Rekindle Old School Skills In the New Year
By Cheryl Pangborn / February 1, 2014

I heard the statement recently that Americans are losing their basic life skills. It really gave me pause.

The comment was made by the author of a cookbook offering simplistic recipes to help people get back in the kitchen. She claimed people aren't cooking anymore, but are choosing to eat out more often.

It did occur to me that I've definitely been taking the easy road, more often than not, at dinner time. I've been spending an obscene amount of time at the Fresh Market, picking up pre-prepared options for dinner and pacifying my conscience by claiming I'm making dinner. It's more like I'm serving din=ner. Someone else prepared it, in a marvelous way, I might add. I'm just slapping delightful pecan-crusted chicken in a baking dish and dumping a fresh pre-made salad in a bowl, then taking credit for a lovely meal.

When my daughter was given the option to buy lunch for the entire first quarter of school, I was silent=ly begging, "Do it. Just do it."

Seriously, making a turkey sandwich is too much pressure? What hap=pened to me? When did I go from domestic darling to dinner diva?

I noticed something similar when I was working one day, multi-tasking like crazy. Let me digress by saying I am a huge iPhone Siri fan. I've witnessed the excitement in folks when they first get an iPhone at the prospect of Siri. But, few embrace her as a BFF once she ignores them, re=fuses to cooperate, or seems like she's not capable of under=standing the English language. I fought for my relationship with Siri, until she came to understand that I need her to work with and for me.

Back to my busy day with texts and emails coming in to beat the band. There was one in particular I wanted to respond to, but, subconsciously, I just didn't want to take the time to go into my email and type a response. Then I took it a step further and thought I didn't even want to expend the effort to dictate it to Siri.

Am I at the point that I want Siri to literally extract the infor=mation out of me telepathically? Again, I ask: what happened to me? Forget actually writing a letter with pen and paper. Even typing out an email is too involved. Then, voice record=ing it is a drag. Not sure if that's losing a life skill or just lazy.

I see that many of the activities I've enjoyed over the years have disappeared from my routine, in favor of efficient and quick options offered by technology. Since I've had a Kindle, I haven't perused the aisles of the local library in years. And, if my husband, who is still an old school book reader, wants to go into Barnes & Noble, I'm like, "Ugh. What will I do there?"

At least it has a Starbucks where I can pass the time with a latte. Would it be too much trouble for the library to make a drive-through combo with a Starbucks? Then, maybe I could justify the visit. I had to ask myself: do I do anything "old school lifestyle" anymore? Wait! I've got it: I still balance my checkbook the old fashioned way with bank statement and calculator.

I used to cross-stitch in my pre-wee people, pre-technology world. I did an entire cross-stitch alphabet pic=ture for my son in maybe three months, before he was born. Now, I'd be lucky to finish the "A" with the picture of an apple.

Christmas shopping? I barely set foot in a store last year, opting to do most of my shopping online and the other half I did at the trusty "Gift Card Center" at Publix. Speak=ing of shopping, I actually find myself getting annoyed if a store will not accept a virtual coupon that I show them on my phone. Am I expected to turn on my printer and laptop at home and print it out? Then I remember that I don't have to turn on my laptop anymore, because, with my iPhone, I can print right from my IOS device.

In 2014, can I reverse at least one activity in my life that gives me back a life skill? Do I go back to Holly Hobby the cross stitcher? Do I power the Kindle down and force my=self to visit the library? Do I vow to make an actual meal, prepared by my hand at least a few times a week? This might be one of the biggest challenges I've ever faced at the start of a new year, but I am determined to start somewhere. Maybe I'll just find a Hallmark store and buy a card for someone special in my life weekly. Or, perhaps, I'll print and organize all the pictures I've stored on my computer.

I say to you all: happy New Year. May you reconnect with something a little bit yesterday in 2014. ©

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