Things to Do Besides Shopping – Cultivating New Hobbies and Pastimes

Before I dive into today’s topic, I want to thank all those who took the time to either comment on my last post or send me personal messages.  I appreciate all of the kind words and helpful suggestions I have received and I feel blessed to have such a compassionate and generous group of readers.   Due to the sheer volume of comments, I probably won’t be able to respond to each one individually, but please know that I am extremely grateful to everyone who took the time to write to me.  It truly means a lot to me that you care so much about me and my well-being.   I will respond to as many of you as I can in the coming days.

I would like to continue on the topic of hobbies and pastimes today.   I was originally going to share a new interest I’ve recently started to explore, but since I received so many wonderful ideas for new activities, I thought I’d share some of them here first.  I know that not everyone reads the comments on this blog, but so many great suggestions were offered to me that I’d like to pass them along. I know many of you also wrestle with ways to spend your time besides shopping, so perhaps some of the possibilities below will resonate with you.   I will share my new hobby in a post next week (and yes, it’s included on the list below).

There are So Many Things to Do Besides Shopping

New hobbies

Painting is just one idea for a new hobby you could pursue. 

I wasn’t kidding when I said that I was flooded with ideas!   Some of the suggestions I was given were things I’d thought of before, while others were brand new to me.   Over time, I will definitely try at least a few of these great ideas and I will be sure to share my experiences with you.

I have broken the suggestions down into categories to make it easier for you to peruse the list.  If you’re like me and struggling to find ways to spend your free time and meet new people, I suggest that you select three to five possibilities and explore them one at a time. That’s what I intend to do and I’m excited to try some new things and report back.

Creative Pursuits

  • Cooking
  • Painting
  • Pottery
  • Printmaking
  • Sewing, knitting, or crocheting
  • Craft projects (such as making cards)
  • Scrapbooking
  • Journaling
  • Poetry
  • Photography and photo editing (maybe start a daily “sparks joy” photograph project)
  • Trying out new hairstyles or make-up (watch YouTube videos for ideas)
  • Making jewelry
  • Writing classes (or alternate writing projects besides blogging)
  • Adult coloring books (apparently, these are big in the UK – new to me!)
  • Music lessons (piano, guitar, voice, etc.)
  • Take an art class (in person or through com)
  • Making models or building model airplanes, kites, or birdhouses
  • Home improvement projects

Volunteer Work (check out Volunteer Match for ideas in US cities)

  • Shelving books at a library
  • Organizing at a food bank
  • Hospital volunteering
  • Socializing animals at a shelter or breeder
  • Speaking to young girls about clothes, style, and color
  • Tutoring
  • Helping women with clothes through Dress for Success (they have worldwide chapters) or a similar organization
  • Administrative work for non-profits
  • Join your neighborhood association (they often need help with “beautification” projects)

Outdoor / Athletic Activities

  • Gardening (there are gardening groups and clubs to possibly join)
  • Dance class (Zumba is one idea)
  • Walking (you can even join a walking group)
  • Hiking
  • Yoga classes
  • Tai chi
  • Water aerobics
  • Bird watching (or other naturalistic activities like mushroom or fossil hunting)

Spiritual Activities

Other Ideas

  • Take a class in an area that interests you
  • Reading (perhaps join a book club through the library)
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Learn a foreign language
  • Visiting museums
  • Go to plays or concerts
  • Get a dog or puppy (you’ll be involved in training and the regular walks will get you outdoors)
  • Traveling (even day trips)
  • Join a Meetup group (see for groups in your area – you can start a group, too!)

Food for Thought

I hope this post has provided some food for thought for those of you who are looking for new things to do besides shopping.   While the list above is quite extensive, it’s certainly not complete.  There are many more options available to us and we are really only limited by our imaginations.

Looking at the wonderful list of ideas, I see many that would appeal to me.   I am always concerned with how I might feel physically at any given time, but I see lots of possibilities that don’t have to be tied to a rigid schedule.   And many of the available options may involve meeting new people and being more social.

Some Perspective on the Comment

Before I sign off for today, I want to make a few key points.   For one, the quote I referenced in my last post was not directed toward me personally. Rather, it related to shopaholics in general and I saw myself in it.   A few of you made some really good points in relation to that quote, however.  You said that it was judgmental and unduly harsh, which is definitely true.

Grechen (of Grechen’s Closet, one of my favorite blogs) really said it better than I could in her comment on my last post.  For some much-needed perspective on the topic, here are a few excerpts of what she had to say:

I agree that unhealthy shopping (shopping to fulfill a deep emotional need, and buying what you cannot afford) can potentially be a sign of a relatively “empty” life, but it’s not always the case.”

“Fashion & shopping are easy targets because they’re mostly seen as frivolous and self-involved. People love to pick on us – those of us who love clothes & shopping – because they can’t understand why we care so much, or would want to spend $x on “just clothes.”

“If you filled in “shopping” with any other hobby like reading, gardening, racing, gaming, etc., would we feel so guilty about engaging in it? Like “Seriously, they’re just books, how empty must your life be if reading is your only hobby?”  Can you imagine anyone saying that? And if they did, we’d say, so what? Because reading is a “lofty” endeavor, as opposed to shopping…”

“This is a long way to say that we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about doing what we love, whatever that may be. And it’s certainly no one else’s business what our hobbies are.”

I wholeheartedly agree, Grechen!   I don’t plan to stop having shopping be a hobby.  I enjoy it and shouldn’t have to apologize for that.  But I do want to integrate some additional hobbies and interests into my life and find new ways of meeting other people.  I just want to put shopping more into balance in my life.

On the Topic of Balance…

Speaking of balance, Louise posted this wonderful quote that I’d like to share with all of you:

Balancing Act: Every day, do something physical, something pleasurable, something intellectual and something for someone else.  It will bring balance to your life.”

I love that.  I think that following this formula on a daily basis would lead to a balanced life, and a balanced life is often a happier life.   There are hobbies and pastimes (many of which are referenced in this post) that could fit into each of the areas referenced in the quote.    So if like me, you’re looking for more balance in your life, integrating new interests could be a step in the right direction.

Stay tuned to read more about my journey toward a fuller and more balanced life in the coming weeks and months.   I will continue to write about wardrobe management, personal style, and shopping-related topics as well.  I’m not changing the direction of this blog, so you don’t have to worry about that.  There will just be more full life posts added into the mix.   I hope that what I write about will continue to resonate with you and inspire you to make changes in your lives as well.   Thank you for your belief in me, your encouragement, and your support.  It means a great deal to me.

31 thoughts on “Things to Do Besides Shopping – Cultivating New Hobbies and Pastimes

  1. Ahh! Brava Gretchen! I can’t stand stuff directed at making people feel bad about themselves and reeking of snobbishness to boot.

  2. I LOVE clothes and I used to like to “shop” to find new stuff for my closet. But no longer; in fact, not for years and years. The problem with “shopping” is that some people buy stuff they don’t need and may never wear (or only wear a few times) because they already have a closet full of clothes. It’s not the shopping, it’s the over-consumption that’s worrisome.

    But some people have a kitchen filled with gadgets they’ll never use or a fridge filled with food they’ll never eat or a garage filled with tools and “toys for boys” they don’t need or they have rooms full of books they’ll never read. There’s lots of areas where people “over-consume” and can’t seem to get a handle on this behavior. Not many people scoff at the man with 3-4 drills (“but they all do something different!”) and so on. We are encouraged daily to consume and over-consume. Perhaps, with all those fashion mags and blogs and ads and so on, women are more vulnerable to the siren song of the mall.

    I think when you focus on personal style, it’s easier to cut through all the noise and to ignore large parts of what the fashion industry is peddling. Fashion is transitory and mass-produced; personal style is individual and hand-crafted from wisdom, experience, and honesty.

    • You are so right, Dottie, that the over-consumption is what is really the problem, no matter what the object(s) in question. I really like your last statement on the difference between fashion and personal style, too!

  3. Lovely post, hope you are feeling much better! This is a great resource- perhaps you should add it to your resources page?

    For social interaction, me and two friends are spending one day each weekend for the next couple weeks helping each other out with gardening/projects/etc. It’s so fun, we all have dinner after (or start with breakfast), and we get stuff done that would take three times as long!

    • Excellent idea to add this to the resources page, Meli! I really want to expand upon that page (and possibly divide into several pages with different focuses) and this would make a new addition. I love the plan you have with your two friends. What a great way to combine chores with fun and socializing.

  4. This is a great post! I hope you feel better.

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned or if you’re physically up to it but have you thought of diving?
    My parents moved to New-Caledonia for my dad’s job and it has been hard on my mom, to leave her friends and family after living most of her life in France. Luckily she found a group of other expatriates and together they paint, hike, read, have dinner at one another’s, etc, and my dad convinced her to give diving a try and now they dive together with other people from the diving club. They can go when they feel up to it, there’s no imposed day or anything. My mom discovered a new passion for corals and colored fishes and she makes paintings out of it. My dad is also talking about traveling to Jamaica with his cousin (who is passionate about diving) to dive there!
    I can’t wait to hear about your new hobby!

    • No, I hadn’t thought about diving, Cedrique, but it’s an intriguing idea. I will add that to my things to try when I’m feeling better list (notice I wrote WHEN and not IF!). I love that diving has become such a great passion for your parents and something they can share with each other and other family members.

  5. Thanks for summarizing all of the suggestions that were made in the comments. I just want to add that any interest can be made social – there are groups for everything! I happen to like reading murder mysteries and have been delving into offshoots of the Sherlock Holmes stories told from different perspectives. Well there is a local chapter of Sherlock Holmes fans, conferences, etc. Looking forward to hearing about what you have chosen for a hobby.

    • Very great point, Juhli! There are probably more clubs and groups for various interests than most of us are aware of. If there is a local chapter in your area for Sherlock Holmes fans (which seems a bit obscure), there are probably groups for many of the things that we’re all passionate about (besides shopping, of course). Thanks for chiming in with this, as it will likely prompt people to look around.

  6. I love the full life posts. They’re always my favorite. I’m looking forward to hearing about your new hobby and hope that you share your other experiences in trying out new hobbies with us.
    Now that I’m not doing it in such a compulsive way, I enjoy shopping again. I like putting on an outfit that I feel good in. I don’t feel lame caring about clothing. I think Dottie was spot on when she said it’s about over-consumption. It didn’t matter if I bought clothes, makeup, home decor, books…none of it filled me up because it was always about the buying, not the doing. I know someone who buys tons of scrapbooking and card making supplies, but rarely scrapbooks or makes a card. My dad used to buy fishing stuff until the basement was filled with it and only went fishing once or twice a year. I think if most of the time and energy put into something is about the acquiring and almost none is put into using what’s been bought (wearing the clothes, making the card, or going fishing), THAT’S what feels so empty.
    In your last post you said that clothes can’t fix what’s wrong inside, that they don’t have that power. I think that’s true of anything that’s outside of us, it needs to come from the inside.

    • That was me regarding card making. I spent a small fortune on buying the stuff to make cards and hardly made any. It was all about the buying. I did the same with scrapbooking and notebooks.

      Now I have found out that ‘I’ don’t actually need to do something creative, it was just blogs and books that told me I should. My creative outlet is used perfectly well in organising my closet and gardening.

      You know, sometimes we just have to get off the ‘should’ bus!! 🙂

    • I’m glad you liked this post, Tonya. You made an excellent point about the compulsiveness being the problem, not the buying. That really resonated with me and has applied to me with other things besides clothes, including books, make-up, hair products, cards, and various other things. I am usually much happier if I buy less and use it right away. For me, shopping was always more about the acquiring, which is often why I bought so many similar things that I rarely wore. I still buy more than I need sometimes, but I’m glad to be enjoying more of my things instead of just buying them.

      Saltbox you are right about getting off the “should” bus. I’ve been a charter passenger for too many years. We have to do what resonates best with us!

  7. Debbie, may beauty and stress-free thoughts surround you, and thank you for including Gretchen’s comment. And Gretchen thank you for writing this. Last night I sat up late thinking about my high interest in clothes. I’ve loved clothing and fabric since early childhood. As a child my favorite make-believe game was playing dress-up, and my favorite toy was my Betsy McCall Fashion Designer Lighted Desk. I sat content for hours creating my own paper dolls and designing their clothing and experimenting with colors and shapes. My entire life my high interest in clothing can be counted as one of my favorite hobbies. It’s not my only hobby, I have plenty of other high interest hobby/activities, and I am never at a loss of what to do with my time. BUT I’ve always been ashamed of my high interest in clothes, as if it were something bad that needed to be kept a secret.
    Yet not anymore. Debbie thank you for the post “Is Shopping Your Only Hobby.” From here on I will include clothing as one of my hobbies. I’m one of those people who do not need to own or buy everything I like. I “love” having a small wardrobe, and that fact alone keeps me from over-buying. Yet I enjoy taking my time, looking, and thinking before I make a clothing purchase. I enjoy the process. It’s the same as I enjoy the process of discovering which books to check out from the library. Or reading cook books and deciding what I’d like to make for dinner. Or spending time enjoying the process of deciding what to plant in the garden. Or researching ideas for writing projects and workshop topics I’d like to present. I have decided that those people who make a “hobby of judging others” can call me shallow if they want. I’m no longer hiding in the shadows, I’m coming out of the closet to claim myself. I am a bookish woman who also happens to have a high interest in clothing.

    • are we twins Terra?? 🙂 i have other hobbies also, besides shopping, i’m a voracious reader, and love to be outside as much as possible. but clothes, shopping, personal style, and thinking about why we wear what we do, is such a passion of mine, that i also made it my career – which i did feel sometimes ashamed of in the beginning, but after 10 years and personal success, i am proud of what i’ve done with my “hobby” –

      yay for coming out of the “closet” and taking ownership of your love of clothes! it’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of…

      • We’re twins Gretchen. I too am a great fan of being outside and I’m a voracious reader, and is one of my favorite reads in the clothing genre. Love how you (and Debbie Roes) have turned a hobby into a career. I’ve been writing and publishing for about 30 years, and the handful essays and articles I’ve published on the topic of clothing was a great leap of faith for me. I had to reach deep to find the courage to write those pieces and expose myself. I felt naked. Which is why I so admire Debbie. She bares her soul as she grows and learns, and in the process countless readers are informed and lifted. And I’m thankful for you Gretchen, for helping me discover that a clothing blog is indeed a worthy read.

    • I will join the love-fest here and say thank you to both of you, Terra and Grechen. You have both impacted me greatly through the wonderful words of wisdom you’ve shared. And you have convinced me that I don’t need to be ashamed of having shopping and clothes as a dearly loved hobby of mine. There is nothing wrong with it! I will keep shopping and clothing as a hobby and just work in some new passions so that I feel more balanced.

      Yes, Terra, I’m good at baring my soul, aren’t I? I haven’t always been, though. I just got tired of hiding all the time and trying to be something I’m not. I still need to work at being more open in my “real life” (which also needs to expand quite a bit, as I’ve mentioned), but being honest here on the blog has been a wonderful place for me to begin to embrace my true self. I know that not everyone will embrace me in every setting, but they don’t have to. I know that no one can please everyone, but I’m grateful to have such a supportive group of readers who cheer me on at every pass. Thank you, Terra, Grechen, and all those who embrace me for who I am.

      • Debbie, this is your “real” life. You began with openness and honesty in your public life and it connects with your private life. And now that I’ve claimed clothing as one of my hobbies I feel free, free enough to claim another hobby I privately enjoy, watching Super Soul Sunday for an hour on Sunday mornings. And this morning I was reminded of something hugely important – shame (and guilt) takes a toll on our physical well being. The chemical shame produces actually lodges in our body.

        Dottie, thank you for posting the link to: Who Made Your Clothes?

        My small wardrobe contains a few key Pantagonia and Eileen Fisher pieces that I wear weekly on a regular basis. I would rather have less clothes (way less clothes) and feel good about what I’m wearing and how it is produced, and yet other than here on this blog I seldom tell anyone because when I have I’ve received flak. Yet somehow through your past two posts, along readers comments, I’ve been able to let go my fear and misery of being judged by others. You can check back in with me in a few months and see how I’m doing, though I feel a giant break-though has taken place for me.

      • You’re right that this is my real life, Terra. It’s all part of my life and I treasure the online connections I have made with you and others. I’m glad you have been able to claim another new hobby. I love Super Soul Sunday and often record the episodes and watch them later. I’m glad these last two posts have been impactful for you. Letting go of the fear of being judged by others can be a very powerful thing. I’m still working on it and it’s happened in layers for me. I think I’m ready to peel the next layer away, too. Please let us all know how this is going for you later down the line. Congrats on your breakthrough!

  8. Debbie– I haven’t been able to get your last post out of my mind and am so glad to read today’s post! I also came to the conclusion that it would be good to have some other hobbies but I can’t be totally down on myself for shopping. I am working on the recovery and balance and feel triumphant every time I leave a website without buying something or a store empty handed. Over time, I know that feeling will become greater and will overcome the urge to buy mindlessly. Your blog is terrific and I really appreciate you sharing your struggles with us. I so enjoy having less in my closet (and not feeling overwhelmed when I open the door). Progress not perfection! Hope you’re feeling better, Beth

    • Thank you for your kind words, Beth. I’m glad my blog and my last post have been impactful for you. You should definitely feel proud of yourself for every time you don’t buy what you don’t need or love. It’s all baby steps and we should pat ourselves on the back for each bit of progress we make. There are usually some ups and downs, but we DO get stronger. Congrats on the positive steps you’ve taken thus far and keep up the great work!

  9. A lot of women’s hobbies – cooking, fashion, etc. – are considered frivolous and wasteful. Sports and cars are not, ‘cos men like them. Just sayin’.

    • Amen, Nutrivore! All hobbies (as long as they don’t hurt others, of course) are valid and worthwhile.

  10. Loved the “Is Shopping Your Only Hobby?” post and all the great suggestions. Thanks so much for consolidating all of them in this post today. I would like to try quite a few of them in the next few months and can’t wait to hear how it goes with whichever one you’ve chosen.

    In the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten into meditation. I never, ever even wanted to attempt it because I used to be an adrenaline junkie and didn’t want to slow down. BUT, with the app Headspace I have found I am able to meditate and actually enjoy it. There is a free 10-session trial you can do online to see if you like it. If you decide you want to subscribe, here’s a code for 1/2 off the subscription price: EVENMOREHEADSPACE. I’m not affiliated in any way with them. I just love the voice of Andy, the guy who leads the meditations.

    • Thanks so much for sharing about the meditation app, Kim. I am someone who always keeps meaning to try meditation but never does. I do think it could be beneficial for me, so I may have to try it and write about it here. How great that you are enjoying meditation now! I’m glad you liked this consolidation post. I loved the ideas so much that I really wanted to make sure everyone saw them.

  11. As we ponder the 45th anniversary of Earth Day (April 22, but celebrated in some places today, April 25, with community events), we might also consider the hidden global impact of “fast fashion” and over-consumption of clothing, especially clothes made in sweatshops around the world. I hope Debbie will allow me to add this link to a recent article about the growing trend for “slow fashion” :

    By buying fewer, higher quality clothes we can increase the cost per wear of our garments. This is tough if you’re on a budget, but it’s do-able if you work from a wardrobe plan and a budget. And, as Debbie has suggested, you can then use the time you would have been shopping to do something that will benefit you or your community.

    • Thanks for raising this important topic, Dottie. I was happy to allow the link to the article on “slow fashion,” as it provides valuable food for thought for us all. I haven’t written much about the impact of “fast fashion” recently, but it’s a very important topic. I think most people have no idea how their clothes are made and how it impacts the planet and the garment workers. When I read “Overdressed” two years ago, it was really an eye-opener. I still buy too much, but I’m headed in the right direction and I know my cost-per-wear has gone way down. Progress, not perfection, as I’ve often said…

  12. As an enthusiastic shopper I would recommend hobbies that are social, because they give you someplace to wear all those outfits you’ve been acquiring with the idea that you’ll wear it here or there in mind.

    It strikes me that for many of us shopping is a solitary activity – so hobbies that bring people into our lives will be more fulfilling.

    • You’re very right, Ginger. I think I deluded myself that shopping was social, but it’s really not. It can FEEL social, but the interactions are generally quite shallow and one-sided. I definitely want to adopt some more social hobbies. Some may be more solitary or a mixed bag and that’s okay, but I know I need at least one or two new outlets for interacting with others.

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