Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cultivate the Mind

A woman has to be intelligent, have charm, a sense of humor, and be kind. It's the same qualities I require from a man.
--French actress Catherine Deneuve

Style is not solely a material concern.

Although clothing, accessories, and products can all be used to enhance one's beauty-- the most permanent element of a beautiful woman is her mind.

Just as we update our personal style and the items in our closets, it is equally important to provide new material for our minds. Learning should not end with one's formal education! It is easy to slump into a routine where the only new material that we consume is what we have seen on reality TV and Facebook. (I too, have been guilty of this!)

What I love about travelling is that it is the surest way to immerse oneself in learning, culture, and history. Most tourists would not want to while away their vacation hours in a hotel room watching reruns of The Jersey Shore. Aside from the occasional photo update (intended to make Facebook friends envious), travelers find themselves exploring a new landscape, trying new foods, visiting a famous museum, or braving a foreign language. Whether we realize it or not, the thrill of learning something new is a great part of why we enjoy our vacations so much.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a symposium for teachers of developmental writers. Now, I’m sure that to many of you, this may seem like an awful way to spend a Saturday morning. At one time, I might have agreed! However, I’ve recently started a new career that I thoroughly enjoy. So not only did this symposium help me to learn from and network with other professionals in my field, but also it was truly interesting to me. I did not attend the symposium because of a feeling of professional obligation or the fact that I would like to make a name for myself; but rather, I genuinely wanted to learn something new. It was a fun change to be on the other side of the lecture podium!

Taking advantage of opportunities for education and intellectual growth is a certain way to become more interesting, relevant, and overall more confident. Being chic is about so much more than just being another pretty face! Being able to converse well on a range of issues is a sure way to enhance one’s quality of life and reputation as someone worth getting to know.

Attending the symposium last weekend was a great opportunity for me to pick up some new teaching and writing concepts that I look forward to practicing and discussing with other professionals. The few morning hours that I spent there Saturday were well worth it! I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn so much in such a short span of time. Weekend workshops or conferences are a great way to introduce oneself to new ideas and concepts.

In addition to short-term educational opportunities, there are plenty of long-range projects that are sure ways to stimulate your mind—if one can find the time! Here are some potential intellectual pursuits that one could try.

Personally, I’ve been trying to teach myself German for the past decade or so… I should, and would love to, commit to learning a new language more thoroughly! What are your ambitions for learning something new?

The above photo was taken by me of the home of the Poet-in-Residence in Bamberg, Germany in 2010.


  1. For a musical instrument, might I reccommend the ukulele? Always classy...

  2. I would love to learn French, especially if I ever travel to Paris. Learning keeps life interesting. Thanks for the shout out to my blog!

  3. The ukulele is a fabulous intstrument, Tess! I've always loved Marilyn Monroe's ukulele scenes in "Some Like It Hot."

    Sara, your blog is a wonderful example of learning something new! Your projects are inspiring.