DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

A Little Bit of This May Just Make a Difference

Written by: on May 17, 2014

I confess the Josh Kaufman’s book was a fun read last weekend while sitting in the car on my way to Pullman, WA to see my daughter receive her Master’s Degree from Washington State University (Go Cougs!).  I knew a few things straightaway.  I have no desire to learn to touch type even if it is more efficient. I also have no desire to windsurf or play a ukulele, although I did think about getting a guitar and beginning to play again.  I share Kaufman’s affinity for string “tuners” that show when your string(s) are in tune.  I also wondered, just a little, if Kaufman collects things to learn like someone collects thimbles, Seahawks memorabilia, or running shoes.  You know those things we use for a time or put on display and then leave for something new. (O.K. that might not be true of Seahawks memorabilia).  Perhaps a more valuable question is how does one continuously learn new things, balance and continue to develop them without becoming a learning consumer?

Our assignment (without the drama or risk of ultimate failure) should we choose to accept it (O.K. we really didn’t have a choice) is to select something to learn and commit to learning in 20 hours.  Sitting in our chat on Monday I really wasn’t certain what to do and at the end of the week I still am not.  It had been an emotional and good weekend and the week ahead promised to be busy going in different directions. Truthfully at the moment, I didn’t want to learn anything new.  Instead what I wanted was to have the time to do something I enjoy, like gardening, but seem to not have time to.  We have seeds that should have been planted in April that will now not be planted until close to June; I have plants to re-pot and perennials that need attending along with rhododendrons that will soon need deadheading.  If I have two hours to commit to learning something new, I really would like to exchange it for what I am not doing that I would like to do.  But this is not only a time for seeds to grow in your garden it is a time to cultivate new life within, so the intentionally of learning something new seems worth holding the tension between learning and tending.

There are things I would like to learn to do, like sew a quilt of my now adult children’s sports t-shirts, which seems to continually to elude me. I would love to learn pottery, but the time for classes and the travel required are prohibitive for me.  I would like to learn photography but what I really need to do is read the directions to learn how to use what I have (which is not a DSLR camera).  When I do, I would like to use photography as contemplative practice.  I have been thinking about registering for Kelly Rae Roberts art painting e-course.  I still might, but not yet.

Hmmm, what else have I been thinking about?  Two things really are at the top of my list and a third ties in with the art painting e-course.  My husband is a fly fisherman.  He has three poles and several reels.  We have the equipment, which is a bonus, since this is not an inexpensive sport.  The second one is also referenced in Kaufman’s book, learning yoga.  The first one, learning to fly fish is related to doing something together with my husband.  The second one is related to my own need.  I am realizing that I need to work on my flexibility (I am not getting any younger!) and core strength.  I am looking to establish a healthy routine that fits with spiritual meditation.  Yoga fits.  Except … except four weeks ago I injured my knee doing Pilates.  For real, I did.  My orthopedic doctor said it really is not that unusual. He suspects that I have a slight tear in my meniscus.  I’ve had the MRI and now wait to go back in to hear the verdict.  Fly-fishing and active yoga are out (or are they?).  That leaves multimedia art.  This is the kind of art where you paint and utilize collage.  There are other types, but that is the one I would like to do.

So with Kaufman’s words in mind, “The process of skill acquisition is not really about the raw hours you put in… it’s what you put into those hours,”[1] I started thinking, what should I do? After spending more than 20 minutes researching multi-media art, watching a couple videos on You Tube and considering the time available I realized that perhaps in July I will return to this, it is not for me just yet.

I have been attending to my inner life – noticing that I am close to burnout.  Although I cannot fully engage in many of the basic yoga poses I can still do some.  Since I save articles from Runner’s World on training and exercise I know there are several I can do, including some core exercises that will not put undue pressure on my problematic knee.  I am also keenly aware that I am looking to establish a sustainable rhythm, something that has eluded me.  Part of that rhythm acknowledges my desire and need to be awake to the world – to the day itself, to those I am in relationship with and to my responsibilities.  Rather than allowing what I cannot do to impact what I can do I will break down the yoga (and the core strengthening exercises) into manageable elements and practice those elements in the morning and again in the evening.[2] In this way I can recognize what I can (and cannot do), continue to learn (feedback), remove barriers (they have been interwoven throughout this blog post) and practice.[3]  You can ask me in six weeks how it is going.

Beginners Yoga for Runners

Kelly Rae Roberts Painting E-Course

            [1] Josh Kaufman, The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything … Fast (New York, NY: Portfolio, 2013), 3.

[2] Ibid., 5.  Kaufman describes rapid skill acquisition as a process

[3] ibid.

About the Author


Carol McLaughlin

Carol walks this DMin journey from her locale in Gig Harbor, WA (USA). She is preparing for pastoral ministry in the Presbyterian Church (PC-USA), as well as teaches in the Online Learning Community programs at GFES. Part of the DMin Leadership & Global Perspectives 4 cohort (dminlgp4) her research and dissertation focus is exploring why baby boomers leave the church and what it means for their faith development. The views expressed here are her own.

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