Have you ever wondered why you enjoy certain activities or hobbies more than others? Why do some people drift toward sports while others pick up scrapbooking? Why do some people have no discernible hobbies at all, but spend most of their free time socializing and maintaining a huge network of friends and acquaintances?
As a child, my favorite toys were Play-Doh, Legos, a set of paper craft books from my grandparents in Taiwan and a Crayola art set. I remember trying to draw a realistic horse with brown crayon in kindergarten art class when the other little girls were doing the usual house with curlicue flowers and stick figure family members and the boys were either scribbling non-representational modern pieces with black and blue crayons or boxy cars and trucks in profile. I made cool toys out of paper and cardboard, folded many origami animals, drew my own paper doll clothes, crocheted a bag full of yarn scarves, hats, and potholders, built a fleet’s worth of improbably Lego vehicles, made my own soft-sculpture dolls, and randomly planted marigolds and zinnias all over my father’s garden.
When I hit my middle school years, I taught myself to sew by making a Tudor-era costume for my sister (No cheesy little pillow project for me!), spent a whole school year drawing nothing but faces on the brown bag book cover of my spelling book until my efforts no longer looked like fugly aliens from outer space, and took up creative writing. In college I got into computer games–specifically, I got into epic roleplaying sagas that let me put together my own teams of adventurers and mold them into the most powerful group of badasses to ever blast, hack, and puzzle their way through a dungeon full of evil minions of the Dark Lord–computer graphics, costuming, and web site creation.
I look at all of my other hobbies, and I realize that they all involve making something one way or another. My college friend Emily Jiang claims this is because I like the control factor in creating things. I suppose this is true–I like measuring things precisely, setting things up properly, performing the required steps competently, and then seeing the final product pop out…perfectly, or nearly so. I even count my current obsessions with personal finance, fitness, and gardening as part of this Make-It-Myself fetish because once again I am taking a limited supply of raw materials and turning it into something greater than its component parts.
I like activities with tangible end-products and, preferably, financial reward. I am competitive to some degree, but I never went for sports because a) I was sweat-o-phobic until last year, b) I am awful at all of them except for archery, and c) you don’t get anything tangible to show off or use for your efforts.
When I do an illustration, I have a pretty piece of art work I can stand back and admire, then sell for profit. When I sew an evening dress from a designer Vogue pattern and $15 worth of materials, I am getting a $500 dress for under $20. When I make a Halloween costume for $10, wear it to a party to bask in the praise of friends and family who cannot believe I made it myself, and then turn around and resell it on eBay for $75, I am getting both the cheapskate rush of having a perfectly-fitted costume at a fraction of the price of shabby storebought outfits and the Scrooge McDuck glee of banking $65 of profit the next year. When I pop a few seeds into some potting soil and watch them grow into enough veggies to keep me away from the produce department at Publix for the entire summer, I get the thrill of producing my own food and saving more bucks. When I take $30 worth of whole food groceries and turn them into 42 healthy 40/40/20 meals for the week, well, I can barely contain my glee. When I set aside money in my IRA, 401(K), and savings accounts, I’m essentially growing my money just like I grow my plants. When I write up a workout and nutrition plan for myself and follow through on it, I focus my efforts on achieving specific visible and measurable changes to my body.
I also save money on health care, make up, and food (by NOT dining out) as a byproduct of staying fit and eating well.
Gaming is probably my only non-productive hobby, but hey, at least I’m actively doing something with my brain and hands when I’m playing instead of just zoning out in front of a TV, and, given my current career, gaming can be listed as “industry research.”
Oh, oops…I guess I’m occasionally guilty of a bit of vegetative TV watching, too. I do love me some CSI and Law and Order!
Nutrition: Training Day Menu
(SGX nutrition details omitted by request of trainer)
1: Strawberry vanilla yogurt shake
2: 1 scoop whey, 2 slices carrot raisin bread
3: 3×1 spinach omelette, WW pancakes
4: 3 oz. chicken, SF mushroom marinara sauce, 2 oz. reduced carb spaghetti
5: 3 oz. chicken, 3 c. salad, 1 orange
6: 1/2 c. FF cottage cheese, 3/4 c. strawberries
Daily Supplements: multivitamin with iron, calcium 500 + D, 1 T. flaxseed oil or natural peanut butter
Water: 16 cups minimum
9:00 AM Back/Biceps/Abs (45 minutes)
12:00 PM HIIT Bike/Run (20 minutes)
8:30 PM YF Flexibility (30 minutes)
The Awful Truth:
1. Didn’t get workouts done yesterday after work due to another moving trip.
1. Baked carrot raisin bread.
2. Moved all office/paperwork and other assorted items to the house.
3. Knocked out 2 of 3 planned workouts today.
1. Update HandBase workout module.
2. Read two chapters from NASM book.
3. Work on holiday cards.
4. Pay rent and phone bills.
5. Cook remaining chicken breast.
6. Get gym ID card.
7. Move frozen foods to the house.
8. Move plants from patio to the walled garden.