Most of the new activities that I have tried have been ones that I have sought out. I hear about them from friends, I see something on TV or I pick up a flyer from a community noticeboard and I have to give it a try for myself. Sometimes, though, new activities have a habit of finding you. New hobbies can come from the strangest of places, and you never know where they will take you.
There’s a nine year age gap between me and my older brother Mark. When we were growing up, he was always coming home with new gadgets and toys that he would be obsessed with for a few weeks and then move on to the next one when his attention waned. My dad once told me that my brother always got annoyed with me because every time he tried to learn something new, like learn to play a musical instrument for example, I would always pick it up quicker than him. When I was eleven years old, Mark came home from university with a set of juggling balls. He’d been trying to learn to juggle for a while, reading all the books and visiting his local juggling shop for tips and advice. He soon got bored, though, and left the juggling balls on the side in my parents’ house. Although I get distracted easily, when I am able to focus on something I completely absorb myself in the task. I picked up the balls and taught myself to juggle in two days. Although a little miffed, my brother admitted defeat and bought me my own set of smaller juggling balls that were much more suitable for my tiny hands. Over the next few years, I developed my juggling skills and it became one of my regular hobbies. My family bought me other equipment such as juggling clubs and a unicycle to keep me busy.
Once you’ve got over the initial frustration and learnt the basic three-ball juggle, it’s an incredibly relaxing past-time. Whenever I need to clear my mind, I pick up my juggling balls. It became incredibly useful when I was revising for exams and needed to de-stress quickly, and I still use it today when I’m writing and need to think of a word or how to phrase something. Juggling has turned out to be more than just a cool party trick for me, it took me on one of the biggest adventures of my life.
After graduating from university, I applied to go and work on a summer camp in America for the summer with BUNAC. When you apply, you have to put down three subjects that you are able to teach. Two years previously, I’d applied to work through Camp America but unfortunately hadn’t been placed. The first subject I’d offered to teach was art, as I’m qualified. The second was dance, because I’d danced since I was four years old and I had the qualifications to prove it. To this day, I cannot remember what I put down as my third choice on that original application form. So, when I was filling out my application for BUNAC, I had to think of another subject that I could teach. So I told them I could teach juggling. Well, technically I could teach it. Besides, it was my third choice and what were the chances someone was going to ask me to teach juggling? A few weeks later I received a phone call from one of the most expensive girls’ camps in North America telling me that their camp juggler had unexpectedly had to leave and could I fly out there for the summer. A couple of months later, I was in the Adirondacks teaching magic and juggling to 7-15 year old girls. Although the summer camp life isn’t for me, it was a great experience to work with the camp magician and it’s certainly created a talking point on my CV.
If you want to learn to juggle too, I’ve attached my own ‘Learn to Juggle’ leaflet. My teaching style is based on how I learnt myself, and is totally different to usual methods. If you practice, I promise you that anyone can learn in two days. You don’t need to go out and buy an expensive set of juggling balls, anything of equal weight will do to start. Beanbags are always good for beginners because they don’t roll away when you drop them, or even oranges (although be warned, they will get bruised and probably end up inedible). Please feel free to share this leaflet and the joy of juggling with all your friends.