10 Things We Learned in 2012

It’s almost Thanksgiving. Last week was busy, and this week is going to be crazy. We almost decided to skip a new post today, but then we saw the Monday Listicles writing topic and we knew we had to participate.

Write about: 10 things you learned in 2012. (Actual skill or enlightenment)

Oh, man, it was perfect for us! We’ve both been on quite a journey of discovery over the last 12 months. There are so many skills we’ve learned and ways in which we have become enlightened. It would be a crime for us not to share them with you!

New Physical Skills

#1   Parkour (Lisa): Some of you might know this form of scaling obstacles as “free running”, but we enthusiasts prefer the more traditional “parkour”. It requires no equipment– just the desire to run, jump, and flip over obstacles in your way with abandon. Although it can be done anywhere, a city is the best place to find buildings and other structures with enough height to be challenging. It does take a bit of a dare devil’s heart to take to the streets of Uptown Charlotte for an afternoon session, but I have come to love the adrenaline rush!

#2   Cane Fu training (Ashley): For the uninitiated, Cane Fu is a fantastic activity that takes canes and melds them with exercise into a kick-ass self defense method that can be practiced from the seated or standing position. I first discovered it when my father started training with Grand Master Mark Sheuy (owner of Cane Masters which has been featured on ABC’s hit show 20/20). Although the training can be grueling, it’s completely rewarding to know that I have 24 simple and effective ways to take down attackers should the need arise. I don’t use a cane in everyday life, of course, but for training I sport a standard street cane. I have the hopes of upgrading to a custom hickory diamond shafted serrated cane at the beginning of 2013. You don’t even want to know what I have in mind for bad guys with those serrated edges!!

New Skills of the Mind

#3   Committing the US Constitution to memory (Lisa): I believe the mind is a muscle. If you don’t exercise it, it will atrophy. The last thing I can afford is for my mind muscle to become as puny as my abs. I needed a challenge to bring my brain up to the 6 pack form it deserves. Since it was an election year and I was feeling patriotic, memorizing the US Constitution seemed to be the perfect fit. I went with the original draft of 1787 which consists of 4618 words (including the signatures). If we had 13 months in the year I might have been able to complete all 27 amendments as well, but that is a task I happily have on the schedule for 2013.

#4   Working toward a PhD in 19th Century French Literature (Ashley): It’s no secret that I’ve always been a Francophile, but I stepped away from my love of French Lit when I entered nursing school. Now that I have more free time than ever, this year was the perfect time to rekindle this dear love of mine and go even further with my academic studies. I’ve enjoyed diving headfirst into the works of Victor Hugo, François-René de Chateaubriand, and Alphonse de Lamartine in their original French. I know you are thinking, “So many romantics, why no realists on your list?” I know! But this time around I am focusing on what brings me the most joy!

New Skills That Brought Us Back to Basics

#5   Making our own soap (Lisa): After reading several different pins on Pinterest to prepare me, I decided that this was the way to go for our family. Yes, it’s easier to visit aisle 6 at Target and be done with it, but I was tired of my family being slathered in chemicals and artificial fragrance. They deserve to be treated with all natural, organic ingredients just like our forefathers. I prefer the cold process method and have had fantastic results (except once when my lye solution ate a hole in my plastic glove). My family truly appreciates and respects this use of my time especially because I am learning to whittle their likeness into my soaps! This way everyone has their own personal bar that looks just like them!

#6   Operating my weaving loom (Ashley): This year brought one of the biggest joys into my life: my beautiful Ashford Inkle Loom. Nothing brings me more happiness that making things from scratch. I am as crafty as they come. Until this year, however, I’d never really taken things back to their true basics by weaving fabric from thread. My loom is my treasure. I can weave anything you desire: shoelaces, trim, tassels, computer bag straps–you name it ! My designs just keep getting more and more intricate!


New Artistic Skills

#7   Competitive sand sculpting (Lisa): I didn’t start this until late in the year when I came upon a President Obama sand sculpture while practicing parkour in Uptown Charlotte during Labor Day festivities. I was taken aback by the incredible medium. It’s so tactile and elemental and ready to be worked into any creation your mind can conjure. It’s like art in its purest form. Entering competitions almost seems crass when you are talking about true artistic expression, but I found that the competitive experience really helped me liberate the inherent creations lurking in my mind space.

#8   Urban tango dancing (Ashley): Ever since Dancing With The Stars premiered in 2005, I have been itching to learn this gorgeous art. When I first entered the studio, I was unsure if I would focus my attentions on ballroom or Latin dance. Once I finished the rigorous evaluation process, it was determined that tango was the best for my body type and temperament. Since then I have sub-specialized in the demanding discipline of urban tango. It has all that traditional tango offers but with a gritty realism seldom associated with the glitz and glamour of the ballroom. It frees my soul.

New Enlightnment

#9   Discovering and wearing my signature color every day (Lisa): One night I came across Steel Magnolias playing on TBS commercial free. When it got to the scene where Shelby explained her two signature colors of blush and bashful to her mom, I realized what my life was lacking– a signature color of my own. As I meditated on what color brought me the most joy, several crossed my mind but none stuck like a specific hue of yellow-brown. It’s HTML color A18600, but I like to call it Hazelton Copper Brown (HCB). It just spoke to me, you know? It made me feel grounded with its earthiness, free with its charm and effervescence, and enveloped with its warmth. Since that day I have worn an article of clothing featuring HCB every day. It’s a hard color to find, so I even handcrafted some accessory bows and pins to wear in a pinch. I wanted to color my hair HCB, but my stylist thought it didn’t compliment my coloring properly. Instead, I went with a small streak of HCB under all my hair at the nape of my neck. I consider it my talisman.

#10  Recognizing my spirit animal (Ashley): It happened this summer during a visit to the Carolina Raptor Center. As I made my way around the different enclosures and perches, I locked eyes with the most beautiful animal I have ever beheld: a bald eagle. The wisdom and majesty of this sacred animal emanated from it’s golden eyes, the whiteness of it’s crown spoke of it’s purity and nobility, and the strength of its talons gave it an aura of danger and ferocity. It was as if I was looking in a mirror at my true spirit. Since then, the eagle has been with me in my heart–guiding me, protecting me, and making me a better person. One of my most cherished possessions, now, is a small eagle cast in pewter that is never far from my reach. My life’s experiences have been enriched and magnified since the bald eagle has made its nest in my soul.

Boy, what an eventful year! Well, it would have been if any of that had actually happened. Honestly, most of the things we’ve learned in 2012 have to do with blogging, social media, and website code. Since that would make for pretty dull reading, we thought we’d spice it up a bit for you. You’re welcome.

Okay…now we’ll tell it like it *really* is

#1   Parkour (Lisa): Having been nicknamed by her parents “Cautious Clem” at the age of 8, there is literally nothing about this activity that appeals to Lisa. Just seeing those people perform all of those stunts (WITHOUT HEAD PROTECTION) while trying to find a youtube video to link made her want to cry for their mothers. She welcomes no adrenaline rushes of any kind…ever.

#2   Cane Fu training (Ashley): Sadly, Cane Fu remains an elusive dream to Ashley. She’s never taken a course and has never even see the 20/20 episode where it was featured. Her dad has, though, and loves it. He even flew to California for a retreat weekend to take special classes from Grand Master Mark Shuey himself. Since the diamond shaft serrated hickory cane will set you back $200, it’s probably for the best Ashley only vicariously participates through her dad.

#3   Committing the US Constitution to memory (Lisa): First off, a disclaimer: Lisa went to a fully accredited medical school and acknowledges the structural and functional differences in neural and muscular tissue. She knows the brain is not a muscle. While memorizing the US Constitution would certainly be something a person could do, that person will have to be someone else because Lisa needs those circuits for more important things like remembering how old she is. She does know the entire Preamble to the US Constitution, but she learned it from School House Rock like everybody else.

#4 Working toward a PhD in 19th Century French Literature (Ashley): Ashley doesn’t actually know the first thing about French Literature. She majored in Sociology in college. She doesn’t have any free time for studying anything, and the fact that she hasn’t taken a French class since 9th grade would seriously impede her ability to read the romantic classics in that language. She even had to Google “19th Century French Literature” to get names to include. She will definitely be seeing the movie Les Misérables when it opens later this year–but only because Lisa will drag her to it.

#5   Making our own soap (Lisa): Lisa has never, ever abandoned anything for being too easy or too artificial. She has never seen a pin on Pinterest about making soap, but is sure they exist. She has never wanted to imitate our forefathers. They couldn’t even get their gray hair colored.

#6   Operating my weaving loom (Ashley): Ashley is the worst crafter of all time. She doesn’t even know what Modge Podge is and has never entered Michael’s of her own free will. Weaving is totally out of the question. She doesn’t have the counter space needed for a loom and if she did, she’d put it to good use with piles of school papers and junk mail.

#7   Competitive sand sculpting (Lisa): Lisa can’t even make decent sandcastles at the beach using an upturned bucket. The heat and the dirtiness of the entire process comes between her and her ability to enjoy a good book under an umbrella while slathered in SPF 1000. Her sole artistic outlet is writing things on photographs for this blog, and that’s how she likes it. She did take this picture of the Obama sand sculpture, though.

#8   Urban tango dancing (Ashley): Much to Lisa’s regret, Ashley has never seen a single episode of Dancing With The Stars. Ashley would never be tempted to use one minute of free time dancing where other human beings could witness it. Urban tango is a completely made up ballroom phenomenon, and that suits her just fine.

#9   Discovering and wearing my signature color every day (Lisa): Lisa doesn’t have a signature color and if she did it would have to be black since that is the color of the majority of her yoga pants. She’d certainly never pick a color that is identical to the seedy poop of breastfed babies. She’s also never had a talisman in her life unless you count an eraser she took to every test in college. And honestly that was only because it erased really, really well.

#10  Recognizing my spirit animal (Ashley): Ashley has a strong dislike of all things avian. Birds totally and completely creep her out. Just the thought of the Carolina Raptor Center makes her want to rock in the corner and sob silently, although she’s sure it’s a lovely place for other people to visit. And let’s face it, if Ashley had a spirit animal it would have to be the honey badger because it just doesn’t give a damn.

What fake skills or enlightenments do you wish you had learned in 2012?



10 Things We Learned in 2012 — 68 Comments

  1. You had me at first! LOL — Can’t say jumping from buildings appeals too much to me either… And I like my soap in a box, from the store. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping in on my SITS day! Have a great week!

  2. I loved your list! You really had me going – I was all prepared to make a comment how you ladies were UNREAL in all of your talent and who has time for all of that? It would be awesome but too shameful for the rest of us! Cheers!

    • We really would be unreal…and I think more than just a little bit creepy if we felt that way about all of those things at once. Blech!!! 🙂

  3. LOL Wow! I was reading that first list and thinking to myself, “Yah, no…That doesn’t seem right…” and when I got to the real list, I had a good laugh. 🙂 I think we all have those things we see and go “If only…” or “NO WAY WOULD I DO THAT! Are they NUTS?!?!?” or “Who is trying to upstage Martha Stewart now, huh, huh!?!” 🙂 Honestly, I have my “bucket list” so to speak, but mostly, life is too crazy being the mom of 3 to even think about tackling any of it now. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    • I bet your bucket list is filled with fantastic things! The top thing on my REAL list of things I’d like to learn is Italian…because I want to go to Italy (which is thing number 2 on my list). THAT is something I could get behind on a list much more than a spirit animal! (especially if it’s a creepy bird)

      • That’s cool! My number one thing is probably conquer my fear of heights and flying so that I can go on a REAL vacation with hubby. I’ve always wanted to go overseas to Scotland or Ireland, maybe England. Anyway…long way to go until I’m there, but maybe one day…And good luck with the Italian! 🙂

  4. I was totally believing you at first. Wow, I didn’t know Ashley had a loom! Thank you for correcting it and not making me feel like a total slug. Super funny column, thanks.

  5. Good one you guys, you had me fooled for a second. I thought #1, Lisa wouldn’t really do that, then #2 I knew was really fishy. (Sorry Ashley).

    • I am so happy you knew right away I wouldn’t be stupid enough to flop around on a bunch of buildings, Bill! I bet Ashley would be really formidable with one of those serrated canes, though. I wouldn’t want to be the one to cross her!!! 🙂

  6. I am laughing so hard, I am afraid I am going to pee. Do you know why? We spend so much time saying we are the same people and when I was reading the first list, I thought, “Wow, we really are not the same people at all” and then I thought, “How did I not know that Ashley was getting a PhD?” Then I read the second list and laughed my @ss off. And for the record, I am TOTALLY creeped out by birds and I’ve never seen an episode of DWTS. Funny, funny post!

  7. I was reading the first part looking at the last 12 months of my life like, Damn…I haven’t done anything compared to these ladies! LOL! Good one! I’m glad to know I’m not failing as much at life as I thought!

    • No ego crushing around here, Stephanie! In fact, most people feel pretty darn good when they are comparing themselves to us! 🙂

    • Hey, I speak French a little…ish. I really don’t want to see the movie, but there will be popcorn there so I’ll suck it up and go.

  8. OMGosh….I’m SO glad I took the time to read all the way to the end of this, because I was really thinking what an aweful Aunt I must be!! All I could do was think “OMG, I didn’t even know these things about my own niece!!! This is not the ASH I ‘thought’ I knew!!” Phew!! Turns out, I do know you after-all and yes, I can still relate to you :)!! Very funny girls!! Glad you didn’t go and get all “creative & industrious” on us 🙂 Keep on keeping it real!!

    • Hahahahahahaha! Don’t worry, Connie. We won’t be going all creepy/creative/industrious on you any time soon! We’ve got too much laundry to do!

  9. I love this post. It started with my being impressed with all that you have been doing and learning and it ended with my being impressed that you came up with this wonderful idea for a post.

    • Aw, thanks! We actually had a blast coming up with stupid things we might have learned. It was way more interesting than things we actually learned (like how to make a favicon for your website!)

  10. OMG this brought tears of laughter to my eyes. At first I was feeling bad about my slacker-ness, then I started to get pissed off (around the making your own soap bit) and was thinking I might not be able to comment because I couldn’t think of any non-bitchy thing to say. I was hugely relieved to read the actual list. Awesome Listicle!

    • Now I can’t stop laughing. Can you imagine how insufferable people would have to be for all of this to be true? I would be having *the exact* same reaction: What on earth can I comment to these weirdos without making fun of them?! Hahahaha! So glad we actually join everyone else in slacker-dom!! 🙂

  11. This article made me laugh outloud by myself!!! The urban tango dancing, whittling personalized soap, your spirit animal and my favorite one – the forefathers did not even know how to color gray hair. This is just the best – how did you all come up with it??? Thanks so much for the chuckle!

    • Hahahaha. You’d be surprised what stupid things you can come up with when one person is half dead from traveling and the other is hyped up on Sudafed. 🙂

  12. I’m really curious about my spirit animal. This may be something I spend the day researching. I think I will also try to add the skill of rip boarding to my list. Your sense of adventure and “out of the box” goals is inspiring….and hysterical!

    • Oh, yes! You should definitely spend some time contemplating your spirit animal. It will fill you with joy!
      Definitely get into rip boarding. You’ve got to report back to us what it’s brought to your life…if you survive!!! 😉

    • I’m glad you read on to the second list!
      We wonder how many people lost interest before the second list and think a parkouring soap whittler and a cane fighting tango dancer are writing this blog.

    • And who would have blamed you, Jill? Nobody could relate to people who would recite the Constitution while weaving you a shoelace. We’re lucky you scrolled down!! 🙂

  13. BRILLIANT!!! I seriously started to freak OUT reading the first list. I could not believe what I was reading!! I thought, man I am soooo not in their league. Where the HE– do they have time to be doing all that stuff? I was shrinking smaller and smaller…as I read more. And I hoped just maybe….as I scrolled down….OH YAY!!! They still are the BESTIES I know and love! 🙂 Hilarious.

    • Oh, Chris! Hahahahahaha!!! I am SO glad you kept reading. I can just see us wondering “What ever happened to Chris? She never reads the blog anymore.” and because you were backing slowly away from the crazy people afraid we’d try to whittle your face in a bar of soap or something. 🙂 Whew!!! That was a close one!!

  14. If you make your own soap, do you get to participate in that club you’re not supposed to talk about with Brad Pitt and Ed Norton? If so, I’ll sign up for pinterest.

    • I can’t even tell you how much I love this comment! I was *this* close to writing, “Although it made me feel a little Fight Clubby at first, I decided to go for it” in the post but I was too worried nobody would remember that from the movie–or they WOULD remember where they got the fat and be too grossed out to keep reading. You made my night!! 🙂

  15. First of all I am so glad all that was not true because with every point I read, my self-esteem dropped 11.5 points 🙁 cos I have accomplished nothing.

    Also, when I thought they were true, I was super impressed with you all except for Lisa’s ‘signature color’. I read that one, too a peek at the color and tried to think of a way to politely tell you it was gross.

    This was such a fun post to read…I love it! 😀

    • Xae, I cannot stop laughing!! I wish I had seen the verbal gymnastics you would have had to do to let me know that color was hideous without hurting my feelings. BWAH!!!! (And it is a shame that Ashley will not tango dance. The world is missing out on a treat.)

  16. Oh.my.goodness! Let me just tell you that I read the first 8 and had to go to bed. All night and the next day I couldn’t help thinking how lack luster my life seemed in comparison. I wanted to make soap! I wanted to do that crazy Parkour (or at least watch someone else do it!). I wanted to take self defense classes (not sure about the whole cane thing). I am so relieved to have come back to this post for reality! You seriously got me! Awesome post. 🙂

  17. Too funny! I was so impressed…. Loved this idea for a post. I wish I could say I mastered Google+ , seriously, I just do not like it. I have a page for myself and my blog and I share stuff and….nothing. Oh well, maybe next year! Hope your Thanksgiving was great Ashley!

    • Girl, we feel your pain with the Google+ thing! Honestly, it is like a foreign language…no matter how hard we try, we can’t figure it out! 😉 Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving also!

  18. I’m a little behind on my doses of reality – but…so glad I did not pass up this one! You both had me laughing so hard and questioning myself – I was feeling bad that I just saw Ashley and did not know she was going for her PhD! I was, after all, preoccupied with my wedding! LOL – so, good one, ladies – I needed this comic relief as I re-enter the real world after my honeymoon! Loved this!

    • Poor Debbie!! We did not mean to throw you for a PhD loop! The day Ashley takes up Urban Tango Dancing will be a banner day. (but I’m not holding my breath)

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