Never too old to learn: 11 lessons Gramma wants to take

I've been a huge fan of this season's The Voice, which ends tonight (go, Juliet!). Since the very first episode, the coaches—Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green and Adam Levine—have regularly commented about singers being "pitchy."

Well, I don't really know for certain what pitchy means, but I'm pretty sure I'm exactly that (and probably worse) when I sing. Years of chronic laryngitis and resorting to whistling have left my singing ability with much to be desired.

As I sang at church Sunday—from my pew, not in the choir!—I thought about my probable pitchiness. And how much I'd like to take voice lessons to overcome that. Not because I want to audition for The Voice, but because I like to sing and want to be better at it than I am.

Which then made me think about all the other things I like to do but would like to be better at. Which led to the following list.

11 lessons I want to take

1. The above-referenced voice lessons. Not for opera or classical or anything grand in any way. Just regular ol' singing lessons that teach me how to use my voice effectively and appropriately. And how to not be pitchy.

2. Photography lessons. Using my DSLR camera. To make the most of my DSLR camera.

3. Photoshop lessons. To make the most of my photos after I've done the most I can while taking them. And to remove wrinkles and pounds and crooked teeth and gray hair from all the photos that someone else might take of me. (Just kidding. Sort of.)

4. Tap dancing lessons. Like these.

5. Other dancing lessons. Ones where Jim and I could swoosh across the floor with the greatest of ease. (Okay, okay. We tried this before, and I couldn't help but lead. Which screwed us all up. Maybe I need to take a few control-issue lessons beforehand.)

6. Swimming lessons. Again. Because I've not gone swimming in a while and am now scared again to go in the deep end, because the previous three times I took lessons apparently didn't stick.

7. Knitting lessons. Grandmas are supposed to knit, aren't they? I don't. And would like to.

8. Bird identification lessons. How cool would it be to see or hear a bird, instantly know which bird it is, and be able to rattle off cool facts about the little guys? Pretty cool, in my opinion.

9. Spice-specific culinary lessons. I'm a pretty good cook but I'm not pretty good at knowing which spices to use and which ones to combine for the most awesome of dishes...unless a recipe tells me. I want to know off the top of my head and be able to concoct menus that are magically delicious.

10. Piano lessons. Again. A financial crunch led to me needing to quit taking lessons. A time crunch led to me not practicing regularly. Now I need to start all over, for the most part. <klunk, klunk> (That's me banging my head—not the piano keys—for not keeping up with practicing on my own.)

11. Personal essay writing lessons. I'd like one-on-one classes with a pro on writing personal essays. Someone like Anne Lamott. Or David Sedaris. Or Connie Schultz. Sure, I dabble in a little of that by blogging, but I want to be awesome. And (maybe?) critiqued by those who make a living doing it so I can improve and eventually make a living doing it, too.

photo: MS Office clipart

Today's fill-in-the-blank?

I'd like to take lessons in ________________.

Grandma's secret crush

The term "man crush" is often used to describe when a male becomes enamored with another male. For genuinely platonic reasons. Out of admiration and a desire to get to know the other as a friend, a buddy, a bro.

Well, please keep this a secret, but I have a sort of man crush of my own. Only it's more of a grandma crush. And it's not just one; it's two.

Funny thing is, both objects of my admiration are named Connie.

The first Connie I'm grandma-crushing on is Connie Schultz. Do you know her? Have you read her? She's a grandma, a syndicated columnist, and a Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary in 2005. More recently, she's become a "Views" essayist for PARADE, the little magazine that comes with the Sunday newspaper—which is how I came to know her. And love her.

Connie Schultz writes on my level. She doesn't use grandiose words and continually write on grandiose ideas, profundities so live and large that reading her on a daily basis might make my head and heart explode. No, she writes just large enough to make my mind ponder, my heart pitter patter in beat with the things that matter most to me. Small things that loom large—and make large my life.

Connie Schultz says all the things I think and feel, only she says them much better than I ever would, or could, or do. For example, look at THIS she wrote about the names grandparents choose for themselves. And THIS ONE on forever photographing the moments and people that make up her family. And, of course, there's my whole worrywart thing, which she covers with aplomb RIGHT HERE.

Did I mention I love the woman?

Years ago I would have wanted to be Connie Schultz. Now I'm older and wiser and too darn tired to be someone I'm not, so I simply want to be Connie's friend. Have coffee with her. Talk about our grandkids. Swap recipes. And admire her way with words...which I'll continue to do, friends or not.

My second grandma crush isn't actually on a grandmother. She doesn't even play one on TV. She does, though, play the most incredibly believable, reasonable, and realistically flawed mother on TV. Which is ironic because in reality, she's not actually a mother either.

I'm talking about Connie Britton. The Connie who plays all-around-most-awesome-mom-wife-regular-woman Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights.

I'm a late comer to the series, am just now into the second season via Netflix streaming. How did I not get into this before? How did Connie Britton escape my radar? The woman she plays loves hard and loyal. She fights for her family. She fights with her family. She does and is all the things I wish I had been with my daughters when they were young. And my husband, long ago and now. (Seriously...have you seen the incredible albeit fictional marriage she and Eric Taylor, played by Kyle Chandler, have going on?)

Connie Britton as Tami Taylor handles motherhood, marriage, work—life!—with grace and grit not often seen on the screen...or in real life. Yes, I realize she's playing a character, but you can't tell me there's not a smidgen of the real Connie in that character.

My admiration for Connie Britton goes beyond the character she plays, though. What I find most real and admirable is that although she's not a classic beauty, she's one of the most beautiful and real women on television and in movies. She has wrinkles, she looks and acts her age, she doesn't try to mold herself to fit our society's misconstrued definition of beauty. Her character may not be real, but she is real.

Which is why I love her.

And why I have a crush on her.

Just as I do Connie Schultz.

Two Connies. Two grandma crushes revealed.

Please keep it a secret.

Graphic: stock.xchng/sugarangel

Today's question:

Who have you been crushing on lately—whether male, female, fictional, real, grandma or not?