Tag Archives: Hobbies

It’s Ok to Quit

5 Mar

I’ve wanted to learn how to knit since I was in high school. A friend started to teach me our senior year, but we never made it past the first few steps. For years, knitting was a “someday” hobby. Someday I’d learn, when I had the time, and when I had the chance. I held onto my needles and yarn and partially knitted scarf, planning to finish it whenever I could.

I got my chance this January, after years of anticipation. A friend invited me to join her knitting class, and I jumped on the class. I showed up to the first class so excited to finally learn how to finish that scarf.

And then, after all that time: I din’t like it! I enjoyed creating something, and that my effort produced something tangible right in my hands. But I didn’t like the process. I didn’t get sucked in and lose track of time. I didn’t find it relaxing. Practicing felt like a chore, rather than a hobby I’d choose to do for fun.

So, I quit.To be fair, I quit earlier than I would have liked. I had to miss class 3, which made class 4 pointless. But regardless, I just knew I wasn’t going to keep it up. Some might say I gave up too soon,  or that I’d like it more once I got the hang of it. But you know what? I simply didn’t like it. And that’s ok.

We don’t have to like everything we try. We don’t have to be good at everything we try. It’s 100% normal, in fact, to dislike some of the things we try, and to be bad at them. I think it’s human nature to want to excel at everything, to be a person of many talents. And it’s also human nature to beat yourself up a bit when you’re not good at something or don’t enjoy it. But sometimes, hobbies aren’t a good fit for your skills or your needs, and then it’s time to move on. There are too many amazing things this world to spend time on hobbies you don’t like.

It seems like it should be a letdown that after all these years, I don’t even like the hobby I’d been dreaming about. In reality, it felt like a tidy ending to a longtime dream. Telling myself that it’s ok to dislike something and it’s ok to quit actually felt really good. It was a nice reminder to focus my time and energy on the things I really like, rather than trying to make every little thing work.

Of course, the urge to try new hobbies won’t end here. I have plenty of hobbies already, from writing this blog to baking my way through every recipe possible. Still, there’s something so enticing about trying something new and entering a whole new world of possibilities. I doubt I’ll ever get sick of trying new things–just don’t expect me to like all of them!

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What Is It Good For?

23 Feb

Back in September, there was a segment of the Today Show where Hoda and Kathie Lee mocked a baton twirler competing in Miss America. According to them, baton twirling was a silly hobby to take on, and a laughable talent – could you even make a career of it?

Naturally, their comments infuriated the baton twirling community. And after receiving a ton of messages from twirlers across the country, they did an “apology” segment the very next day. They brought in a former competitive twirler who now coaches for a living and once toured with a musical as its twirler-in-residence. They had her do a few tricks, and conceded that perhaps it’s harder than it looks. Then they threw in a few more jabs at the sport, and moved on.

I’ll admit I’m biased on the topic of twirling, as I competed in baton myself from age 4 all the way up until I left for college. But really, the actual hobby at hand here interests me less than the overall message Kathie Lee and Hoda are sending about the activities we choose to pursue. Why do hobbies have to make you money? Can we only pursue interests that lead to a career? From the outside in, baton twirling may not seem to impact my job – it’s not like my clients request baton performances as part of our presentations on brand strategy. But from the inside out, I know the impact is there, and it’s huge. Twirling gave me confidence, and made me brave enough to get out in front of a packed stadium, all by myself, and perform. It taught me commitment – even in elementary school, I used to practice every single day. And think about it: in baton, you literally have to pick up and keep going if you drop the baton. How much more clear could that perseverance symbolism be? The only other choice is to admit defeat and run away. Who wants that?

Baton twirling may not directly lead to a lucrative career, and there may not be very many baton celebrities out there, but it can certainly build your life skills. Just like so many other hobbies, from soccer to painting. I know very few childhood friends who became professional athletes despite spending hours on the field – why isn’t anyone questioning their choice of hobby? Should they have been inside instead, practicing for the Bar exam at age 9? And it’s not like every singer competing on Miss America becomes a celebrity, either.  Hobbies and pastimes and sports aren’t just about chasing fame or money. They provide the soft skills you don’t always learn in the classroom. They provide an outlet for relaxation. They help you grow into a fuller person.

So Hoda and Kathie Lee, I think you have it all wrong. Sure, I’ve rarely netted anything material from my baton skills, aside from a job teaching little kids when I was in high school. I’m certainly not famous, though many people I went to school with do know me as “the twirler.” But that doesn’t mean all that time I spent practicing and traveling to competitions and performing in parades was for naught. Being a baton twirler shaped me growing up, and shapes who I am today. I may not get to twirl much anymore, but I’ll always be “the twirler.”

It’s Just A Few Months

6 Apr
Varied treats... yummm

Strawberry balsamic bread, lemon sugar cookies and smore’s bars

When I was in 6th grade, my class was given an assignment called “The 4 Month Project.” This wasn’t a very creative name: we were literally tasked with learning a new skill over the course of the next 4 months. We picked our own topics, and at the end of the 4 month period we each did a presentation to show what we’d learned.

I had known this assignment was coming, because I have an older brother who’d done it a couple years before. So I already had potential projects in mind when the assignment landed on my desk. When I went home that night, I announced to my mom that I had thought of two perfect options for my project. “Mom,” I said, “I want to learn either woodworking, or flower arranging. Silence. More silence. And then my mom said: “Why don’t you to something that’s a little easier to coordinate? Like… baking?”

At first, I was bummed. How did she not see the value of paying for woodworking classes for her 11 year old daughter?! Ridiculous! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that learning how to bake was a really good idea. You see, baking has always had a special place in my family. Every special event and holiday has its own set of baked goods, and it’s been that way  since I can remember. New Year’s means oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Thanksgiving means zucchini bread. Birthdays mean a special mint chocolate cake. Over the course of the next 4 months, my mom taught me how to make our favorite recipes and encouraged me to find new ones to make, too. I’m sure my classmates were happy to be the test subjects for my baking experiments!

Cake balls for a friend's birthday

Cake balls for a friend’s birthday

Now that I’m older, I am SO glad she talked me into the baking plan. First of all, it was wonderful to spend time with my mom, learning her techniques and recipes. I still measure everything the way she taught me, leveling off each measuring cup with the back of a knife. Second, she was right that it was easier to coordinate- we could shove in “4 Month Project” time whenever we had a free moment, as opposed to trying to schedule classes with a master woodworker or driving far away to hit up a flower market. And third: my 4 Month Project has become a lifelong passion. I didn’t just learn something so I could get a good grade: I learned a hobby that I’ll have for life. Sixth grade was a long time ago, and to this day, baking is one of my favorite things to do when I have some free time. So I guess what I’m saying is: thanks mom! So happy I learned.

And now, a couple of recipes! The oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe my family uses actually came from an old Quaker Oats tin. They’ve since changed the recipe somewhat, but I think this one I found online looks about right. We swap out raisins for chocolate chips, but that’s up to you!

And because I love it so- here’s the zucchini bread recipe we use, too:

Delicious Zucchini Bread 

1 tsp shortening
2 medium zucchini (1.5 cups shredded)
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1.5 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 325

Use shortening to coat ends of a 5×9 inch loaf pan. Line sides and bottom with waxed paper. Scrub zucchini, but do not peel. With disc in place in your food processor, add zucchini thru the feed tube. transfer to a large mixing bowl. Reassemble processor with steel blade. Add flour, salt, soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and sugar. Cover feed tube with hand. Process just until blended. Remove cover and add eggs, oil, vanilla. Process only until blended. Add to bowl with zucchini- stir, or use your hands to blend. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 1 hour 15 minutes, or until bread shrinks slightly from edges of pan. Enjoy!

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