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What is your hobby?

“Hi, my name is Cynthia and I own over 200 candles!” That was my introduction to the ladies of my mentoring group during our Zoom kickoff meeting. The facilitator's mouth dropped and her eyes widened. Before she could utter any words, I flashed a huge smile and with confidence continued, “Yep, it’s a form of self-care!” In hindsight, my initial statement kind of sounded like an admission of an addict. However, an addict I am not, but a hobbyist I am.

The COVID-19 fueled shutdown added a lot of spare time to my life. For months, my outings were limited to quick visits to the post office, bank and grocery store. Other than that, the bulk of my days was spent home alone as my husband was considered an essential worker and I obeyed shelter in place orders, which nearly depleted my social interactions. An unknown disease, food, and supply shortages (remember the infamous tissue paper rations?), civil/political unrest…the news outlets, the Internet, and social media platforms were full of negativity. During the first few weeks of the shutdown, I slowly began to experience sporadic feelings of fear, anxiety, and depression as I attempted to stay abreast of the most recent COVID-19 updates. After several unexpected extensions of sheltering, growing uncertainty, and increased coronavirus-related deaths; those feelings began to occur more frequently. Taking notice of my unhealthy mental and emotional states, I decided to decrease my intake of pandemic-related news as a way to better control my stressors. Instead, I took fuller advantage of my Netflix subscription and dived deeper into my bible studies. Unfortunately, those lifestyle changes were not enough to curb the negative thoughts and feelings that were creeping into my psyche and disrupting my peace. One day I decided to light a couple of scented candles to help create a more calming atmosphere as I continued to distance myself from the outside world. Those candles marked a turning point in my mental, emotional and physical health as my environment was transformed into a peaceful oasis. I have been hooked on candles ever since!

For me, candles create an ambiance that evokes tranquility. They have become my happy place. Sometimes I sit on the floor of my upstairs hallway, open the doors to my candle cabinet (Yep, I bought a cabinet specifically to store my candles!), and admire my growing collection. Periodically I randomly sniff different candles to experience the joy of inhaling their unique scents. Hope, optimism, happiness, and excitement, are just a few of the positive emotional benefits that I have experienced through burning scented wax. What began as a pandemic-induced interest has turned into a full-fledged hobby.

Collecting candles might not be your thing, but what is? What are some of your interests? What are your passions? Are you embracing the things in life that bring you love, peace, and happiness? If the answer to that last question is “No”, then why not?

Even God wants us to enjoy the pleasures of life: “There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

I encourage you to press forward with engaging in and/or discovering your hobby while exercising two areas of caution: 1) Beware of spending so much time with your hobby that you neglect the important people and other critical areas in your life. 2) Make sure that your hobby doesn’t break the bank! Going into debt to fund a hobby could bring on a different set of stressors. So, what is your hobby?

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