“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art” 

-Eleanor Roosevelt

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Life Long Learnings

Life Long Learnings

There are many “Lifelongs”!  Everything from Lifelong Dental Care to Lifelong Bowling Score. But I think the those closest to most of our hearts are Lifelong Friends and Lifelong Learning. This blog is about what I discovered about Lifelong Learning thanks to two Lifelong Friends.

Laura and Sandy (married) asked me to register with them for a Monday evening class at the UCLA Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. I responded with an immediate “yes”, confident that anything Laura and Sandy were doing would be very cool and interesting. “What class are we taking?” I asked. I was hoping for something creative, like interior design for beginners or Yoga for the 60 plus body. But NO, they came back with “Astronomy”. Hmmm… 

Now, the entire depth and breadth of my knowledge of astronomy included: being able to spot the Big…or maybe it was the Little…Dipper;  knowing Mars was the red planet and Pluto had been downgraded to dwarf status; and of course, understanding that, no matter your age, it is critical to whisper “Twinkle Twinkle”… upon spotting the first start of the evening. Quite frankly, I felt that my astronomy education was complete.

My friends, who were most eager for me to join them, went on the explain that Osher was for older adults who wanted to “dabble” in a subject. There would be no tests or homework.

“Ok, I’m in.” I just couldn’t resist spending time with them, and what the heck, I figured I might even meet some “interesting” men.

Our instructor was a dynamic, flamboyant, renowned astronomer, who pinned up her hair with chopstick-shaped pins from which dangled charms of the heavenly bodies.  She began by asking the 25 of us to introduce ourselves and say why we were in the class. Great, a chance to check out the crop! 

As the student introductions proceeded, I quickly realized that I was in over my head. A dozen or so were repeat students back for more. Some had even made their own telescopes. There were retired science professors. And one man had even trained to be an astronaut in his youth. He hadn’t made the cut and had become a police officer. Now in his retirement, he had time to  indulge his lifelong passion for all things space.

Whoa! These people actually knew something.

When it was my turn, I sheepishly said my name and something about enjoying star gazing with my family as a child. The instructor politely said, “Thank you, next.” Ugh!  There went my chance of impressing any of the male students. Even worse, I was in for a long 10 weeks.

As the class continued that night, I keep falling asleep. No matter how much I resisted, pinched myself, or sipped water, my head continued to bob up and down.

On the ride home Laura, who is one of the kindest people I know, suggested that, given I get up early to go to work, maybe the class went a little too late into the evening for me. She informed me that I could get a refund for my tuition after the first class if I didn’t want to continue.  I quietly responded, “Let me think about it.”

Inside I was screaming, “I AM NOT A QUITTER.” I knew I hadn’t been dozing off due to tiredness. What had put me to sleep was the fact that the conversation was so foreign. I could not wrap my head around what our teacher was talking about. I was lost in space.

When I got home, my attitude of stay strong and never quit set in. I jumped on Amazon and ordered “Astronomy for Dummies” rush delivery. I called Laura and told her I would continue the class. That week I spent hours in my favorite neighborhood restaurant every afternoon studying my Dummies book.

I arrived at class #2 hoping that I had armed myself with enough knowledge to keep my eyes open. Eureka! I not only stayed awake, I was familiar with some of the references and EVEN LEARNED SOMETHING.

By the end of the 10 weeks, I had not struck up a relationship with a man. However, I could talk about “Black Holes” at a cocktail party.

But the biggest lesson I had learned was that it is never too late to take on learning something new, even something way outside your comfort zone, and most importantly, that you might even fall in love with your subject matter.

Here are some of the best tools I have discovered for us Lifelong learners when  jumping into   the unknown:  My favorite and reliable “Dummy Books”, One Day University, and Khan Academy. If you haven’t already, check them out.

“Once you stop learning you start dying”

                           Albert Einstein

 

Candace Shivers is a founder/principal of the Love of Aging movement, along with her good friends and colleagues, Maureen Charles and Liz Dietz.

At the age of 65, following the death of her husband, Candace reinvented herself, launching her current career in the field of aging. She is a champion for older adults living a healthy and vibrant lifestyle and a leader, educator, and expert on the impact of attitude on the quality of life for older adults. Candace currently serves as a Special Projects Manager for Wise & Healthy Aging non-profit providing innovative programming for older adults.

A renowned public speaker, she spent 36 years training people from around the globe in effective communication, leadership, and public speaking – talents she brings to the Love of Aging movement.

Candace is proud to be from Hope, Arkansas, Home of the World’s Largest Watermelon.

 

Written by : Candace Shivers

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