Which way do I go? Which way do I go?
Well, after much consideration, I'm not going to go the school route just yet. I've made this decision so often it almost feels like "Again?" But this time, I had thought it through, begun to plan and prepare. But now that January is nearing and time for applying for Pell Grants etc., I've decided to not apply. But there is so much that I have wanted to learn and *here* I am in the place to learn it.
What finally cemented my decision was finding a "Short Course in Forest Management" course book at the "community" library at my friend's farm. Almost lugged it up and over the hill, but I'll ask to borrow it, even though I know it would be OK.
I have alway wanted to do immersion studies in tracking and wilderness living. I've continually discounted what I know-- I *can* pick out deer tracks where most people wouldn't. I already challenge myself with the puzzle of what they are doing. But I've never been Tom Brown Jr., and I think his example was weighing on the judgment of myself. Who cares if I'm not obsessed with it???? I had a similar epiphany when brushing up on my German for a trip, and then another when I decided my guitar playing was good enough for singing with kids. Before that, Good Enough was never part of my vocabulary.
So, I'm setting myself some goals. I'm making a list of what I want to learn. Crazy stuff for later as well as stuff for now. I still want to brush up on my math-- .5-2hrs per week. I want to learn botanical terminology more thoroughly so I can do more than tread water in botanical ID books. I *can* volunteer only once in a while-- I don't need to make a huge commitment. I'm keeping a learning journal of things I'm curious about. Yesterday's first entry was on red-tailed hawks. I looked up where they nest, because there is a local redtail that was carrying nesting material the other day. I'm making what I've done forever more deliberate.
My mother--bless my frustrated and mixed-up memory of her-- did leave me with some traits that I cherish. Her ability to strike up a conversation with anybody and everybody. Her constant search for skill and knowledge. She was an amazing artist who studied sailing ships and knitting, the history of England and desktop publishing. She taught me how to teach myself just by setting herself as an example. I could do at least as well for my kids.
That school might still be in the future. I do need to make more money. But decades ago I made the choice to turn away from that whole deal, and I guess the idea still lives and thrives deep inside me. I choose my family now--school would take away too much of that right when they need me the most. If down the road, I still want to do it, it will be for my interests alone. Who cares if I'll be 50-something on the other side of it? At that point, it won't matter that I can quit my current work for a $15/hr job. I won't feel so desperate with the idea that I'm competing against kids for the choice jobs.
The first thing I need to do is give myself the same credit that I give my kids. "I picked apart an owl pellet today that I found under the branch of a bigleaf maple. There were 2 mouse heads in it." "Found a large, beefy-looking lichen today. Need to look that up." "Watched a hawk on my walk today." I have been my worst enemy in my life. I need to start treating myself as I do others.