Things That Make Me Smile

My Busy Bee page is a great place to learn about the things that I’m doing right now, in other words, what is keeping me busy. But where are you supposed to learn what I enjoy doing? Well, I’m not going to make you hunt through all of my blog posts (though wouldn’t that be a devious way to make you read my blog?) or just guess as you go along, so I decided to make this page the home of my hobbies!

Not too long ago, if you’d asked me what my hobbies were, I would have stared at you quite blankly, and possibly managed a shrug. You see, I used to have hobbies, back before my junior year of high school (when my AP course load got intense). But it had been so long that I’d completely forgotten what having free time and having hobbies even was! Yes, sounds crazy, but all of my “free time” was spent accomplishing the non-school things in my life (like running errands, washing laundry, and sleeping). There were things I’d do every now and then, but I never really considered them hobbies anymore because I just didn’t have the time to crave them like I once did…


-Photography-

I have always considered myself a photographer, and I love taking photos, but I never had the time to go out and play around with my camera. Plus, my mind went from a creative dark place to a pitch black place, and I lost my eye for photos. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve really been able to start trying to retrain myself to find art in everyday things. I’ve always been able to get good photos of breathtaking places, but I’d lost my ability to do so with the “mundane.” Unfortunately, I’ve also grown up, which means that everyone is saying things like “market your talents” and “well, how are you going to make money?” which can be disheartening to an artist. My not-so-secret desire has always been to make money off of my photography, since I enjoy it so much, but that is extremely difficult. Making money off of it is made even harder by the fact that I don’t enjoy portraits. I’ve done portrait photography for close friends, but it is not something I’d want to be doing constantly. My favorite photography is “macro-nature” photography, followed closely by “breathtaking vista” photography; and you can always throw in some animal photography of both wild and tame animals.

Shop Banner

I’m still retraining my photographic eye, which is why my Etsy shop hasn’t had many updates lately. I also need to figure out where I buried some of my favorite photographs from my earlier years… switching laptops too many times leads to some very odd file trees. Once I can find my early photographs and get my eye dialed back in, then there will be a flood of photos available. This flood will, hopefully, be very soon.

-Creative Writing-

All the way back in sixth grade, I started writing. I mainly wrote poems, but I would dabble in short anecdote-esque stories as well. Part of why I started to write was because I had been getting bullied relentlessly for years, and I really needed an outlet for the pain. Most of my writing I never shared with my family, because, as an outlet for pain, it can get kind of disturbing. As I got older, however, I started to share more of my writing with people (family, friends, FictionPress, etc) and was extremely excited by the positive feedback I was getting.

At some point, however, my sister started writing stories. She would share them with my parents, and get tons of praise (she was pretty good, especially for her age, but they weren’t really the kind of thing I liked to read), which would upset me. Now that I’m older, I realize I didn’t share as many things with my parents as she did, leaving less opportunity for praise, but I still don’t necessarily remember getting a ton when I did share. My sister, Christine, and I really don’t like to do the same things as each other, like, ever. A recent example of this was when I told her I really wanted to get a blue car; she was really upset because she’s pretty much always wanted a blue car. It wasn’t jealousy, we just are always trying to set ourselves apart from the other sibling. Anyway, back to writing…

Well, because Christine was writing and doing such a good job with it (the horrendous bullying really didn’t do my self-esteem any favors), I started to withdraw. Don’t get me wrong, I still wrote, just not as often, and I wouldn’t share much of anything with anyone anymore. Eventually, I almost completely stopped writing. I would scribble one or two liners in margins of notebooks, but I was no longer sitting down with the express intent to write.

This drawer is entirely full of creative writing things. And yes, that paper on top is a normal notebook page.
This drawer is entirely full of creative writing things. And yes, that paper on top is a normal notebook page.

Fast forward, a lot, to about a year ago (mid-2014ish): I have been moving from house to house and apartment to apartment with all of my old writing stuff for years now. It’s always nagging me, which is a good thing, but I just hadn’t had the time to sit down and write non-homework assignments. However, a story I had started over a decade ago was still floating around in my head, and getting louder. Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out the details. So, in 2015, I’ve finally restarted my writing hobby!!! *Woot flags and confetti* I’m working on getting a routine setup so that I’m writing for at least 30 minutes twice a week. Even if I’m not writing that specific story, it will still get and keep the creative juices flowing!

(Slightly unrelated note, but who decided they needed to be called creative juices of all things? That just, I don’t know, gives me the heeby jeebies a bit. Anyone else?)

-Painting-

The college I attended after the engineering school was a more standard four-year, public university. I transferred from engineering to, wait for it, photography. Well, technically, that’s not quite right. That’s what I WANTED to do. You see, this particular school only offered photography as a subspecialty of the art degree, so I was actually getting an art degree with an emphasis on photography. Now, if any of you are photographers or artists, you’ll know that the thinking can be extremely different for both. Photography is relatively technical, but art can be much more “free form” and sporadic. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against either field or the people in them.

Anyway… For the first two years of the degree, I needed to take a ton of general art classes. The photography classes were all upper level classes, so I wasn’t allowed to take them yet. I can’t remember the specific rule that said no, but there definitely was one. The first of the general art classes I took was 2D Art. The teacher was fantastic, and really didn’t mind if you decided to approach art from a more emotional stand point or from a more structured one. As long as you did the assignments, then you were doing well. Two-Dimensional Art was the class where I realized I actually really enjoy painting.

Eventually, I realized the art degree wasn’t for me (it was actually the next art class that clinched it for me, because the teacher was marking me down because I wasn’t trying to be more, uh, random with my art). I transferred to another science degree, and eventually dropped out so I would stop wasting money while I figured myself out.

I'm ridiculous, but it makes life interesting!
I’m ridiculous, but it makes life interesting!

In 2014, my friend Anne invited me to go to a place called Canvas and Cocktails with her. You go to a studio (in clothes you won’t cry over if you get paint on them), they give you all of the materials (everything, even the smocks), and they teach you how to paint a picture. Yes, there is a bar. They mostly have wine. I didn’t really want to drink, and the drinks cost extra anyway, so I don’t actually know everything they have. You don’t have to do what they are teaching, you can paint whatever you’d like, but there is a teacher that leads you through a painting. I was hesitant at first because Anne has a lot of art she’s made that is absolutely gorgeous (even though she claims she’s terrible at it *cough*liar*cough*), and I hadn’t done any art things since the art degree fling. But I went, and it was AWESOME! My painting wasn’t necessarily awesome, but I reawakened a love for painting that I hadn’t realized was as strong as it is.

Anne and me at Canvas and Cocktails

Now, I’ve decided to start expanding my Etsy shop to include paintings, and eventually some multi-media stuff using my photographs. Painting is so relaxing, however, that I figure making any money because of it would simply be a nice bonus. I am just finishing a crazy elaborate painting, which I am not going to be selling because I worked way too hard on it! The crazy painting is going to be a present for my mom, so I will still get to see it regularly! Once I’ve given it to her, however, I will share a photo of it with you!

-Meditation-

So, this is an odd “hobby” I realize. But, the title does just say that this list makes me smile 🙂 Meditation is very relaxing for me, which really helps me feel more at peace with myself and the world as a whole. I am not the best at doing it regularly, which is unfortunate, but I can tell when it’s been a while because I get snappy. Right now, since I’m still relatively new to it, I’ve been using a free app called “Calm” to guide me.

This is how it looks in Google Play (with Android 4.4.4)
This is how it looks in Google Play (with Android 4.4.4)

You can upgrade for a ton of variation and focused meditations as well, but I want to get into a good routine before I do that. Ideally, I’d like to meditate every day. I will probably always use the app, because the background noise it plays is ideal to distract my ADHD just enough to allow me to relax.

-Pilates-

Yes, another odd “hobby” but it makes me smile. This is actually part of my treatment plan (for everything physical, actually). I got to a studio that also does physical therapy, which means several of the instructors are also physical therapists! This is fantastic for me (and really, anyone else) because of all of my physical issues. Right now, I’ve just been working with Joleen, a PT and instructor. Pilates is interesting. Because you have to focus on every aspect of your body through every motion, you actually will slip into a kind of shallow mindful meditation. I always feel very relaxed after a session, regardless of how tired I am or how hard I worked. I am also extremely happy with how my body is starting to work (actually how it’s supposed to for once in my life) and many of my symptoms are managed significantly better as well. I am definitely not going to be stopping Pilates anytime in the foreseeable future, and am hoping to work up to doing it three times a week.

I'm on the MOTR, a relatively new Pilates device. It's extremely versatile. This was during an open house at my studio.
I’m on the MOTR, a relatively new Pilates device. It’s extremely versatile. This was during an open house at my studio.

-Yoga-

This fits right in there with both mediation and Pilates. Right now, unfortunately, I cannot participate in group yoga classes because my shoulders are still very sensitive to injury. However, I do still do several yoga poses at home during stretching or to get blood flowing again if I’ve been doing a lot of work in one spot. I can’t wait until I get the clearance to participate again, but I’ll keep doing the “easy” poses until then!

yoga sun salutation


I’m pretty sure that’s about it! This page is definitely a “flux page,” meaning it will be getting updated fairly regularly, so keep checking back!

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