On Labor Day and Hobbies

Work should not rule one’s life.

This is just the pile I keep at home. There’s a bigger pile at school.

I say that one week into the school year with a three day weekend to run errands, take a nap, exercise, and play around with beeswax.  But I mean it.  And I’ll mean it in October when my body is screaming at me and I’m stressed for time–although I may have to come back to this post to remind myself.

I’m not a serf.  My job is not my lord.  My husband is not a slave, although his work treats him like one.  That’s why we take the phone off the hook when we go to bed.  If we didn’t, a call center in the Philippines would wake us at 2 a.m. about a service call that could have waited til morning.  Really.  And that’s why I finally drew a line at work and said “I can do this much but no more.”  Really.

I’m being simplistic, I know.  There’s a good reason I’m not paid by the hour.  I’m paid to fulfill a responsibility, whatever time that may take me.  BUT…there have to be limits or work can be all consuming.  An imbalance of work can make us sick.  And then, when we do get sick, we often ignore our physical needs because we can’t take time from work.  Talk about a vicious cycle.

We need things to do besides employment.  A job is a job.  Fortunate people have jobs that are vocations, true callings.  But even if we really love what we are employed to do, we need avocations, diversions from work that bring us pleasure.

So, on this Labor Day, let’s hear a cheer for hobbies.  Hobbies, the anti-work.  Hobbies are what you do when you are not working.  Hobbies are what you do to not think about work.  And yet, hobbies are why you go to work…to earn money to pay for all your hobby supplies!  (Ok, ok, there are also those minor issues of housing, clothing, and food.)

I like having a hobby that yields concrete, visible, I-can-count-’em results.

Honeybees are our hobby.  (Don’t tell the bees, though, because they don’t stop working to have hobbies.)  Actually, the bees started out as John’s  hobby but I got sucked into it and the beekeeping has since spawned several sub-hobbies.  Bottling honey is the most obvious.  Making things with beeswax is a logical second.  Both of these activities will keep me going long after I would otherwise have crashed for the night.  But these have led me to another activity that could potentially get out of control–ordering online.

I love ordering containers and stuff to fill them–jars, tubes, bottles, labels, body butters, sea salts, fillable tea bags and, oooh…shrink wrap.  It makes me really happy when FedEx or UPS comes down the road with a box filled with push-up tubes for my beeswax body balm.  I know that doesn’t give a big  thrill to most people, but it’s like Christmas to me.  I don’t get that same excitement from the delivery of a book order at school.  And it wouldn’t be as exciting if I could zip down to Target to get them.  There’s something about it being an unusual thing to order that makes it so much fun.

Friends ask, “Where on earth do you buy lip balm tubes?”

“From a lip balm tube company,” I reply.  Duh.  I google “lip balm tubes” and, voilà, a plethora of choices awaits.  Then, after getting trapped in the internet time vortex and exploring everything from soap molds to organza gift bags, I place my order for lip balm tubes and shrink wrap.  And wait for the delivery.

I understand if you couldn’t be bothered with my hobby.  Chapstick and Burts Bees is available at every checkout counter in the country.  But after a long day teaching, I love slathering my bee balm on my feet.  I love buying the packaging to put it in.  I love looking at a box filled with my finished product and thinking, “This is what I did.”  And if I sell a few tubes of it, that’s fun, too.  That’s what hobbies are for.

It’s Labor Day, the traditional end of summer.  Don’t let the fall schedule take control.  Leave room for a hobby.

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