October 5, 2020

What Are You Doing To Keep Boredom Away?


We are into our seventh month of pandemic upheaval. Thinking back, 2020 started off well. Betty and I had plans for some once-in-a-lifetime vacations. Everyone's health was good, the economy was setting new records. Leaving the house with a mask? That's only for those who suffer from a serious illness. 

Fast forward to October and all those early year positive signs and normal behavior have been dumped in the waste can. There is no need to recount them all. Suffice it to say, 2020 will not be my favorite year, though certainly one of the more memorable ones.

A friend, who is also a loyal reader (it happens!), asked me to give everyone the opportunity to share ideas that may help all of us continue our slog through these troubled times. Her request was to ask what hobbies, passions, or new interests you have found to help cope with social and mental isolation. What are some of the things you are doing today that you weren't doing several months ago, or at least not as intently?

Maybe a lifelong pursuit has taken on new importance. You have the time and enforced solitude to spend more time with that passion. How about something new? Learning a new language, taking a stab at knitting, or watercolor painting? There is plenty of time to reorganize room in your home to make the environment reflect your personality at this stage of life. Downsizing possessions? Go for it.

Cooking? I know several folks who have rediscovered they own a kitchen and what can be made in it. 

Gardening? There is real satisfaction in watched that tomato plant produce something for your salads. Sanding down that old nightstand and refinishing it with a warm mahogany stain. Never time for that before now.

This year has forced upon us a heightened sense of what we can do or try. Our mind wants to distance itself from so many problems and disappointments. We hatch new ideas, make plans both large and small, and rededicate ourselves to making the best of this unexpected gift of extra time.

With that setup, it is now your turn. What are you doing right now that really excites you?  What is it that gets you out of bed, fired up and ready to make the day both interesting and pleasurable, even if you don't feel comfortable stepping foot outside the door? 

Tell us...........

50 comments:

  1. I'm just not in a happy mode yet. Give me another 30 days and that may change. So, this is the extent of my comments for now.

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  2. I am an introverted homebody so this has not been as mentally challenging for me as for the more outgoing. I am reading, keeping house and cooking, bird and butterfly watching, and quilting. Also enjoying Netflix and Prime. Napping with a cat on my lap. Playing with my Maltipoo dog. Never bored.

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    1. Like you, my wife and I are naturally introverts so the change in social interaction hasn't been a major adjustment for us. We have our own interests and those we share, so each day has a decent balance of alone and together time.

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  3. I've always made jewelry for a hobby. As I just retired (August) right in the middle of this pandemic, I knew I'd need something more. So I bought a kiln -- just 6"x6"x6" inside. It lets me design jewelry with metal clay. You form the pieces like you were working with clay, then fire the result around 1600 degrees. It burns out all the binders and you are left with either pure copper or pure silver -- depending on the type of metal clay you used. I'm testing a lot of jewelry ideas in copper (MUCH lower cost!) to find what I'll eventually want to do in silver.

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    1. Wow, that is a rather unusual pursuit, but one that sounds extremely creative and mentally stimulating. I'd love to see some pictures of what you are making. Drop me an email with some pictures, if you'd like to.

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  4. I have reinvented myself as a professional artist. It took 10 years to acquire some skill, but painting has kept me plenty busy during the pandemic. I love it—even on days (many) when I produce something I throw immediately away. Painting, for me, seems to have arrived right on time. More here: https://robertfrancisjames.com/year-of-wonders/

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    1. I have been trying my hand at oil painting (wet-on-wet mostly) for a little less than a year. Most of what I create is tossed, or painted over with white or black gesso and reused.

      Sometimes there are pieces good enough to hang on the wall, but I am more interested in learning and getting better, than creating something that others will look at and be able to recognize (!).

      I will click over to your site for inspiration. I find painting relaxing and challenging.

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  5. I retired a almost 2 years ago. I had worked hard at 2 jobs for over 25 years. I was the infection prevention nurse at the hospital I worked at, good retirement timing on that! I am glad to be home and learning how to make my house a home instead of a "pitstop". I like to work alone so not many problems with COVID. I worked on some quilt tops at the beginning. My husband has battled back problems for the past year which has hampered both his mobility and activity abilities. He loves gardening and I had to help this year with all major outdoor activities that required lifting and muscle power. I did get more involved with stamp collecting. I never had time to engage or learn more about the hobby. It is a very interesting hobby and full of history and topics to research.

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    1. Many young people in my generation were stamp collectors as one of our first hobbies. I remember the beautifully colored and fascinating stamps from foreign countries.

      I completely understand how each stamp could prompt more study and research behind the reason for that stamp and the history surrounding it. The Internet makes that approach much easier, I imagine. Actually, that sounds very intriguing.

      My wife has lost a lot of muscle power and agility over the past few years. Like you with your husband, i find I need to be the "muscle" on some things she used to do.

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  6. The pandemic had me baking more but I've had to stop because I gained too much weight with the extra carbs. I've had plenty of stuff to keep me busy but it just doesn't seem the same, knowing I HAVE to stay home as opposed to wanting to stay home, which before the pandemic, I was content to do 25 out of 30 days a month.

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    1. You are right: a requirement to stay home or not do something social feels different than knowing you can choose not to do something. I guess that is the natural human tendency to want to remain in control.

      Isn't the current thinking that the pandemic lockdown equals 10-15 extra pounds do to more snacking, TV time, and cooking?

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    2. I've heard it called the Covid 19(lbs). Sort of analogous to the "Freshman 15" some people gain when they start university.

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  7. There is no bored. There is missing my people ten times over, which is really not the same thing. I am frustrated at the moment in my free time because most of my entertainment is packed. Haven't started new hobbies but delved more deeply into others. I read, watch TV, take online classes, do genealogy, sew. Quilt. Knit,paint, make photo albums, am starting a crafting blog and writing, and doing zoom classes. I miss travel and I miss in person pals but I am not bored.

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    1. With that varied list of activities and passions, I agree: you are not bored. Let me know the address of the crafting blog. I'd like to take a look.

      Betty has started getting more involved in genealogy research. In fact, she is really pushing for a trip to England and Ireland to follow up on some of the connections she has uncovered. Apparently, there are several castles in the U.K. that were home to some of her relatives.

      But, her current passion is something called flow art. It produces the most beautiful abstract canvases with each one being unique. She has taken over part of the garage as a flow art studio. Once the weather cools enough to be out there in the afternoon, I expect to not see her again until next Spring!

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  8. I think I have been lonely more than bored. My husband is about 2 years from retirement, works in the Health Care Industry so he has been working throughout all of this. My mother died in May and we had a small (6 person) funeral so my sister and I could have some closure. It seems like from May through October most of my time has been spent dealing with her house, disposing of its contents (68 years of accumulations because I don't think she ever got rid of anything) and getting it ready to put on the market. Fortunately we are very close to making that happen now.
    One of our sons live in Oregon and one in NYC while we are in the south. I miss being able to find a really good airline fare and making an impromptu trip to visit them and, of course and most of all, my granddaughter.

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    1. Being cut off from family has to be the biggest downside to those of us who have avoided getting ill. While we understand it is very important to stay safe, not seeing your sons and granddaughters is tough. As airlines start adding flights, I imagine fare sales to stimulate traffic will be part of that. I wish you the best in finding reasonable costs to reunite with family.

      Your experience of cleaning out 68 years of accumulated stuff is a good reminder to all of us to declutter as much as possible so our relatives aren't faced with such a massive chore at the end.

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  9. I am enjoying reading everyone’s posts! Have not been bored up till now, but the evenings are beginning to feel long, and an hour exercise a day is still not enough0–I am sitting too much—..so I am am trying,this week,to add in another half hour of exercise after dinner.. a walk or bike ride around the block. I miss my in person friendship times, but 2 of my groups ZOOM and I make a point to attend. I’ve been making greeting cards to use as gifts for the holidays, I’m doing a lot of online art classes and then DOING the lessons—painting,collage,lettering,etc. in my small art studio.I play online scrabble with 6 people! I make Ken play a game with me every other day or so.. or cards. We make sure to get out into nature at least 3 times a week.. one of our local parks for a long brisk walk. Ken swims in pool, we use our treadmill and yoga and dance videos. Once a week we take a drive,usually over to Coons Bluff or Phon Du Sutton, we set up chairs and read, and swim. When it’s too cold to swim we will pack a picnic instead and just relax by the water. Ken just purchased a large SHIP model to build.. he loves detailed stuff like that. He plays guitar,practices almost daily. I love cooking and spend time every week looking through cookbooks for new recipes to try. It is now the end of the 7week the month and it’s getting a bit old, I miss the travels we had planned.. but we are renting a cottage at a small ranch in Oracle in 2 weeks and going to hike Oracle state park and star gaze in the evenings.I am studying how to self publish e books on Amazon. I think we are all getting better at entertaining ourselves..and finding a few new activities. Things I tried early on that did NOT fly (for me)__ I did NOT learn to speak Italian! I am not great at learning languages,I found it boring.Maybe in a group where I could practice some conversation.. at least it gives me something new to do in the NEXT 6 months I guess!!

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    1. I love your comments: they are so packed with enthusiasm and ideas. Question: when you go to Coons Bluff do you buy a Tonto day pass?

      Betty and I played Scrabble with our daughter for the first time in years, and quite enjoyed it. In fact, last night Betty suggested we play it more regularly. It certainly helps keep your mind active and you do learn new words!

      Let me know how your stay at the guest ranch in Oracle goes. And, do you know if they accept pets? Bailey would probably love to explore.

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  10. I retired July 2019 after 39 years in the Operating Room and that's full time plus. I figure I worked so many additional hours that my retirement at age 58 is equal to full time hours age 67!

    I've long loved gardening, quilting, knitting, cross stitch and never had enough time so I dived right in and COVID precautions added some available time having cancelled my 4-5 monthly social outings.

    Garden harvest (besides immediate consumption), has put 15 quarts of ratatouille in the freezer, 48 pints of salsa in the pantry, 2 quarts of grated zucchini in the freezer, 25 half-pints of blackberry jam in the pantry, 2 butternut and 3 spaghetti squash in the pantry (damn squirrels ate nearly all of it) and there is a monster "runaway hiding" zucchini on the kitchen counter awaiting a decision. (Our freezer is absolutely stuffed right now with good buys on a variety of meats).

    Quilting has produced 37 finishes so far this year. I've made 250 facial masks and given those away to anyone who requested some. (For any who quilt, that's 290 yards of fabric).

    I've also been reading more and so far have finished 23 books. I also stopped reading 3 about halfway-the book must hold my interest.

    Bored? Sometimes. Caused by feeling like having a 'lazy day' or simply not motivated to get off my butt. But that's OK with me. I don't adhere to a full calendar/schedule nor am I person who "has no time". Those retired folks I simply cannot understand!

    I also have fallen in love with online jigsaw puzzles :-)

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    1. Can we all come to your house to sample your homemade produce? That should brighten up the coming winter with some yummy reminders of summer.

      Like you, I have been on a reading tear this year. About 75% of what I read is non-fiction and 90% are library books, so I will also return a book that just doesn't hold my interest, is not well written, or doesn't hook me with the characters or plot.

      I don't have the patience for jigsaw puzzles. Oneline? I didn't know that was a thing.

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  11. I moved from a 4 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom apartment in March and immediately set up my sewing machine and started making masks. With the availability of commercial masks I stopped sewing and concentrated on getting my new home setup. The move itself was easy since Hubby and I have been decluttering for years and preparing for the move. In many ways the move was good timing but I missed my gardens so I am experimenting with hydroponics gardens. I have fresh leaf lettuce every day and 3 tomato plants growing. This week I will set up a hydroponics garden for flowers. It is a challenging and fun way to bring the outdoors in and also supplement our fresh food. I stay away from the community rooms and instead take walks outside. Walks are much easier on a sidewalk than on the busy road I lived on with the 65 mile an hour traffic screaming by. I can walk to a local craft store and back but haven't tried making it to the grocery store but that is my next challenge. I continue to make hats and scarves for donation. As an introvert I am in my element but do zoom meetings with friends and am in daily contact with family and close friends by text or phone. When the world becomes to hard to bear I crawl into a book to escape. I know I will appreciate not having to shovel snow this winter and daily look for something to be grateful for, and I have much to be grateful for.

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    1. Just so you know, i haven't had to shovel snow for 36 years, and don't miss it at all.

      Hydroponic gardening...how fascinating! Does that take up a lot of room, require special lighting, or extra testing to be sure the plants are getting the correct nutrients? I don't think I've ever known someone who is actually doing that and eating the results. Tell me more.

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    2. I went the easy route and bought an Areogarden kit, not because I researched and they are the best but the equipment and supplies are available online. They take up very little space, I have two on one end of my kitchen island, an actual kitchen garden. ha ha. The seed pod kits come with step by step feeding instructions and the light is part of the machine. Instructions for home made gardens are online but I wanted an easier method. I won't recover the startup costs but the joy of watching things grow and nibbling on fresh food makes it worth it to me.

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  12. Hi Bob! Great question! Two things I am doing: #1 I am taking Spanish lessons (again) online and so far have managed over 50 days with about 15-20 minutes per day. I took in back in HS so a lot of it is somewhat familiar but I can tell I'm getting better for when we can finally travel to Mexico/Spain again! #2 and more importantly, over a month ago we bought ourselves E-BIKES. We had ridden regular 7-speeds for over 10 years but decided to give it a try and absolutely LOVE IT! You still have to pedal so you are getting exercise but you actually go over twice as far. But that's really not the point. I don't ride to get exercise, I ride for FUN. It is so much fun and an excellent way to get out and about even during COVID-19. Not necessarily cheap but we are saving quite a bit with not going out or traveling so it was an easy trade off. I highly recommend it! ~Kathy

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    1. I have been reading about your e-bike use on FB. They are not inexpensive, but in areas like yours and ours that are relatively flat, they make a lot of sense. We have dozens of miles of trails alongside canals that are designed for hiking, jogging, and bike-riding. I can see us exploring with the extra assist of electric bikes.

      I have never been good at learning languages, so I can encourage you to keep at it, but won't be joining you on that path!

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  13. I have been running outside. I find running to be an activity that's great for introverts such as myself since it's an activity I can do alone and get lost in my own mind. I have also been reading more of my Stephen King collection and of course, your fantastic blog!

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    1. Stephen King is a little risky to read alone...the man writes seriously scary stuff!

      While no longer a runner, I do like walking to clear my mind and think creatively. At one time I listened to music or podcasts while walking, but found I prefer the silence and activity of my own thoughts.

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    2. That's so funny Bob, the same thing happened to me! I use to listen to music all the time and one day out of the blue I decided to go without it. Once I found the peace in nature and or my thoughts, I never turned back to running with music again.

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  14. I have enjoyed most of my isolated time. Miss family something fierce, but we will have to wait for that, I guess. I
    Like the lady up above, I have been making jewelry and selling it online. Fascinating. So much to learn about small business, web page, Etsy shop, wire, stones, and developing my skills. I feel like I am in Romper Room! 😅😅 Having the time of my life.

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    1. How exciting! The online world of small business has opened so many doors for swo many folks. And, you develop your creative skills. BTW, I used to watch Romper Room with Miss Nancy.

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  15. Although I really haven't been bored over the past Covid months (I'm very good at entertaining myself), I did look around for some other interesting things to do and discovered short story writing. I recently published my first effort on my blog and have now written a few other stories. I found a Writers Workshop through our local Continuing Education institute and am really enjoying the creativity and interaction. We now meet via Zoom, but I look forward to the day I can meet this very supportive group in person.

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    1. Short stories...good for you. Obviously, writing is one of my creative outlets so I know the type of discipline and persistence it takes. I will head over to your blog and read what you wrote. Congratulations!

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  16. I am my own best company even though I suppose I am an extrovert. I have been doing a very little bit of gardening, getting light into my friend's house so I can read, bought a serger, ice cream freezer and generally have been entertaining myself. I do all the shopping so my friend does not have to expose himself to the virus.

    The coming darkness of winter is going to be my biggest challenge. Darkness is not my friend.

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    1. Shorter days will mean the need to be more creative with our time. It is too easy to just plop down in front of the TV when it is dark and cold (or chilly in Phoenix).

      Also, what a nice thing to do for your friend. I know some folks who have switched to at-home delivery for all their shopping because of the risks. But, having a friend involved is so much nicer.

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  17. Like most here, not bored because we have worked hard to build a revised life, but definitely missing the many, many social activities we enjoyed pre-COVID.

    Our biggest keep-boredom-at-bay routine is to plan a multi-hour activity each and every day. Yes, multi-hour. We walk, hike, bike, or kayak for hours/miles at a time, generally with a break for lunch. We ooze contentment afterward, making the rest of the day a piece of cake. We have also taken up golf and outdoor yoga. Golf in particular is going to grow in hours spent playing now that we have finished our private beginners lesson series and are getting ready to play our first round of golf at an EZ, par three course our instructor pointed us to.

    Inside the house I bought myself a guitar and learned to play it over the summer. I love it! I also garden, do needlepoint, read, cook new recipes weekly, blog, and am preparing to oversee a two month project remodeling all of our bathrooms.

    Outside the house we picnic weekly at our harbor, and visit the two wineries in our area we belong to, one each week, outdoor seating for both. We now have free, live outdoor music going on nightly all around us, and make a point to go listen, and even dance, at least once each week. Plenty of space to spread out in that most are occurring in roped off parking lots. We are doing weekly social distanced BYOE (Everything!) with a different couple each week. We are also beginning to attend drive in concerts, which are also great fun. You can get out of your car as long as you remain in your parking spot perimeter, meaning lots of safe singing and dancing in that only every other spot is being allowed/used so the space between cars/attendees is considerable.

    We've also returned to RVing with great enthusiasm, and I am actually typing this reply from the midst of a trip along the central California coastline. It's the perfect pandemic activity, and we've been having a wonderful time hiking all over the place, drinking good local wine, and eating fresh seafood
    nightly, either as take out, or alfresco when available.

    The biggest change and challenge is conscientiously plotting out our weekends. They use to fill up themselves via the many social activities we were involved in, and that resulted in non stop events. Now I have to look hard, and plan ahead to make sure they remain special. Yes, even in retirement I want my weekends to continue to be different from my weekdays.

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    1. I forgot to add that we just returned to doing weekly work at a food bank, which was stopped for all seniors once the pandemic hit. It feels good to be back on many levels.

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    2. I have one question that is prompted by your RV comment: Betty and I were thinking about taking the Amtrak train up the coast from L.A. to Portland, but were concerned all the fires had made some of that trip not worth taking due to all the damage. What is the situation along the coast? Did it escape the damage?

      We have yet to have outdoor concerts restart, maybe because it is still too hot. I would enjoy that experience again, or listening to a guitar performance from you! Playing the guitar well enough to sing along and master familiar tunes is fun.

      That is an interesting thought about weekends. Our 7 days seem to blend together. Making Saturday and Sunday even a little different is a good idea. I will work on that.

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    3. People seem to forget that California is hugh. If you look up a wildfire map you'll see the fires encompass a very, very small section of the state, minute even. The smoke path is much larger, and that is definitely worth avoiding if/when possible. We have had two smoky days out of nine, and they can be a bit depressing if they go on to long.

      No visible fire damage between the Mexico border and where we are in Morro Bay. The coastline gets increasingly wet as you move north, of course, so I can't imagine visible burns being an issue as you move up into Oregon. Inland I can't speak to, but again, a wildfire map will indicate what you can expect.

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    4. We wouldn't take that trip until late spring, so the air should be clear. Glad to learn that the fires have avoided the coastal areas.

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  18. I am still working full time. Switching back and forth between zoom court and in person court has added a whole another level of challenges. I did plant greens in my front yard, because my back yard keeps getting swamped with pesky hurricane/ tropical storms. I go for an hour a day walk on weekends, and try to squeeze in a couple of shorter walks during the week.

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    1. Zoom court...I hadn't thought about such an arrangement, but obviously the legal system must continue.

      Hurricane Delta is headed for the Gulf...how many storms is that so far this season? They seem to just keep coming, one after another.

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  19. Finally, I’ve begun to do the research and commenced writing that one book that’s supposed to be in all of us. Not sure if, without all the restrictions this year, I would ever have actually started it. Will I finish it? That might depend on how long this virus hangs around.

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    1. You can do it, Caree. Once started, there is extra motivation to keep going.

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  20. Boredom hasn't been in my vocabulary for years. My retirement experience has morphed well into the pandemic restrictions. I enjoy homemaking and like Happy, I like making my house into a home instead of a pit stop like it was during the working years. It seems there's always a list of things left undone. My mom moved into a seniors' lodge 16 months ago. I spent the winter months culling the accumulation of 66 years, including 30+ years of utility bills that she'd saved! Seasonal demands create a to-do list and spring/summer brought vegetable planting and yard maintenance in not one, but 2 yards. I also tended to a list of repairs that needed completing at my mom's house. The fall garden harvest is winding down. There are 11 qts of tomatoes setting on the kitchen counter and more salsa to be made. Like Elle, there may be lazy days but not bored days. If I think there's nothing that needs or wants doing, I can always go for a walk or read a good book. The one thing I miss the most during this pandemic is live music. The Home Routes house concerts I hosted have been put on hold. I can't say that I'm a better person as a result of this pandemic but I did try a couple new endeavors - bread making including sour dough and sprout growing. Those two things have been on the to-do list since retirement 7 yrs ago! Retirement and the pandemic lock down have removed some excuses!

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    1. 30 years of saved utility bills may be a record.

      We are finally getting temperatures that allow us to start our fall and winter flower planting and move outside for meals and quiet times in the back yard. Just to breathe lots of fresh air rather than AC air will be a blessing.

      I remember you mentioning the house concerts before. I thought that was a lovely idea for being with friends and good music.

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  21. Interesting to read these comments, but much depends upon the age of the retiree. I retired as a RN manager, in Sept 2016: I went from full-->part time at age 65. Now it's been 4 full years since my final date of retirement: can't do what I used to do--tried to get back to exercise and gardening only to through out my shoulder! However, at almost age 71 years old, I'm grateful I can still walk and finally get my home back in order.

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    1. I am 71 and can relate to your shoulder comment. You can also add hip and lower back pain!

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  22. I enjoy painting too...landscapes mostly and even did some chalk painting on some of my furniture. I really enjoyed that too.
    Read, TV, garden, IPad with blogs, newsletters and yes, some Facebook. I’m rather content, as I love my home and have a few good friends that meet with social distancing. I’m a widow, no children so I’m quite free to do as I please.
    The only thing I do miss is going out for dinner at a restaurant, having a drink or two and then a leisurely dinner with good friends.

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    1. Being content during these times is no small feat: congratulations. The overused expression, "comfortable in your own skin" is one that comes to mind.

      We have spent very little on dining out (take home and a few delivery options), which means our going to restaurant budget has been building up over the last several months. Once we feel safe, I imagine we will be dining out several times a week just to make up for all those lost feelings and experiences.

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