Hobbies? What Hobbies?

A friend was talking about her Pinterest boards recently, and how she’d added a new board for “hobbies.” Since Pinterest was her latest hobby, she laughed, it was like a hobby within a hobby.

“I don’t even know what I’d put down for hobbies anymore.” I didn’t mean it to sound as plaintive as it did.

“Well, of course,” she said, making a sweeping gesture that I understood to take in my kids, even though they weren’t with us. “Because you have five of them now.”

I went away thinking about hobbies, about the things I used to enjoy that, once time became limited, hadn’t make the cut.  What would I put on the boards? It became a statement of values, a mental shorthand for something philosophically larger: What makes the board.

Under the auspices of writing an essay, I decided to use Pinterest an exercise in soul-searching. I created three boards: HAVE BEEN, AM, BECOMING. And I posted (or “pinned”) images that reflected each phase of my life.

In HAVE BEEN, there was skydiving, writing, running, fostering orphaned baby animals, golfing, skiing, horseback riding, traveling. Gourmet meals. Gorgeous handmade cableknit sweaters. Glamorous stiletto sandals.

In AM there was yoga, writing, kitten fostering, patent-leather Dansko clogs, and the Von Trapps — well, minus the singing, the wealth and the nanny.

In BECOMING, there were to be — yes — golf and yoga, writing and travel. I also want to take inn-to-inn trips abroad, by bike or horseback. Also the dream of someday working for Smile Train, an international organization aiding children with cleft palates. And baby alpaca: I want to have a small alpaca farm. But the centerpiece is an arresting portrait of a gorgeous old woman: she wears in an evening gown with her eyes closed and elegant arms outstretched like she is embracing the all of herself.

I made my boards, like planting a flag on the moon, and I’ve never gone back. But I learned something in the exercise, something comforting. I may well have winnowed my life down to just a few things right now. But there are still the shadows of all that has been the essence of me. There are new interests that have grown out of the experience and empathy of years raising children. And if I’m fortunate enough to live to be 80, I hope to sit at peace with my arms open wide, grateful that the best of my energy and intentions lasted to make it to the Becoming, and bring them all into my bony embrace.


This entry was posted in On Faith, Hope & Love, On Parenting. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Hobbies? What Hobbies?

  1. Valerie (http://purplegallinule NULL.blogspot says:

    So well said and relatable. Phenomenal exercise to ground the stages of life and our expectations of them. I absolutely adore the image you paint of “elegant arms outstretched like she is embracing the all of herself.” Those words are worth the thousand you added with the beautiful image. Inspirational post this morning, thanks.

  2. Joe W (http://www NULL.josephwallace says:

    I love this philosophy, and I love the way you’ve set up your boards.

    My challenge is to make sure I don’t spend too much time on the internet, thinking about my dreams instead of trying to achieve them.

  3. Kathy (http://www NULL.beyondthemargins says:

    If I ever get back to Pinterest, I will check out your boards!

  4. Leslie Greffenius says:

    Lovely piece, Nichole. I especially like the lines, “I may have winnowed my life down to just a few things right now. But there are still the shadows of all that has been the essence of me.”

  5. Erika Robuck (http://www NULL.erikarobuck says:

    Beautifully said. What a lovely post.

  6. Girl Parker (http://girlparker says:

    What a great exercise! And I think it goes right along with the title of your upcoming book. We’re never finished, not really, and should always be looking ahead.

  7. Jolina Petersheim (http://www NULL.thehappybookblog NULL.blogspot says:

    This post really resonated with me, Nichole. My daughter is now a month old, and I find that I am already going from HAVE BEEN — lacy underthings to nursing pads, writing for hours at a time to fitting it in around Adelaide’s unpredictable feeding schedule — to AM — a mother so in love with her child, she could cry; a wife so in love with her husband as he embraces what it means to become a father. No, I wouldn’t take my old life back…not for all the hours of uninterrupted writing in the world.

  8. Kristen (http://mothereseblog says:

    Thanks for sharing this illuminating exercise with us. I am a mother of only three, but I connect deeply to the idea of hobbies ebbing and flowing as they grow and flounder alongside our kids and our writing careers. It’s interesting, by the way, that you listed writing as in all three categories – along with baby animals, the only one that made the cut.

  9. NicholeBernier says:

    Thanks, everyone. It was an interesting exercise, and a fun piece to write. And like you say, Kristen, it’s intriguing to see what makes the board, phase after phase.

    A friend just reacted to this piece by telling me she keeps a “reality check” board alongside the glitz and zen to keep her grounded.

  10. Jennifer King (http://jenniferlynking says:

    This is so well said, Nichole. It’s true– after children, especially when they’re young, life is different. After children life means our hearts have stretched so much further than we could have imagined, and with that, our time thins out as well.

    I think it’s important, what you say about becoming. If we don’t continue becoming, we’ll have little left once our kids are grown and move on.

    Excellent thoughts, Nichole. Thank you!

  11. Lindsey (http://www NULL.adesignsovast says:

    Beautifully put. I think often of how this is a phase, like all phases, and it may be narrow but it is deep, and there is time for expansion back to our old passions (and into new ones maybe) in another season.

  12. Dana (http://momskis NULL.wordpress says:

    Nichole, I love how you are able to articulate so many of the things that I feel as a mom and a mid-life professional who has (small) glimpses of what life will be when my kids are out of the house. Thank you 🙂

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