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Friday, June 17, 2011

Do What You Love

I have been retired for a year, but I am not doing a very good job of spending time on things I enjoy. My days are filled with busyness -- errands, setting up appointments, yard word --  and I'm not doing the things I enjoy, such as hiking and photography.

It seems that every day includes an appointment of some sort, either at someone's business or at my home. I have been having some home improvement work done, most of which requires that I be at home. I see a physical therapist every week. And I like to be home when my daughter gets home from school, which limits my time away from home.

For a while, I was exploring this beautiful state, hiking or taking pictures. After a much colder than average winter and an extremely windy spring (think gusts of 40 mph or more) that kept me inside much more than I prefer, I have yet to get back into the activities I enjoy. I even stopped listening to my large CD collection. In the past, I often had music playing when at home. For some reason, I fell out of that habit.

It's interesting how I have to remind myself from time to time to take care of myself and do things I like. My daughter does a lot of things she enjoys: movies, going to the mall, sleepovers. I guess it's a sign of adulthood that I have to make a conscious effort to do things that I enjoy. I often think about going some place I haven't been before, but daily tasks always seem to get in the way.

Recently I decided to make some changes. I started listening to music again. One Saturday morning, my daughter and I joined a photography group for a trip to the local zoo. We spent 3 hours wandering around, taking pictures of everything from flamingos to giraffes, gorillas and giant tortoises. Photography is a common interest, and we often have a good-natured competition to see which of us takes better pictures. I got to spend a few hours at a local wolf sanctuary, doing some chores but most importantly, photographing the animals. I have decided at long last to act on a dream of selling some of my photographs, so I'm setting up a Web site to feature my best images. I also set up a Facebook page to help get the word out. The new business is called Desert Mountain Photography. Check it out!

A recent weekend trip to Las Vegas to see Celine Dion in concert was a mixed bag for me. Although I enjoyed photographing the various casinos and fountains, dealing with the overwhelming crowds, the noise, the smoke and the seedy-looking people completely overwhelmed me. I was so stressed, and I couldn't wait to get home.

Aside from the concert, which was wonderful, the trip to Las Vegas was not fun for me. Shuffling along like cattle being herded into a chute, while sirens blared on the street a few feet away, just isn't my idea of fun.

I don't like crowds, so my reaction wasn't really surprising. I was, however, surprised at how stressed I felt. I found the entire experience draining and very stressful. Between the blaring rap 'music,' the hustlers, the freaks hitting on my daughter, the crowds, the drunks, the cigarette smoke and the sluttily dressed young women, I was on overload. I couldn't wait to get home to some peace and quiet. Those two days reminded me to do a better job of avoiding major stressors in my life and to put more emphasis on doing the things I enjoy.

So I'm going hiking for an hour this evening. I will continue to work on setting up my on-line photography business. I will more actively look for opportunities to do things I enjoy. My daughter will be gone for a week later this month, and I intend to visit some places that are are on my 'must see' list, camera in tow, nice music in the car. I've already got a couple of day trips planned.

Life is too short to spend it feeling stressed and cranky, thinking about but not doing the things we enjoy. So get out there and do something, anything, that makes you happy. Make it part of your routine. Schedule it, write it on your calendar if you have to. But get out and follow your passion!