Healthy Life: Life, Living, and Lessons: 5 things that my hobby as taught me

I have lost track of how many times I have been asked what I did for a hobby. My answer was always, “I don’t have a hobby.” I would then go on to joke that I did spend time learning some new skills, aside from my major, while in university - knitting, playing backgammon and drinking beer.

Ok, I admit that the first two are considered hobbies for many and there might even be some who would claim that drinking beer is a hobby in itself but, I am not one of them. Not surprisingly,  I gave up knitting and backgammon long ago and I never did like beer.

Fast forward ‘x’ number of years and the question “What do I do for a hobby?”

How things have changed! I am still not a fan of beer but; I can now say that I have a hobby and it is something that I have become very passionate about - photography.

I have discovered that I love to capture the beauty of nature, of people interacting with the world around them and the antics of our pets. I will use every opportunity to grab my camera and head out. And, if I don't bring my camera - there is always my iphone.

Interestingly, it has also been a great learning journey. As a novice photographer, each day brings new experiences and opportunities to develop my skills. Whether it is the actual functionality of the camera, lighting and positioning, or editing, there is plenty to learn. 

But, I have learned so much more than that. I have learned that the great learning journey is actually about me!  Yes, I admit that it’s all about me. I have become much more self aware and with that there have been some life lessons along the way.

So, with that in mind, here is what my hobby has either taught me or reminded me of its importance:

There is truth in the  axiom, “You snooze, you lose.” I have learned, the hard way, that a scene will never repeat itself. Opportunities will rarely, if ever, repeat themselves. More often than not, it is gone forever. An example that comes to mind happened on our road trip to Banff. We drove through Saskatchewan while the canola fields were in full bloom. Now, if you have never seen a canola field in bloom, it is spectacular. It’s like a sea of bright yellow.

On this trip, we came across a red barn that sat in the middle of a field, surrounded by canola. It was one of those views that you might see on a post card. I wanted to capture the moment but, given that we had already made a few stops, I chose not to make the stop. I took note of our location and we agreed to stop on our return trip except; that never happened. By the time we headed back, the canola was already starting to lose its colour and the image was gone.

Patience pays. There have been numerous occasions when I have had a vision of what I wanted to capture and could not create it artificially nor force it to happen. It meant having to wait for it to happen on its own. This was a tough one and remains a work in progress. 

Along the way, I have managed to surprise myself with the quality of some of my photos when I have been patient. I can definitely see the correlation between patience and results.

Slow down. Rush, rush, rush.   think that it has been my life motto - whether it was about getting from point A to point B, completing projects, and/or even eating, I have always been anxious to move on to whatever was next. Yes, I knew the consequences of being in that state - missed opportunities but; I was never motivated to change. After all, I was getting the results that I needed - or was I?

Here is where my photography comes in to play and what I have learned.  There are numerous factors that need to be considered when taking photos - including shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. I am not about to embark on a lesson on what they are but, will say that I have learned that mistakes are made when I rush. When I have not taken the time to consider my surroundings and adjust my camera settings accordingly, the only place my photos go, is in the trash.

Let your creativity shine. There is a lot of grey in the world, not everything is black or white. At times, it means thinking outside the box and letting yourself ‘go’. Perhaps it means taking risks, trying something new, moving forward without knowing the end result or, as in my case, simply sharing my photos on Instagram for the whole world to see.

Along the way, my initial hesitancy, in doing so, has turned to fully embracing the sharing. Putting yourself ‘out there’ can be scary but, I have found it to be very rewarding. The feedback is motivating and I continue to learn from it.  The results? My photos are getting better.

Know thyself. What do you want to accomplish? What is your starting point? What do you have to learn? Experience? Be open to? What are you willing to do to make it happen? Lots of questions but; they sum up the journey nicely. 

In my case, I wanted a hobby and I can now say that I have one that is both exciting and rewarding. AND, I have even had the courage to volunteer as a photographer at a number of different events. I just love it!

Debbie Ristimaki believes in the power of being in the moment, enjoying the journey and embracing the lessons along the way. Debbie is a freelance writer and coach, currently living in Winnipeg. Her mantra: “We have but one life and live it we must.”