Mid-Month Marvels: Lifetime Learning Center

A recurring theme in this blog is the celebration of people and/or organizations that have a positive impact on their communities. What they do is not easy, but it’s inspirational, and we don’t hear enough about them. So I’ve decided to commit to singing their praises at least once a month. I’ll be calling it Mid-Month Marvels. If you have any suggestions for the focus of this monthly spotlight, let me know in the comments below!

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When I first got to the Seattle area, I didn’t really know anyone, and I was kind of lonely, so I decided to take a pottery class at the local community college. I learned more in that class than I anticipated (and I blogged about it here.) That’s also where I learned about the Lifetime Learning Center.

This center believes, as I do, that you’re never too old to learn something new. According to their website, their mission is to promote successful aging and maintain the social, cognitive and physical well-being of adults within our community. They do this by providing a variety of reasonably priced classes that meet once a week. (A $15.00 registration fee is required each quarter, and most classes are $35.00 per 8 week session.)

They don’t require that you be a senior citizen to attend their classes, but that is their target audience. And I think that’s wonderful. Learning is a great way to keep the mind sharp, and it gives you purpose and reduces isolation. We could all do with a bit of those things.

A quick glance at their course catalog definitely got me interested. Here are some of their offerings this quarter:

  • A History of the American Musical

  • Crochet

  • Intermediate Ukulele

  • Life Stories Writing Group

  • The Earth and the Oceans

  • Marxism

  • India: The Past is Present

  • Quilt Making Basics

  • Watercolor: An Innovative Approach

  • Beginning Bridge

  • The Tempest

  • Positive Psychology: Choose Your Own Adventure

  • Contemporary Arguments About Philosophy

If and when I retire, and my schedule becomes more flexible, I hope that I remember to take advantage of the classes on offer at the Lifetime Learning Center. Because I don’t want to ever stop learning.

I hope you’ll support this organization, and/or see if your community offers something similar.

OLÉ!
These are NOT students at the Lifetime Learning Center, but I’d like to think that the dynamic is the same.

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This is Who I Am

My whole life I’ve been told that old people tend to be set in their ways. People always sound sad when they say this. Poor old folks. They don’t know how to change. They can’t keep up. They’re stubborn and their minds are closed to new ideas. What a shame.

Naturally, the older I get and the more set in my ways I become, the more my perspective changes on this subject. I don’t see myself as recalcitrant. In fact, I love new ideas and new perspectives. But after decades of trial and error, I also know what works for me, and what doesn’t.

For example, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to look and act the way I thought people wanted me to. The result was that I was always uncomfortable and unhappy with the results. I’m not a girly girl. I never was. I never will be. I’m tired of trying to force myself into the shoebox that society wants me in. So from now on I dress for myself, not for anyone else. Don’t like it? Tough.

I also have a very strong sense of the types of people I want in my life. Decent, caring, reliable people. People who accept me for who I am. People who have outgrown the whole party animal mindset. People with integrity and a moral compass. And those people are usually fairly easy to spot. Am I being unfair to those whom I dismiss? Maybe. But as my expiration date draws ever nearer, I find I have much less time to waste on foolishness and drama.

So am I set in my ways? I prefer to call it comfortable in my own skin. Either way, this is who I am. Love it or don’t.

stubborn

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Don’t Get Your Knickers in a Twist

Is it just me, or is everyone experiencing a spate of mounting hysteria? I know the economy is bad, and there are wars and abuses and crime and tragedy. I know that there are plenty of causes and issues that need to be addressed. The four horses of the apocalypse are being kept quite busy, indeed. But something is different.

For example, here in America you’ll always get your fair share of people complaining about the president if he wasn’t the guy they voted for. That’s the beauty of democracy, in my opinion. But suddenly it’s not just the usual griping, it’s extreme panic. To hear them tell it, all guns will be confiscated so that we can all be trundled into concentration camps by the illegal immigrants, our senior citizens will be killed off, the rest of us are going to be sprayed in the face with some new government created virus, and while we experience a slow and agonizing death from that, we’ll all be forced into a gay marriage. But hey, at least the weather will be nice, because global warming is apparently some huge hoax that was devised in a worldwide conspiracy by 98 percent of all scientists to benefit…whom exactly? Beats me.

It’s even getting to the point where Facebook isn’t fun to visit anymore. Not only does it seem like the latest global outrage is the order of the day, but three times in the past two weeks I’ve watched debates turn into fights in which people who are supposed to be friends engage in hostile name calling.

What has happened to reasoned discourse? Where have courtesy and respect gone? What has happened to checking facts instead of spreading ridiculous rumors? When did we become so gullible? At the rate we’re going, this time next week people will actually believe that Godzilla is rampaging through the streets of New York City.

I long to sit down in a restaurant and hear everyone around me discussing sports, the weather, books they’ve read, their kid’s t-ball game, movies, music, art, dating, travel…anything, ANYTHING but fear, prejudice, hatred, disaster and death. Please. I’m begging you.

If I were queen of the world, the first thing I would do is issue a brown paper bag to all my subjects so that we could all breathe into them and stop this global hyperventilation.

Everything is going to be okay. Really.

Namaste

When Did “Intellectual” Become a Dirty Word?

I really want to try to avoid getting political on this blog. I really do. I would like to demonstrate that there are many things we can all talk about without arguing or debating. But walking up to work today, I swear to God, I thought my head was going to explode. One coworker was convinced we were all going to be in the midst of a civil war tomorrow. Another was lamenting the funding of libraries. Not the LACK of funding. The funding. He feels that there’s no more need for libraries, now that we have the internet. A third thought all senior citizens were going to be put in concentration camps. I wanted to say, “If we can’t afford libraries, how will we afford all these concentration camps? And where are all the family members who would allow granny to be trundled off like this? Sitting in the libraries, or off to civil war?” But I bit my tongue.

stupidity

I bite my tongue a lot lately. There’s no sense in arguing with these people, because they have one thing in common. Anti-intellectualism. They think the intellectuals are the source of all our ills, and that people with college degrees can’t be trusted. As if knowledge and learning in general are sources of evil. It’s impossible to have an intelligent conversation with someone who thinks intelligence is a problem.

Excuse me, but isn’t that what groups like the Taliban condone? They won’t even allow girls to go to school. Isn’t ignorance what we’re trying to get AWAY from? Lack of education and training is one of the very things that keeps third world countries in the third world. Is that really what we want to emulate?

My mother is probably spinning in her grave. As a first generation American, she prized learning above all else. Without an education, how are you supposed to lift yourself up out of poverty? She was preaching college to me from the age of six. It never occurred to me not to go. Many people come to this country so that their children will have a better life, so they can go to school, so they can do better than their parents did. People die every day trying to get to this country for those very reasons.

And yet there is an ever increasing number of people in this country who are holding up ignorance as if it were a goal to be strived for. If that’s the case, I weep for the future.

The most depressing thing about this particular blog entry is that I have no solutions. I wish I did. And I suspect that people who take the time to read blogs are most likely not the people that need to be convinced. But who knows. Even a blind pig finds an acorn every now and then. So I will leave you with this definition, for those who have never looked at a dictionary, courtesy of dictionary.com:

in·tel·lec·tu·al

[in-tl-ek-choo-uh l] adjective

1. appealing to or engaging the intellect: intellectual pursuits.

2. of or pertaining to the intellect or its use: intellectual powers.

3. possessing or showing intellect or mental capacity, especially to a high degree: an intellectual person.

4. guided or developed by or relying on the intellect rather than upon emotions or feelings; rational.

5. characterized by or suggesting a predominance of intellect: an intellectual way of speaking.