oh yeah, hobbies are supposed to be FUN

When Christina and I started this sober photography project, i would send her the assignment and she would (spontaneously) send me back her picture. Like, usually the same day. And she was so freaking excited. For the first assignment, I did my picture right away, too. But something happened to me with the bubble picture.

and maybe you can relate.

I suffered from a regular problem of mine. In my Job #1, I am a designer.  So (unfortunately) I can imagine an idealized idea of a ‘bubble’ picture in my head, and it was something that I was going to have to stage in a café with a bottle of water, and a glass and a straw, and sunlight, and a piece of lemon. I could imagine the final image right down to the kind of glass I wanted. and the angle of the straw.

So to take a picture in a café, this means I will have to leave my house (!), have a sunny day (!), and have the right background (!), etc.  On the day in question, I asked my husband at about 2 pm if he could stop working and come with me to the café to take my bubble picture, because i would feel too nervous pulling out my big stooopid camera, if alone at the table in front of a glass of water.

He rightfully said no, he had to work.

Right there I realized that I do this all the time with hobbies.  While I do good work for clients, I know that “good enough is good enough.” Unfortunately I often suck at applying the concept in my personal life.  I am typically someone who does things at the end of the deadline period, rather than at the beginning.  I’m never late, and I never need an extension, BUT I do (often, every day) wait until things are more perfect.

Should i do the dishes now or after the next thing? Vacuum first or dust first? Like is there a right way to do any of this stuff, so long as it gets done. and for fuck’s sake, it’s an online anonymous photography project that was – at that time – between me and ONE other person, the lovely christina. Yeah, seems like the right time to over think…. not.

I do get stuff done, but i also think first (for a long time) about the right way to do it.  the most efficient way. This is useful in my business life. It perhaps has no place in the world of fun.

Faced with a FUN project, a hobby thing, and I pulled out all of my same perfectionistic ideas. And particularly with artistic things (because i’m a designer), I have an idea in my head of what i want the result to be, and I am often frustrated when the final creative artsy-project result does not match the vision I had in my head.  Like, I can picture what I want a painting or a photo to look like, but I can’t create it because of limited talent, limited time, or limited patience.

So when I realized that i was having this anti-fun-thought-process about the bubble picture, I emailed Christina and said: “I am going to shoot my bubbles picture TODAY. no matter what. just to begin to teach myself a lesson. I’m glad we’re doing this together.  I’m not sure what you’re learning, but I’m learning a lesson about hobbies and perfectionism.  Just enjoy it, Belle. stop trying to make it into ‘something’ …”

So I took my camera out for dinner where I was meeting friends.  I ordered bottled water, and asked for a tall glass and a straw. It did NOT look like the image i had in my head. And now I have a table of people staring at me. I take the picture, claiming some “photography project,” and then the dinner continues.

When I get home, I open up the image, flick some switches in Adobe, and come up with something I like.

In fact, I like it a lot. I send a copy to Christina AND I wait up late until my husband gets home so that I can show him my bubble picture.

It has, yes, shockingly, turned out better than the one i originally envisioned.

And for lots of reasons, I’m re-learning that HOBBIES are supposed to be FUN and are not meant to be PERFECT, and not every picture has to SAY SOMETHING, and not every bad image is really bad once you whack some Adobe Lightroom on it… I may be also learning that with photography, at least for me, any picture is better than NO picture.  and that adobe lightroom can make an average picture much improved.

Original Image

Original image (good enough!)
Original image (good enough!)


Photo post-processing

Finished image (happier with this than i thought i'd be!)
Finished image (happier than i thought i’d be!)

[*PS if anybody gives a rat’s ass about how adobe lightroom works, i’d be happy to share … or show you how to use free online software to achieve basically the same results…. anyway, lemme know]

and as I wrote in the blog comments a couple of days ago: “… that might be the KEY right there — just do it. don’t wait to be amazing. just have fun … I think as boozers we’ve forgotten about fun : ) it’s *where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter*. Fun is where there is no grade, there is no judgement, there is no competition. It’s when you play Pictionary without keeping score. It’s when you play Monopoly but lend your neighbor money so you can keep playing. With fun, there is no one-upping, there is no monetary gain, there is no impressing anybody. There’s just fun. Yes, and Yes, and Yes!”

Oh yeah, fun.  who knew i’d have to re-learn how to have fun. who knew I could learn it taking pictures?

And I got this in my inbox: “I don’t know what I am learning from this but I do know that it is providing a frisson of excitement that is lacking as I adjust to a life without so many bubbles.”

Happy Sunday 🙂

Team 100 update: 110 members, welcome to Sterling (3), Jessica (4), and Noeleen (1).  Celebrations for Lynda and Mr. Lynda (90), Whineless (61), DDG (90), Brandy (40), Mr. Belle (60), Katie & Rachel (7), Christina (71), Debra (140), Diane (71), Leah (35), Sam (10), Carolyn (21), Catkin (7), Gindy (71), Tiffany (10), Meka (11), Overndout (7). Welcome back to Lurker M (7).


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I read this after submitting my photo for the turquoise project (which I misspelled in my subject line and that bothered me, gotta let it go). I had imagined photographing my turquoise ring with turquoise painted finger nails wearing my turquoise dress in front of something else turquoise and I kept putting it off til it was all perfect….. I was going to have turquoise painted fingernails as both a reward and reminder of my
    Sobriety but I of course couldn’t paint them until all my chores were done, blah blah blah. I said “fuuuuu-it” and took the photo with my nails hid and played in photoshop to mask the fact that the lighting sucked and voila, I like it.
    Then, like I said, I read this, and it turns out my silly brain has a perfectionist friend, as always. Thanks Belle, I had fun 🙂

  • Do you think that perfectionism et al are a function of over drinking. And the inablity to unwind…..

  • Thanks for the software link. I’m a pretty fair photographer, but never really learned how to do anything with digital photography. (Yeah, I’m old, I had to get it right in the camera with my Minolta SLR) This really resonated with the secondary hobby, though. I do acrylic and watercolor painting, and get SO UPTIGHT about whether it’s good enough….for who? I love these assignments! Although it will always be a photo from me. A painting requires lots of thought, and research, and deciding which medium to use…..You see, I would never get to it.

  • ps are everyone else’s photos getting posted somewhere? … curious about ‘the neighbors’ biggest big ass bubble’ shot. grin. oh, wait, i just reread her post and she didn’t submit.

  • photoshop is the bomb.

    i don’t know if i want to catch up by taking pics of all the assignments or just start w the current one. i have the perfectionism problem too.

    lately the jobs i need to finish are all copies of famous paintings. i should be glad that i have work, though there’s nothing creative at all in copying something.

    i know when i first got the first assignment (from a guy i met through meetings!) i was thinking, oh, great, getting paid to train myself in renaissance painting…

    (i have a degree in medical illustration but that’s my only formal training; if you want to count drawing blood and guts as formal training… i’ve actually been drawing since i was 4)

    but it was/is such a mixed bag. cos the guy made his money from running internet gambling cafes. i don’t know why i can’t separate myself from the thread of discomfort woven in that scenario…

    anyway, none of that is really related to this project, which is terrific. and i like the editing of the photo.

    i’m giggling, which is a lot better than a little earlier today. thanks. 🙂

  • Haha Katherine, I can totally relate to a bleachy house too. I freaked out when we bought a house with a super dooper recycling system on it and bleach is banned! Maybe that’s part of the reason we fall into using booze as our “off switch”. We forget how to just let go and have a bit of fun sometimes. Fun should be our new off switch 🙂

    • Tj…glad to know I’m not alone! I completely used booze as my ‘off switch’. Cleaning always makes me feel like I’m in control of something, when I can’t seem to control the rest of my world. So as I scrub the tub with bleach, I pray/meditate and it usually works for me! I like the idea of finding something fun and childlike to do instead and just let go of all the serious crap like you said! I’m learning to relax and laugh without booze! What do you do for brainless, boozeless fun?

      • The other thing about cleaning is that it changes the energy in a space. you get rid of old stuff, literally and figuratively. decluttering is the fastest way to feel ‘lighter’ that i’ve ever found. not just cleaning, but also getting rid of stuff. just one drawer cleaned can be magical…

  • I was so excited about the photography assignment. (One of my hobbies I put on the back burner ahem.. well you know why).
    1st assignment was easy and spontaneous. The 2nd not so much and I didn’t submit one. Thinking about the perfect shot…. couldn’t find anything spontaneous and I didn’t want to stage it. Huff. lol
    Anyway I’m with my friends kids yesterday and they blowing the biggest – big ass bubble from a homemade bubblemaker (lol) and I just had to chuckle to myself.

    I’m ready for # 3 . Bring it! ::))

  • Ditto ladies! Totally a “reconnection with childlike, spontaneous, joyful fun”! I admit that I did take 15 pictures and got 3 that I liked and then obsessed over which one to send you Belle. Planning the hell out of things can be both positive and negative! Every time we have planned company coming over, I get all bitchy and clean ‘everything’ in sight….by the time the company comes over I am exhausted and smell like bleach! ha ha! The positive side is that the house is clean and the meal is amazing. Time for me to learn to have spontaneous summer fun without wine!

    • oh i definitely take a big bunch of pictures and then narrow it down. but I take them all at the same time, the same day, and then I move on. for this project, at least, I’m done with perfectionism. let’s have a round of fun for everyone!

  • Well this one resonated with me. How to do anything without planning, making everything perfect, doing every chore first? Planning the shit out of it, planning all the fun out of it and, in my case, often planning my way out of the thing entirely. I think it has much to do with needing to be ‘a good girl’ plus the fear of failure, of regret, of not-getting-it-right. It’s almost an OCD behaviour, like checking the door is shut seven times, checking that your keys are in your pocket every two minutes etc etc. It’s about making everything ‘safe’, avoiding risk. But this leads to deadening all the spontaneity, all the life out of everything. We have a lot to learn from children here; they just leap up and do stuff; they don’t stop to check that the weather is right, that they’re wearing the appropriate clothing or that it’s a reasonable time of day to start something. They just ‘do it.’ Somewhere amidst the process of growing up, we lose this skill and we suffer for it. Over-thinking, over-planning, over-rationalising – it’s a bottomless well of anxiety. Perhaps this is where drinking begins – when we feel that only after drinking can we loosen those shackles of inhibition and become ‘fun’ and ‘spontaneous’ and freed up to express ourselves. Rubbish of course; those instincts were always there, we just lost touch with them. Children don’t need to drink to have fun. They don’t pitch up at a recreation ground and think, ‘hmmm, I think I need a vat of wine to enhance this, to let myself have fun’. We need to stop being frightened, OCD Risk Assessment Planners and learn to be big kids having proper big kid fun! That’s why your photography assignment is so brilliant – it’s a re-connection with childlike, spontaneous, joyful fun.