“I was talking about you today,” the stranger said as I walked into class.

It was only our second improv class, so my heart sank as I imagined what ghastly memorable thing I might have done in the first class.

“You said you were taking this class because it was the scariest thing you could think to do,” she reminded me. “You said you took an advanced ski class this winter and afterward resolved to always do scary things.”

“I want to always do scary things, too,” she said.

I took the ski class this winter to learn how to not be a hack on skis. (You’re supposed to use your feet when you ski — who knew?) For five weeks, our teacher taught us proper form and to notice our old, bad habits.

“If you can notice it, you can change it,” that wonderful ski instructor said, which is very apt for career and life coaching as well.

More importantly, during ski class I didn’t have to be in charge, or look after anyone — an astonishing treat for a middle-aged mother of the sandwich generation.

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I decided that I want to have a teacher from now on: a teacher who can pick up that mantle of caring and being in charge of things for a little while. And to learn something new and scary while I’m at it.

Improv was the scariest thing I could think of.

The first improv class was stressful — and fun in an awkward kind of way. I felt overwhelmed by the difficulty of the skills, and how visible and painful the learning curve was in a roomful of funny people. I dreaded the second class.

The second class, I laughed so hard my ears hurt.

Our glorious teacher, a grandmother, taught us and corralled us and made us laugh and awed us with her skill. She was in charge and taking care of everyone. I didn’t have to do anything except show up.

I can’t wait for our next class.

As I was researching online for this column, something about the middle age brain or the sandwich generation, I found lots of advice around self care — lots about exercise and eating well and sleeping. All of which is great and important, but kind of a no-brainer and not that much fun.

My new improv friend and I were talking about our next scary class. Singing or dancing classes are likely candidates, but I think my next class will be horseback riding.

Horses are scary as heck. They’re huge and could bite your face off with their giant teeth.

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I bet it would be fun.

Kathryn Crawford Saxer, jobs columnist for Seattle Times Explore
Kathryn Crawford Saxer, jobs columnist for Seattle Times Explore