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Hobbies Of The Heart
Stuff ‘N Nonsense 12-13-23
Kim Van Meter

Confession: I don’t know how to relax.

Or at least, I don’t know how to stereotypically relax.

I can’t sit in a mud pit with cucumbers on my eyes without fighting suffering soul-crushing boredom.

Staring at the ocean for longer than five minutes does nothing for my mental health, but it does remind me that it’s full of creatures that want to eat me.

I don’t enjoy hiking; I’m bound to trip on something at some point because I have poor spatial awareness and I get lost easily.

I used to read voraciously but now it’s part of my job and it feels like work (that actually breaks my heart a bit).

I hate baths for a myriad of reasons but mostly because you’re basically marinating in a human soup of your own filth.

In the summer, I can float in the pool for about ten minutes before my internal timer goes off and I’m ready to get out.

I don’t like any domestic labor — cooking, cleaning and other household chores feels like prison — and anyone who vacuums to relax needs more therapy than me.

So, how do I decompress after pushing myself to manage insane deadlines for my career where I juggle five pen names, and freelance a number of jobs?

It may seem like more work, but I create things like calendars, ornaments, notebooks, color books, mugs, and now, my most recent obsession: goth baby diaper bags.

I find satisfaction and joy in creating things that others might enjoy or find useful. My first mug order tickled me in ways I hadn’t anticipated and then I became addicted to the process.

I come from a family of creative people. Both of my grandmothers shared artistic and creative dreams in their private heart of hearts, but life took them in different directions. My mother was graced with a beautiful singing voice and could draw but artistic gifts have to be nurtured to flourish and sometimes that’s just not possible.

Perhaps that’s why I’m driven to follow wherever my muse leads me — to honor the sacrifice of those before me who weren’t offered the luxury of cultivating their gifts.

I love my career and I’m blessed to do what I do. I have a robust publishing schedule and exciting projects slated.

But my hobbies have returned the color to my life that I’d been sorely missing.

So, this Christmas, if you get something from my Etsy shop just know that it was created with far more joy than anything I could’ve picked up at a retail shop and represents so much more in my heart.

Happy holidays — and don’t forget to find time to relax.


Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide a monthly column. She can be reached at