_DSC6574I’ve been re-reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, one of my all time favorite books.  Since I have more free time now than I have ever had as an adult, it got me thinking about what it is that makes me happy and what I enjoy doing.  I’m definitely at my happiest when I’m reading, studying and learning new things.  Books have always been my favorite things, and my best helpers.

To keep myself happy and busy I have settled on a course of study.  I always thought I would have been a professional student given the opportunity.  So, with the phrase “why not” firmly in my head, I have started my own university right here at home.  I am taking five classes.  My criteria was that it had to be something I would enjoy, and that the resources to do it had to be (mostly) free.  Shopping on my own bookshelves was very fruitful indeed.

I have assigned myself reading – two chapters from each book per month.  There is also supplemental reading, homework, and practical assignments.

1. Home Organization.  I’m a bit of an organizing junky,  love making something out of nothing, and order out of chaos.  My textbook for this class is One Year to an Organized Life by Regina Leeds.  I am also a huge fan of Project Organize Your Entire Life.  And of course, my nemesis, Pinterest.

2. Personal Finance.  I may not enjoy this, but I will enjoy the end result.  While I know more about this than any of the other topics of have chosen, I have not implemented it as well as I could, especially for our changing lives.  In the past three years, we had two children, moved internationally, and went from two incomes to one.  My textbook is Suze Orman’s The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom.  I will supplement this with a few favorite frugal living websites – The Frugal Girl comes to mind.

3. PE. My textbook is I Need to Get In Shape Now What.  The title of the book says it all. Running is really not such a great exercise option around here, so my PE class includes swimming lessons.  Thankfully, the swim instructor is VERY nice, and has the patience of a saint.  This is probably the only time I cannot use the excuse that I have no time.

4. Mindful Family Life.  It is sometimes hard to be the intentional mom and wife I want to be.   I love doing activities with the boys, but don’t always know where to start.  I’m always inspired by Amanda Soule at Soulemama, so I’m using her book The Rhythm of Family as inspiration, and adding Every Day’s a Holiday by Heidi Kenney and The Toddler Busy Book by Trish Kuffner to come up with new activities.  And again, there is always Pinterest.  In this case, I have decided to plan one indoor and one outdoor family activity a week.  It doesn’t have to be a new activity every week.

5. Photography.  I have a lovely camera, and two gorgeous kids.  There is no excuse.  None.  I’m using Nikon D3100 From Snapshots to Great Shots by Jeff Revell as my textbook.  It has assignments.  Goody.  I will also put up a new website with weekly pictures of my kids.  A kind of “52 weeks” assignment.  Details to follow.

What do you do to learn new things?