Posts Tagged ‘courses’

I’ve taken half a dozen online classes in the past two years. And I’ve finally learned: they don’t usually work for me.

More specifically: it is difficult for me to invest in an online course (or any course) with little accountability, little or no face time, and the feeling that I’m just one person in a sea of faceless class members.

The fault doesn’t lie with the course content or the instructors – I’ve enjoyed some of the lessons on writing or photography, scrapbooking or yoga, from women like Jen and Andrea, Marianne, Jennifer and Ali. I am in no way criticizing these women or the content of their courses. In fact, I’d heartily recommend all of them. The problem is mine.

Sometimes the problem is my motivation for signing up. I’ve signed up for several online courses run by bloggers whose work I enjoy, because I didn’t want to “miss out” – because I was, in effect, trying to “keep up” with others in the blogosphere. And, tellingly, even with access to deep stories and thought-provoking questions, or useful yoga poses or photo techniques, I ended up disengaging within days.

Sometimes I simply wanted the course to do something it couldn’t do (similar to the root of the gift-giving anxiety I struggle with around the holidays). I am always – and especially since I moved to Boston – searching for connection and real community. It’s hard for me to get that in a big, anonymous-feeling online forum (though it often comes easier via blog comments, tweets and one-to-one emails). And when I start to feel anonymous and/or ignored, I shut down and withdraw. (This is true – oh so true – in my offline life, too.)

Let this be a lesson to me: there are some ways to connect online that really work for me – and I’m grateful for the community I’ve found in those places. But there are some ways that don’t suit me as well. And next time I’m tempted by an online course, I’ll think long and hard before clicking the “Register” button.

Have you taken any online courses? What has been your experience? I’d love to know.


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Making a birthday wish last year

I am a big fan of lists, as you all know, and in recent years I’ve loved the idea of making a list on my birthday – of things to accomplish, enjoy, start and/or finish before my birthday. Twenty-eight sounds awfully grown-up – but here I am! – and here’s my list:

1. Try out the Project Life system to document either some of my time in Oxford or our first year in Boston
2. Go to New York to see Ben in The Lion King (and visit friends)
3. Plan a trip to Europe/Oxford
4. Hang out with my family in Texas
5. Dig into some classics I’ve never read
6. Visit a place I’ve never been (this one comes up every year for me)
7. Clean out my desk at home (currently full of stuff I don’t use)
8. Visit my loves in Abilene
9. Go apple picking again
10. Knit some swoon-worthy autumn accessories
11. Buy a new pair of black high-heeled boots
12. Keep in better touch with far-away friends (stolen from Bethany’s list)
13. Explore more of New England
14. Try at least 2 new recipes a month
15. Visit half a dozen area bookstores I haven’t been to yet
16. Go see The Civil Wars in concert with my Jeremiah
17. Take another writing course (at Grub Street or Emerson)
18. Take a financial management course with J
19. Put together new outfits from pieces I already own
20. Schedule a checkup (it’s been far too long)
21. Start or join a book club
22. Buy a sassy red handbag
23. Drive up to New Hampshire or Vermont to see the fall foliage
24. Fill a new notebook with a super-secret writing project
25. Get a Massachusetts driver’s license
26. Learn to pay attention to one thing at a time
27. Send 28 handwritten letters (Christmas cards don’t count)
28. Go to a literary festival/conference/event

Do you make lists like this? If so, I’d love to know what’s on them!

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I discovered Tara Mohr’s work a few months ago, through various folks who were sharing her posts on Twitter. Her blog is full of wise, gentle, challenging insights on what it means to be a woman, how to discover the lives we’re meant to have, how we sometimes get in our own way when it comes to finding those lives. She also writes beautiful poetry.

Starting soon, Tara is offering a course called Playing Big – a challenge for women who feel like they have a story to tell, an idea to explore, a passion to make more of a difference in the world.

I’ll be honest with you – the very idea of “playing big” scares me. I try, so hard and so often, to do what’s safe, to earn enough money, to keep people happy, to avoid rocking the boat. (Of course, some of my major life decisions – graduate school in Oxford, moving to Boston last summer – have rocked the boat by their very nature. But most of the time, I much prefer not to be the rebel, the maverick, the radical.)

However, I believe in what Tara has to offer – and I’ve really been challenged by some of her recent posts about the idea of playing big. So I’d encourage you to check out the course, and think about whether it might be just the challenge you need.

(NB: If you register through that link, I will make a commission as an affiliate of Tara’s program.)

As a free gift – no registration required – Tara has agreed to share her e-book of poetry, The Real Life, with my readers. These poems are full of lovely images and heartfelt wisdom – truly a gift. Click the link to download and enjoy.

Registration closes Monday, April 11, so please check out the course if you’re interested. And have a great weekend!

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