Over the past six months I’ve been traveling and talking to women across the country about the biggest lessons they’ve learned in life and work — especially those lessons that overlap both worlds. And while some people have totally unique ways of approaching things, I’ve found a few universal truths, the biggest being that we should always be learning.
When I interviewed everyone for In the Company of Women I loved discovering that almost every woman featured in the book was learning a new skill, a new language or just a new way of looking at the world on a regular basis. They all reminded me how important it is to keep your mind fresh, to start over at the bottom of a learning curve and to challenge your mind on a regular basis. So last week I decided to take their advice and sign up for a class on Skillshare. My wife Julia taught a baking series on Skillshare last year so I decided to try three different classes in categories we use a lot here: photography, crafts and food.
When I chose my first class, I immediately looked around to see if any of the women from In the Company of Women had created classes and to my delight, I found Olimpia! Olimpia Zagnoli is an incredible graphic designer and she created a fun and easy class (just under an hour and a half long) dedicated not just to teaching you some graphic design fundamentals, but also about color and combining shapes and hues for dramatic effect. For years I used to sit next to Max Tielman at our office in Brooklyn and marvel at the way he combined colors effortlessly, so that was my biggest goal for this project. The self portrait was probably the hardest challenge but the most fun. If you haven’t tried to create your own self portrait since school days (like me), this is definitely a fun class to take because Olimpia’s cool, calm demeanor makes you feel safe to try something you haven’t done in a long time (or maybe ever!) and really enjoy it. You can see Olimpia’s class here.
Living with Type 1 Diabetes means adhering to a pretty strict (but still delicious) diet that focuses mainly on super-healthy foods and eating as many plant-based things as possible. I’ve got a pretty steady rotation of meals I can eat, so I thought it would be fun to switch it up a bit and learn some ways to spruce up my water routine and learn how to make herb, flower and fruit-infused teas from Katie Glenn. This class was about the same length as the first (just under an hour and a half) and covered a wide range of ways to dress up your day-to-day water without adding a ton of sugar (real or fake) and using all-natural ingredients. With summer upon us, this is a recipe and skill set I will be relying on heavily in the coming months. My favorite aspect of this fun class (this would be a great class to do with friends and make a little tea station so people can customize their drinks at brunch!) was learning more about pairing combos. I usually stick to one flavor (like mint or strawberry), but learning to mix things up (literally and figuratively) by adding ingredients like fresh ginger and rosemary was really helpful. So now when I’m bored and trying to trick myself into drinking more water during the day, I can keep things interesting by adding some unexpected extras. And, if you’re like me and don’t drink coffee, the tea brewing chart that comes with this class will come in handy — it’s a great quick guide to refer to when making a tisane or tea. You can take a peek at this class right here.
For my final class I decided to tackle a skill that I thought could home in handy for me personally over the next few months. Julia and I are working on a special project that will have us in and out of Boston a lot this summer and fall, and I decided I wanted to make an actual scrapbook (because most of our family memories are on Instagram and not actually printed out, eek!) to remember our time there. My own photo skills are a little lacking, so I thought Jamal Burger’s Street Photography class would be a good way to start. While I loved the tips on symmetry and composition (perfect for shooting tall city buildings), what hit me the most about this class was what Jamal calls the “Stride By,” which is a style of photographing people, mid-stride, in the city. I found out that Jamal used to study Kinesiology and I think that background in movement and the human body really informs the way he looks at how people move through an urban environment. His lessons (all taught in a quick 32 minutes!) really inspired me to look for that contrast (a real theme in all of these classes) between humans and buildings and the way you can highlight such beautiful, quick movement by contrasting it against a more fixed city landscape. I’ll be posting all of the pictures I take on Instagram this summer, so stay tuned — hopefully Jamal’s lessons will have sunken in and helped my shutterbug goals. Visit this photography class here.
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