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From rapping to raising goats, you've got some wonderful hobbies

Johnny Tang break dancing.
Johnny Tang
Johnny Tang break dancing.

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Everyone has something they're really, really into. Maybe it's a popular hobby, like gardening, knitting, or gaming. Or maybe it's something unique — like raising goats or making cheese.

In late June, we asked NPR's readers and listeners to share what they're really into and why it brings them joy. More than 1,500 of you responded.

You shared your passions, what brings you joy and fills up your spare time. If you need a new hobby, here are a few unconventional ideas.

Reader submissions have been edited for clarity and length.


Halloween haunted attractions

Bill Duchesneau at Rhode Island ComicCon in 2019 as part of "Zombie Leader," a fundrasier group for leukemia research,
/ Christopher Wetherell Photography
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Christopher Wetherell Photography
Bill Duchesneau at Rhode Island ComicCon in 2019 as part of "Zombie Leader," a fundrasier group for leukemia research,

"I used to play in bands. One October, the whole band went to visit the big Haunted attraction "Spooky World." I absolutely loved it. The next year, I got a job working there. 22 years later, I've worked for a dozen different venues, traveled around the country, taught classes, and even got featured on NPR'S Sunday morning show.

A good friend of mine said, "Christmas is for family.Halloween is for the whole community," and that's very true. It is art on every level, acting, makeup, theatrics, scenic design, music. Literally everything. Every year I tell the new hires, 'Look around you. Get a good look, because you are looking at your new best friends. You are only going to see each other for maybe a few hours for the next couple of weekends, but by the second week of November, you will be missing them all like a heart break.'

In short, on the outside it looks like a freakshow ... but behind the curtain is the most loving, accepting community you'll ever find."

–Bil Duchesneau, Southeastern Massachusetts


Break dancing

"I first started break dancing in high school at age 16. What started as a way to look cool and meet girls, quickly became an obsession I'd ignore girls for. All it took was one move.

I was first exposed to live break dancing at a school Asian night my freshman year. I saw what would eventually become my crewmates performing, and thought they sucked. But as I was hanging out with them backstage after the show, I could feel their passion for the dance, and see the fun they were having.

What truly makes this dance special to me is the community. There's such a high bar for entry (I spent most of my first year learning how to fall), only people who really want to learn it bother sticking around.

I've been dancing for over 20 years now. I have friends all over the world who I've known for decades, and still have no idea what some of their real names are. But we are all still connected through a shared passion and history. Even if we can't move the way we used to.

It can be empowering the first time you do a move that you didn't think was possible. It can also be just as empowering to pioneer a new style or approach to the dance no one has done before. It's a dance that encourages us to be choreographers of our own styles."

–Johnny Tang, Brooklyn, New York


Raising purebred Nubian goats

Sally Craft and Opal in 2016.
/ Sally Craft
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Sally Craft
Sally Craft and Opal in 2016.

"I was struck by the goat bug seven years ago. I had just purchased a farm in the most northern part of New Hampshire. It came with a big barn and I knew there had to be something living in there, just didn't know what. I went to a local Farmers Market and saw a sign on a cooler at someone's booth which said, "Goats for sale. Male and female. $75 each or both for $150." After some internal debate, I decided to buy both.

Goats had NEVER been on my radar. But when those two little goats hit the ground at my farm, I literally felt a new opening in my heart come alive. I mean, I could physically feel a door open in my heart. Today I raise, breed, show, and sell baby Nubian goats. I take care of pretty much all of their medical needs, with rare exception. I milk, trim hooves, give vaccines, deliver babies. I'm a member of the American Dairy Goat Association and have shown them in several New England states. I've met so many other goat moms and that's expanded my community in a huge way. Everyone needs goats."

–Sally Craft, Lancaster, New Hampshire


Blindfolded Rubik's Cube speed solving

Juan Anselm solving a Rubik's Cube blindfolded.
/ Juan Anselm
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Juan Anselm
Juan Anselm solving a Rubik's Cube blindfolded.

"I've been speed solving Rubik's cubes for a while, but I just recently started to do it without being able to see the cube. I watched some videos about how to do it, and I got hooked by the intellectual challenge that it is. It's special to me because it allows me to challenge myself in a unique way.

Additionally, cubing is a hobby with which your success or failure is completely determined by your actions. When you pull off the blindfold and see a solved cube, you know it was because of you. Or when you get a new best time, it was because of you. No roll of the dice. No competitors."

–Anselm Juan, Danbury, Connecticut


Genealogy

"I took a DNA test several years ago to learn more about my ethnicity. After seeing my DNA matches, I realized that I could figure out who my mother's biological parents were. My mother was adopted, and we never knew who her biological family was. I soon signed up for an Ancestry.com membership, where I could match up the DNA with the genealogy research.

This is detective work. I do my research, and I follow my clues. Sometimes I think of myself as "hot on the trail." I really enjoy doing that work. I also really enjoy getting to know my ancestors. On the day after the news of Roe V. Wade being overturned and the hint of things to come (like overturning gay marriage — I'm in a same sex marriage), I ran into a long sought-after photo of my second great-grandfather, from the turn of the 20th century. Receiving this little gift made me feel that the ancestors were watching over me. In the photo, I noticed my ancestor's wild hair, much like mine.

I had the opportunity to learn about myself and where I come from. Unfortunately, my mother is not around anymore to share my discovery of learning about her parents. However, I have taken the place as the family historian. There is much more to learn and to pass on to my descendants."

Laurel Haas, Tumwater, Washington


Aerial/circus arts

Mary Hartman at Ann Arbor Aviary
/ Nicole Lockhart
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Nicole Lockhart
Mary Hartman at Ann Arbor Aviary

"I became interested in circus arts in 2017. I had just moved to a new city and was looking for a new physical hobby. I'd always been a runner but I wanted to become stronger in my upper body, which has always been extremely weak. I was lucky to find a great, body positive gym!

I was drawn to the feeling of being a kid again, playing on the monkey bars. Hanging from my knees. There's a freeing feeling - that's why aerialists call it "flying." Aerial arts are intentional. You work on things normally not thought about when considering fitness, like flexibility in the upper body and the ability to develop splits. I tend to the calluses on my hands and stretch my ever-widening shoulders. There is an element of dance and flow to practicing, alongside developing strength and power."

-Mary Hartman, Ann Arbor, Michigan


Rapping

Amir Richardson at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia, PA in 2017.
/ Justin Swan
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Justin Swan
Amir Richardson at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia, PA in 2017.

"My older brother started to rap, and I was THAT kid that did everything their older sibling did. I didn't become hooked until 14 or 15. I simply could NOT stop rapping.

I've always been a fan of music, songs, and dancing. It was a hobby that felt natural to me. For me, it's always been food, sleep, water, and music. These are my needs. Knowing hip-hop was created by young Black and brown people for young Black and brown people always hits me as special. It's even more special knowing that BIPOC, who I am a decent of, created a social tool that saved them from their circumstances and continues to save BIPOC folks into the future. That's special!

Hip-hop culture is now pop culture. While this is an incredible feat, and speaks to the genius of those young black and brown people from the 1960s. It also means the culture serves and influences a mass number of people globally. The unfortunate reality is art that is special isn't usually created under these circumstances."

-Amir Richardson, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Keeping isopods

Tara Mcfee's isopods on April 3, 2022.
/ Tara Mcfee
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Tara Mcfee
Tara Mcfee's isopods on April 3, 2022.

"A friend gave me a bioactive terrarium with a couple species of isopods and I truly thought it was weird and I didn't understand the excitement. Now I do. After having them a month and joining some groups who do the same thing and seeing all of the different species and variations, I just love it!

Not even a month after she gave me the terrarium, I had ordered a new species and all the supplies to create my own terrarium. We sat on the floor together and constructed our terrariums and it was so fun. It started as a friendly gift but turned into a hobby we shared. We even got another friend into it as well which was a nice bonding experience. I love taking care of the little creatures and watching them flourish. It's very easy! With the right set up, they mostly take care of themselves and you can watch a whole ecosystem and the circle of life in a shoe box sized space."
-Tara Mcfee, Alexandria, Virginia


Maintaining Little Free Libraries

Melinda's Little Library in April 2022.
/ Melissa Mulvaney
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Melissa Mulvaney
Melinda's Little Library in April 2022.

"I am a Little Free Library steward. This means that I keep a sharing box for books that folks in my community can take for free. There's something satisfying and magical about rehoming books, connecting books with readers, and helping to build a love of reading.

My mother, Melinda Mulvaney, instilled a love of reading in me at an early age. When she died suddenly in 2016, I was left with her books, and I knew that as a former teacher, she would want me to spread her collection around to help as many folks as possible. It took me some time to figure out how to do this, but a year ago I opened Melinda's Little Library. Melinda's Little Library helps me stay connected to my mother.

I work to ensure my offerings are diverse and inclusive of as many ideas, thoughts, experiences, and walks of life as possible because representation matters, especially to children who need to see themselves reflected in what they read. It's a special honor to do this work in my mother's name while building community and literacy."

-Melissa Mulvaney, Sandy Springs, Georgia


Gongfu tea ceremony

Cyndy Spice's tea set.
/ Cyndy Spice
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Cyndy Spice
Cyndy Spice's tea set.

"My interest in tea started about five years ago. I had drunk tea sporadically before, but when I started therapy for my anxiety, my therapist suggested I make a thermos to bring to work every day, to help me with a grounding technique. It worked and, since I was drinking the same thing every day, I started to expand my search. I discovered loose leaf tea soon after and bought my first teapot.

Over the years I've done more and more research into the history, customs, and traditions of tea, which led me to the Gongfu tea ceremony, and a wide variety of other teas, tastings, and ways to drink. Gongfu tea ceremony is special to me because it ties back to why I started drinking tea to begin with: to ground myself. It's meditative, it's relaxing, and there's an entire world of tea to explore. There's also a thriving, if relatively small, community of tea lovers out there. Finding that community and learning and growing from them has been an absolute honor. I don't think I've ever met a more chill, open community and it's been as much of a positive for my mental health than the actual tea."
-Cyndy Spice, Aurora, Illinois


Reading tarot

A tarot spread Liz Heuhnergarth did this spring.
/ Liz Heuhnergarth
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Liz Heuhnergarth
A tarot spread Liz Heuhnergarth did this spring.

"When I got divorced during the pandemic, I was utterly alone. Instead of going to the gym, book club and yoga, I went to my tarot cards. They gave me hope during a very dark and lonely time. I poured myself into learning what the suits meant and found so much joy in the diverse art each deck of cards brought. I found that I could create a dream for my new future with my cards. They became trusted friends.

Now, I read for friends who need an outlet for decision making or want insight about challenging life issues. The cards don't predict the future, rather they help folks discover their true desires for the future they can create for themselves. I notice that decision making becomes easier. People find comfort in the cards, as they show that nothing we experience today is different from what humans have always found joyful or challenging. No one is ever really alone in a situation. And, there is always hope in tomorrow."

-Liz Huehnergarth, Seattle, Washington


Being a tap dancing Christmas tree

Shelly Schumann and others at the Hollywood Parade in 2013.
/ Shelly Schumann
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Shelly Schumann
Shelly Schumann and others at the Hollywood Parade in 2013.

"I started tap dancing when I was 6 and have been dancing ever since. I became a Tap Dancing Christmas Tree in my late 20's/early 30's and am now tapping down the streets of many cities, at shopping malls, parties, Christmas Shows and senior centers with Dance 10 Performing Arts Center during Christmas Time at 55 years old!

I knew I was hooked when I made my first appearance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade tapping down the streets of NYC! I will never forget tapping away and looking up into the windows of the buildings towering over us that were filled with people watching the parade. When Al Roker said, "Tap Dancing Christmas Trees join the parade!'' The joy was overflowing. Being in parades started as a tradition with my mom twirling a baton in her teens in parades for the SF 49ers. She joined us in NYC when she was 65 to be in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Over the last few years my daughter has joined the trees as well. Our fun times will be cherished forever."

-Shelly Schumann, Alameda, California


I'm Really Into is a space to celebrate the things we love and what they say about the world. What are you really into? Tell us, and you might be featured on air or on our website!

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deanna Schwartz
Deanna Schwartz is the summer 2022 Digital Platforms and Curation Intern at NPR. She has previously worked for the Boston Globe and GBH News.