Tuesday, 14 April 2015

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks

Some of you may know that last year I put out the to the universe a long held dream.
That I wanted to design & make my own tableware.
I wanted to master throwing pottery on a wheel.

You may or may not know that straight after school I studied to become an Art Teacher.
Art has always been a passion.
And while I felt like I was ok at most mediums, well Pottery always had the better of me.
I could never ever seem to master that dang wheel. So many failed attempts.

image via Rob Ryan

I don't really like NOT being good at stuff.
It doesn't sit well with me.  Are you the same?
I am learning to let go of my unreal expectations but it isn't easy.....

You know the saying 'You can't teach an old dog new tricks'?
Well I call BOLLOCKS to that.
I am an old dog & I quite like learning new tricks.

One of the things I think is super important as an adult is to keep learning.
And one of the most important & best things I have learnt as an adult is how little I know.
And how much stuff there is to learn. So much good stuff. Endless in fact.
Encouraging myself to try new things & learn new skills allows an appreciation of the world.
You get to see things in a new light. Be more humble.  Be more aware of how hard stuff is.
Appreciate things more. Be more grateful.

NOT being good at stuff is actually really important. I have come to learn and accept this as I get older.
It is good that other people are better at things than me.
It is good to NOT be good at all the things- as uncomfortable as that leaves me feeling.
Not being the winner is important.
It is something I have written about in terms of parenting before. The notion that we are not doing our children any credit by not letting them experience the sting of defeat or hardship.  It is one of the hardest of all things to do as a parent- to stand by and watch your child not win. None of us want to see our children feel sad but surely resilience and an ability to get up and try again and to be able to congratulate the winner is ultimately just as much an important life skill as winning? To be able to admire someone else being better at something is a pretty good thing I think. And one that brings with it it's own rewards.  Being able to be joyful for someone else's success or mastery feels really good. A selfless but joyful act.
When I see it happen out there in the real world it is pretty darn special.

I think about this stuff a fair bit. The idea that consulting experts is a good thing.  That acknowledging that years of expertise in any given area gives people a deep understanding of things that others skim across or could only ever understand in a superficial kind of way.

For instance- try learning another language as an adult gives you a keen awareness of how hard it is for others to learn English.  We take our primary language for granted but sheesh it is SOOOOO hard.  Learning another helps give us a sensitivity to the people who come here and are expected to speak our language.  That is a good thing I think.

Last year, after many tries, I had the help of a friend to help teach me crochet.  I am a left hander & it has been hard to learn as most of my pals are right handers. I have been wanting to learn since I was a child but it never really happened until last year.
My friend & I sat side by side and I just copied her. She taught me chain stitch and then I just experimented from there.
That was when I started my Rug.  It was supposed to be a granny square but I missed the corner and it became a circle that just kept on going.
It is now a beautiful reminder of my gorgeous friendship & a reminder to try new things.
I really like how it didn't turn out at all as what I had expected but is actually more beautiful than I could ever have hoped. And as my friend has moved away *sob* ,  I LOVE that it will always be my smiley colourful reminder of her.

At the beginning of this year I took a Pottery Wheel class and fell in LOVE with it.
I have bought my own wheel and am busy creating bowls by the dozen.
I had a great teacher & somehow it just worked this time despite all my other failures in the past.
Another message to me to keep trying new stuff- sometimes for whatever reason it is the right time & it works.
I hope that soon I will even have some GG Coffee bowls for you to purchase.  Watch this space.

All these things are wonky and not perfect.  My favourite sort.

This week my new project is a Crochet Cape. It looks a bit like a rainbow at the moment & I kind of like it.

Are you learning anything new?
Or making something wonky & not perfect?
DO tell!

Until next time:


  1. You are amazing!! I love your artistry and creativity.
    I'm an old dog.. but I'm happy to be old. Currently learning new tricks and it is indeed very rewarding.
    Keep on shining! x

  2. Yes! Yes to all of this.

    I messed up a granny square once, and somehow ended up with what I dubbed a wine bottle cozy. Mistakes can be hilarious if you let them. Now I'm teaching myself to crochet properly, again. Well, I'm telling myself I'm going to learn. I'm gonna start once I post this, actually. You've inspired me. Thank you.

  3. I love learning new things too! I get siper cross at myself when I can't master something, sometimes I have a little sulk but rarely do I give up because I know from past experiences that if I keep tying I'll get there eventually & I'll be so happy with myself. Anything I make is wonky & rarely goes the way it supposed to but I'm happy with that. Wonky donky is my style !

    And even though I'm not a coffee drinker I'd still love one of your bowls x

  4. I'm so glad you like to try new things too!
    and YIPPEE to fellow Wonky Donkeys!
    You know the more I have thought about adults reluctance to try new things, the more I think that it is because we expect to be really good at things straight away & knowing we are not is what perhaps stops us.
    Not having mastery doesn't feel good I guess & we are reluctant to put ourselves out of our comfort zone.
    Yet I think that in itself is a really good thing.
    Does that even make sense?

  5. I'm happy to be old too!
    and thank you.

  6. I'm one of those people who let fear of failure or looking silly stop me from doing so many things. I hate it! It's a constant battle in my head, sometimes I win and have a go and sometimes I sit on the sidelines of life and wish. The fear of wasting money also stops me from trying lots of things too...but that's a whole other story.
    I'm a coffee drinker though and I'd love one of your coffee bowls.

  7. fear of failure os such a big thing isn't it.
    i totally get it.
    and yes to feeling like we are wasting money- but maybe if we changed the words to 'investing in ourselves'- would that help I wonder?
    good on you for winning the battles and having a go!

  8. Oh I so agree. I love learning new things and creating new synapses in the brain. I taught myself to crochet a couple of years ago - had done it when I was little but had forgotten! I've been learning to draw and am going to start learning German this term. As well as being great for my own brain and emotional health, I think it's great for my kids to see me doing new things and to show them life is one long learning experience. Never too old to learn!

  9. i love this piece so much, I think life long learning is so important! I've tried learning crochet but found it a bit beyond me and the class I attended (as did the other left handed person). I love teaching myself new recipes and also jumping completely out of my comfort zone in learning Deutsch. This week a made an appointment to see a doctor in Deutsch which was a great achievement for me as i've always found the phone really difficult!

  10. oh thank you Cate!
    I always love your comments.
    have you tried youtube for lessons? there are lots of left handed ones. maybe one of those will help you get started!
    and a big YAY to you for making a phone call in a foreign language - that is a HUGE achievement!

  11. agreed! so so important for our kids to witness!
    Good luck with all your fabulous learnings.

  12. aww thanks lovely! Love your work xx

  13. Such an inspiring read GG - I love seeing all your new tricks as well as your old.

  14. Katie Rainbird2 May 2015 at 23:47

    Oh I LOVE this. I love wonky and imperfect. And I love being able to look at others with an initial pang of jealousy but be gracious enough to swap it for admiration. You are a really top chick. x x x

  15. Love it!! Love your hound too we had one growing up...so beautiful!

  16. I've been attempting to learn oodles of technical things lately what seems to have come from that is the lost of learning anything tangible. You've made me realise I need a few tangible things to balance it all out. Love this post xx

  17. Ok Ruth, now you have got rid of my excuses about my sister stealing all the crafty/sewing genes in the family. Might be time to dust off the old sewing machine. Love your motto.

  18. Ah, such a great post. All the things I'm thinking about at the moment and struggling to be okay with not being the best. I'm just in the midst of a wheel throwing class and I'm loving it but there are plenty of wonky bowls and wobbly cylinders. I'm learning to love the residue of the handmade and loving laughing at myself. We aren't machines after all. Thanks!


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