I learned to embroider from my grandma. She taught me how to cross-stitch on checked gingham. Simple patterns were easy to follow by only using the white squares. And the corners easily defined where to stick the needle. But in addition to that, I learned some other basic skills, such as how to use a thimble, how to thread a needle, how to make a decent knot, and how to take care of my tools. When my project was finished, I also had something to show for my work.
A friendly neighbor taught me how to knit when I was newly married. I made a sweater for my oldest child, and a few winter scarves before life took up so much of my time and knitting went by the wayside for quite a long time--but I never forgot the actual skill of knitting. Forty-plus years later, when I wanted to learn how to knit a sock, those old skills came back.
Another friend taught me how to crochet (which in some ways is an even more practical skill) and after the hunk had double carpel tunnel surgery I taught him how to crochet, too. Over the years, he's crocheted probably fifty blankets/afghans, several placemats, and a bunch of soap hangers. I on the other hand, have crocheted two or three blankets, half a dozen baskets, and some little squares we use to protect our furniture from tea, water, coffee, hot chocolate, and hot mugs. I forget what they're called.
By now, I can see the fellows rolling their eyes. But you know, that's sexist if you are. My dad taught me how to use a screwdriver and hammer and how to measure things before I used a saw. A hand saw. I've changed oil on several cars. I've changed tires. And when we had a vehicle that wasn't so tall, I filled my own wiper fluid, checked the other fluids, and put air in the tires. You know--all those manly skills.
I've painted walls/ceilings, built bookcases, sided a house, helped roof a house (twice), changed a muffler during an ice storm, repaired a water pipe under my house that broke during a freeze, and repaired numerous toilets/sinks/and disposals.
All of these I consider life skills.
My neighbor and friend--actually several of them--taught me how to cook. When I married, I literally burned water more than once. But friends stepped in and I have a pretty wide variety of dishes I know how to cook (most of them are nutritional) and a growing lists of baking skills. I was never much of a candy maker, and that's no doubt a blessing. I made sure all of my children had basic cooking skills. And basic sewing skills. And knew how to do laundry. But I know there are people out there who don't have those skills, so if you see someone struggling, offer to teach them how to do something. In this world of increasing food costs and rocketing obesity, good cooking skills are important. Maybe even life-changing.
But, you know...homey, cozy skills aren't the only ones we need to share. I bet you've never thought about sharing driving skills. There's more to learning how to drive than turning the ignition key and keeping the car in your lane. Long range planning is important. Know where you're going. Make sure you're in the correct lane well ahead of time before you need to turn. Know how to read the traffic. Know how to read a map. I figure if the power grid ever crashes (taking all those GPS' with it), the folks that get where they need to go will be the map readers. Know more than one route to get where you want to go. And for those people who know someone with dyslexic issues, consider the fact that those issues can also affect directional problems and number problems. Help them learn how to drive with landmarks and other aids.
We live in an illiterate world. A staggering number of adults don't know how to read. If you know someone like that, offer to teach them. The hunk made it all the way through school--and graduated--without learning to read above 2nd grade level. I taught him to read when we married. I've taught co-workers to read. And friends. And neighbors. Not knowing how to read isn't shameful, but knowing someone is struggling and not offering to help, is. One way to help while preserving the feelings of someone is to barter teaching skills. That non-reader might be a whiz woodworker. Learn from each other.
Everyone has a skill. Instead of hanging out on the Internet or vegging out in front of the TV, get out there and find someone to share your skill with. Somewhere, someone needs exactly what you know.