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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Just as with memoirs, family histories are not only great for the family but can also be important historical documents. Genealogy research is needed for a rich family history and there are plenty of websites to help with this. For guidance on how to write a family history, check out The Armchair Genealogist at www.thearmchairgenealogist.com.

LEAVE A LEGACY - WRITE YOUR MEMOIR AND FAMILY HISTORY

You could cover your childhood as Frank McCourt did in Angela’s Ashes or chronicle your travels as Elizabeth Gilbert did in Eat, Pray, Love. Some memoirs focus on important life events and relationships, meeting someone inspirational or dealing with the effects of coping with an illness. Memoirs are ideal for the latter years because writing them becomes a time of reflection and you write from the maturity that comes out of your life experiences. Writing may help you truly understand things in a unique perspective. All in all, memoirs are a great reflection to leave for adult children and grandchildren and all successive family.


Likewise, a family history is powerful both for the future generations of your family and all people in the future, even though they may not be related to you. Family histories can include a record of your immediate and/ or extended family and their recollections; a written history of ancestors going back several generations; and an ancestral family history with a chapter for the couple you start with and additional chapters for each descendent family. It can be a collection of family traditions and their origins. A collection of family recipes could serve up an entertaining and tasty history. And a genetic family history could identify specific physical traits such as eye color, height, weight, complexion and more as well as illnesses and causes of death – important for those who need to learn more about their family health history.

Memoirs and family histories are legacies that last generations and endure through the ages. They help both the writer and the succeeding generation of readers embrace their own identities while also giving a sense of continuum, belonging and meaning.


A memoir can be cathartic and psychologically powerful for the writer. It can provide a sense of meaning by evaluating the progression of decisions and events. In the case of trauma, a memoir can help you get to a place of forgiveness. The ability to move forward in a healthy psychological way depends on creating a healthy relationship with the past. Memoirs can create order out of chaos by organizing the past into a system – chronological or otherwise – to help you see your life in a different way. This can actually change the brain’s organic structure, according to neuroscientists. It can provide an overview of your accomplishments, inspire gratitude, keep your mind sharp (by looking for patterns and finding the right words), identify your strengths and provide motivation for the future. Looking back helps you realize what you still haven’t done and what your current priorities are. For subsequent readers, memoirs put personal stories into the backdrop of dramatic history.


There are different types of memoirs, but basically a memoir is just one story from your life – not an autobiography. You can only write one autobiography, but you can write countless memoirs.

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela S. Hoover is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

more articles by Angela S. Hoover