The Olympic games are addictive. I have to fight my husband and children for power over the remote control so I can watch 10 minutes of badminton and 30 minutes of gymnastics. NBC’s coverage has been excellent, but it’s also been slightly problematic: Now I want to do something. Anything.
It’s the time of year when kids are going to football camp and enrolling in soccer. There are endless possibilities for after-school activities and opportunities to join a team of some sort. But what about Mom? What does Mom get to sign up for other than carpool?
Writing used to be my hobby, but then it became my job. I still love to write — obviously — but I don’t have any other interests. Shopping doesn’t count…well…I suppose it does. If accumulating receipts were an Olympic sport, I’d win gold.
I told a friend that I’ve been restless lately. Not bored…just anxious. I need a way to burn off stress or to sidetrack my mind for a while. ”You need to find something that engages you,” she said.
I tried jogging, but I ended up limping around the neighborhood because I’ve ruined my feet wearing cute but catastrophic rubber flip-flops. I moved on and attempted strength training until I strained my right elbow pulling wet towels out of the washing machine. I tried getting into cross stitch, but a worrisome cataract turned threading a needle into a two-hour event. Perhaps I should seek membership at an urgent care facility.
This quest for fun took us to Dick’s Sporting Goods. Our youngest daughter, Maryn, has been begging her dad (not her mom) to teach her how to fish. Our oldest daughter, Ava, seems to have taken an interest in archery (the kind of arrows with suction cup ends…I’m not that Brave). Mike and the girls strolled around the store kicking balls and swinging clubs while I looked for my size in ankle wraps.
What am I going to do with myself?
When we were on vacation a few weeks ago, I noticed a number of men and women gliding peacefully across the Atlantic waves on wide surfboards. SUP — or “Stand Up Paddling” — is the rage at Wrightsville Beach. “I think I’d really like that,” I told my husband. He shrugged his shoulders. ”You need a board, a paddle and an ocean,” he replied.
I’m sure I could try this activity on a lake or a river, but somehow, SUP loses its glamour when you’re swimming with catfish. I prefer dolphins.
So as I sat in a lounge chair on the edge of the sea, I turned to an article in the August issue of MORE magazine dedicated to the topic of buying happiness. The writer discusses the act of earning an income and spending the money on what brings joy in healthful ways. Saving is wise, but spending is…fun. Now THIS is something I could get into.
Writer Manisha Taylor instructs women to conduct a joy audit of their life. In the past few years, what has brought the most excitement? Write down everything that comes to mind, from visiting a favorite outlet to becoming a parent. Whatever. Just write it. Then, keep track of all the money that is spent in a month’s time, whether you like it or not. A site like HelloWallet.com can do this electronically if record-keeping isn’t your strong suit. Finally, take a look at the list and highlight what made you the happiest. Trips to Starbucks? Zumba lessons? Massages? Donating to a cause? Not only will this tell you where your money’s going, but it will help to identify those activities that bring ongoing joy.
I looked at my expenses in July and I wasn’t too surprised by what I saw. I spent a small fortune at the grocery store and at the bookstore. The conclusion? I love to cook. I always have, but a dated kitchen and picky eaters killed the excitement. The frustration of having to visit Kroger for staple items also stripped some happiness out of the act, since $150 in chicken tenders, Goldfish crackers and apple juice doesn’t exactly develop surges of creativity or personal expression. But a trip to Williams Sonoma to play with the knives? Let’s go!
This fall, I’m cracking the books again. Julia Child. Ina Garten. Charlie Trotter. I’m returning to the kitchen with Pandora radio in the background. Other members of the household have to find something else to do on Saturday afternoons. They can catch trout for dinner or shoot something for dessert. Whatever it takes. But before I begin, I’ll need to invest in some equipment. Specifically, burn gel and Band-Aids.