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When was the last time you did something completely new and out of your element? How was it? Will you do it again?

Three things come to mind. The first is yoga. I’ve never been much into exercise, team sports, dance (except in the ’60’s), or even marching band. Being a grandmother-aged person, I need appropriate exercise now more than ever. I had been suffering from sciatica, and started yoga to address that, and to put some gentle exercise into my life. I also was looking for something to aid in relaxation. Can those two go together? Yes, they certainly do in yoga.

Yoga is not only fine conditioning for the body, but touches the spirit and the mind. It is a path of well-being for the whole person. My body feels better and my spirit feels nourished. Paying this much attention to my body, and wanting to do the work is a departure from my life before yoga.

A number of years ago, I took a teaching position at a school for gifted students. I was qualified enough for the job, but not prepared for all the aspects of it. At the middle school level students were learning to program in Visual Basic, Java, a hybrid of C+ programming for Lego robots, and also creating web pages using HTML coding. This was all new to me, and I quickly realized that I’d have to be willing to admit my deficiencies, learn something totally new and think in ways I hadn’t before.

I took online courses to learn the programming languages, and became fascinated with them, despite the challenge I was undertaking. This was definitely out of my comfort zone — my relationship with math has always been tenuous and fearful. Programming is more logic than math, but math is absolutely logical. That’s its beauty.

This leads me to another departure from the norm. When I applied to do a Masters degree in education, I was advised that I needed more math and science courses to qualify me for the program and as preparation for teaching. I’d avoided math like the plague since 10th grade, and I wasn’t much better at science. I attended a  university in Britain, I wasn’t required to do any math or science, just lots of history (my major), philosophy and art history.

Fortunately, age had brought wisdom and I decided that I could and would “do” math, and got A’s in the courses I had to take at our community college. I also discovered that even though I would never be a mathematician, it was really pretty interesting stuff.  Later, when I taught fourth grade for a few years before specializing in technology education, I tried to impart a love of math in students so they wouldn’t suffer from the “I can’t do it” syndrome I had.

These experiences, and life itself, have encouraged me to take opportunities that arise, and to try new things that are appropriate and safe for a person of my age. There are many things I haven’t done yet that I want to do, and fully intend to continue to learn and grow.

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