Dabble, By Lorie Sheffer

My shrink: What do you do for fun?
Me: Huh?
My shrink: What do you do for fun? Just for you? What do you enjoy doing? What’s your hobby or interest?
Me: God… I don’t know…. I don’t remember……. (panic sets in)
My shrink: You’re going to have to just dabble. Eventually you’ll know the answer.

Kids seem to know what it means to dabble. They naturally jump from one interest to another, often taking years before they find their true passion. When they hit it, they know. It’s the thing for which they don’t lose interest or have to be nagged into practicing. As adults, we are the ones who chauffer them from the practice field to the dance studio, from play practice to the ice rink. Along the way, it’s very easy to lose sight of our own interests. In the real life world of shuttling kids to their activities, trying to eat something besides drive through meals, and tending to work and home related chores, “me time” can take a back seat. Then one day, the kids are grown and our time is our own. When that happens, we may find ourselves wondering, “Now what?”

Several years ago I found myself with nothing to do. My daughter was grown and had a son or her own, and my son was in college 8 hours away from home. I could do whatever I wanted with this newfound free time. The problem was, so many years had passed since my children weren’t the center of my world that I couldn’t remember what I enjoyed doing that didn’t revolve around them. That was when I realized that I, too, would have to learn to dabble. I would have to revert to my childhood and try out new things until I found what spoke to me.

I tried out gardening and I fell in love with it. Thankfully I live only minutes from a large garden center, and I would sometimes get there just as they were opening for the day. I could spend the entire day just digging in the dirt, planting and transplanting. The trouble is, here in the northeast warm weather doesn’t last year round. Over the years, I found that I also enjoy painting. Not on canvas so much as on walls. My dad laughs and says that I have painted the rooms in my house so many times that they are noticeably smaller than when we first moved in. I learned to hang wallpaper, refinish furniture and hone my sewing skills. I found that yoga is the only form of exercise I look forward to. I am learning how I enjoy spending my time. Former President Jimmy Carter didn’t learn to ski until be was 62. I learned when I was in my early 20s, and although I became rather good at it, I never enjoyed it. Maybe I would have appreciated it more if I’d have waited.

By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.