HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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The last two won the Southern Book Critics Circle Awards. She wrote The Girl Sleuth, a guide to the girl detective series books that are read widely in adolescence. Mason has received the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Arts and Letters Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as a National Endowment for the Arts grant. She is a former writer-in-residence at the University of Kentucky.


Mason’s Web site (www.bobbieannmason.net) offers a complete list of her works, some reviews, a wonderful video featuring Mason with another acclaimed Kentucky writer, Wendell Berry, and information about upcoming events, including readings and signings.

The tapestry that is Kentucky’s literary heritage is colorful and vast. In the center of this grand design is Bobbie Ann Mason.


Mason began her literary career over four decades ago. As her short stories began to find publication in The New Yorker in the early 1980’s, her name became associated with the newer women’s literature of the South. With the publication of Shiloh and Other Stories in 1982, Mason’s position as a leader in the world of fiction, especially Kentucky fiction, was secured. The volume won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was nominated for the American Book Award, the PEN/ Faulkner Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.


Mason’s talent for writing stories and redefining literature, however, long predates the publication of Shiloh. It reaches back to her childhood, when she was first introduced to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. She discovered Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, F. Scott   Fitzgerald and many other outstanding writers during her early college days. She earned her B.A. in English from the University of Kentucky in 1962 and her M.A. from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1966. This period culminated with Mason earning her Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in 1972.


“I’ve always been fascinated with puzzles,” Mason said. “It was this,

PROFILE: BOBBIE ANN MASON

perhaps, that led me to Vladimir Nabokov, whose Ada was the subject of my dissertation.”


Since that time, Mason has published numerous works, including her most recent novel, The Girl in the Blue Beret, which was inspired by the wartime experiences of her late father-in-law. It won the Kentucky Book Award in 2011.


The publication of In Country in 1985 made it difficult for Mason to go unnoticed, and her fascination with war and stories based around war have become central themes in her work. When Hollywood called, wanting to make a film of In Country, Mason’s name was cemented in not only the literary world but also in that of cinema. Bruce Willis signed on to the project and the film appeared in theaters in 1989.


“Of course the movie is incomparable to the book,” Mason said. “I was happy it all came together the way it did.”


Other works include a memoir, Clear Springs, which was a runner- up for the Pulitzer Prize, Elvis Presley, Feather Crowns and Zigzagging Down a Wild Trail.

CHARLES SEBASTIAN

Charles Sebastian is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

more articles by charles sebastian