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Everyone needs a hobby, really

I'm not hunting for a new hobby, but I must say that a book that landed on my desk recently has me thinking.

Its name: "Get a Hobby!"

Now I have often told myself that the periods in our lives when we think we don't have time for a hobby are the times we probably need one the most.

The book's forward, written by neurologist Miguel Figueroa, confirms this.

Pursuing a hobby you enjoy relaxes you, Dr. Figueroa writes. And studies have shown that regular relaxation promotes good health.

I know scrap-bookers. And knitters. And needle-pointers. And I know several bread-bakers, beaders and birders (say that three times fast.)

But while thumbing through "Get a Hobby!: 101 All-Consuming Diversions for Any Lifestyle" by Tina Barseghian (Collins, $19.95), I was intrigued at the less-conventional hobbies the author invites people to explore.

Balloon twisting, for one.

Surely, she must be kidding, I told myself, turning to Page 22.

She is not.

First, however, Barseghian offers readers a quick personality quiz to help them discover the best hobby for them.

Balloon twisters, it turns out, are "artistic, crafty, dexterous and extroverted."

And obviously not afraid of balloons, the way I am.

Simply said, blowing them up petrifies me because I am afraid they will pop. And those balloon pumps. Get them away!

No, balloon twisting is way, way too stressful for me.

Some of the other hobbies Barseghian describes are very familiar: photography (one of my early hobbies); sculpture (done that, too); batiking; calligraphy, and needlework.

But it's the more bizarre ones that caught my attention.

Consider, for example, olive oil infusions (hobby personality: "epicurean, independent"); caving ("adventurous, history-loving, independent, nature-loving, outdoorsy, sporty, technical"); seed trading -- as in cultivating new plants by taking and giving seeds to other gardeners ("nurturing, patient, social"), and robot building ("dexterous, technical").

There are other hobbies in the book I immediately nixed: deep-frying, for one (I'm not kidding; it's in the book); taxidermy (No thank-you), and mushroom hunting (Oh, please, I don't want to be known as "an avid mushroom hunter.")

Whittling? Maybe next year.

Storm chasing? Don't think so.

Preserves-making? Probably not. I gave away most of my small canning jars to a friend a few years ago, and I don't want to ask for them back.

Entering contests? I'm not kidding; it's right there on Page 90. But, you know, I really, really, really do not want to start doing that.

Instead, as an animal-lover, perhaps I should consider "urban animal husbandry" ("Mommy, why are there chickens running around our back yard?") Then, again, raising farm animals may not fly in my neighborhood.

Beachcombing could get me near the water more often, which I also love (plus, I get to buy one of those cool metal detectors!)

And while bell ringing initially also sounded fun, I realized that the author is NOT suggesting I ring my neighbors' doorbell and run for the hills, as I first thought, possibly leaving one of my chickens on the doorstep.

Yes, I have started down a whole new road toward finding "hobby happiness," as Barseghian puts it.

Forget the laundry! Forget the chores! Next time someone tells me to "go fly a kite," I might just do that.

After all, it does not involve blowing up balloons.


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