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Lifelong learning, lifelong happiness

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Sometimes, it feels as if there are not enough hours in the day. I particularly feel this way after a long day at work, or a busy weekend full of housework and errands. And when this happens, I usually find myself lounging on the couch for hours watching the television. I’m glad to have some rest, but still feeling slightly unproductive. Though I can be running around for what seems like all day, when I finally get free time I sometimes wish I did something for me, something I truly enjoy. It’s a feeling that I desire that I am not sure HGTV completely provides.

Here in Fort Collins, we have so many opportunities to pursue our interests. And it is well worth taking advantage of these opportunities. Doing a quick Google search on “benefits of hobbies” generates tons of articles, all praising the positive aspects of pursuing our interests. You can probably imagine what the list might be: hobbies reduce stress, lower blood pressure, stimulate brain activity and thus improving memory and concentration, and simply just have general health benefits. And there are many things you can do to receive these benefits, whether you enjoy nature, art, music, or crafts.

For me, I feel like I am improving myself every time that I learn something. The knowledge that comes from even the smallest things, like learning about a new animal in one of our natural areas, make me feel like I have accomplished something. It is important to always be challenging ourselves to do new things, and learn new things. Working your mind is not just about being healthy; it is about feeling enriched personally. So when you think about your “me time,” when you do get it, what do you do that is really for you? And let’s be clear, checking email does not really count as a hobby, though it can keep you in touch with friends and family. Doing what you love is essential, and being able to use your time outside of work to explore those things that you love is very rewarding.

On March 1, the City of Fort Collins released the Spring 2010 Recreator, a comprehensive guide to recreational activities in Fort Collins. Here you will find ways to engage in whatever it is you love, from sports to arts to cooking to pretty much anything else you can think of. Special programs are available for youth and seniors as well. At the moment the Recreator is only available online, but you can begin signing up for classes on March 11.

While the Recreator will give you more than enough classes and activities to fill your time, there are many other opportunities to suit your needs throughout Fort Collins. It is all a matter of looking and asking. Art galleries and studios often hold their own classes (the Center for Fine Art Photography, for example, holds regular workshops and the Colorado Coalition of the Arts has a lecture series). Depending upon your interests, you can call up a group associated with your field and it is likely that they will have class, workshops, lectures, and events available (Try the Northern Colorado Writers Studio if you’re literary or the Gardens on Spring Creek if you are into cultivating). With just a little research, you can find groups that love the same things as you do. This is another way that we can be enriched by our hobbies: through community interaction.

I know the couch is tempting, and at times it is even necessary for a bit of relaxation. But we all need something that is our own, something that improves us and enhances us. What will you do to get out and explore your hobbies in Fort Collins? Spread the word about great classes and activities to get everyone involved!