Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


What’s a Mother To Do?

What’s a mother to do when she wants to learn something new?

That was kind of exclusionary, wasn’t it? Sorry! I’ll fix it. What’s any adult to do yada yada?

If you want to learn about photography or Mexican cooking or writing in a new genre, most of us can’t just pick out a class in a college catalogue and go for it. There’s almost always a time, money, family issue. (For most women, at least.)

We have to find a different way. So what do you do?

Buy an Online Class

I’ve taken several. They usually cost from $20-$50. I have notebooks full of printouts from those workshops. Often, though, when I get a few weeks in, I learn that the course isn’t teaching what I’d hoped to learn. It wasn’t that I don’t research it. It’s just that the class description can be kind of vague.

Talk about a pain as well as a waste of time and money.


Yes, blogs that teach.

There are several blogs and websites that’ll teach you how to take pictures. The Pioneer Woman, Digital Photograph Tips, Free Photo Course and Take Great Pictures.

I’ve used several of these, but I found The Pioneer Woman speak Okie, like me. It’s very helpful.

I don’t know about you, but I like to have how-to type things where I can put my hands on them, so I print out those blog posts.


The next best idea? For me, it’s books. I’ve loved books since I was small, so finding I could learn just about anything out of a book has always been win/win for me.

I have a little trouble going from page one to page two–I like to skip over and find out the good stuff–but when it comes down to really learning something, that’s probably the best way.

My camera’s How This Camera Works book is a big help! Imagine reading that free book that comes with your camera. My mama believed “When all else fails, read the directions,” and I followed her directive for years. But when I finally read that little book, I found out she wasn’t always right. Just most of the time.

My favorite How-To-Write book has always been Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Deb Dixon. Thinking back, a friend taught me when we read that book (although we both got GMC at the same time, she read through it first) the best way for me to learn from a book.

Not only did she read the book page one, page two, page three, etc. She highlighted important parts and used sticky notes like tabs in a Bible so she could go directly to the part she wanted to find.


Those are the best ideas I have for learning after you’re grown. Do you have any you can share?