Posts Tagged hobbies

The Reading Bug

Posted by Jen in Books, Movies & TV |
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I’ve been bitten by the reading bug.

I used to be quite the voracious reader back when I was in high school and throughout my college years.  (The college years when I was 20 or so…not my current college years.)
I really don’t know what happened to my reading habit along the way.  I think the main issue was that I  found myself spending more time online and giving myself less time to do other things.  My school, my job, and my play were all done at the computer and the computer is a time-sucker.
I also found myself beginning the “art” of multi-tasking.  I would work on my laptop and watch TV at the same time.  I would listen to music and browse the internet.  It was like I didn’t know how to do only one thing at a time.  I was unable to sit still long enough to do just one thing – like enjoy a good book.  Reading requires a quiet mind and a “single-tasking” environment.  I stopped being able to do that.

Soooo…as I mentioned in a few recent posts, I have been trying to make a few changes in my life.  I am trying to discover new things, experience a little more and most importantly…slow down and enjoy “the now.”  I have actually borrowed books from the library to teach myself how to do this.  I am learning how to schedule my time better, quiet my mind, enjoy the present moment and not always feel like I have to do two (or twenty!) things at once.  It’s funny how I have to learn to do this again.

These days, I’ll take my tea and sit outside in the morning for 10 to 15 minutes  and just focus on what’s happening outdoors and not think about any of the tasks or projects I am working on.  (That probably sounds a little silly or something, but you have no idea how hard it is for me to turn my mind off…I’ve seriously been needing this for a loooong time.)  :)

After that quiet time, I am then prepared to face the next part of my day.  My mind is clear and little more focused.

This all leads back to the reading bug.  I now give myself a nice half hour to an hour before bedtime to read, which has actually helped me sleep a little better.  I keep a book in the car and I’m actually giving myself extra time to get my appointments so that I can sit and read in the waiting area.  (To actually be a early for my appointments is an new and wonderful thing.  :lol: )  I find that I can actually pay attention to a book again without my mind drifting to other tasks.  All in all, this has been quite a positive change…and one that doesn’t cost too much money either.  My library is small, but it has enough books to keep me busy for a while.  I’ve also been marking my calendar for all the library book sales in the area and I just joined and have 3 books headed my way.

My next step is to find a few fiction authors I like.  I’ve been sticking with mostly reference books, self-help books, health books, and biographies, but I would like to try some fiction. I’ve liked Michael Crichton (R.I.P) and John Grisham in the past and I am a sucker for some of my daughter’s YA fiction (Sarah Dessen and Meg Cabot.)  I’m ready, however, to try some new authors and new genres.  I guess I’ll start with some of those best-selling fiction book lists and see what catches my eye.

Well, it’s definitely bedtime here for me.  I’m off to read and then take a restful visit to dreamland.  :)   G’night!

All Or Nothing

Posted by Jen in Personally |
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In my pursuit to add new activities and hobbies to my life, I have decided that I need to do a little preparation.   Why?  Well, because I seriously don’t want this new venture to end up like most of the others: unfinished and abandoned.  While I might call those projects “on-going,” the truth is that most will never be touched again.   It’s all or nothing for me.  I start something new and I go into it…full speed ahead.  All I need, though, is just one distraction… a few days of something new and the project is no more.

Example:  I started running last year…I’d ran almost daily for a few months.  Then it will rain for 3 or 4 days in a row…well, that’s it for my running schedule.  It’s all over.
Look at my blogging history, too.  Daily posts for a nice solid month…then nothing for a year.  Then I’m back again for another month.  Check back here in December.  I’ll be gone.  It’s inevitable.  There must be something I can change that will prevent this from happening.

First, I think I need to make sure I set a realistic pace for myself.  Just because I can devote 6 hours a day to Projects A, B and C this week, I am pretty sure that I won’t be able to keep that up forever.  I  need to set up an alternate schedule for the weeks when I can only spend 1 hour a day on those projects.  No one can go full-speed all the time.  I need to make a plan for the times when I can only go at half-speed.  The plan is to slow it down, but not completely stop.

Example: I have been taking online classes for the past 5 years.  The only deadline for those classes is that I need to complete the course within a year.  I can send in my homework and take my midterm and finals at my own pace.  I always start my classes off with a bang.  I spend a good month or so working every single day – hours upon hours at a time.  Then…something changes.  Sometimes it’s because of the holidays.  Christmas rolls around and I put away my books and I don’t pull them out again until March or April.  It’s like the spell gets broken.  It’s all or nothing.  Why is that?  I get all obsessive and energized about a project and then suddenly it’s like “meh.”

This leads me to a second solution.  Clearly define a project’s goals and give myself deadlines. I think I sometimes get overwhelmed by a project and it’s easier to just drop it…and when I drop it, I REALLY drop it.  I mean it’s gone, packed away, erased from my mind…never thought of again.  If I break it down into little doable goals, that might help a lot.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been testing that theory lately with my Google Tasks application.   I currently  have about 8 To Do Lists set up.  Six of them are for my various web site projects.  Some of them have deadline dates attached, which are then synced with my Google calendar, which are then sent to my cell phone as reminders.  (I’m in heaven with all this gadgety goodness!)  The other two lists are my “Daily aJENda” and my “Week of —-” List.  (Week of 10/4/09, Week of 10/12/09, etc.)   If I am sensing a busy week, I might put “Write 1 paragraph of my health article” and if I see that my week is going to be free, I’ll make it “Write a complete health article.”

The main point is that instead of “All or Nothing” I will start changing it to “A Little Bit of Something.”

As a final thought, I think I like the rush and the high of starting something new…which is great, except I can’t keep dropping a project or a task when something more exciting comes along.  My friendships run the same way.  I am known for going into “relationship hibernation.”  I come out of my cave for a few months, catch up with old friends, etc.  Then, I just disappear for months and months at a time.   I don’t think I want to work like that anymore.

It’s about keeping balance and steadiness to my life.  It’s about being reliable and following through on my endeavors.  It’s about not zooming ahead so fast that I burn out in a matter of weeks.  I am truly missing out on a lot because I only barely scratch the surface of a new endeavor before I completely abandon it.  The “new task high” is a great feeling, but I it’s not a great feeling to always stop just short of my goal.  This is a bad habit of mine that I am definitely going to work on.  The time is definitely now.  :-D

Perpetual Student

Posted by Jen in School Days |
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Yesterday I mentioned that I wanted to find ways to be more interesting.  My hobbies and interests are rather limited, despite the fact that I am an enthusiastic and avid seeker of knowledge.  I tend to stay in my comfort zone and never quite venture beyond that.  I love to learn, but I am always focusing on increasing my knowledge of topics I already know.  This is natural I suppose.   We gravitate to the familiar.  I definitely do, at least.

I began by looking for places where I can teach myself a new language online.  That’s not so easy.  I almost think learning a new language needs to be done in an environment where I can get some feedback.  As I began my search I found this site:

Universities with the Best Free Online Courses

It lists quite a few universities – MIT, Stanford, etc. which offer free college level courses for people to download or view online.  They aren’t available for college credit, but there are some quality courses there.  The first two subjects I looked at were health/science and computers…my two favorite subjects.  I think, however, I am going to try something new.  I need to keep my brain “on its toes,” so to speak.

For the first time in 5 years, I am not actually enrolled in real college classes (due to a temporary lack of finances) so I just want to keep my brain in tip-top shape for my return to college in (hopefully) a few months.   The challenge is finding a course that actually works well as an independent study course.  I have been a distance and online college student for many years and I have found that there have been many courses that really would have worked better in a classroom.  History classes, for example, are enhanced by the ability to have class discussions and feedback from the teacher and other students.  In any case, I’m going to check out the different sites and select two classes to teach myself something new.  I think that might be fun. For me anyway.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop being a school nerd.  :)

How To Be Interesting

Posted by Jen in Personally |

I am feeling inspired today.  After a couple of days of dealing with financial stress, I decided to take the day off and just relax and tap into my creative side.  To be honest, I don’t think I have a very fascinating creative side.  I can’t really draw.  I’m not very good at arts and crafts.  I can play a little piano – I can only play slow songs.  I like to sing, but I never do.  I like to write, but I am out of practice.  I like to take pictures, but I’m not sure I have a good eye for that sort of thing.

I think I am dull.

So, I started searching for hobbies and I found this site: russell davies: how to be interesting.  I dare you to read that blog entry and not feel inspired in some way.

When I was younger, I used to like picking a random topic and just learning about it.  I would actually write reports over the summer just for myself.  (Nerd!)  I love to learn and I am known for getting passionate about the things I like, but I haven’t felt that way in a really long time.  I think it’s time I started to explore a little bit.

I’ll start taking pictures, reading more, taking notes and observing the world around me.  Maybe I’ll stumble upon a new interest or a new hobby for myself.  It will be nice to have my life revolve around more than just parenting, college, and my health.