Hobbies that help us make friends

At different stages of my life I have made friendship through the different hobbies I have pursued. I have moved a lot in my life, both as a child and an adult. One of the first things I do when moving to a new community is join a group of some kind. The more I connect with the hobby/activity itself personally, the more it seems friendships are formed while doing them.

When my children’s father and I split up, I moved to be closer to extended family. But didn’t live in the same community as my family. I had taken up running and belonged to a very social online running forum. I had a ready-made running group to hook up with in-person up my arrival.

Since moving to the community we live in now, I’ve been involved with the local community theatre. We are just wrapping up a production, and last week before the show opened there was a conversation among cast & crew about how they came to be in this community, and what a fantastic second family the theatre had become.

I have joined just about every hobby/group/club pictured here at one point or another throughout my life and always make new friends along the way. I encourage you to try one yourself!

Hobbies are great for making new friends

Hobbies are great for making new friends


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I’m a Mommy Blogger? really?

My children have changed my life. There is never any doubt about this. Of course, it has happened in the most obvious ways – I get woken in the middle of the night, I require childcare arrangements before I can make my child-free activity plans, my home is cluttered with toys and items strewn about where they left them…

But I tend to talk about how they changed my life in more obtuse ways. I used to be very controlling. Now some might argue I still am, but I know otherwise. 😉 Becoming a mother has meant that eventually I started to let go of that control, little bit by little bit. At first I totally bucked it, and everything that my ex-husband did that was counter to what I wanted to control became a much larger problem. After we split up, I was forced to let go even more. I *could* attempt to control the way things work when they are not at home with me, when they are at their dad’s on weekends and vacations, but to what end? While I have mostly let go. (I’ll admit to lapsing a few times and making a big issue out of something I deemed worthwhile). I’m not saying it was easy, but it has gotten easier.

My children have also helped me to get better at setting all work aside and just being. We will take days and do nothing but spend time together as a family. Of course, being a mom has brought about much work that forces me to not be so care-free, but I value the time spent simply living life, so much more, especially when I do it with the people who I care about most in my life.

They have also given me a much greater appreciation for the ability to care so deeply for another person that you are willing to sacrifice anything for their protection.

Many people define themselves as a parent first, a person/woman/man/other identity second. I have done the same on many occasions. And depending upon the circumstances, I sometimes still do today. When it comes right down to it, being a good mom is the most critical part of being me today. But something being a mother has taught me, is that I need to be ME, first. I can’t be the best mother/spouse/friend/etc. I can be, if I don’t allow myself time to nurture my being.

It is through this need to take care of myself that I re-started a lot of activities that I love. I started running through a need for self-care during a critical time in my (unofficially, still – but that’s another story) former marriage. I went back to school, as a single parent, to improve my chances at a meaningful career. I re-started my hobby with photography when I graduated from University recently. I started writing again because I realized that the exercise of writing once was an integral part of my being. It is because of my children that I had the motivation to be a better me.

So, it is ironic to me, that most people would refer to me as a mommy blogger. While I do occasionally write about my experiences as a mom, or about my children; and while I AM a mother I do not think of myself as a mommy blogger. I blog because writing allows me to ground myself. I write of the many things that I value. I write as an exercise in separating my identity from my outward responsibilities. I think of myself as a blogger, yes; as a mother, without doubt; but as a mommy blogger? I just don’t think it fits.

Do we identify ourselves as mommy nurses, mommy doctors, mommy bus drivers, mommy teachers, mommy police officers, etc.? Generally the mommy descriptor only applies if it is integral to the work we do. Sure I’ve blogged about being a mom. But I also have blogged about running, fundraising for a cause, photography, Nova Scotia, Halifax, poverty… the list goes on. I don’t think anyone would define me as a running blogger (I once blogged only about my efforts at fitness, so at that time it may have applied); or a photography blogger (by any stretch). If I were to define my blogging it would be about life, and perhaps leaning on the edge towards social change.

When I blog I am hoping to connect with people from all walks of life. People who care about life. People who want life to be better for generations to come. This applies to mothers, to be certain. But it also applies to fathers, grandparents, aunts & uncles, friends, caregivers, children, and on and on and on…

Yes, I am a mother. Yes, I am a blogger. Must they be one and the same?

Life plan baby steps

I’m here – half standing, half sitting, perched on a bar stool at my counter height table – wishing more than anything I had a nice comfy lounge chair to be outside enjoying the unseasonable end-of-summer heat. I left work early due to back spasms that just aren’t letting up. Fortunately, I have a sweet spouse who offered to swap me massage appointments (we see the same RMT) so that I can get in tomorrow morning, rather than wait until Thursday. In the meantime, I’m trying to get by on ibuprofen, alternating ice and heat.

As usual I’m struggling staying focused on anything. I found some great sources of information to help me hone my desire to do something unique while satisfying my personal goals in life, but as I ran out of time on the day discovered I also lost my focus moving forward. Somehow I need to get back there and continue the momentum. I can see why people need to take week-long hiatuses to go through this process effectively. Unfortunately that’s just not in the cards for me right now. And so I flounder (again).

This back pain is a prime example of how the distractions in my life seem to just take over and interfere. I know that in many cases it’s simply because I have let it happen, in others I just haven’t found the answer yet.

When it comes to my fitness the latter applies. Being diagnosed with fibromyalgia three years ago was at first a bit of validation that I was dealing with something that was not all in my head. But it doesn’t give me any real answers. It hasn’t helped me to feel better. I have tried many strategies, and have managed to improve the situation in bite sizes, however the pain still interferes far too much with my daily life and my long-term goals. I want to be fit. I want to be able to just hop on my bike and do a day trip that involves a long ride there and back. I do not want to be hurting three weeks after every carefully planned attempt at restarting my fitness routine. I have tried so many things. I’m sick of this cycle of un-success. Today I did what feels like the last option (of course I thought that with my last course of action, not knowing about this one). I called a pain management centre I recently learned of. They work with chronic pain sufferers in a self-managed/referred program that will likely involved some pretty dedicated commitment. But if I can get back to daily exercise that is not at the expense of my ability to function, I want it.

Some people would say: if it hurts, then just don’t do it. Many would love a reason to just not bother. But, I know in the long run that if I can find a way to make this work I’ll be healthier for much longer. Sedentary lifestyles result in heart disease, or Type 2 diabetes, or other disease… The short term sacrifice is SO worth the long term gain. Besides, my current mental state will also improve significantly with regular successful physical activity. Whether it is wise or not, I am really banking on this next step making room for significant changes.

Then there are the many other aspects of my life in which I must focus and achieve greater momentum and accomplishments. I started the process of planning, but haven’t completed the nitty gritty yet. I do know that I want to focus on one of my hobbies, learning how to become a better photographer. I bought the camera, and I’ve been playing around with it, but I need a little help getting this ball in motion, so I signed up for a basic municipal recreation evening class in Digital SLR. I can’t wait to get to know my camera and its abilities better!

I also entered a deadline into my calendar for blogging. I need to hold myself accountable. I want to write more. I want to write SOMETHING everyday. I’ve decided that publishing some written work daily on my blog is not entirely realistic for me at this time (just as publishing a photo a day isn’t). So I am committing to two new written entries each week. However, I hope I will somehow make time to write everyday, and then some of that can be stored up for future publishing when I have unforeseen challenges arise (i.e. illness or family obligations). After I start my photography course I’ll commit to two new photo entries each week as well.

These are actions to be added to my life plan that got stalled a week or two ago. They are baby steps, but at least I can feel like I’m doing something.

Yes, there is still a plan / AKA Writing challenge: throw a topic at me!

I have not entirely completed my current (any) life plan. I haven’t clarified my goals, nor written out my plans: short term, long term and individual to each goal. I believe I must make time to do this, then begin following the plan(s).

Today I decided that any physical activity of some level of intensity of up to 30 mins, everyday would become a part of my fitness plan. There will be some more specific goals and challenging activities, but EVERYday, I will spend up to 30 mins working out. For the time being, this involves swimming during my children’s lessons at the lake each morning. Last week I swam daily and the level of intensity was entirely inconsistent. I took Saturday and Sunday off. Today I decided for this week it will involve swimming across the lake and back (approximately 900 meters).

I want to start working towards each of my goals this way, one small activity weekly or daily depending upon the relevance. Photography: a photo a day, everyday. Photo must be taken in manual mode and be something I am willing to share online. For today I chose to start with reading about getting out of the auto settings (I never use the actual “AUTO”, but the predefined semi-auto are my comfort zone), so I know this involves getting to know my camera better – tomorrow’s task: read the rest of the camera manual.

When it comes to my career related goals, I will need to take more time to eek any semblance of a plan out.

Writing: post at least one blog entry everyday. The toughest part of writing for me is getting started: deciding what to write about. So I decided to start a little experiment. I posted a Tweet/Buzz and Facebook Status asking for topics. I am challenging myself to write about every topic, no matter how strange, boring irrelevant to me. They do not necessarily need to be posted everyday – I may have other ideas that compel me to write as well 😉 , but I will have a running list to refer to and challenge myself with. Unless I start getting more topics thrown at me than I can ever keep up with, then I will need to set some clearer limits and expectations. I have received three suggestions so far. Two I have an idea of where to go with, the third I haven’t looked at yet (I was told not to if I a still on vacation– but realize now, I’ll at least need to add it to my list).

So here’s to moving forward, starting with little baby steps.

***If you have a suggestion for my writing topic challenge please add it to the comments on my blog!