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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Kentucky has its share of beekeepers. They range from very experienced to “just learning.” Dr. Lee Edgerton, a retired professor and Great Teacher Award recipient in animal sciences at the University of Kentucky, has been enjoying this hobby for a number of years.


“One of the advantages of bees is that they don’t require daily care like cats and dogs,” Edgerton said.


Edgerton has many stories about his beekeeping experiences, but one stands out. When he and his wife drove to Alaska one summer, they arranged to have a neighbor mow the lawn. “I told our neighbor that he didn’t have to mow close to the beehive if he was uncomfortable around bees,” Edgerton said. “He assured me that he was not. On our first day in Alaska, my cell phone rang.”


It was the neighbor. He had gotten too close to the hive stand with the mower and had tipped it and the hive over. He was in a state of distress, not because of fear of the bees, but because he believed he had ruined the Edgertons’ vacation.  


“Fortunately, beekeepers are a friendly and caring group,” Edgerton said. “I gave him the phone number of Phil Clark, my mentor. Phil came over right away and helped him put the hive back together.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ ABOUT BEEKEEPING?

Figuratively speaking, he also put our neighbor back together. I could tell from the tone of his voice that he was much relieved after Phil helped him restore the hive.


Most new beekeepers have a tale to tell about how they were rescued by an experienced beekeeper. Like any hobby, the benefits of beekeeping are not simply in learning something new, but in sharing experiences with others.


Melissa Caughey offers some suggestions for beginning beekeepers:


•  Check to be sure you are able to keep bees in your neighborhood.

•  Join the local beekeepers’ club and/or take a class.

•  “Bee” a courteous neighbor – ask them their thoughts about your beekeeping.


Sources and Resources:

Caughey, Melissa. 11 Considerations Before becoming a Beekeeper. www.keepingbackyardbees.com

Horn, T. Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation. Lexington, Kentucky: The University of Kentucky Press

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

more articles by dr thomas W. Miller