#538 – #RABlogWeek: Day 4 – Hobbies

auntie stress ra blog week

A hobby is defined as an activity done in one's leisure time for pleasure. Most of my hobbies have been active ones. Racquetball, alpine and nordic skiing, cycling, travel, rambling and roaming, camping, wind-surfing and of course, swimming.

auntie stress centennial beach

When I lived in smaller cities in Ontario and Manitoba, I used to get in the car and see where the road would take me.

Some hobbies were short-lived. I took up knitting and drawing while I recuperated from my surgeries. Other hobbies morphed into work. In my teens and twenties I life-guarded and taught swimming. An interest in languages led to a B.Ed. and a job spanning three provinces teaching FSL (French as a 2nd Language) and ESL (English as a 2nd Language).

As the years progress and I tally more years with RA than without, a number of activities I love have fallen away.

During the last ten years or so, you'll have noticed that I rarely invite you for dinner. If I do, it's usually a pot luck. The house has probably not had the white glove treatment, although it's not terrible-horrible.

I do have some constants that have kept me in shape and entertained me for most of my life  - swimming, walking and reading. Lately, I've taken to watching old movies and foreign films. Over the course of the winter, I think we watched every Academy Award winner for Best Picture. Live music is a favourite, too. Being on, in or near water will always feature in my life.

Since being diagnosed, I have always focused on living the best possible life that I can. My disease is a part of me. I cannot change that, so instead I focus on how to live fully alongside it. I have learned to adapt my hobbies to my abilities and my abilities to my hobbies.

If I spend my time thinking about RA and its manifestations and ramifications, I feel worse. When I cultivate my hobbies and interests I find that it brings about a shift in the wind, which provides a breath of fresh air that prevents me from having a suffocating sense of futility and "Why-me?" Yes, sometimes those winds of change are the gale force of a hurricane and all you can do is hang on until the storm passes. And it does.

Hobbies add breadth and depth to your life. They serve as an invaluable distraction from life with RA. They move you out of yourself into the community and give you something to share with others.

Life changes in living arrangements, friends, family, work and health can bring about changes in hobbies. The friend you used to go to [insert hobby here] with may have moved away. Your finances may force you into quitting that expensive, but well-loved [insert hobby here]. Family commitments may mean you no longer have time for [insert hobby here]. Health concerns may mean you can no longer do things like skiing, windsurfing and cycling.

Rather than giving up, you find a new group of friends. Discover a more budget-friendly hobby. See about getting help for your family commitments. When it comes to health, RA in particular, you cast out to see what other hobbies can catch your interest. The possibilities are as vast as the Seven Seas. Make it a good day to go fishing and see which hobbies you can reel in and enjoy.

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