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Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 | Author:

A couple of years ago I was visiting my friend on her night shift at work and she had to leave to go tend to an issue. I sat waiting for her, and while I waited I replied to a friend’s text asking what I was doing with a picture of the barren room: “hanging at my friend’s work. Riveting.”

I was just being sassy, as I tend to be sometimes.

“Bored?” he asked.

It so caught me off guard that I remember it to this day. Because no, I wasn’t bored. I was waiting. Obviously he was just responding to my wording. A sarcastic “riveting” would usually mean “bored” I realized. But it took me by surprise and I had to think for a moment before I responded.

Because this is the thing: I’m not a mother, so I don’t hear the word bored very often. I don’t have children around me who complain of being bored and most of the adult friends I have in my life are productive people with pretty full schedules. I didn’t realize that bored was as much missing from my lifestyle as it was missing from my regular vocabulary.

It reminded me of a time when I was a kid and I heard a friend talk about being bored. Her mom responded saying, “If you guys can’t find something to play, I have lots of chores I can give you to keep you busy.” We found something to play.

I don’t actually recall ever being “bored” in my life except for two instances: one was when I was reading Jane Eyre late at night and was struggling to stay awake because the way she wrote it droned on and on and I declared her style a bit “boring.” And the other was a math class I had in high school where the teacher had incredible monotone-syndrome. But even in that class, we found ways to entertain ourselves (namely, sharing earbuds and listening to Dane Cook while we did our math work).

Aside from that I was always playing something, taking care of responsibilities, coming up with “adventures,” or creating something or another.

And what I’ve learned is that there’s three ways to fight boredom. You can do, create, or consume.

Some people spend entire days watching Netflix. Heck, when I was in college especially, there were many days that we spent in someone’s dorm room watching episode after episode of some show or another. We were not bored, though admittedly we could’ve done more with our time.

But one of the real gifts of my life was when I first lived alone and I didn’t have internet at home.

The internet thing was a decision I made just to save money. But what it ended up doing was making me very comfortable, very content with just being me, just entertaining myself by myself. There was no Netflix or Facebook or any of the other myriad time-fillers I’d been used to in my college days.

Last year around this time I was living alone in a city where I still had literally no friends I hung out with, and I started to make art. More and more art. Art everyday that I wasn’t doing something else. Sometimes I’d consume while I created by watching a movie or the seasons of FRIENDS that I own on DVD, but I continued to create at a rate that I’m actually shocked at when I look back. In the year of 2014 I created over 80 completed art works, when I had done maybe 1-2 in any previous year. Over half of those were done in the first 3 months of the year before I had friends to hang out with.

I also started writing last year regularly. (Oh hey, if you didn’t know, I blog on here every week courtesy of me finding things to do with my time while I lived alone. End of shameless plug.) I’d heard someone say that writing a book is the loneliest thing you’ll ever do, so I thought, “I should start writing, and maybe write a book, because I’m lonely right now anyway.”

But also in living alone I got this gift against boredom: it taught me how to be content and interested when I’m by myself. To be able to sit quietly, and soak in the sun, or hear the birds chirp, or breathe in the steam from a warm cup of coffee. It taught me the joy and the rest in being still without being bored.

Now I’m coming into a busy season of life again and it’s energizing and exciting. But above all the ways my life has taught me how to not be bored, how to make the most of my time, and how to be content with others as we spend time together without grand things to do, I value the lesson I’ve learned about how to enjoy being still and taking a breath perhaps the most. It’s in the busy seasons when it’d be easiest to not do so, but when it’s most refreshing as well.

So, sorry future kids, but you don’t get the option of being bored. I think that will be a main house rule. Life’s too short to squander in boredom.

Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

instagram: @jrolicious         twitter: @jrohanlon

storyofjoblog@gmail.com
Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 | Author:

My favorite things about summer. A list. (Kind of.)

1. When the earth bakes and becomes hard and smooth. I remember being a kid, running down the worn footpath down the length of our yard all through the spring, getting my feet muddy. And then the summer would come and slowly bake it into a smooth, perfect tread way for my bare feet. That is still one of my favorite feelings in the world — my bare feet on a worn, smooth, dry summer path.

2. Blackberries. Blackberries in the yard, on my runs, in cobblers, in syrups on my pancakes, in my smoothies. Give me all the blackberries and I will enjoy every last one.

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3. Ice cream.

4. Exploring. in back yards, parks, cities, wherever.

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5. Waking up early for things like travel, camping, events, runs, adventures. I like those cool, soft-bright hours of the leafy summer days.

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6. Summer evenings when the breeze blows and the sun sets and the mosquitos bite and the burgers taste just right when you’re outside.

7. Boats. Lakes. Rivers. Pools. Oceans. Sand. Tossled hair that has no business being in public but it’s ok because it’s summer. The smell of sunscreen. The taste of salty chips and pretzels when you’ve been out in the sun for a long time.

8. Swim suits. On my body at some point most days.

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9. Seeing families out together doing things like getting fro yo in the evenings.

10. Picnics.

11. Slurpees. I don’t think I will ever outgrow them.

12. Sleeping well with the windows open and the breeze blowing in.

13. Farmers markets. Fresh produce. Vendors. Busy-ness. Milling about with lots of others enjoying the outdoors, and the fact that we have so many good fresh food options available to us right beside all of the prepared deliciousness of Ethiopian, gyros, and more.

14. Farmers market flowers. A bunch of incredibly beautiful sunflowers for $5? Don’t mind if I do.

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15. Avocados.

16. Reading books that feel a little too “light” reading for other times of the year.

17. Sunsets. Gorgeous Sunsets.

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18. Walks. I walk all through the year,  but I love when it’s light so late that I have the time to run or walk for long periods of time even after work if I want to. Other people are also more likely to join me on walks in the summer, I’ve found.

19. Shorts. Tank tops. Dresses. Sandals (or better yet, bare feet). I was made for this.

20. My birthday! I’ve always LOVED having a summer birthday. Because usually I try to incorporate as many of the above items into my celebrating as possible. My favorite things on my day.

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Joanna O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

instagram: @jrolicious         twitter: @jrohanlon


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