Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

I’ve Been Tested September 19, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:26 pm

As I’ve blogged previously, I learned that our daughter is a major extrovert when she stayed with us working from our home for two-and-a-half months earlier this spring. I always knew she was a talker and outgoing, but I never realized just how much. I’ve also learned that all this staying at home is actually pretty easy for me and quite cathartic. I’m a nester and just this week took a test that confirmed I’m also a major introvert.


The test, conducted by bestselling author/life coach/podcaster/Masters in Counseling Holley Gerth, showed that out of a total score of 100 percent, I’m 85 percent introvert. Yikes! Somewhat surprising is that introverts make up half of the population and fellow introverts include Joanna Gaines, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Jerry Seinfeld, C.S. Lewis, Max Lucado, and Michael Jordan. I’m impressed!



Holley Gerth

Gerth’s posts and her eye-opening “The Powerful Purpose of Introverts” book also emphasizes that even though introverts have strengths, gifts, and skill the world needs…and maybe now more than ever…our strengths aren’t always heard over all the chatter out there. We may quietly go about our way, but we do make a difference.



Gerth stresses that being an introvert isn’t a struggle, it’s a superpower and many of the traits of an introvert have my name all over them. I relish time on my own but I also love people…just not all of them and not in big doses. I’m a good listener…but will speak my mind if pushed. I think (sometimes overthink) before I speak and my active mind is always thinking (again, sometimes overthinking). I’m very observant and notice things others might miss. I listen and learn and I pay attention. I like to focus on my work or activities and I value quality over quantity in relationships. On the downside, we introverts can get stuck comparing ourselves to others (we’re kinda perfectionists) and we allow fear to sometimes get the best of us.


If you’re wondering if you’re an introvert or extrovert, want a measurement of how much you are of one or the other (none of us BTW, are 100 percent either or), check out Gerth’s test and book at


Of course taking that test made me think (and overthink?!) about other personality tests out there and ones I’ve taken.  Two of the most popular ones are “The Five Love Languages” and The Myers-Briggs Indicator. I’ve taken both, as well as “The Four Tendencies,” a “Tibetan Personality Assessment,” and just today I saw a post on “What’s Your Play Personality” and took it. Needless to say, I love this stuff!



Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Take a look at the above photo. Look closely. What you may have perceived as the runners is actually the runners’ shadows. How we see things and our perception is what’s behind perhaps one of the most prevalent and popular test is the Myers-Briggs. Many moons ago my coworkers and I took the test as a tool to reveal and enhance ways to work more efficiently and effectively as a team. Developed in the 1940s by Isabel Briggs Myers, the indicator is taken annually by millions since its publication in 1962. It’s proven an effective method to discover personality types but doesn’t measure traits, abilities, or character but rather the different ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgement. Perception is described as all the ways we become aware of things, people, happenings, and ideas while Judgement involves the ways we come to conclusions about what has been perceived. Briggs and her mother Katharine Briggs identified 16 distinctive personality types:


Favorite world. Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or inner world? This is called Extraversion or Introversion (I).


Information. Do you prefer to focus on basic information or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning. This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition.


Decisions. When making decision, do you first look at logic and consistency or at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).


Structure. In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).


My results showed me as an ISFJ, short for Introversion/Sensing/Feeling/Judging. Personality traits of ISFJers and pretty aligned with my personality include factual, sympathetic, detailed, dependable, organized, thorough, conscientious, conservative, realistic, caring, practical, stable, and helpful. Yep, pretty much me to a T. Capital T.


It’s important to note that all types are equal; there is no “best” and the goal of knowing personality types is to understand and appreciate differences between people, to facilitate information about teams of people, and to foster communication and cooperation. Sounds like it has 2020 written all over it.


Have you taken Myers-Briggs? What were your results?



The Five Love Languages

Another popular “test” is this one, which was developed around the fact that everyone gives and receives love differently. In his bestselling book of the same name, Dr. Gary Chapman offers tools based on the idea that relationships grow better when we understand each other better. When we’re not on the same page, he writes, keeping love alive can be intimidating and often impossible. This is the case not only for spouses or those dating, but siblings, friends, and coworkers.


My Primary Love Language is Words of Affirmation. To me, actions don’t always speak louder than words. Unsolicited compliments mean the world to me as is hearing the reasons behind kind and loving words. Insults can leave me shattered and are not easily forgotten. I can hear my daughter saying “Mom, don’t get so butt hurt” in the back of my mind as I write this. I get butt hurt. I do. If you wanna make me happy though, offer kind, encouraging, and positive words, which are truly life-giving to me. If that’s not possible, give me gifts, as Receiving Gifts was my second most important Love Language followed in order by Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.


What about you? What is your Love Language?



The Four Tendencies

This test was developed by author and speaker Gretchen Rubin and asks the simple question “How do I respond to expectations?” The premise being we gain insight into ourselves and when we know how other people respond to expectations, we understand them far more effectively. Again, this is beneficial in so many realms of life: families, schools, coworkers, teammates, and the like.


The test’s framework reveals Four Tendencies: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel and works around the fact that we all face two kinds of expectations: outer and inner and how we respond to them determines our Tendency. Outer expectations may be deadlines while inner are things like keeping New Year’s resolutions. Being aware of our Tendency can help us achieve our goals, make better decisions, keep promises and commitments, reduce stress, and engage more deeply in others. Knowing how others respond through their Tendencies may reduce conflict, increase productivity, and increase significant and lasting change.


My Tendency is Upholder. Shocker, right? Upholders generally want to know what should be done, do what others expect of them, and do what they expect of themselves. In other words, they meet both outer and inner expectations. They wake up thinking “What’s on the schedule and to do list today?” So. Very. Me.


An Upholder hates letting both others and themselves down. Others can rely on them and they often rely on themselves. They know what’s expected, avoid making mistakes, and hates letting people down. They  want to understand rules, have a strong instinct for self-preservation, embrace habits and form them fairly easily as they find habits gratifying, are self-directed, have little trouble meeting commitments, keep resolutions, and meet deadlines, which came in especially handy back in my TV news days. Two huge deadlines every day that you did not want to miss!


On the downside, Upholders may struggle in situations where expectations aren’t clear, feel uneasy when they’re not obeying the rules, or when they’re asked to change plans at the last minute. Others may find them rigid and relentless. Hashtag raising my guilty hand.


The other three Tendencies are:

Questioners, who want justifications and do what they think is best and according to their judgement but if it doesn’t make sense, they won’t do it. They resist outer expectations but meet inner expectations.


Obligers is the biggest group, with just over 40 percent falling into this category. They need accountability and do what they have to do. They don’t want to let others down but they may tend to let themselves down. The meet outer expectations but resist inner expectations.


Rebels want freedom to do something their way and in their own way. If you try to make them do something, they can tend to be less likely to do even if they try to make themselves do so. They resist both outer and inner expectations.


When we understand ourselves and how our Tendency shapes our world perspective, we can adapt our circumstances to suit our lives and when we can see the perspectives and Tendency of others, we can engage with them more effectively and their actions make sense.


To take this short, free quiz; purchase the book; or enroll in a video course, visit




What’s Your Play Personality?

This test is all about unleashing the inner child in us. It reminds us of when we were kids and would spend hours playing carefree and without distractions. Research shows that active plays is essential to a child’s development in that it improves important life skills like emotional intelligence and problem-solving prowess and we continue to learn that playtime is also beneficial for adults as it keeps us stronger, healthier, reduces stress, deepens our relationships, and expands our creativity.


Sadly, we grow up and forget how to play. Not workout. Not compete. Truly play. So, take a minute to remind yourself of what inspired you to play when we were little and what makes you most happy when we play, then take this fun quiz to access your play personality. It’s all based on Dr. Stuart Brown’s book “Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul” and defines eight Play Personalities:  Joker, Kinesthete, Explorer, Competitor, Director, Collector, Artist, and Storyteller.


No surprise here that I tested for The Storyteller. Most people have multiple Play Personalities and I feel I have a bit of Director in me as well as I like to plan and organize events, as its description details, but Storyteller is what I tested at. Storytellers play through stories and imagination and love to create stories, novels, movies, plays, and performances. I’m not much of a performer as I don’t like attention, but I do enjoy reading novels, writing, or watching movies, which are also part of a Storyteller’s Play Personality. Additional traits include getting lost in a story and feeling the thoughts and emotions of characters in a story and gravitating toward book clubs and writer’s groups. Hmmmm…yes, that’s me but in reading it I’m hearing “you need to get out more Carla!”


Check out this fun quiz at



Tibetan Personality Assessment

Another fun test I want to quickly touch upon is the Tibetan Personality Assessment. It’s a simple four question quiz said to reveal a lot about how you see your life on an innermost level and your attitude towards certain people. It’s hard to describe here or reveal my results because you are asked to put certain items in order not knowing why and by revealing my answers I’d give away conclusions , but trust me, it’s fun and it’s very revealing. I did it at work some years back and learned a lot from it. Many sites offer it so just search for it online if you’re curious.





Another popular personality test is the Enneagram. I’ve never taken it but know many who have. It is based on the ancient enneagram symbol and reveals patterns to describe how people interpret and manage their emotions. It consists of nine personality types and uses the ancient enneagram symbol that can be traced back as far as the work of Pythagoras to illustrate how the types relate to on another. Using Virtues, Passions, Holy Ideas, and Ego-Fixations, nine personality types are described. They are: Reformer, Helper, Achiever, Individualist, Investigator, Loyalist, Enthusiast, Challenger, and Peacemaker. My guess is I’d be a Reformer, Individualist, or Loyalist. The test has long been used in both business and spirituality contexts as a way of helping participants gain self-awareness, self-understanding, and self-development. Have you taken this test? What did it reveal?



Much of all of these is the old right brain/left brain thought process.  I know I am very left brain dominant but I’ve never understood how or why letters and numbers are on the same side as I am horrible with numbers but love all things letters, language, and grammar. I also think way more long-term than short-term. Guess no one is perfect after all. But we already knew that.


The beauty of all these tests are they highlight both strengths and weaknesses. I’m the first one to tell you I wish I wasn’t such a planner and could be more spontaneous so if you’re reading this and are any of the opposites of me, give me a call. This Introvert/ISFJ/Upholder/Storyteller needs a little prodding! Test me. I just might pass.





We Can Only Hope September 15, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:02 pm

Every day I check in with a calendar I keep on my desk. It’s called “30 Days of Gratitude” and consists of 30 days of just that: thinking of things one day at a time that you are grateful for. Each day asks a simple question like “what book are you grateful for,” “what knowledge are you grateful for,” “what tradition are you grateful for,” and so on and so on. Five of them individually and randomly ask what taste, sight, touch, sound, and smell are you grateful for. I gotta say, I love these kinds of uncomplicated yet thought provoking ponderings.



Taste on the day I read it happened to be lettuce wraps as our daughter was home for the weekend and requested them for dinner. It’s not so much that I love lettuce wraps, although I do, it was more that she was home and cooking them for her warmed my heart. As for what sound I was grateful for on the day it was presented? It was the sound of thousands of boats filled with happy people on a lake. Touch came on a day that I visited the classroom I’d taught in for many years but was stepping away from. I went in to clean out all my personal items and say goodbye to what brought me so much joy for so many years. Touching the people and things in it is something I was very grateful for that day and will be forever. When prompted what sight I was grateful for, it was finding one of our Beagles sound asleep right inside our daughter’s suitcase. Precious! The last query was “What smell are you grateful for?” And although I didn’t have an immediate answer for it, it proved very timely.



It just so happened that very day I listened to a podcast by Emily P. Freeman who posed the question, “If hope had a smell, what would it be?” I’ve always loved the name Hope for a girl and try to never give up hope but I’ve never thought for one minute how it would smell. But, I also love Freeman, who has written several amazing books and her “The Next Right Thing” podcast is one of my go-to’s so when she presented that question, I had to stop and think.


So, what does hope smell like? What does it smell like to you? Is it always the same smell or does it vary?



My first thought was Easter lilies. They are one of my favorite flowers, smell uh-mazing, and what presents more hope than Easter? I also thought of lemons cuz they smell great and I love everything lemon. Then I went to my favorite smells – roasting garlic, a new can of tennis balls, Play-Do, my favorite candles, and even my dogs – but none of them seemed to fit the “smell of hope” qualifier. I dug deeper and was motivated by some of Freeman’s followers’ replies:


  • Sweat, because you have to work hard at it
  • Sea salt and lavender
  • The air on a fall morning
  • When the ocean is just around the corner or over that last dune and you can’t see it but you can smell it
  • A new baby
  • Long awaited rain on dusty soil
  • Fresh cut grass
  • When I first open the door to my new classroom after summer break and have equal parts nostalgia and possibility.
  • The first smell of morning coffee
  • Fresh squeezed lemons
  • Chocolate chip cookies that just came out of the oven
  • Sautéing butter and onions
  • Rain before or after a storm


I agree with so many of those…the ocean, rain, butter and onions, grass, and yes, coffee. The possibilities are endless!


As luck would have it, spiritual mamma and mentor Susie Davis had also listened to the podcast and naturally had the perfect answer: baking bread. Bingo! What a fabulous smell, right? But her reason had so much more than just something yummy baking. Susie wrote:


“Because it’s that same smell I remember from my second grade field trip to Mrs. Baird’s Bakery on Airport, hoping I would get my hands on a slice of freshly baked bread. And it’s the smell I distinctly remember in my sister’s first kitchen in her first tiny little house in her early years of marriage. I hoped I would grow up to be a wife and mama just like her. It also reminds me of how I used to make sourdough bread for my son every week of his senior year in high school because he loved it – and I realized he wouldn’t be living in my house much longer. And now, I make bread for my parents and deliver it to them on their front porch. Fresh baked bread reminds my dad of his mom who used to make it for him when he was a boy.”


Now that’s an answer, right?


Once again and as always, she inspired me and I’m going with my first choice of Easter lilies.



If hope had a smell, it would be Easter lilies, those bright white, single-bud, and fabulous smelling blooms. Hope, because when you buy one, they are closed but you hold out hope knowing they will soon open up and share that glorious smell with whatever room they are in. Hope because they come in the spring, which is when the earth is hopeful and opening up to blooming and warmer weather. Hope because you can replant them once all their blooms are gone and they will grow again next year, bringing all that hope back again. And hope because they come at Easter, the holiday where all of our hopes are realized and true hope is back.



Hope is something we so desperately need right now as our country and culture decays more and more each day. If hope had a smell, it would be that everyone would stop and smell the Easter lilies and stop seeing hate and hearing deception. We can only hope.



A New Tradition September 10, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:00 am

House Beautiful

I read something recently that brought a smile to my face: traditional home décor is back; and in a big way. Yep, think dark woods, four-poster beds, antique sideboards, fabric window treatments, wallpaper, and the like. But why; why now? If you think about it, it’s actually pretty simple to figure out.


Collectively we as a society have been essentially locked in our homes for months on end now. We work at home, school at home, exercise at home, and pretty much do everything at home. Spending so much time in our homes has caused many to redo and redecorate as staring at the same four unpainted walls is wearing on us.


At the same time, we’re in the midst of a growing list of historical events that have basically shaken us to our core. We all feel stressed and uncertain about so much. We have been forced to make major changes and change is always hard. The result? The longing for days gone by and the “good ole days.” Enter traditions and all things traditional.


I’m totally on board as I’ve always loved traditional design and furnishings. And although I like looking at and learning about Mid-Century Modern, French Country, Feng Shui, or the latest design trends, give me elegant and charming over sleek or trendy any day of the week.  I’m with designer Erin Gates of Elements of Style in that my design style of choice is updated traditional using a mix of timeless pieces, antiques, and some modern accents thrown in for texture and fun.  Practical has my name all over it, whether it be life choices or design picks.


To be sure, I’m no designer by trade and the “new traditional” might not be for everyone or trending everywhere, I’m just here to share what I’ve learned and what I personally prefer.


Bunny Williams Interior Design

Katie Laughridge of Tribune News Service recently wrote about the growing interest in traditional design and credits our longing for nostalgia and simpler times as key to its re-emergence. Our brains, she writes, naturally make connections to places, things, and even scents that comfort us and give us a sense of peace. This could be anything from grandma’s hand-me-down dresser to great Uncle Larry’s book collection. These have a way of tying us to the past; a past we are longing for like perhaps never before.


Still, as with anything, don’t go crazy or overboard with your dark wood choices and toile wallpaper. You might want formal, but make it fun. You might want grandma’s drop-leaf table, but you don’t want your home to scream grandma. The elegance of a Queen Ann chair complete with the requisite cabriole legs and padded feet is a tad more heavy then a graceful mahogany Hepplewhite with its straight legs and shield or spider backs, but either can be paired with more contemporary pieces.


Queen Anne and Hepplewhite dining chairs are two of my all-time favorite purchases, but maybe think about pairing them with a more modernistic and sleek table rather than a Duncan Phyfe pedestal table or, upholster them in a more playful fabric. Or, flip that thought and pair that pedestal table with perhaps mismatched traditional style chairs or lacquered red bamboo chairs. Not only will you create interest and texture, you’ll add a pop of much-needed color! This concept is expertly illustrated in these three photos:


In this BH&G photo, formal Queen Ann chairs sport more casual checked seats.


A formal Duncan Phyfe table is paired above with what might be formal chairs whimsically slip-covered in a fun and pleated check and joined by a very casual window seat.


A columned-legged chair above is upholstered in a sunny yet cozy yellow velvet and is joined by a matching table, yet is also paired with a modern acrylic X-bench in this photo from Veranda. Accessories include traditional blue and white vases and modern art on the wall.


I love that a new generation of home décor style makers and enthusiasts are returning to all things their childhoods, be it chintz, checks, and Chippendale or brass, bead-board, and book-filled rooms. And, even though the scheme is old, the names are not. So far I’ve heard or read about New Traditional, Neo-Traditional, Modern Vintage, and even Grand-Millennial. Whatever you call it, call it mixing the old with the new.



So, how to get timeless sensibility and design that will last? Megan Beauchamp of spoke with designer Lori Henle who recommends staying away from popular styles that will age quickly and that you will likely grow tired of and instead think of making old-school design current. This could be a schoolhouse style ceiling light fixture, fabric window treatments, a dramatic antique serving as a kitchen island like in the photo above, or wallpaper in the powder room or on an accent wall. Accessorize those rooms with personal items you’ve collected or family heirlooms you’ve acquired so that your home feels like your home and not overly staged or designer designed.




“Traditional” is defined as habitually done or long established, which could also define traditional design. In fact, it was established long ago and has been habitually done since its inspiration of early European décor, most commonly English but also French. You could say there’s nothing more traditional than a stately Louis XV or wingback chair, but how inviting is the above photo of a traditional formal room with a less traditional fabric on the Louis XV and fellow side chair? Traditional design is yes, often formal, but it doesn’t have to be stuffy. It generally uses natural materials and colors and incorporates grand architectural elements like raised panel doors, built-in cabinetry, heavy trim work, and grand fireplaces. But, as Henle notes, even if your home is lacking any or all of these traditional design hallmarks, you can still get the look while keeping it modern.


“The new traditional has a modern influence that creates warmth and ease with subtle layers of texture, color, and bold finishes,” she told MyDomaine. “Start with a neutral color base and add colorful accents and bold large-scale pieces to make a statement as opposed to lots of smaller pieces, which can look busy and cluttered.”


You might splurge and purchase a stunning Chesterfield sofa but then maybe upholster it in leather and then add a chunky cable knit throw and velvet accent pillows to add depth and snuggle factor to an otherwise very traditional piece of furniture. Rustic and metals work great with traditional looks, so maybe place a more rustic or metal nightstand next to your four-poster bed.



The Inspired Room

Look anywhere and farmhouse apron sinks and bridge-style faucets are everywhere. If anything is “old school” it’s a farmhouse and its country style. These uber popular sinks might share a kitchen with more modern cabinet hardware or a sleek counter material, but make no mistake, they are old and they are the new new. Your thought process should not be to have head-to-toe traditional style (or any other style for that matter), but to add modern pieces to offset a sometimes too stiff traditional design.


All design experts are in agreement when it comes to furnishing an entire room: don’t pick pieces that are a matched set with the same fabric, wood, and finish. Doing so makes a room look dated from the get go and lack interest. Mix your woods with metals such as iron or brass, add color and pattern, and maybe even add a painted piece. But stick to just one piece of painted word furniture in a room as any more will start to look like a flea market.


One Kings Lane

And don’t forget function. All those mahogany lined libraries in old English manors may look beautiful and impressive, but did anyone really read in them? Keep your sofas comfy, your kitchen workable, and grandpa’s old writing desk could work great even with laptops and Zoom calls.


The 2020 quarantine has left us all feeling a bit isolated and in search of stability and certainty. We are also longing for warmth, safety, and security, which customs and traditions are conventionally known for, so if that means watching Netflix seated in a Martha Washington chair or working from home on a highboy secretary, I’ll take it. Sounds like a classic move to me.


Here are just a few more examples:


This adorable black-and-white bedroom from House Beautiful showcases a traditional spool bed, wallpaper, and window cornice valances with more contemporary woven shades, an iron nightstand, and contemporary prints.


Black-and-white is the concept in this Cynthia Weber designed eating area that incorporates a traditional curio cabinet, round spool table, Windsor chairs, striped valance, and butler’s tray but corners it all with more rustic accessories.


Nothing but formal here in this bedroom featured in Traditional Home. The four-poster bed and elaborate fireplace, mantle, and artwork harmonize perfectly with the heavy trim work detail while the mirror above the bed adds a slight contemporary flair.


Coziness is on point as is traditional style featuring Windsor chairs and lantern light coupled with a more rustic table, painted brick fireplace, and mix-and-match leaned artwork.


Windsor chairs flank a rustic trestle table flanked by window seat and woven shades.


Hobby Lobbying for Habit Forming September 1, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:00 am

Happy New Year! Say what? Yes, I know it’s not actually the start of a new year, but it’s the start of a new month and a month that is often associated with newness: new school year, new season, new routines, new clothing, new weather, and much more. Yes, I’m also aware this September is different on so many levels, but maybe that just means it’s even more reason to look at it as a fresh start and reason to begin again. It’s worth a try, right? If nothing else, September is just one more month closer to the end of 2020!



“Happiness Project” writer Gretchen Rubin considers September the perfect time to wipe a clean slate and if someone who writes about happiness for a living embraces the idea, so do I. First of all, fall is my favorite season and it just so happens to “fall” in September each year. September 22 if you’re wondering. I love everything about fall: the weather starts cooling off, summer clothing I’ve worn since March can start making its way to the back of the closet to make room for more fallish attire, and I love Thanksgiving and football.


September is also the official “back-to-school” month, give or take a few weeks, making it the ideal month to put routines back into our lives. These might be going to bed earlier and maybe even eating healthier after a summer of snacking. Again, this year is different but there’s still a need for school, which means a need for school supplies. I love school and office supplies! I also love calendars, and September is often the month we take a hard look at calendar dates for the rest of the year. Summer and its somewhat leisureness is gone; time to ramp up the check lists. Again, different this year but to add a smidgen of normalcy into the most non-normal of years, try to consider this September in a more normal way. Just try.


It is said that September is a month, much like January, when people consider career moves, join gyms, and get married. September is now second only to October as the most popular wedding month.  It’s the time of year that we make goal setting changes (gotta catch up on those January resolutions you’ve allowed to waiver) and rethink our routines and rituals. Since March, we’ve been hearing the benefits of engaging in a new hobby so if you haven’t already, why not start in September?


As Rubin notes, now more than ever we are all in search of happiness-boosting habits, right? Gloom and doom and “the world is against you” is knocking at your door and screaming from your computer and TV screens 24/7, so why not tell them to GET OUT and get into a new hobby that makes you happy?



A hobby is something you do regularly for your own pleasure. It’s doing something you are passionate about or maybe just interested in. I like to consider hobbies as having things to do rather than having to do things. They are options, not demands. A hobby you enjoy is a great way to release and relieve stress and take your mind off of all the Negative Nancys out there. The idea is, if you fall in love with a hobby, it may just become a habit, which are things we do repeatedly and regularly. To contrast, hobbies we purposely pursue but habits we may not even realize we’re doing. Let’s look at both hobbies and habits. First, hobbies!



So where to start? Well, maybe ask yourself what makes you feel good or makes you happy. What interests you? What do you really like to do when you have any free time? Rubin suggests asking yourself what you did for fun when you were 10 and whether you can duplicate it in some grown-up way now. It’s probably much easier than you think.



Since March, we’ve all been living in somewhat isolation, despair, frustration, worry, and monotony. Well, according to, one of the best ways to break monotony is to discover a hobby you find both interesting and enjoyable.  We’ve all had time on our hands and during this time, I for one have discovered the hobby of golf and can honestly say that, for the first time after years of playing the sport, I am really enjoying it. It’s gotten me safely outside without having to wear a mask, it’s introduced to me a squad of women I have fun with, it’s allowed me to talk about and watch golf with my husband (My name is Carla and I’m officially a golf widow) with more enthusiasm, and it’s provided a sense of accomplishment. These are all things hobbies can do for you.



Not only do hobbies give you a meaningful way to pass the time, they often make you more patient, as anytime you learn something new, it’ll take time. Patience is a virtue though right? Now granted, you don’t want to break the bank, go into debt, hurt yourself physically, or take up something at the expense of your family or job, so think about it and think smart. If you’re on a limited budget, travel or designer bag collecting probably wouldn’t be smart choices. Same goes if you’re older and out-of-shape; I wouldn’t recommend horse jumping or gymnastics. Again, think smart.



And always, always remember whatever route you take, it doesn’t have to be something you dive in full throttle forever. Try your hand at different things until you discover where you want to be; even if just temporarily. I personally don’t love to cook, but I love cooking classes so you might say I have a hobby of going to cooking classes but not really cooking much of what I learn in them. And that’s okay!


Whatever you wisely choose, know that the benefits of healthy hobbies are many, including:


  • Hobbies give you a sense of purpose. Many of us are doers; we don’t like to sit around and do nothing. Personally, the sitting around doesn’t bother me, it’s the doing nothing. That’s why I learned to cross-stitch many years ago. It gives me something to do while just sitting watching TV or the like.


  • Hobbies offer challenges, experiences, and learning opportunities. It’s never too late to learn something new and in fact, experts say you should read and learn something new and worthwhile every day and continue to learn new things throughout life. I think of my mom who for years has refused to learn how to use a a cell phone. My sisters and I, as well as my nieces, have tried and tried and even bought her more than few, but she refuses to embrace any technology. I can’t help but think of all the face times and texted photos of her kids, grand kids, and even great grand son that she’s missed out on. And don’t even get me started on the safety issue of it all. But I digress. For years, my New Year’s Resolution has been to learn something new. I may not have loved each endeavor I chose and might not have continued doing all of them, but I loved learning all of them and had so much fun doing so. You see, with hobbies there’s no pressure to be perfect and dabbling in new ones gets you out of your comfort zone, which is a real challenge for me.


  • A hobby can be beneficial in the workplace. I can’t tell you how many deals my husband has made on the golf course and career coaches confirm that having a hobby often improves job performance. A common hobby could endear you to a colleague, boss, or client and hobbies in general help you handle stress more effectively. They also present you with something productive to focus on when you’re off the clock and allow you to have a life outside of work. They also prove passion and drive, which no direct report is going to scough at.



  • You could make money through your hobby. Have you heard of Etsy? It’s a site that began as a place for people to sell homemade items but much like Amazon, it’s rocketed into something much bigger and more commercial. It’s proof that those quilts, painted rocks, or cards you have made a hobby of crafting can maybe make you some extra money. Or just joy. A dear friend of mine has started painting rocks and although I’m sure she’s getting much joy out of it, so are those she gifts them to. Trust me, she rocks! You could also go the way of teaching your craft or consulting. A beloved hobby can also be an avenue to give back by way of volunteering, mentoring, entertaining in nursing homes or schools, walking dogs, or cooking at a soup kitchen.



  • At the very least, hobbies like walking, tennis, kayaking, swimming, and yoga are good for you physically and they can also be great opportunities for social interaction. But be sure you do what you love to ensure your hobby will remain enjoyable and maybe even become a healthy habit. That’s how and why I discovered yoga many years ago. I kinda fell into it in our old neighborhood but it had me at Namaste. Even in the beginning, I never felt inadequate or like I couldn’t keep up and yet I was sweating, stretching, and balancing in ways I never had. I was also focused and centered and felt so relaxed yet invigorated after every class. I like to say I bend so I don’t break. Find you your yoga so your exercise hobby doesn’t feel like a chore.



  • A healthy hobby is also mentally healthy. They keep you from being bored, which is when many turn to alcohol, gambling, drugs, porn, overeating, and other potentially destructive behaviors and habits. By being excited about what you’re doing, you have something to look forward to and stress has been shown to decrease when you’re engaged in something you enjoy. There’s also evidence that healthy hobbies help ward off depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. In one study, 74 percent of participants suffering from anxiety reported knitting calmed them. Other hobbies often suggested for this purpose include listening to music, keeping a gratitude journal, and playing with pets. Maybe that’s why I’m such a cheerful happy self (hah!) as I do all three of those daily!



  • The “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” train of thought means hobbies are also good for kids as they tend to keep them out of trouble. School teams, groups, clubs, and other activities not only give participants something to work for and proudly be a part of; they keep them from sitting around and falling into bad habits.


  • Your soul is where God dwells and yet we tend to spend more time taking care of our bodies then we do our souls. We need soul care and hobbies can do just that. Things like daily prayer and meditation are hobbies we could all benefit from, and society as a whole could too. People who feel inspired from above and/or grounded to the earth tend to be more calm, peaceful, purposeful, likable, and recharged. Those are my people.



  • Hobbies lighten the load. Things are serious out there. We can’t eat out. Our favorite shops are either shut down or boarded up. We have to wear masks. And for goodness sake don’t touch your face! Many a meme is out there stating that our current favorite hobbies are “placing order” and tracking a package. It doesn’t need to be like that though. A hobby you delight in can help you escape from pandemic paranoia and put you back on a more peaceful path.


  • At the same time productive and fun hobbies can improve our self-esteem and self-confidence because they make us feel like we’re good at something. I may not be the best golfer or cross-stitcher, but I can feel like I’m pretty good at either on any given day. By both taking on a new pursuit and improving at it, we acquire motivation and a sense of accomplishment. But remember to think out of the box and out of your comfort zone for maximum confidence boosting.


  • With improved confidence often comes improved character and a sense of wanting to improve the world around us. You might see things differently if you learn a foreign language and study the countries where it’s spoken. By taking cooking classes on ethnic cuisine, you will most likely gain a new perspective on the culture behind it while being exposed to a diverse group of people, ideas, and opinions. Come to think about it, maybe this is the hobby we should all be doing right now!


  • All of this happiness and confidence can also lead to improved relationships and expanded social circles. Like me, you might discover a hobby you and your spouse can do together for many years to come. There so many options for this benefit alone, including music and dance lessons to wine tasting and floral arranging. All of them, with or without a spouse, present fresh ways to meet new people. You already know you share an interest, so why not share a dinner too?


  • As we age, so do many parts of us including our memory but by regularly doing purposeful activities that make us focus, we can improve our memory and brain function. Chess, computer classes, sewing, and even crossword puzzles have all proven beneficial in protecting the brain from memory loss due to aging. Plus, by being part of a bridge or book club, you’re staying social and making friendships based around a common interest. Personally, I love to write (shocker!) but as I gradually “retired” from full-time work, I missed the actual pursuit of writing, hence this blog. I know it’s not earth shattering, I don’t have a million followers, and it doesn’t increase my bank account, but I love it and it keeps my brain working and sharp.


In the end, hobbies make you a more interesting person. You have something to share with others and possess knowledge they might find helpful or fascinating. You might even influence someone to take up a hobby themselves. Poof! You’re an influencer!


If anything, I hope I’ve convinced you to take time this month to find a new hobby you can attempt and then take time to engage in that activity. It might be something as relaxing as reading for 30 minutes every day or something creative like photography. Maybe you want to dip your toes in something like water aerobics or something a little more spicy like pickle ball. Just be sure to do it for you; not anyone else. Even if your friends love something doesn’t mean you have to. Remember, if you don’t really love it, it probably won’t be enjoyable or become a habit. Whatever you choose, it just might improve your mental health, sense of identity, stress level, usefulness, and morph into a habit. A good habit.





Changing your habits can change your life, whether it’s to stop smoking or start exercising, having healthy habits make us physically and mentally better off. Even as we peek outside our quarantined homes and wait for the next chapter of Revelation and Armageddon to descend up on us, we must make it a habit to choose wisely. Spiritual Mamma Susie Davis suggests adopting the habit of wonder over worry. As you walk or drive today, take time to wonder over the beautiful flowers you see or the fact that you have a working car instead of worrying about what comes next. Today, that worry can be daunting and debilitating so get in the habit of avoiding it at all costs. I know of what I speak, as I’m really good at worrying. Ask anyone I know. I’m working on it though.



During 2020 many of us have perhaps picked up some bad habits. Pretty sure we’re all guilty of number 2 above, but as Davis suggests, maybe instead of hoping for the good old days focus on the hope of good new days.  Numbers 4 and 8 above are also pretty common these days, and I may be good at worrying but I’m equally good at number 9. For a while we were all eating too much bread and panicking too much. Now, after months of day drinking and show binging, it’s time to take stock and keep track of what we’re doing that may be leaning toward the path of bad habit. What are you doing every day and is it good for you?


“Maybe an artist’s discipline, process, and routine – habits if you will – were just ruts with a purpose.”

That, from the fabulous Richard Russo book, “Bridge of Sighs.” Could that be? “Ruts with a purpose?” I kinda love that unique description of habits and can only hope that I continue to pursue and perfect many a purposeful rut.


One way to do so is by “habit stacking.” Sometimes called “pairing,” the idea is to create new habits by attaching them to existing habits. For example, if you want to make it a habit to take your daily vitamins and you already eat breakfast every day, take those vitamins when you eat breakfast. If you’re wanting to pray more and you already read every night before bed, add a prayer book or two to that stack of novels and mysteries. The idea is if you attach a new habit to something you already do, the odds of the new habit becoming a permanent habit are high. Brilliant, right?


The brilliant Japanese have this idea down pat; they even have a fun term for it: “poka-yoke,” which in Japanese loosely means “mistake proofing.” It got its start and stardom in Toyota’s production lines when managers would think ahead and proactively to eliminate both human error and equipment problems. Eliminate the problem before it’s a problem and you have no problem!  On the home front, if you have a sweet tooth and are wanting to lose weight, don’t buy cookies or ice cream. If finances are currently tight, plan your commute ahead and probably don’t take toll ways.


Yet another way to look at stacking is to incrementally increase how long you do something each day. Set your bar low and allow for slow growth. If you’re hoping to start the habit of daily walking, start by maybe walking 15 minutes on day one and adding five minutes every day. Being physically active during the day will also pay-off in that you’ll be more tired at night. Bedtime hobbies and habits are also where you might consider making daily interval changes. Do you turn on the TV and/or check your phone or laptop again and again? Change things up by seriously limiting your screen time each night and adjust your nightly bedtime. Start with maybe one hour of screen time each night and a 10 p.m. shut eye. Adjust these times and you’ll soon see improved sleep habits. Ultimately, you might even be able to replace those old screen time habits and replace them with new ones like reading (nothing scary or intense!) or listening to mindful podcasts or music, which can slow your heart rate, decrease brain waves frequency, and help you sleep more soundly.


Sometimes all it takes is a little outside encouragement to incorporate a good habit or quit a bad one. Our daughter was immensely important to my not new but improved habit of walking while she was home early on during this pandemic. She was adamant about walking several times a day and was so instrumental in getting me to do so once-a-day. Reach out to coworkers, family members, neighbors, and the like if you’re in need of a little push. Most likely one of them does too.



So I leave you with the hope that your hobbies will increase and your good habits will improve. Don’t be too hard on yourself though and leave room to lighten up and laugh; especially at yourself. Your goal should be to keep your body and brain moving. We are all habitually stressed and anxious these days, so make it a habit to discover a hobby that makes you happy. It might just become habit forming.