Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Never Stop Learning

Just about everyone from my graduating class has winded down their job searches and landed that entry level position. I, on the other hand, got married and moved down to Florida. I'm ready to move on with my life and start my career once we've settled down into our new home (wherever that might be.) Without a job, I'm left with a lot of free time and it's slowly driving me insane because playing The Sims 4 can only get you so far in life. 

I've realized that if I were back in college right now I'd be in class, discussing last night's reading, and probably getting ready to write a midterm paper. As stressful as that sounds, I miss assigned reading and discussion. I want to be able to keep my brain active and learn something new, not because it's a requirement for my major, but because I truly want to learn the material. So here are 10 ways to keep your brain learning and active so that it doesn't turn into a Florida swamp.

1. Read // When I majored in English I was asked about my opinion or interpretation of a plethora of books I'd never read. Each time I'd have to answer with "I have yet to read that book, but I have been meaning to." Now's the time to read the books you've been putting off. Pick up classics, poetry, biographies, fiction, how-tos, non-fiction, histories, mysteries, and maybe even some Irish literature (I'm a little biased), or anything you can get your hands on. If what you're reading inspires you and has you asking bigger questions, you've picked a good book. In the future, I may just join a book club, but for now my goal is to read 50 pages a day.

       [via]                                              [via]                                                  [via]

2. Documentaries // I'm a self-proclaimed Netflix documentary binger lover. In my last semester of college, I  spent my weeknights either going out, working on my thesis, or watching documentaries with Danny and a bottle of wine. I never thought I could get so excited about documentaries, but it turns out I was laughing, learning, and crying along with these films. Three documentaries I recommend and can say I definitely walked away learning something new are Terms and Conditions May ApplyIt's A Girland Secrets: Richard III Revealed.

A postcard I received in 2012 from a woman in France

3. Languages // I began learning French in Kindergarten in an Immersion program. I continued learning the language up until my sophomore year of college. I may have retained some fluency throughout the years, but my grammar is appalling. In college I visited my professor on Tuesdays to go over verb tenses and it really helped in the end. I can still go that extra mile now by playing Duolingo, watching French films (with French subtitles because reading subtitles in English won't help me) and writing to French pen pals from Postcrossing or with the friends I made at college who won't have any problem pointing out how bad I am at writing. I may use the Rosetta Stone-like program the Navy provides to learn a new language like Spanish, Japanese, or Arabic.

4. Computer Literacy // I know how a computer works. I took keyboarding in high school, I can use Microsoft Office, I know what do with most Adobe products, I took advanced computers in college and I can design a website and a database. But when was the last time I revisited those skills? I probably can't type as fast anymore, Photoshop and Microsoft Office have since updated, and I cannot for the life of me remember how to code. I need to keep these skills fresh and take a course and dive more in depth into a program or even learn web design fully. Gerred's offered me a few books he still has from USNA on C++ and I may enroll in one of these classes: Treehouse,, Learn to Code HTML and CSS, Codecademy, or Mozilla Developer Network.


5. Fleet and Family Classes // I always pass the Fleet and Family Services sign on my way to the gym on base. I see they offer tons of classes and plan to attend a few myself such as Holiday Spending and How to Move since both of these are coming up.


6. Fitness Classes // I love taking a variety of fitness classes. On Thursdays, I like to go to Spinning class at the gym, but I've noticed there are a few other classes out in town I'd like to give a try. Pure Pilates in Downtown Pensacola offers one free session for your first class. Gerred and I are thinking of just trying it out for a day. I've also heard a lot of buzz about Purre Barre. There's one coming soon to Pensacola, but it won't be built until after I'm long gone. I do plan on trying this at least once to get a feel for what it is. I'm most excited to try a running form clinic. I know Running Wild offers them every 4th Thursday. I would love to work on proper running technique someday.


7. Museums and Tours // There's no greater way to discover a place than learning it's history and culture. In the remaining time I have in Pensacola, I would like to visit the Pensacola Museum of Art, Pensacola Mess Hall (Is this for kids? Possibly. But it might be super fun too,) West Florida Railroad Museum, National Aviation Museum, and take a Historic Pensacola tour. Two years ago I visited the Pensacola Light House and Fort Barrancas when I came to visit Katie, Phoenix, and Gerred. Now that it's Halloween, I may revisit the light house for the Pensacola Light House Ghost Hunt. There's a lot of history in this area and I'd like to absorb as much as I can.

Here we are with our 3rd place winnings: $15 gift card to Mellow Mushroom

8. Trivia // Trivia is my thing. In high school, I participated in It's Academic, a Jeopardy-like game show in which high school teams to compete against one another. So far, I've gone to two trivia nights down here with Gerred and James and each time we've won 3rd place! We may not always know the answers, but it's always fun to have the thought on the tip of your tongue. Then there are times when the answer comes rushing out in the last second when I finally write down "turnip" or "Robert Louis Stevenson." Trivia is a great way to test all the miscellaneous tidbits you've picked up in life and to learn more.

My latest attempt at watercolor

9. Art // I love art and am sad I did not pursue it as much as I would have liked. Consequently, it's been awhile since I've picked up a camera, pencil, charcoal, or paint brush. I'd love to get back to it and keep an art journal, learn to watercolor, experiment with my camera, or even take an art class (that doesn't just talk about shapes and lines.) I also may take another wine and paint class some day.

10. Cooking Classes // I have the creativity to cook, but I'm lacking the skills. Ask me to cut vegetables? It'll roll around the board and I may lose a finger. But I can certainly combine some random things and hope for the best. Will it taste good? 25% of the time it does. Basically, I'd love to take a cooking class, like the ones offered at SO Gourmet in Pensacola. Hopefully, by the end of the class I won't just have a recipe, but a few techniques as well. Plus, it makes for a fun girls night or date night.

I'll be trying these from here on out, trying to keep my brain alive, awake, alert, and enthusiastic. Know of any other opportunities to learn? Are you learning anything new at the moment? And what do you want to learn?
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  1. I think these are great ways to keep your brain from turning into mush! I try to read a book a week to keep my mind sharp.

  2. The moving class is AH- MAZiNG! Seriously that guy just teaches you how to get free money lol. Also, taking free college classes online helped me a lot in my Milton days, Harvard, Yale, MITall offer free classes and there's also websites that offer a variety from different universities. Oh and I also took an art "class" online which was super fun.... I can't remember the site name but you can just type in online art classes and I'm sure plenty will pop up. That first year was the hardest for me. Watching everyone start their career was hard, but the opportunities we get as military spouses are amazing! Let me know what Gerred (and you) are hoping to select :) I'd love a new norfolk friend :)

    1. Lacey, this comment just made me feel a whole lot better. I'm glad to know you're in the same boat. I'm definitely going to look up these classes and we'll find out where we're going in 6 days.

  3. I would love to take a cooking class too! I awlays get the e-mail from Sur La Table or Williams & Sonoma with their current classes and they always look like so much fun. Plus the food always sounds delicious.

    1. I've been wanting to try one of those for such a long time. I know Living Social and Groupon have some classes to. My Pop Pop, Dad, and husband went to a "Man Cooking Class" together and loved it. They all still make the wings they learned from the class.