Twice a year, a small catalog arrives in our mailbox announcing the new classes for adults, the “Learning for Life” Community Education offerings. Just last week, the Fall 2008 issue arrived. I love reading through the Community Education catalog. I have never taken a single course, but I love looking at what I could be taking if I made the time—a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, a dancer, a prancer, or a lifestyle enhancer.
For example, maybe I should take salsa lessons from Nelly DeLaRosby who, according to the catalog, “learned Salsa in Mexico.” So this would be authentic salsa, not your fake Midwestern hotdish version of salsa. If salsa seemed a little beyond my abilities, I could try beginning ballroom dance, swing dancing, or line dance (I think that’s how I got shin splints a few years ago). Or maybe I could try a little Tai Chi taught by the local middle school social worker.
“Are You Moody?” asks the title of one class. A certified nurse practitioner is willing to teach me about various mood disorders for only $5 on November 5. There are also sessions on acupuncture, body detoxification programs, permanent makeup, or intentional living (as opposed to my normal unintentional living). I could take a class on the “psychology of unexpected grace or loss” that would help me with both good and bad unexpected change in my life--everything from winning the lottery to dealing with the death of my cat, I suppose.
If I want something a little more artistic, I can take classes in pottery, water colors, glass etching, jewelry making, and stained glass. If I feel like I need more practical skills, the catalog describes classes in welding, ironworking, photography, song writing, papermaking, candle making, and woodworking.
I could learn to play the ukulele in six easy lessons for $24 or learn to make my own yarn in one session for $24. Hmmm . . . same price, so I’d have to ask myself which one would improve the quality of my life more. If I chose to make my own yarn, I could also take a class that would teach me how to knit for only $7. Evidently, it’s harder to teach someone to make yarn than it is to teach someone to knit. The sheep shearing probably factors into the cost.
I could learn to make my own earrings, learn to play Bunco, or learn to grow really good apples. I could go to a class called “Super Speed Cleaning” or choose from several classes that would teach me to frame walls, tape sheet rock, install windows, side my house with vinyl, install floor and wall tile, or put in a wood floor. I could learn to defend myself from attackers using only objects women usually carry in their purses. I could learn to make wine in the bathtub or spaghetti sauce in a crock pot or home-made bread on a rock in a campfire.
On October 7, I could learn to field dress and cut up a deer for only $14 (deer not included). I am trying to visualize how this can be done in the local high school cafeteria where the class will be held.
I could take the Dale Carnegie four-session series on moving past my comfort zone, or I could learn to market my small business. I could learn to burn DVDs, set up a Facebook or MySpace account, and become a Microsoft Office whiz. Although it’s too late for my recent trip to Italy, I could prepare myself for a future trip by taking a class called “Instant Italian” (or “Instant French” or “Instant Spanish”) that promises to prepare me for typical situations a tourist encounters when traveling.
I could stretch my musical horizons by taking classes in jazz and classical music. I could join a coffee and doughnut discussion group, a short story focus group, a legacy workshop, or an “interactive journey with the physics of sound and magnets.” I could tour Amish country with a woman who left her Amish community at the age of 24 and now gives bus tours of the Amish homes, farms, and schools in the secret society she left behind. I could make a quilt or an apron or learn how to cook healthy meals for one. I could take a hayride where someone from the Douglas County Historical Society points out historic landmarks around the city.
I love to read through the catalog and fantasize about the better person I could be if I would only make the time to sign up for the Community Adult Education classes. I could be an apron-making, Italian-speaking, bread-baking, deer-gutting, tile-laying, ukulele-playing Renaissance woman, in tune with my community and the wholesome activities that make West Central Minnesota such a great place to live.