Later learning new skills that are old hat to others, can feel daunting as well as be fraught with all kinds of baggage we might bring to the task. Leaving your bags on the sidewalk and learning to drive later in life. — BadWitch
P.S. HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all our friends and families! Just before your first bite into that turkey (or tofurkey), think of GWBW giving thanks for you. Peace.
Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — Is it crazy to think I can learn to drive at 32? Unfortunately, I have no choice since I moved to a suburb where everything is miles and miles away. I’m scared and nervous but I think I can do it. Any ideas to relax more or study for the written test better? — Former Ms. Daisy
Dear Former Ms. Daisy,
Lovin’ it! While I know I’ll get flack from some greenies, I gotsta be me. I love to drive. As a Cali kid, I can’t identify with not driving, but I feel your pain universally when we all try to learn something new — or “teach an old dog a new trick.” I want you to shout your enthusiasm for this task from the rooftops, because you will not only be learning new skills, becoming more mobile, but also seeing things in new ways and physically using old muscles differently, too. This is how brain plasticity is stretched and utilized to help us build new neurons and fire more synaptic connections, and this helps us build the “brainage” (my word) that helps stave off degenerative brain issues.
As for the driving specifically (in my experience, written tests aren’t designed to be tricky and just requires standard studying. Do look up (your state’s laws on) the ones that tend to trip up people like “What does a yellow light mean?” – hint, it’s not speeding up! Some states have sample tests online), Former Ms. Daisy, practice makes perfect (and for another driver I would want around me and my sled). While learning to master your vehicle and skills behind the wheel, stay off busy city streets loaded with other vehicles and pedestrians. My dad took me in circles around an empty business park (streets, driveways, parked cars, traffic signs and lights to obey) on a Sunday, then we hit the freeway home. Because of where we lived, we moved on quickly to a mix of city streets and highway. When you’re more comfortable with the concept of propelling forward a ton or two of metal with your mere foot, seek environments that echo (then challenge) your daily commute and short jaunts. Have fun! Wheeee!, I do enjoy driving and welcome others on the road who have genuine enthusiasm, too. Passion over fear makes for a safer driving environment.
“D” on, baby!
Dear Former Ms. Daisy,
Grrrrllllll, please, claim your freedom! It’s CRAZY to think you should not or could not learn to drive because you…32! I did not learn to drive until I was almost 27. One of my best friends is learning to drive now at 39. One of my aunt’s did not learn to drive until she turned some age above the marker of 39, which a polite Southern lady will never discuss.
In truth, this is a great thing to do for your self-confidence and your brain. Continued learning and “exercise” of the brain has been clinically proven to slow the onset of alzheimers. Learning to step beyond your comfort zone to discover the world beyond your previously determined boundaries is excellent for personal growth, as well as a defining moment in upgrading your assessment of your capabilities.
Know that you can do it! Take one section of the driver’s manual at a time. Lemongrass essential oil can help you focus at study time. Review, review, review and talk to other drivers you know about what you are studying. Ask questions and point out other driver’s maneuvers when you are in the car with friends and/or family. You’ll get a real world sense of why the rules of the road are what they are.
Then log in your driving time with reliable, responsible drivers—preferably compassionate and calm. However, one cannot always choose who will be willing to risk their car and limbs to teach you to drive. So practice relaxation techniques] in the 15 to 30 minutes BEFORE your driving lesson. It will help you be more present and relaxed when you start to drive.
You can do this. And it is how we rise to our challenges that defines us—not that we are faced with difficult tasks. Face the challenge, head on, knowing that persistence, perseverance and patience are needed to succeed. Also know that it is not as hard as you think it is. Your body memory is being reset with new input. Relax. Pay attention and go for it. Welcome to the driver’s freedom trail.
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