I’ve always wanted to find a hobby ever since I was a kid. I liked the idea of being good at something and having something to call your own. I tried journaling but had trouble sticking to the daily commitment and I tried reading but fell asleep every time I started. As I began high school and later college, I became way too busy with school and extra curricular activities to take up any hobbies. It wasn’t until I graduated, moved to a new place, and was completely alone that I had time. I had so much time that I looked desperately for a hobby or anything to fill it. It was during this time that I started pursuing my MBA. My mom advised me that now was the time to “keep going” with my education. I only had myself to worry about so it really was the perfect time. When I began my classes, I still felt that I needed a hobby, something outside of work and school. Something I could do to give my mind a “rest.” I tried a gym membership and I tried crocheting but neither stuck. In the next year or so, outside of work, classes became my priority. My mind’s “free time” became Netflix and hanging out with friends and my hobby search took a back seat.
On Christmas Eve 2015, Nikko proposed. For the next year, the time that was not being invested in homework would soon be consumed with wedding planning. I had dreams of the grandeur that came with planning a wedding but it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong – it was fun and exciting at first! But as it got closer to the wedding, it got overwhelmingly stressful to plan every little detail, in addition to seeing the savings account, which I had nurtured from my first couple years of work, go right down the drain. In the interest of having some savings left at the end of it all, in my spare time, I would peruse Pinterest and Instagram for DIY wedding ideas. It was during one of these social media searches that I came across a watercolor hand-lettering account. It was the first I had seen anything like it and I was immediately captivated. I started Googling how to hand letter and decided to give it a try myself. I remember starting out with the golden rule of hand lettering: “Thick on the downstrokes, thin on the upstrokes.” I knew that if I could get to be at least mediocre with this, I could use my skills to save money with place cards and addressing invitations, maybe even make my own programs and chalkboard signs! I went to Michael’s and got a small watercolor set, a mixed media notebook, and my first set of Faber Castell pens. This was the beginning of what has now been a year-and-a-half-long captivation with this hobby. I had finally found it.
A year and a half later, I have taken my hobby to new levels. I have taken classes with lettering pros, started up a blooming business and have even built my own lettering workspace into our apartment. I’m proud of how far I’ve come and so thankful for all that this hobby has taught me. Here are some of my reflections on what calligraphy is to me:
A sense of purpose. In former blog posts, I’ve discussed my internal struggle with having my career take a back seat to that of my husband. To be frank, it’s not the taking the “back seat” that’s an issue. It’s more like not having a career at all. My career is something that I really pride myself in. I like being able to contribute financially to our family. I like seeing a product on shelf knowing that I had a hand in its creation. After talking to many a mentor about this struggle, they’ve all commonly found that their career does not define them nor is it the source of their happiness. While I’m slowly coming to accept this through prayer and reflection, calligraphy has also allowed me to cope. It has shown me that I have other talents besides my career. It has shown me that I have accomplishments to be proud of outside of the workplace. If I can’t serve others through my career, I can continue to serve others through calligraphy, wherever we happen to be stationed in the world.
A stress reliever. It has helped me through and through to relieve stress. I’ve seen it throughout the course of my wedding planning and even after a rough day at work. Something about it takes my mind off of the chaos of life around me focusing solely on the careful detail and delicacy that goes into every letter. Hours pass in what seems like minutes and it becomes a form of meditation for me. I know it will be my saving grace keeping me busy when we are separated during deployments to come.
A bonding experience. Taking up calligraphy has created a bonding experience for Nikko and myself. He has supported me like no other from helping me put together my workspace in the apartment to erasing pencil marks and tying bows. He offers honest feedback and cheers me on when nothing I write seems to be good enough. He often tells me how proud he is of me and is always trying to find ways to expand my small business and spread word about my talent.
Something to aspire to. Every letter I write is a part of a collective piece. Some pieces take hours while some take days. Practice gets repetitive and sometimes it’s frustrating. There’s a lot of erasing and a lot of wasted paper behind each final piece. But when a project is complete, there is an unmatched sense of pride and joy. This is something that has rang true from day one. Looking back at some of my practice sheets from April 2016 (when I first began), it is evident just how much I have improved, but the feeling of joy when I finish a project remains the same as when I first started. This feeling is addictive and keeps me practicing to get better and better at my hobby.
Whatever your hobby may be, I hope it brings you the same joy and sense of purpose that calligraphy brings me. If you have yet to find one, don’t go looking. It will come to you when you least expect it. It will be something that you are passionate about and thus linked to your life’s purpose. And finally and foremost, if your spouse has a hobby they are passionate about, support them in any way possible. Be their biggest cheerleader. It can only make your marriage stronger.