Thursday, August 7, 2014

50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 - Things To Learn

This post is the fourth in a series of six daily posts where I'm sharing my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 list. I put this list together as I neared my 45th birthday last month, choosing goals and things to do in the next five years before my 50th birthday. Many of the items on the list are things I've never done and places I've never been, however the list also includes some items that I want to do again. Some are small, simple inexpensive things to do, while others require a much larger amount of time and/or financial investment. The actual list is in a rather random fashion, listed as items came to me, but for this blog series I'll be grouping similar items together.

As I was grouping items together for this week's blog posts, I was not surprised to discover that quite a few of the items on my list involve learning something new or studying to improve a skill. Three of the items I've wanted to do for years (speak Spanish, play piano, ride a horse) fall into this category. Here's a look at the other things that will require some learning, studying, and practicing on my part.

*Make a quilt. As many of you know, I come from a long line of quilters. Grandma quilted, Mama quilts, Brenda (my sister) quilts, and even Pun'kin Natashia (my niece) has begun to quilt. I, however, have never made a quilt . . . yet!

*Take a cooking class. Robbie and I both enjoy cooking, baking, trying new recipes, preparing favorite recipes, creating our own recipes, and using (and buying) kitchen gadgets. I think taking a cooking class together would be a lot of FUN!

*Swimming lessons. I can swim a little and could probably save myself in an emergency, however I would like to be a more confident swimmer. Honestly, I've never really spent much time in the water. I took swimming lessons in the first grade, but I failed the course and had to retake it the next year. When I was growing up, we did not have a pool and did not have friends with pools, so there was very little opportunity to swim. Once I began wearing contacts as a teenager, I rarely got in the water because I didn't want to risk losing a contact and I was so near sighted without them that I was legally blind. Robbie and I often swim at the hotel pool when we travel, and we both enjoy going to the lake. I'm hoping to find someone local who gives private swim lessons to help me develop my swimming skills and confidence in the water.

*Learn to make Mama's biscuits so they taste as good as the ones she & Robbie make. Robbie and I met on the Internet and lived 5 1/2 hours apart while we were dating. When we became engaged and my family knew I would be moving away, my sister told Robbie that there were two things he needed to learn if he was going to keep me happy that far away - how to make Mama's biscuits and how to braid my hair (more on the hair in another item!).

Mama's biscuits are one of my very favorite foods, a comfort food that can fix almost anything, but I'd never learned to make them. In fact, I debated putting this item on the list because part of the appeal of the biscuits (besides their absolute yummy-ness) is the fact that I don't make them for myself. Either Mama or Robbie (or Brenda on occasion) makes them for me . . . and I know I'm loved! However, I decided that since it brings me so much pleasure to have these biscuits made for me, that I should learn to make them, too. That way I can make them for others and hopefully impart the same feeling of being loved to them.

*Learn to use my DSLR camera on manual (& auto!) mode. I've been meaning to do this for a while, even signed up for a class at BPC last summer (but never got around to any of the materials because we went on vacation & I came down with shingles when we got home). I still haven't even played around much with using the auto modes designed for floral, indoor, and night photos!

*Dance lessons (with Robbie, of course). I think this would not only be FUN but also good exercise!

*Take private singing lessons. I'm really not a good singer, but I've always wanted to try a few singing lessons. It may be that I take a few lessons and decide I'm never going to be able to carry a tune, or I may be pleasantly surprised and make a little improvement. Either way I'm going to enjoy a few lessons.

*Review all paid for scrapbook classes. Over the past five years, I've signed up and paid for over 120 classes online at a variety of sites including Big Picture Classes,, and I actually worked through all the materials in some of them, others I've done some work in, and a very few (like that Mastering Manual Mode class) I haven't really even looked at. I'm currently making a list of the classes and have already begun to review some of them and will do another post in a few weeks about how I'm going to work through these classes.

*Learn to French braid my own hair. For most of my life, I've had long straight hair and I like to wear it braided. My favorite is a tight French braid that my sister Brenda does wonderfully. After our engagement, she showed Robbie how to braid my hair (and we went to a hairdresser for a lesson one time, too) so that he could help me put my hair in a French braid. With me dividing out sections and Robbie doing the actual braiding, we can accomplish a pretty good braid that will stay in place all day. However, I would like to learn to do this myself so I can just quickly put it in a French braid whenever the mood strikes me. Honestly, I'm not sure I'll be able to do it as it seems when I get the top going really good, the long strands get in a knot - it's hard to hold a tight braid & keep the ends separated, but I'm going to give it a try.

*Improve photo editing skills. I've been using Photoshop Elements for five years and have definitely improved my skills during that time, however there's still so much I could learn. I have several classes on my list of scrapbook classes to review that include photo editing, which will help with this goal.

*Buy and use a flower field/identification guide. While I can easily identify roses and sunflowers and azaleas and bluebonnets, there are many times we're out on a nature walk/hike that I see flowers and wonder what kind they are. I think it will be FUN to have a guide and start actually identifying those flowers and recording where/when we encountered them.

I've always been an a huge proponent of education and lifelong learning, so I'm excited to dig into these items on my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 list. What things do you want to learn to do?

Be sure to check back tomorrow when I'll share the stretch goals on my list, those items that will be the most difficult to accomplish and/or require the most effort. (Click here to see all my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 posts.)


  1. I am struck by how many of your items are about learning new things and skills - the best sort of experience, I always think, I could do with learning about my camera, and finally finishing classes too!

  2. You've totally inspired me to go through and list every online class I haven't finished. I've avoided this because I know it's frighteningly long, but it needs to be done. I'm in the midst of three online classes as we speak. I'm caught up in two of them, and behind in one.

  3. I'm laughing and nodding as I read your list for today. So many of the things are the same for me!

    I can doggy paddle and tread water, but I can't for the life of me swim with my face in the water. I get panic attacks as soon as I can't breathe normally. I was a total wreck when I tried snorkeling! I took a swimming class in college and hated every minute of it.

    I can't carry a tune either and private singing lessons have been on my "to do someday" list for a LONG time.

    I'd love to learn to braid my own hair. I can do a beautiful herringbone braid on my girls but can't even begin with my own head.

    And online classes... OMG... was writing about that in my morning pages a few days ago. I really need to get it all in check. I have some Photoshop classes on Jessica Sprague (the more advanced ones) that I've never even opened. I have several good photography classes that could use my attention. i have a number of classes I've been meaning to finish up...

    I've done quilting, but right now I am re-teaching myself how to crochet - a skill I haven't touched in nearly 30 years!

    About the only thing on today's list that doesn't apply to me is making Mama's biscuits. I'll leave that one to you alone.

  4. Gosh that is a lot of things to learn! The dance lessons and cooking lessons sound really FUN!

  5. Awesome list. I too need swim lessons & cooking classes! But I've already hit 50. Maybe before I hit 60!

  6. I know what you mean about swimming...I can swim but have zero confidence in the deep water...and don't even MENTION swimming in the sea!!
    Alison xx

  7. This is a cool list - I'm on board for going back and looking at all the scrap classes I've taken over the years - just the sketch ones could keep me busy for a year. I hope you get to tic off lots of these, Melissa. It would definitely add to your FUN as well as productivity. You go girl!!

  8. These are really fun ones :) and I really like the ones about looking back at your scrapbooking classes


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