!