Recently I've been thinking about the joy that hobbies bring me and asking myself how I can lean into that joy even more. In particular I'm thinking about my hobbies of reading and exercising. I suppose someone might wonder why I didn't include writing and podcasting as hobbies and it's because I don't think of them as hobbies but instead as my work. My writing and podcasting have expectations tied to them, both from myself and from readers and listeners. Reading, exercising, and other hobbies are things I do purely for myself.
What I've realized is that when a hobby brings me joy then often the supporting activities and even gear for that hobby also bring me joy. Knowing this, I can be more intentional about making time and prioritizing spending money on things that support a beloved hobby. Those will likely be very worthwhile investments of time and money.
When it comes to reading I love the act of reading – both sitting and reading and listening to audiobooks – but I also love visiting the library, updating my Goodreads account with books I'm reading and want to read, managing my library holds online, and checking in with my Libby queue (this is the app I use to request and download Kindle and audiobooks). Not to mention that I love to talk to other people about books, love being in two book clubs, and love to share what I'm reading on my blog and on Instagram. I love getting a couple of email newsletters that profile upcoming new books and to grab the free BookPage publication at the library that does the same. I also love to encourage my children's love of reading by taking them to the library and requesting library books for them and then setting out books on our couch for them to discover. When I visit different cities I always try to stop in a local bookstore and buy a few things. This is the first time I've written down all these reading-related activities and I'm realizing there are quite a lot, which makes me very happy!
I find joy in my reading gear too. This includes my Kindle Paperwhite (a fairly old version still going strong), my AirPods that enable cordless hours of audiobook listening, and two tote bags that I use to haul library books, both gifted to me. One says I Like Big Books And I Cannot Lie and always makes me smile. The other has an illustration of a books by Ann Patchett, my favorite author, and was purchased at her bookstore, Parnassus Books.
A few ideas for ways I could lean into my love of reading even more...
+ Plan times to browse local book stores as a treat to myself. Chris loves to do this too so it's something we could do together when we have a date. I love to get ideas at a bookstore and then request books for myself and the kids through the library.
+ Set aside intentional time to managing my many TBR (to-be-read) queues. I keep up with my TBR queues in a few ways. The main way is that I add books to my "want to read" list in Goodreads. Depending on my current library requests I might add the book to my active requests. I also have a few lists of tagged books in Libby for books that I want to read but don't have the time for now or that are for a particular time of year. Last year I created tagged lists for fall reads, holiday books, and summer reads. I also keep a list on my phone of upcoming new releases that I'm really excited for so I can see at a glance what's coming up. Which is all to say that I spend time doing this already but given that I enjoy it so much I could intentionally set aside a block of enjoyable time, perhaps with a treat, to dwell in managing my TBR for a while. I would also enjoy time tending to TBR lists for my kids.
+ Buy a Kindle cover that I love. I used to have a Kindle cover and have no idea how I lost it. (This is the one, which is no longer available.) While traveling probably. But there are many lovely options on Etsy, like this one, and elsewhere I'm sure.
Reflecting on my love of exercising is what brought on this more general reflection about the joy of hobbies. It might even have been inspired by the book Lessons in Chemistry which featured main characters who love the sport of rowing. There was commentary in the book about how obsessed with all aspects of rowing rowers are. As a former high school and college rower I delighted in how perfectly this passage captures the mentality of rowers:
"As any non-rower can tell you, rowers are not fun. This is because rowers only ever want to talk about rowing. Get two or more rowers in a room and the conversation goes from normal topics like work or weather to long, pointless stories about boats, blisters, oars, grips, ergs, feathers, workouts, catches, releases, recoveries, splits, seats, strokes, slides, starts, settles, sprints, and whether the water was really “flat” or not..."
Yes! I can still get into long conversations about rowing with a dear friend of mine who I rowed with in high school. And I have not been in a boat since 2006! Reading this passage made me realize how I have that same rowing passion but for my current exercise. It's not just that I love the act exercising but I love talking about it too and so many other exercise-tangent things.
Right now I really love the different types of exercise I do, all of which are group fitness classes. During the workouts themselves I love listening to great music that I didn't have to create a playlist for. I love getting into a flow state on the treadmill. I love being able to catch on to new choreography at High Fitness, or knowing an older High Fitness track almost by heart. I love noticing that I can run a little faster or lift a little heavier and the feeling of muscle fatigue or soreness after a great workout.
A few exercise-related things I love include: going to gyms that are well maintained and aren't overwhelmingly huge; having a set workout schedule because I love the predictability and not having to think about when I'll work out; getting all my exercise gear together and put into a tote bag the night before for a morning work out; stretching and foam rolling; and using the Orange Theory and now F45 apps to pre-book my workouts. I love tracking when I workout on my printed habit tracker. A newer exercise-related ritual that I love is making coffee before I go to Orange Theory and drinking it in the car on the way, always listening to a favorite podcast (like Happier or Happier in Hollywood) or my current audiobook. I used to not make coffee before class but it's such a comfort and nice to have a little something in my stomach so early (since I use half-and-half). An important part of my ritual is that I bring a small travel bottle with mouthwash so that at the gym I can rinse away my coffee breath.
A few ways I could lean into my love of exercise even more include...
+ Talk to other exercise-enthusiasts about exercise. I've been doing this with my friends Allyson and Sarah! What I really value is that our conversations are not about losing weight or burning calories. They are about what kind of workouts we like and dislike, what shoes we wear and how many pairs we have, what kind of coaching we like, and on and on.
+ Buy more workout wear that I love. I consistently exercise 4-5 times per week but only own three pairs of exercise leggings and two sports bras. It's kind of a problem! It would bring me joy to not worry about doing an emergency load of laundry mid-week. Additionally I have a couple exercise shirts I love and a couple that are okay. I'd love to be excited to pull each piece of workout wear out of the drawer. I don't often wear clothing with phrases but I do love my Strong As A Mother tank. My favorite brands for exercise clothing are Title Nine and Lululemon if you're curious.
+ Buy a gym bag. I always grab a tote bag to bring with me to my classes but I'm realizing that a dedicated gym bag with things like a bottle of mouthwash, extra hair ties, deodorant, etc. would be so nice to have. Perhaps this will appear on my birthday/Christmas wish list.
+ Add another type of workout into my rotation. This is something I did recently! I was able to buy a punch pass for 15 classes at a nearby F45 gym where Chris already works out. I thought that only monthly memberships were available which would be too expensive so I was thrilled to learn that I could buy a class pack. I enjoy the focus on strength training and getting to do different exercises than I do at Orange Theory. Plus the workout is so efficient! I can leave my house, workout, and be home all within about an hour and 15 minutes so I can fit this in during one of my work days without missing too much time.
Reading and exercising are the two hobbies that I dedicate the most time to and they bring me the most joy. But I can apply the same joy-maximizing approach to other hobbies as well like cooking, making our home cozy and functional, and painting my nails. I enjoy hobby-related activities for each of these. When I want to do something to lift my mood, to relax, or am considering spending money on something I want to remember to think about how much joy can come from leaning into hobbies I love.
I'd love to hear about the hobbies you love and all the different ways they bring you joy!