Thursday, April 22, 2010

Keeping the Juices Flowing


In the spring KDA newsletter, Stan Highe wrote an interesting article about hobbies. I believe everyone needs a hobby … a distraction from what is happening around you. Hobbies are normally healthy activities that keep the mind and often the body focused on other, more pleasant, things in life.

Stan wrote in his article: "Dictionary.com defines a hobby as 'an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.' We need an outlet to relieve stress, have fun or whatever. Some people may eat, sleep or just watch TV. A hobby offers another more productive alternative to languishing on the couch.

I don't think anyone disputes the value of a hobby. Besides being a source of pleasure or relaxation, some of the benefits of a hobby are self-improvement, keeping the mind active and sharp or acquiring new skills. A hobby can be a source of physical and psychological benefit too. It may get you out of the house for some exercise and fresh air, or just provide piece-of-mind. In addition, as one gains experience and knowledge, a hobby can become profitable or lead to a new career."

A hobby needs to be almost a passion so that the juices flow whenever you are engaged in the activity. I have a brother-in-law who was an avid hunter. He became involved in taxidermy out of the love for the outdoors. He became quite good at it, and as a result, his hobby has become a business where, unfortunately, he has little time for his own projects.

If a person becomes disabled and does not have a hobby, often the person will become a "couch-potato." When that happens, the mind and body can both wither away in no time. I mentioned the word "passion" in the previous paragraph. If you cannot get excited about your hobby, why do it? However, hobbies can also become an obsession. When that happens, it can be as negative as not having one.

My hobbies have changed with my mobility. We were avid hikers and spent a couple of weekends each month in the mountains and forests. We also enjoyed bike riding and sailing. I liked building and repairing things … especially birdhouses and feeders. I now enjoy bird watching and take time every day to commune with nature when walking (I ride) Fred, my beagle. I enjoy writing and reading. I read every day and have one-to-three books going at a time. I love to write, but find editing work. I had another writer that was an excellent sounding board for ideas and drafts. She knew just what to say to motivate my editing. I need to find a new resource and that might be just the motivation I need to improve this craft. All I know is that when the "juices flow," it is hard to get me to stop writing.

Stan Highe made several other good points in his article on hobbies: "It really doesn't matter if you are healthy or someone with Kennedy's Disease. It is necessary to answer the questions of expected benefits, interest, funds, space and time as those are tools used to decide on a hobby, or at least narrow the field. Taking all these things into consideration will help in your search and lead to finding a hobby that will hopefully stay with you for years, and provide a more rewarding experience.

Kennedy's Disease should not be the major determining or limiting factor in choosing a hobby. It really should be left open for the individual to decide based on the other criteria first. One thing to remember though is that as your strength wanes, your hobby may have to change or you may need to adapt. By the way, there is no rule that says you can only have one hobby. You could have one for rainy days, and one for nice days."

I feel it is especially important to have a hobby you enjoy when you retire. I worked hard, traveled quite a bit, and put in plenty of hours at work. Somehow I still was able to make time to enjoy life. If I did not have enjoyable diversions when I retired, however, the transition would have been difficult. As it turned out, between my hobbies and my involvement in the KDA, the transition was fairly easy. Yes, I did miss the daily interaction with co-workers and customers. And, I did miss the challenges and accomplishments associated with the job, but I did not miss working. I still feel today that early retirement was the right move for me.

What are your hobbies? How do you think they have benefited you?

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