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If This Old Dog Can Learn New Tricks, So Can You

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

I’m an old dog.

When I graduated from college, a computer was a collection of huge, noisy machines that filled a basement on the UT campus. We didn’t have calculators in physics class – I used a slide rule, most of which are collectors’ items now. (Mine was ivory, a gift from an uncle. I was horrified that an elephant gave up a tusk so I could do math problems, but people did that sort of thing back then.)

Yes, I’m an old dog, but as you’ll see, even old dogs can learn new tricks.

In-house IT support and angels of mercy

When we started the Burnet County Democratic Club, we were all dedicated folks but nobody, not one of us, was computer or digitally savvy. Our wonderful treasurer kept excellent books by hand in a ledger and didn’t even own a computer. As for me, the president, I had a computer but just used it for email and much preferred my iPad. I once saved a picture of a donkey ... then for the life of me couldn’t find where I’d stored it.

To put it mildly, I struggled. When that happened, I’d turn to my wonderful husband of 51 years and say, “Honey would you do this?” It worked every time and got done so much more quickly than if I tried figuring it out.

Then, one day ...

“Not anymore,” he answered out of the blue. “You need to learn a few things.”

He tried to teach me about files and folders …. and a couple of hours later, he would’ve screamed in frustration except no one would’ve heard him over my sobbing.

Anyway, the Club soldiered on despite my technological challenges. At our first official Club meeting, a volunteer appeared out of nowhere who was computer savvy (and, as she always points out, not a millennial). Not only that – she persuaded us to start digital platforms like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, and she even created a basic web page.

OK, great! But who would handle all these ways to communicate?

I said “yes” to Twitter, of all things

I’d heard of Twitter and knew there was a bluebird involved. That was the full extent of my knowledge. But I was tired of not knowing how to do stuff, so this old dog volunteered to take on Twitter for the club.

Fast-forward to today and boy, has this dog learned a few tricks! I talked to some friends who knew how to do Twitter and now, the Club has 650 followers – and we had a tweet go viral!

And that’s not all.

Another angel of mercy appeared in the form of a young mother of two. She walked into the office one day to buy a sign, and as we talked, I learned she was more computer savvy than any of us. She offered to show me how to use the computer – and, since she wasn’t my husband, she was able to teach me how to save pictures and documents in a folder where I could find them again. I even learned how to upload things to Google Drive for sharing.

Oh, and I became a filmmaker! My grandson helped me make videos on my iPhone. Through trial and (lots of) error, I learned how to edit, add music and a title page, then save the videos to our Club’s YouTube channel.

When you take that first step, you’ll find people ready to help

I failed a lot, and my first efforts were far from perfect. But I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something new. I immediately found people who were willing to help me learn, everyone was so nice during the process – and when I did something that worked, the feeling of pure joy that washed over me was worth any nerves or frustration.

I think I inspired our treasurer, too. Declaring, “I am not afraid to try things, either!” she bought a computer with her daughter’s help and is using it for Club financial business.

The moral of my story is this: Volunteer for something even if you’re not sure you can do it. Learning new things is like a miracle drug that keeps your mind sharp – and if you are ancient like me, that’s important!