Brain Break (part two)

Take up a Hobby. No Really.

Saturday afternoon, and I’ve already done three loads of laundry, balanced my checkbook, and developed a process flow for a gnarly issue with respect to my day job. I also spent quality time with the head of household and I’m sure I irritated my mother-in-law with whom we live.  Later, we’ll have the grand baby, and I have to do my nails.

I need another hobby….nope.

Actually, some hobbies can be incredibly restful for the weary human/writer/whatever other identity you assume. I mentioned in my last blog bonsai trimming as something mostly inaccessible for the masses, but a houseplant or two is good for your grey matter and some plants are harder to kill than others. This expert advice of course from the serial murderer of many a flowering thing. Sigh.

Chlorophyll stains on my digits aside, I have to tell you that I have at least one hobby that is in direct competition for brain bandwidth: genealogy. Don’t take up a hobby that will eclipse your life, however appealing it may be. Giving your brain a break is not about breaking your brain. It’s about freeing up a little creative real estate so you produce more effectively when you desire to do so.

So for me, this new hobby comes in the form of a tidy little five-gallon aquarium.

You see, I have a love of betta fish, specifically the blue ones, although I’ve parented the crimson ones and usually a tiny container of water – a vase or bowl and maybe a rock or two, and perhaps a perpetually rooting arrowhead vine has been sufficient to provide a few years of fishy joy at least to me.  When we relocated across the planet a few years ago I was not only fishless but sans any pets, flora or fauna. I was promised a betta. Three years later, I have a water filled tank adorned with a few pet rocks. The betta is on the docket however.  You see, the husband and I thought a fish tank would bring some enjoyment not only to me, but to our grand baby and the mother-in-law. I’m actually enjoying the process of setting up the aquarium, placing the geode from the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico and the petosky stones from Lake Michigan on the bottom. Today we will acquire some tasteful aquarium plants. We’ve settled on a specific type of snail, and are also considering a cherry shrimp. Green tetras are in the works and lastly – I’m abandoning all stereotypical behavior and considering a white betta. Cool thing is – we’ll spend less than fifty on the whole set up and it will benefit the whole family. Writing is my identity. Geneology is an obsession. This little aquarium? Hobby.

I’m not going to suggest a bunch of ideas to you with this installment. Hobbies are for you to discover, but I am going to encourage another water feature, called a mini garden pond. If you are in a more temperate climate, you can do this outside. If you’re more seasonally challenged, mini ponds can be indoor/outdoor features and are along the same lines as fairy gardens. The idea is that you keep it simple and small – enjoy the set up and then reap the benefits from letting your brain relax while simply observing the finished work. Don’t dig up the whole back yard and install a six foot waterfall complete with koi, but do pick out a bowl, a lily or papyrus, and perhaps a frog or minnow. You see, for myself, I’m plotting that the aquarium is a gateway object to a mini pond. Don’t tell the husband, though. The mother-in-law’s border garden is on his last nerve.

Lastly, because water features may be a bit girly, I will digress and offer one more idea, even though I said I wouldn’t (one does not a bunch make). Try knot tying. I live in an area where nautical knots are both useful and decorative and can be produced using anything from two ply waxed linen to ginormous boat rope. If you need a taste, google crown knots and monkey paws. I’m not suggesting macramé. No need to consign you dear writer to a compendium of belt and plant hanger making. Just knots. They’re cool. They vary from simple to complex and they use a totally different bit of dendrites. And unless you’re a boy scout or a sailor, you probably haven’t considered them.

I’m sticking to fish, because I find them relaxing but the world is wide open – just make sure that your hobby is a hobby that won’t keep you up at night on the internet combing through records or grilling your family members for information about deceased relatives.


TL Boehm
Associate Editor