“A hobby a day keeps the doldrums away.” ~ Phyllis McGinley

My hobbies inspire me to appreciate things as they are.

According to Phyllis hobbies are like apples, which have been lauded for keeping doctors’ and their average 17-minute visits away.  I turned to hobbies as an escape from a darker place – admittedly some people may see the doctor’s office as the darkest of places.  I shared my perspectives on this centuries-old reality in a blog fueled by persistently terribly low colorectal cancer screening rates among African Americans.  Circling back to my dark place, Anne Lamont – an American novelist and non-fiction writer – best describes it.  Remember, I strive to learn anything from anybody even if top Google searches calls her “Jesus-y.”

Listening to the Super Soul Conversation podcast – Jack Kornfield:  Buddhism 101 – while driving back to DC from a work trip to Pittsburgh, Kornfield quoted Anne Lamont to Oprah.  He shared Lamont’s quote, “My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I try not to go there alone.”  It instantly resonated with me.  My ruminating thoughts about previous bad experiences and abundant self-criticism were the “bad neighborhood” I found my psyche navigating every day.  Taking to hobbies I really enjoy – reading, hiking, photography, and traveling – was my version of “I try not to go there alone.” Having frank conversations about my experiences with my supportive spouse Larry also helps as he does with me about his experiences.

In my early adulthood, I spent the vast majority of my waking hours working as a barista at Starbucks, attending classes at pick-a-university – because transferring to different schools was the only tool I had at the time to outrun the traumas closing in on me – studying as if it were torture, and working out.  I also spent a ridiculous amount of time chasing the gays for acceptance, attention, and love in all the wrong ways in all the wrong places – something they were incapable of giving because of their own traumas. I will talk more about this later. These experiences were different street corners I had to bend in the bad neighborhood of my early adulthood mindset.

Adulting overall can be inspiring, informative, filled with love, and very fulfilling.  It can also be emotionally draining and mentally taxing.  I have experienced both ends of this spectrum.  Hobbies allowed me to lessen the blow of traversing the less than ideal spectrum of adulting.  Constant mental exhaustion and emotional mayhem have been shown by insert curious researcher at academic institution to cause expensive morbidities such as hypertension, heart disease, compromised productivity and fatigue as well as the ultimate curse – early death.

Having “dirt thrown in my face” – a phrase southerners use to describe the very last step in the death process – before it is absolutely necessary is something I have no interest in experiencing.  So, hobbies are one of many productive mechanisms I deployed to wrestle the hardships of everyday life to the ground.  Plus, my favorite hobbies are just fun irrespective of the journey that led me to them.