Crocheting is definitely on my list. Though I'm not a regular crocheter--I tend to work in spurts before holidays and occasions when I want to make gifts, it makes me so happy. I get lost in the rhythm of loops. I find I'm drawn to crocheting when I'm stressed. It, like writing (which I am just realizing didn't make the list... maybe because it is the list?) allows me to reset back to a mid line after a day of highs and lows. A night spent crocheting feels like a night spent relaxing--but there's also an end product, evidence of something done. I find my motivation is entirely connected to whether or not the item I'm making is a gift for someone I know and love (if it's not, no motivation) and I also find that without any effort, I spend the time I'm working on the project thinking about that person and what they mean to me. By the time I finish I have a product which reflects this in a very tangible way.
Sitting by a river is wordless prayer, as far as I'm concerned. I've been sitting in wonder by the American River in Northern California since I was old enough to be out of my Mom's sight. When I was a kid, I'd sit down there and sing--my voice lost in the scream of water against rock. I spent hours as a teen alone on a rock with my feet in the numbing cold. To me, a river inspires awe and serenity at the same time. There's nothing I can think of in my life that I wouldn't feel better about after some time alone by the river. The clean, muddy smells, the dance of currents across granite slabs, the sparkle of quartz and fools' gold... these things are as familiar to me as my own skin.
Another love of mine is getting lost in a good book. Not all books are good books, and what constitutes a good one is kind of nebulous anyway (says the English teacher). I'm hard-pressed to define what "good" means, but I know it when it hits me because I can't put the book down. Hours melt away. When I was a kid, my parents had to come in and take the likes of The Babysitters' Club, The Cat Who... and Anne of Green Gables books away from me at night or I wouldn't remember to sleep. It's a rare treat when I can lose time like that now, and it isn't something I can plan which makes it all the more special. Of course now it includes my Kindle, which has sparked a new excitement about reading for me. The ease with which I can acquire new books means I am devouring books fast like my thirteen year old self again.
It still surprises me, but I find joy in cooking dinner now as often as anything else. I've always enjoyed cooking, especially baking, but I find that our efforts to redefine our eating habits in light of E's food allergies and the reading I've been doing over the past year have resulted in a different attitude about preparing meals. Where dinner before was a "open a can of Cream of Mushroom and apply it to some meat" kind of ordeal (not that there's anything wrong with the taste or dependability of my beloved C.O.M., mind you, but it ain't the healthiest), it has now become an exercise in exploring new veggies, discovering ways to flavor naturally (herbs, onions, peppers) and educating ourselves about where our food comes from and why it tastes the way it does. Where before I'd jump at the chance to eat out as often as possible, there are definitely nights now when I would rather be at home--preparing foods I know are healthy and cooked well. I'm not saying that we don't eat out or that we don't eat poorly from time to time, but I think about food differently and I enjoy my time in the kitchen each night. I like thinking about what to make, how the puzzle of fresh things can fit together frugally and tastefully. It makes me happy to feed my family something I've made with my own hands.
Being an audience for E is my final (and dare I say, most important) activity. I'm going to brag on him a little, so indulge me. E is one of the most charming, funny, intelligent people I know. It's a good combo and he can really make me laugh. As is the way with all long-term relationships, you tend to show more of the fabulous side of yourself to people you're less comfortable with (I'm speaking about us both--and really us all, universally).. So when E is really "on" with me, I enjoy the heck out of it. I tease him mercilessly about his charm and smile (especially when it comes to the older ladies... look out, they're the demographic that responds best to him...) but all he has to do is flash that same smile at me and I'm wrapped right around his finger. E was one of my first smart-funny peers, and I have always felt encouraged to "step up" to his level in order to keep up with him. My favorite thing in the entire world is to banter with E. It makes me feel intelligent, and valued, and loved.
This fall I'll be writing about 100 Things I Love, a little bit at a time (95 to go!). Join in on the fun by commenting here, tweeting with #100Loves, or by posting on your blog and linking up.
What are 5 activities that you love?