How could we forget Mr. Rogers iconic saying, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”  I watched that show as a child, and was mesmerized by the train in his house, his kitchen, the decor, the guests, you name it.  But that saying really sticks with me, and probably many of you.  Why?

As I child I yelled out an emphatic YES to the question because I wanted to spend time watching his show–and probably unconsciously learning new things, something I still love to do today.  Many decades later this manifests itself to me as COMMUNITY, one of my core values.  Literally, neighbors are in your community.  But you could ask that question of anyone, anywhere, just like Mr. Rogers did, and create a community.  My strong belief is that when you are part of a community, life is happier, struggles are met head on, and you know you have people that are there for you.  This past week I had 2 “neighbors” reinforce my love of community.

Last week I wrote about the loves of my life, and one is craft beer.  And as I said, I love to drink it, but it is the friends I’ve made and the acquaintances I have met in the craft beer community that really endear me to it.  Ironically, both of my neighbors are part of this community.

Neighbor 1 – “Neil”(I have changed his name to protect the innocent, LOL).  He told me a tale that so closely resonated with mine, that I couldn’t help feel a connection.  Last year he quit his “real” job and set out to build a new career in the craft beer business.  This took his wife quite by surprise, and they decided he would have a year to make a go of it.  Well, the year is up, and he realized that he could not currently build a career out of it and pay the bills, so he is currently looking to find a “real” job.  One that has things like benefits, paid time off, a reliable salary, etc.  He seemed so sad.  I tried to assure him that he could continue to be a part of that community even if he didn’t do it full time.  He wasn’t so sure  – it would depend on the demands of his new job.  I could totally relate.

A kindred spirit.  Someone else who had pursued their dream only to find out it wasn’t the right path at the right time.  That all those stories of people turning their hobbies into gold were far away from our personal truth.  I really believe he will stay connected with the industry in some form or fashion, and I told him that.  I wanted to give him the hope that I had struggled to find for myself.  I wanted to help out a fellow dream-seeker who experienced the harsh reality that is our life.  I hope I helped.

Neighbor 2 – Amy.  While I was still shifting through my stages of grief, I got an interesting message from my friend Amy.  I met her through Cincinnati Girls Pint Out a year or so ago, and she has become a wonderful source of laughter, support, and friendship.  Her message was a link to an article called “The Modern Trap of Turning  Hobbies into Hustles” by Molly Conway.

The following quotes from the article really struck me:

“You don’t have to monetize your joy.”

“But even those who are commercially successful in creative fields often lament the disconnect between what it is like to do their jobs and how society views their life and work. Adam J. Kurtz, author of Things Are What You Make of Them has rewritten the maxim for modern creatives: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life work super fucking hard all the time with no separation or any boundaries and also take everything extremely personally.” Which, aside from being relatable to anyone who has tried to make money from something they truly care about, speaks to an underrepresented truth: those with passion careers can have just as much career anxiety as those who clock in and out of the mindless daily grind.”

“…it’s just to say that it’s okay to love a hobby the same way you’d love a pet; for its ability to enrich your life without any expectation that it will help you pay the rent.”

“But if we choose to capitalize on all of our resources, when do we get to choose ourselves?”

WHAT?  It was like I was having a conversation with the author about everything I was feeling about my hobbies and school, and she just laid it out for me.  What I really love to do is LEARN.  So I take a lot of classes, and I learn about a lot of stuff.  Does that mean I have to make a business out of everything I learn?

In the past I was a fitness instructor, I taught a variety of classes, and I made money at it.  Not a lot, but some.  What I loved about it was not only did I get to work out, but I got to bring my love of exercise to others and see how proud of themselves they were for showing up and finishing the class.

Whoa.  I just realized my real joy comes from teaching others the things I have learned.  It was fun to learn how to teach Spinning, weight lifting, or yoga classes, but what was REALLY the bees knees was teaching it to OTHERS.  I need to spend some time contemplating this in light of all that I am learning now, or even in the past.  But first, let me finish up this blog!

What does all this mean for you?

  1. Have a hobby that brings you pure joy and do it for you.
  2. If you need a neighbor, find one.
  3. If you see someone in need of one, ask the question–Won’t you be my neighbor?
  4. Find your neighbors and build or join a community–the benefits are amazing.
  5. And if you have an awesome hobby that you have monetized and love? Great – I am probably buying what you are selling!

I believe that my time will come, my path will be revealed, and my purpose realized.  Until then, I plan to keep learning, and, you never know, maybe start teaching??  Hmmm.

I am always asking, won’t you be my neighbor?  If you need a neighbor, please contact me. 

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