My daughter and I share the "what's next" gene. We collect experiences, grazing through crafts, volunteer work, books, travel, and ideas. Some experiences stay with us; others get checked off and tucked away in memory. Experiences are so much more engaging than things.
Yet I think there comes a point when it's easy to get overwhelmed with all the opportunities for learning. Which is better ... master a few things or a little skill in a lot of things? Our multimedia-driven culture exposes us every day to new-new-new. We worry that we won't keep up and that, by not staying on top of the next technologically-driven social media trend/workplace IT tool/graduate degree/cultural phenomenon, we'll fall behind socially, professionally, and personally.
Catalog the things you've learned to do, from the mundane to the career-mandated. In just one generation, our expectations and experiences have taken a quantum leap from the need-to-know and want-to-know of our grandparents' era.
My personal inventory: technical writing, basic sewing, needlepoint, cooking, knitting, vegetable gardening, refinishing furniture, housebreaking a dog, how to pack up and move a household in just a week, scrapbooking, managing websites with DreamWeaver, Vacation Bible School management, copywriting, strategic message communications, volunteer recruitment, Girl Scout troop leadership, the full continuum of child rearing, PowerPoint presentations, video scripting, how to pitch a tent, Microsoft Word/Excel/Publisher, Odyssey of the Mind coaching, painting walls and trim, how furniture is made from the moment the tree hits the ground, teaching phonics to preschoolers, change a tire, speechwriting, blogging, iPhone, English instruction for high school, running a nonprofit organization, Facebook, how to document a disability for public education accommodations, rudimentary PhotoShop, how to write an annual report for nonprofits and financial industries, search engines, political campaign marketing, door hardware installation, bicycle chain repair, Constant Contact email communications, streaming movies, earthy Japanese curse words (a remnant of my teen years in Okinawa), troubleshoot internet connections, charter school development, carpet manufacturing, hospital wayfinding design, SEO, online library reservations ...
Okay, that's enough.
But it can't be. To stay competitive as a freelance writer, I have to stay connected at all times with my clients' industries, demographic research for disparate audiences, cultural trends, and what's going on both locally and internationally. We don't live or work in a bubble anymore, limited by budget and travel modes to the wider world. Instead, the internet brings the world to our desktops and laptops in a constant cacophony of information.
Mental rest comes in doing things my grandparents considered necessities: home crafts, gardening, making do. I hope to take the Master Gardener program through the DeKalb Extension Service. The next series begins January 2012. (There are information sessions in September for anyone who's interested. See the end of this post.)
What's next? It's always something.