Keep on growing

Two things this busy weekend got me thinking about hobbies vs. commitments and follow-through vs. flightiness. The first was the fun and funky soap-making class my friend Julia and I attended. We’ll come back to that.

The second was explaining to Jude, who spent about 24 hours with us this weekend, what “hobby” means.

He’d picked up the dog-training clicker and training treats, so the girls started frantically doing every trick in their repertoires. Pretty funny.

I showed Jude how to use the clicker properly and taught him the hand signals Tess and Zuzu know. He got the hang of it quickly, so I told him I’d get him a clicker to use with his own dog, Fancy, and that could be his hobby.

“What’s a hobby?” he asked.

With just a brief explanation, he seemed to get the drift. Granted, 5 might be kind of young for a serious hobby, but you never know what will stick.

I look at dalliances with new hobbies/interests, even the ones that don’t stick as ways to keep on growing. Some people have taken me as flighty for the (many, many) ones that don’t stick, but I see it as nothing ventured, nothing gained.

And some of them have stuck and stuck hard, moving into the realm of commitment. This blog started as a hobby. It already feels like a commitment, but how long it lasts remains to be seen.

The earliest “hobby” I can think of is loving and keeping up with rock ’n’ roll music, dating back to “American Bandstand” on our first TV. Then came a love for reading, which I’d have to call a hobby, I guess. Both of those have lasted a lifetime.

If the money I’ve spent on both had been put in an investment account, I wouldn’t be nearly as happy.

The first true hobbies that became commitments started in elementary school, cooking and sewing. I made my first cake from scratch at 9, after begging Mother and convincing her that I wouldn’t waste the ingredients.

The cake turned out perfectly, and Mother was very proud. That sparked an interest in cooking that lasted until the early days of my first marriage, or about the time I turned 21.

Sadly for me, my first husband was a meat-and-potatoes, plain-food kind of guy who not only refused to taste anything with multiple ingredients but also referred to such things as “crap” or much, much worse. That put my love for cooking on the back burner for years, other than baking.

I cooked, don’t get me wrong, and way more than I wanted to, but the joy was gone.

After my divorce, though, it came rushing right back.

Sewing started with handmade Barbie clothes at about 8 and progressed to simple pants for myself by the sixth grade. I sewed like a fiend through Liz’s childhood and kept at it occasionally until one day in my early 40s when I just lost interest.

Liz’s pleated-velvet coat dress was one of the more elaborate things I ever made.

(That reminds me of an article I read years ago in which a man mentioned that his mother just “lost her will to cook when Elvis died.”)

Lately I’ve been wanting to get the sewing machine out of the attic, though. Two granddaughters will do that to you.

Exercise became a fact of life as soon as I healed from having Liz, who will be 32 next month. Lifting weights has been a fixture since my arms jiggled right around my 30th birthday. Twenty-six years later the weights have gotten much lighter, but they’ll never go away.

Is exercise a hobby or a commitment or a way of life? Does it matter? Is this navel-gazing? Probably. But exercise in all its various incarnations has helped keep my navel in its proper place all these years, so whatever it is, I’m glad it stuck.

Making mosaics is a hobby that I first dabbled with in high school. Almost 40 years later I started again. This spring, I have a commitment to mosaic my front porch. 

Now that it’s on record, I’ll have to follow through. I’ve found that’s a good way to make myself accountable, because it’s rather embarrassing to announce something and not do it. I won’t tell you about all the things I’ve started and not finished.

Like the violin I bought the last month I taught at Central. Oops. Seemed like a good idea, and I’ll come back to it at some point. Probably. Or not. It could be like our super-cool digital movie camera we bought a few years back. Great idea but largely unused.

Now, back to the soap. Ashley Ralston, of Folded Flower soaps, taught us the melt-and-pour technique at a workshop offered through The Green Corner Store. The timing was perfect – Julia and I had been talking about making soap for a while, combining our interest in aromatherapy with a desire to create.

We have a little knowledge and a whole bunch of soap molds on the way. And now we’re on record.

Stay tuned.

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