Why I do what I do…

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

===========
Workout:
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.

===========
Brownie Points:
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.

===========
Short-term Goals:
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.

11 thoughts on “Why I do what I do…

  1. Maggie wrote:
    “… but I never went for sports because … you don’t get anything tangible to show off or use for your efforts.”

    What? You win enough times — especially with individual sports — and you get trophies and medals and stuff like that. Plus, I’d say the functional body and big infusion of self-confidence are both tangible, yes?

  2. Thanks Rachel!

    Rob, I have plenty of trophies, medals, ribbons, certificates, and plaques from academic competitions and writing contests. They take up quite a lot of space in my parents’ storage room and aren’t worth a nickel in resale value. Lame! 😉 Confidence can be gained through non-sport activities as well, you know, and the majority of young people under the age of 18 don’t have to do a single thing to have a functional body.

    Yes, it would have been nice to have been fit back in my school days, but I just wasn’t ready to make that jump into voluntary exercise when I was a kid between working in my parents’ restaurant, partaking of typical Nerd Herd extracurriculars, and maintaining that oh-so-precious 4.0. Kids do things that their family and friends do…and trust me, no one in my circle was at all athletically-inclined. Also, it costs money to play sports in school, and my family wasn’t in a position to support expensive activities like that.

    That said, I STILL have zero interest in competitive sports even though I have a decent amount of disposable income now. I am perfectly happy getting my exercise fix at the gym.

  3. Nice post, Maggie! I’m with you in that competitive sports hold no interest for me. I didn’t excel in them during my school days – preferred to watch pro wrestling 😛 I look to your awesome exercise and fiscal discipline for inspiration.

    Keep up the great work! :claplow:

  4. Nice strawman argument you made there. I never said there aren’t other ways that kids can gain confidence, nor did I in any way diminish the value of academic achievement. Considering that the participant defines the value, a worthwhile achievement is a worthwhile achievement, yes?

    And whether you value the ribbons and trophies from your youth now does not say how you (or anyone else who also has them) felt about them at the time. I don’t care much now about the awards I have that presently collect dust in my parents house, either. But it doesn’t change in any way the benefits, perceived or otherwise, that came with them when I earned them. I can only assume you feel similarly about your childhood accomplishments. If not, then that is unfortunate.

    I’m not making any judgements about you or the reasons you didn’t participate in athletics during your youth. To each his or her own; and I fully understand that circumstances often dictate the choices we have when we are children. All I have is what you wrote: “I never went for sports because … you don’t get anything tangible to show off or use for your efforts.”

    This is, of course, as false as saying “you don’t get anything tangible to show off or use for your efforts” about drawing just to draw something … or about living a fitness lifestyle … or about many forms of volunteerism … or about whatever else people do that carries no resale value. You may not see any value. That doesn’t mean there is none.

  5. Hey, chill out, dude. 😎 You should realize after all these months of visiting my blog that at least 50% of my posts are made for entertainment or chuckle value. If you want earnest, heartfelt confessions and crusading rants that are always 100% serious, there are many other options out there besides my snarky daily blatherings.

    My post as a whole and the sentence you quoted out of context in particular apply only to yours truly. It was never meant to be read as a blanket statement denigrating participation in sports (or any of the other worthy activities you listed in your second comment) as inherently useless or unproductive. Shoot, I love to karaoke, and the only rewards for belting out Pat Benatar songs in a smoky bar are the ego boost one gets from the applause of the half-drunk audience and the fun of hanging out with friends. Oh, and perhaps an offer of a free drink, but that is not guaranteed, hah!

    To stave off any further pointless banter on the topic of “tangible” benefits from sports, I will qualify that for me, personally, “tangible” equates to a physical object made or financial gain achieved in the process of engaging in a given pastime.

    I am not saying that sports do not provide “tangible” benefits to other people who may define the word differently than I do or who excel sufficiently in athletics to earn scholarships or even a living competing, but I will reiterate that given my personal level of ineptitude with and total lack of interest in competitive sports, I would, alas, never get anything tangible (by my definition) that I would want to show off or use for my efforts that I would consider worthy of the time, effort, and money that would have to be expended.

    Of course, if through some miracle of divine intervention I should ever become good enough at any sporting event to earn pots of money at it, I reserve the right to reverse my opinion. :whistle:

    Rob said:

    This is, of course, as false as saying “you don’t get anything tangible to show off or use for your efforts” about drawing just to draw something … or about living a fitness lifestyle … or about many forms of volunteerism … or about whatever else people do that carries no resale value. You may not see any value. That doesn’t mean there is none.

    Okay, I definitely take exception at the above comment. Nowhere in my post or subsequent comment have I said that a pastime that has no monetary “resale value” has no value in other ways. I have simply described my historical preference for activities that coincidentally roll enjoyment, creativity, craftsmanship, and profit all into one and linked that history to my current interest in fitness.

    People engage in their chosen hobbies because, at the core, they ENJOY doing them. That is sufficient reason to keep up any hobby you care to name that doesn’t involve harming another living creature.

  6. Maggie,
    Clark Howard would be proud. My granddad too. We live in a world of over-consumption. I’m just as guilty as the next person, but I’m trying to do better. Your self discipline is something to be admired.

    Danny

  7. So flawless. So self-righteous. So highly self-proclaimed multi-talented, munificent, tough. So egocentric. So rigid. So condescending. So myopic. Yes, you’ve learned self-discipline, self-control, to control pain, the power of hard work. But where is the humility? Where is the humanity, the respect for others?

  8. LOL, La Rue. Still trying to turn me into the Warm-And-Fuzzy Muse? Believe it or not, I’ve mellowed considerably since the days when my nickname was Daria.

  9. Fair enough … although I do have a question. If you meant not not to suggest that insert-non-Maggie-endorsed-activity-here was of no value, why the choice of such strong words as these:

    “I have plenty of trophies, medals, ribbons, certificates, and plaques from academic competitions and writing contests. They take up quite a lot of space in my parents’ storage room and aren’t worth a nickel in resale value. Lame!”

    There didn’t seem to be a lot of wiggle room there to infer anything else. In any case, the discussion was good. Short. But good.

    And, trust me, I’ve been around the Internet enough times to not take anything anyone says very seriously. 😉

    Lastly … thanks to the nifty little NaNoWriMo icon you pasted here last month, I uploaded fifty thousand and ninety-nine words of pure crap this afternoon. How’d you do?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Click to hear an audio file of the anti-spam word