As a woman in my mid-30s with four kids, my least favorite question on the planet is “what are your hobbies?” First of all, I hate that word: hobbies. It makes me feel like I should have some deep connection to building model airplanes or knitting blankets. Not that those are bad activities, I just don’t care to spend my time that way. And to be completely honest, when it is all said and done, any “free” time I have during the day I feel completely compelled that I should be cleaning or doing laundry or I’m so exhausted that I just want go to bed or lay on the couch.
When this comes up (usually at some retreat or work icebreaker activities) I give some stereotypical answer: reading (even though I am guaranteed to fall asleep after 10 minutes) or working out (even though that is really more out of a necessity for my mental and physical health). The problem is that those activities don’t make me feel free and alive. Sure, I enjoy them, but they are not necessarily something I desire to do with my time.
To me, a true hobby is in your wiring. It is something that makes your heart come alive just from the mere activity of doing it. The issue is somewhere between graduating college and now, those things I felt a deep connection with slowly faded into the background until I lost them all together. For years I blindly fumbled trying to find something that I could claim as a joy to spend my free time. And while I tried many things, what I learned was the true stuff that makes me come alive was right in front of me all the time. I didn’t need to take a class on knitting (totally not my thing) or take a trip to Hobby Lobby for a hand lettering kit (are you getting the theme I am not artistic?). What has worked and helped me reconnect to those deep threads in my soul is stepping away from the routine and the “shoulds” of life and finding the detours that help me find myself again.
Here is what I discovered. I love cooking, but I absolutely hate making dinner. It is a distinct difference. Weekly meal planning and the grind of putting something in front of my kids at 6pm that they will willing eat does not make my heart come alive. However, allow me to meander through the grocery store and spend hours in the kitchen alone with fresh ingredients, vegetables and herbs from our garden, maybe even make a loaf of bread and I feel energized not exhausted. Can I do this every day? Not a chance. Every week? I can try. Our Sunday meals have become a ritual of sorts for this. We eat something fresh, insanely time consuming, rich in flavor and completely worth every morsel and bite.
The other thing that has reconnected me with myself if being outdoors. If I didn’t have a family, I honestly think I’d be hiking the Appalachian Trail or living in a chalet in the Alps. My mind and soul needs outdoor beauty as much as a plant needs water and sunshine.
When I can be outside, exploring and just enjoying, my mind is freed, and I am so present. There are clearly simple ways to implement this, but the big one I have found is camping as a family. This is by no means an easy task. However, I love a few days totally outside, without a screen of any sort, completely unaware of the time of day to just be with each other. Yes, our kids fight, we get dirty and we eat our weight in smores, but my love of outdoors combined with quality time (hello deepest love language) is the best thing for me. It is true medicine for my soul. Luckily, I have a husband and kids willing to share in this with me. What made me realize this is out recent trip to Colorado where we camped at Rocky Mountain National Park.
There was a part of me that reawakened from a deep slumber. I was ready to sell all our things and move to the mountains, but that clearly isn’t happening. Instead, I breathed in and out the joy the of time, presence and a world created for enjoying simply for its beauty.
So what is my advice to you? Think about when you are your happiest. If that is hard, think about your best memories? What about them makes them good memories? What about those moments makes you happy? Those are good places to start to find yourself again. It could be a simple walk you went on after dinner one night or the smell of your favorite candle throughout your home. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Start with the simple. Please drop me a comment or an email and let me know what that is for you! Or sign up for my newsletter to get free stuff in your inbox!