Pursuing Passion 

Show your kids there is always something new to learn

By Melanie Mosher
Photography by Bruce Murray/VisionFire

Spring is a time of renewed energy, and often a time for goal setting. When we’re in the weeds of parenting, it’s sometimes difficult to carve out time for our passions, because we’re invested in nurturing our children’s passions. Taking time to hone a skill, learn something, and discover new passions or reconnect with old ones, is proven to be restorative.

Learning is a form of self-care and an opportunity for me-time. It improves brain function, increases self-esteem, and boosts creativity. In the process, you will be a student and a teacher, showing your child one can learn new things regardless of age. 

The Alzheimer’s Society of Nova Scotia, under the category of brain-healthy tips, says on its website: “By constantly learning new things and challenging your brain throughout your life, you can help build your cognitive reserve. Learning a new language and taking up new hobbies are good examples of brain-challenging activities.”

Adult learning programs provided by the Canadian government, NSCC continuing education courses, local recreation centres, community organizations, online classes, and YouTube videos provide options for everyone. 

Nova Scotia Health offers a wide range of wellness courses at no cost to participants. “Whether it’s a yoga class, education to help manage your chronic illness or an open board meeting, we encourage you to explore new opportunities for you and your loved ones to learn, grow and engage with your health,” according to the website. Offerings include yoga, nutrition, parenting skills, stress management, and assertiveness training.

Sixty-eight facilities are listed under the umbrella of HRM recreation, offering community programs at affordable rates. Although some courses have been adjusted during COVID restrictions, they include a wide variety of choices like dance, drawing, gardening, painting, and Zumba.

Author Clare O’Connor believes nature and curiosity ignites passion.  She takes time to explore with daughter Olivia and incorporates play into all of their learning adventures. Photo by Bruce Murray/VisionFire
Author Clare O’Connor believes nature and curiosity ignites passion. She takes time to explore with daughter Olivia and incorporates play into all of their learning adventures. Photo by Bruce Murray/VisionFire

With the ease of Zoom, organizations like the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia offer more courses than ever, reaching an extended audience. Not having to consider travel, facilitators and instructors are able to share their knowledge from across the province. Participants from across the country are given the opportunity to be involved.

Clare O’Connor, children’s author and parent in Halifax, has participated in many workshops and courses. 

“I want to demonstrate to my daughter that it’s important to pursue the things that really interest you,” she says. “It serves no one to have your energy depleted. The more excited I get about the things I am working on and learning, the more energy it gives me. More energy for her and for life,” says O’Connor.

Jillian Mosher, personal banker and parent in Dartmouth, studied for the Canadian Securities exam to become licensed to sell mutual funds with BMO, her current employer. These studies took place prior to COVID. During the pandemic she continued with online learning. 

“I also took the Indigenous Canada course through University of Alberta last year,” says Mosher. “The securities exam was stressful since it was closely related to how far I could get with my current job. But completing the course and passing was incredibly satisfying. The Indigenous Canada course was an incredible eye opener for me. So much I didn’t know about the past and present.”

O’Connor shares her experience with her five-year-old daughter. “I also consider it good modelling for my daughter. She gets to witness me taking time to challenge myself and my brain in a different way. Then we can talk about it,” says O’Connor.
A conversation that can be built around what they both learned in school.

Mosher’s daughter is 10. “She thought it was silly sometimes, me studying after working all day. I don’t think she had thought much about school and learning once you’re an adult. She certainly had zero interest to learn about equities and income funds, but the Indigenous Canada course started lots of conversation about discrimination and injustice,” says Mosher. 

Finding time for yourself and taking time away from parenting can be difficult but it is important. “It’s all about juggling,” says Mosher. “After a long day at work and her having a long day at school the rest of the evening is typically us time. So, I had to find things that didn’t take away from that. I packed up my books and would take her to the beach with friends.”

Respecting one’s own needs is essential for parents. “I need to be creative. I need to fulfill that part of me, and it makes me a better parent,” says O’Connor. She also wants her daughter to know that all skills take learning. Writing a book or playing the piano doesn’t just happen, you have to work at it in order to learn the craft.

Maybe you want to learn how to cook new cuisine. Have you always wanted to paint, but never felt you could? Maybe you want to pursue new studies. With online learning options offered by reputable universities and colleges you can earn degrees and diplomas from the convenience of your own home.

Learn like a beginner and savour the feeling of new discoveries, studying alongside your children. Take the plunge and explore the options. The hardest part will be deciding where to begin. 

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