Thinking about July conjures up images of flags waving, ice cream dripping, burgers and hot dogs grilling, Fourth of July parades blaring, and sidewalks steaming from the heat. Thinking about July also brings, for me, thoughts of “oh holy crap, it’s already July..what the heck have I accomplished?” As I mentioned in my “Sugar Highs (and Lows)” post a few months ago, the college professor in me always has a giant summer to-do list of research seminars, research project planning, course planning, writing, and hopefully, some relaxing. I have a lot of independence to make my own schedule. My pattern is usually productive in June, super relaxed and hobbying in July, and chicken with my head cut off in August.

Because I have a serious tendency toward to-do list anxiety (you’re shocked, I know), my husband has been telling me for years that I need a hobby. He’s definitely right. I’ve watched him dive into his hobbies with gusto for years – building and racing remote control cars, learning digital photography and taking amazing art shots, and working on personal programming projects to sharpen his skills. More than anything though, he has a lifelong passion for motorcycles – sportbikes not Harleys. He can spend hours working on the bikes in the garage, going for group rides on the weekends, and packing up the track bike for a weekend at the racetrack (Yes, he has two bikes, one for the street and one for the track. They live in the garage, and I call them my sister wives. He really doesn’t like it when I call them that, but oh well.) So if anyone has the right to give advice about the benefits of a hobby, it’s my husband.

Saying you need a hobby and actually finding one are two different things. The only sustained hobby I’ve ever had is a voracious reading habit, which is awesome, but it’s not the creative, productive hobby my husband had in mind. So I started trolling the aisles of Michael’s randomly hoping for inspiration (There’s irony here – I’m the girl who drew a precise colonial with blue shutters for an 8th grade art class assignment and was told my “dream house” wasn’t creative enough). But as luck would have it, I stumbled on the jewelry making section one day. Some internet research turned up two amazing bead stores in my area – Ornamentea in Raleigh and Rare Earth Beads in Durham – both of which offered classes for beginners and experts alike. I took a “beading bootcamp,” and was hooked.

Over the last three years, I’ve taken lots of classes to learn techniques, made hundreds of pieces, and spent more money than I care to account for on gems and supplies (Of course I have champagne tastes when it comes to my hobby, so I want to work in silver and gold, gemstones and semi-precious stones. Bead snob). But to make a long story short, I found a hobby that makes me happy, makes me feel creative, helps me channel frustration, and even makes me a little money on the side occasionally when friends buy a few pairs of earrings or a necklace.

What’s this have to do with t-shirts? Absolutely nothing. But it does circle back around to Sigma Kappa and July, I promise. Once I started to find my design style – delicate wire-wrapped bracelets and dangling earrings in muted colors – I stumbled on Nina Designs, a women-run fair trade jewelry component maker. After finding Nina, I found my Sigma Kappa connection. This little dove charm started it all. Like putting the crest on t-shirts so I could wear Sigma Kappa prominently as an alumna, I started making Sigma Kappa-themed jewelry. My early designs included bracelets of pearl and amethyst that I gifted to several of my Kappa Zeta officers as they graduated and a simple dove and pearl pendant. Then followed a series of bracelets made of pearl or amethyst with a tiny dove pendant at the clasp. Now, I’m experimenting with dove pendants in multiple sizes and a silver bracelet with tiny dove and heart charms. It’s been fun to combine my hobby with Sigma Kappa in a creative way.

Next week, I’ll be traveling to my first Convention as the Advisory Board Chair for Kappa Zeta, and I’ve been dreaming up new designs to make before I leave to match my outfits. I hope you have a hobby that you love, something to daydream about when you need a mental break, and to create something when you just need to be creative. If you haven’t found it yet, take my husband’s advice and get a hobby. Start a blog, learn to really use your camera or to make awesome cake pops, plant a garden, take a painting class. Whatever it is, use some time this summer to do something fun and creative for yourself.

What’s your favorite hobby to lose yourself in during the summer months? Have you thought about incorporating Sigma Kappa into your play time?

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2 Responses to Remembering How to Play (or Why Summer Rocks for Hobbies)

  1. Alisa Jordan Alisa Jordan says:

    I agree that hobbies are important, especially so you don’t get stuck watching tv reruns during a heat wave! An old co-worker of mine taught me how to knit a few years ago and I really like working on projects, especially knitting baby blankets for friends (I’m really good at knitting rectangles!). I’ve tried to teach myself something new with each project and I’ve been actually dreaming of putting together a violet and maroon blanket for the next little legacy that comes into my life!

  2. Rebecca Pope-Ruark Rebecca Pope-Ruark says:

    Thanks, Alisa! Good luck with your knitting projects :)

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