Today’s blog post is a response to Linden’s post Passions: How to be Happy Despite/Because of Them? from Friday, which was a response to Lorraine’s post Passions and How to Put Them to Use. Both posts got me thinking about the things that I’m passionate about and how they present themselves in my life.
Now, I’m hesitant to use the word “passions” in this post because as a Christ-follower, I’m used to this word in context of the Bible. And in the Bible, “passions” is solely used to describe sin related to sex. For this post, I’ll be using the word “excitements” because truly these are the activities, hobbies, and interests that get me excited. Let’s start with the most obvious…
I don’t remember when I started writing or even when I started loving writing. I bookmark my childhood according to the books I read, and those good books gave me a love for the well-crafted word that I return to even today. I wrote a handful of poems, short stories, and essays as a kid and early teenager but let very few people read them, so it wasn’t until high school—in my junior and senior composition classes with Mrs. Frankenfield—that I shared my talent with others. My favorite projects were a problem/solution essay about the football game parking problem (junior year) and an expository essay about Charlotte Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Even when my dual-credit comp class wrote exit essays to send to CMSU, I didn’t think I was a great writer. I was just writing the required essay and received a perfect score, the only perfect score ever given to the loads of students across central Missouri taking that same class. Once in college, my mom (of all people) introduced me to the professional/technical writing program, and I still don’t know why I listened to her and pursued it.
Even so, I still can’t say that I love writing. Writing is not some separate thing like sushi or my cats or running or even Chris that I’ve attached myself and my adoration to. For me, writing is how I express myself. It’s so deeply ingrained in me that it hurts my brain to not put pen to paper. As Gloria Steinem once said, “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel as if I should be doing something else.”
I firmly believe that my ability to write well came from a love of reading. Again, I don’t remember my first book or when I began to love reading; it’s just something that has always been a part of my life. My best friend Jenny and I became best friends because we both loved books, and even today, all of my closest friends are voracious readers. And when we get together, we inevitably come to books in our conversations. I don’t read books as much right now because my other excitements often get in reading’s way, but good books and reading are always there.
Like writing, my excitement about editing comes from my love of reading. Having pored over hundreds of books in my adolescence instilled in me what the English language is supposed to look and sound like, and when it looks or sounds wrong, I can’t help but notice. Every day for a semester, I sat on the edge of my seat in my technical editing class, learning new proofreading marks and typographical symbols. That semester, I spent nearly every Friday night sitting at home working on my editing project. Yes, I needed to put that much time in it, but heck, it was the most fun I’ve ever had on a class project. I could still easily see myself working for a publisher or newspaper copy editing books and articles for grammatical problems. And still, one of the best gifts Chris ever gave me is the Chicago Manual of Style, an editor’s bible.
One more thing I could devote all my time to. And again, not sure where this came from. I wasn’t the most athletic kid growing up. I took lots of dance classes and tried softball, basketball, and volleyball. The only thing that stuck was tennis, and I played on my high school’s tennis team all four years. Somewhere between freshman and senior year, I became an athlete and started running and weight-lifting. I loved weight-lifting and encouraging my partners so much, that I decided I wanted to pursue athletic training and dietetics in college. I had a big dream of being a trainer for an NFL football team, but it turns out, I hate chemistry. Hate, hate, hate it. And you sort of have to know chemistry to go anywhere in dietetics. and at SMSU the athletic training program was more demanding on students than being an athlete was. I switched to tech writing before I even got to college, but I still love learning about health and fitness.
When I started running in grad school with Linden, it quickly became another excitement of mine, something I wrote about more than once on this blog. 5Ks, 10Ks, and a half marathon ensued. I joined the Y and took strength training and spinning classes, and I got the bug to be an athletic trainer again. I haven’t pursued that, but I sometimes wonder what could’ve been if I pursued this field instead of writing…
I never considered a career in history even though history was one of my favorite subjects in high school and college. I think this excitement came from my dad, who loves old war movies and who would’ve studied history had he not dropped out of college. It’s funny to think of my dad as a history teacher, but he’s such a good story-teller, he’d have been really good at it. I also love my seventh grade history teacher Mr. Stillwell, who got me excited about Missouri history and Harry S Truman. Pair these influences with a good biography or a novel of historical fiction, and you’ve got a girl who loves studying the past. Right now, my favorite time period is the turn of the 20th century, during the era of the new Biltmore estate and Edith Wharton‘s novels. I also love biblical history, the Renassaince, and World War II. I’m so crazy about history and good books (and now art, since I married a designer), that I’ve considered developing a holistic homeschooling curriculum that studies history in the context of its literature, art, inventions, people, etc. so students can really dive into specific time periods. One of those projects that will probably forever be on the back burner of my brain.
This is a silly little excitement of mine, but I have loved it every since I was a little girl. I think every little girl dreams of being a ballerina, but I was obsessed with it. When we moved into our house when I was seven, we painted the walls ballet pink and carpeted it with pink carpet. Even into high school, I kept parts of my ballet-themed room. I started taking dance classes when I was four or five, dropped dance for acrobats when I was in elementary school, and picked up ballet when I was in fourth or fifth grade. Mind you, I was never a great dancer. I was the worst in the class, and I always felt like the other girls and my teacher were annoyed I was there. I quit dance classes in middle school because it wasn’t fun anymore, but in high school, I took some swing dance classes and danced in show choir. In college, I took a few ballet and jazz classes, and I met Chris, who happened to have ballroom danced in high school and who taught me some of his Latin favorites.
I don’t do a lot of dancing now, but I still get excited about it. You can guarantee that if any dance-related TV show or movie is out, I’ll be watching it. And as selfish as it is, I hope that when Chris and I do have a kiddo, that God will give me a dancer.
Those are the main excitements in my life, but others make their way into my activities from time to time. Crocheting, photography, cooking, crossword puzzles, math, and organizing all make their rounds into my evenings at least a few times a year.
All these big and little excitements have shaped me into who I am today. Weird, isn’t it? To think that when I watched old war movies with my dad or walked into my first dance class or read that first chapter book, that they would have had such an impact on me. Many of these excitements don’t make their way into my life every day, but they’re always there, waiting for me to get excited about them again, if even for a little while. I love it!