When was the last time you created something? Something other than dinner? What do you enjoy doing that nurtures your creative spirit? And don’t say you don’t have a creative spirit, because it’s in there somewhere. It’s very easy to let our own hobbies get lost in boxes in the back of the closet while we raise our kids and attend to the real world. But remember when you were a kid and you had hours that stretched out in front of you unencumbered by responsibilities? What did you do then?
This past weekend I found myself in a ballroom at a cheesy hotel in Gettysburg with over 200 other women working on scrapbooks. There were many moments when I looked around at these women of all ages and stages, dressed in their jammies (I kid you not!) trading stickers and stories, and thought, “What am I doing here?” Lots of these ladies are part of the polyester set and get pretty worked up over a trip to Cracker Barrel, and I would never have dreamed I’d have anything in common with them. But here I sat amongst them listening as they shared tales of their trips to the Grand Canyon or the local dirt track. Pets figured in to many of their snapshots as well as babies smashing food and pretty little girls in pink ballet slippers or prom dresses. There were plenty of heirloom photos too - the kind with the crinkly edges, soft focus, and faces so familiar even if the clothing and hair style isn’t. This past weekend I spent 48 hours scrapbooking with 200 kindred spirits, many I had absolutely nothing in common with except the love of creating scrapbooks that tell stories, celebrate lives, and secure memories.
I don’t have to tell many of you how hard it is to leave your husband in charge of his own children and home for a few days – all alone. I made lists and reminded him all week long of who had to be where when. I wrote out the instructions for caring for the horses and chickens and he learned the hard way which horse to feed first. But he survived. I think it’s really important that we take time to pursue the things we enjoy. Not only does it set the example for our children, but it keeps us sane. And sanity is a good, and underappreciated, thing. Besides our children need to know we have interests in life other than them.
So what do you like to do for fun that you haven’t done in ages because there isn’t time, money, or opportunity? Did you collect butterflies? Build model cars? Paint watercolors? Maybe it seems nerdy or something only people who still live with their parents would do, but after spending a weekend with those women in that ballroom, I feel pretty good. I feel rested, content, happy. We all need to nurture our creative, playful selves.
One half of the hotel/resort (although I say resort, I must clarify that it was actually a sprawling, somewhat tired looking collection of low level buildings, with one “high rise” connected by a human habitrail plunked down near the battlefields serving up pressed turkey, powdered eggs, and lots of gravy in the “café”) was consumed by the scrapbookers, but the other half was host to a youth ministry conference of some kind. Late on Friday night a group of youths wandered through the habitrail over to our side of the complex. I can only imagine what they must have thought at the site of all those women drowning in their scrapbooking “gear” gabbing away as the oddest assortment of music I’ve ever experienced warbled out of someone’s ipod speakers. Obviously they felt they needed to shield the rest of the world from us, so they upended a few tables that were in the hallways and pushed them up against the ballroom doors, effectively barricading us in the room. We were so engrossed in our tasks and happy to be starting a weekend without children or responsibilities that no one even noticed. I think that if someone from the hotel hadn’t happened by, we might still be in that room happily ensconced in our tasks at hand. I’m not sure what happened to the good Christian youths when the incident was reported back to their leaders, but I appreciated their effort. It seemed like something I might have done if I’d found a bunch of “old women” quilting or canning or engaging in some other “old person” hobby when I was an invincible teenager.
I never thought I would say it, but I’m happy to be on my side of those barricaded doors claiming time for me and my own hobbies, despite what it looks like to the busy, responsible people or the kids. It’s good for my life. It’s also good for my family. But mostly it is good for my soul. I hope you claim some time for your own hobbies this year. Make something, learn something, practice something, enjoy something – something just for you - not for your family, not for your kids, not for your community. Just for you.