Middle-Aged Dogs, New Tricks

One of the trade-offs of having grown kids who live elsewhere (Wah! I miss them!!) is that we have a lot of spare time to do…well, whatever we want.

A few months ago Jim made a couple of comments about possibly wanting to learn how to play guitar, something he did as a child but only short term. I thought about buying him a guitar for his birthday and, after debating with myself about whether he was really serious about wanting to take it on, I headed to Guitar Center. I bought him a basic acoustic guitar, figuring that if he didn’t really care to learn we could just return it and get an alternate birthday gift, or if he tried to play for a while and didn’t like it, the initial investment was small and therefore no big deal. The last scenario I came up with was the best one (and the direction in which we’re heading): that he’d really like playing it and eventually upgrade from a basic guitar to something with a little more personality.

He has impressed me so much with his consistent practice in the last six weeks. He found a YouTuber who teaches easy-to-follow lessons. He will sit and practice and learn on five or six days of the week. Although I’m not sure he sees it yet, he’s come so far in such a short time. It’s inspiring.

In fact, his diligence and progress with the guitar made me think a lot about what kind of new skill I could learn. I have always been a creative person and while I love writing, I wanted to pick up something else that I can do with my hands. While I used to do all kinds of crafts back in the old days, I hated the idea of having long-term mess sitting around my house. I’ve been painting kindness rocks to hide, which is fun, but not a new skill.

After more thought I made a decision:

While I wouldn’t say that macarons are my favorite type of cookie—I have eaten less than ten in my whole life because I usually choose other things for some reason—they’re about to be. I have always been drawn to them because of their simplicity and their colors as well as the idea that there are endless flavor possibilities. And of course, they are fancy and delicious! The sight of a box of assorted macarons in rainbow colors causes me to feel so much joy. The last season of “Masterchef” had a macaron challenge that fascinated me to no end. The idea of piping out macaron batter onto a silicone mat with the circles outlined on it makes me a little giddy. So here I am, preparing to become proficient at making macarons in lots of flavors. I’ve already bought that book and the silicone mats and the boxes with the see-through lids. Hopefully I have local family and friends who are willing to be taste-testers, because I anticipate needing lots of practice.

I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to feel macaron-confident, but that’s part of the journey. What’s most exciting to me is the decision to step out of my comfort zone and take on a new challenge. And cookies. Those are always exciting.

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