Skills I thought I’d never need again (or ever)

Or how I put my skills to work in this new world


Every post-apocalypse movie has this weird combination of technology and pioneer sensibilities. I’ve always thought that odd – if there were droids watching over them, why were they cooking over an open hearth, if you have flying cars why aren’t your stores fully stocked. Well now I understand – it’s because hoarders and production delays create shortages.

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And so this week I’m taking a lighthearted look at all the skills I’ve dusted off and those I’ve repurposed since we started this stay at home order:. A list I fondly refer to as “putting all that Little House on the Prairie reading to work”:

  • Fundraising – over the years I’ve raised money for myself, for candidates for worthy causes, that skill requires you to connect with people and bring them together. Now I use those same skills to bring together enough people to do a bulk order of bread flour 
  • Empathic Listening  –  a skill that often needs a tune up but one that is more necessary every day – why can’t you finish your math homework, why did talking your friends make you sad, does your stomach really hurt or do you miss school.
  • Gardening – I’m not the greatest gardener, it’s usually functional and veers more towards the natural because then you don’t need to worry about weeds. So how did I end up dropping off plants that I’ve divided to other neighbors and picking up cuttings to grow from twigs.  
  • Baking Baking – In the last few years baking happens at Christmas and on the odd rainy weekend day when we aren’t overscheduled. Now I am bulk buying yeast and flour and talking about how to figure out the best way to blossom my yeast.
  • Budgeting – I’ve pulled out my skills of finding discounts – I can’t cut coupons or wait for sales but I’ve started to look for ways to reduce costs throughout the household and calling streaming services to convince them to give me a better deal.
  • BudgetingCreative cooking – During my youth, in college and as a young field staffer I was creative about my food – I could make a can of mushrooms, lemons and chicken seem fancy. These days (or at least pre-COVID) anything less than fresh veggies seems crazy. Now I am stocked up on can goods, scouring cookbooks and google to make them seem fresh and new.
  • Babysitting – babysitting and caring for your children requires different skills. Babysitting is cajoling kids into doing things, caring for your children means instilling respect for rules, responsibility etc. Caring for your children is getting them to do their chores. Many years ago the Babysitter’s Club gave me a clutch move that I used to parentsparents’ delight for years – I would have the kids “race” to clean up - set a timer have them beat their time and each other and get the room cleaned at the same time. Just last week I pulled out the same move for my own children.


Improvise. Adapt. Living in your home and only in your home for nearly 3 months can really change your perspective, some creature comforts are lost(goodbye Starbucks lattes), some are found (hello UTZ ridges), some you need to lose (goodbye UTZ ridges). Everyday I’m choosing to focus on the discovery – one of those is this column right here. But in the end the motto that got me through my first campaigns and nearly every challenge will get us through this  and is the inspiration for my list -  Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.