Nashville-based best-selling author, nationally known speaker, and host of a wildly successful podcast (That Sounds Fun), Annie F. Downs graciously took a minute out of her busy schedule to sit down with TNE and share her best advice for starting the year off right. “One of the things our current culture has lost is our ability to let each other be amateurs,” Downs remarks. “We now require everyone to be professionals at everything they do; we used to let each other learn and let ourselves learn; we used to be okay posting a picture that wasn’t perfect or asking a question that may be hard to answer, and it was way more fun then.  We have to start giving ourselves and each other the opportunity to be new at something, to not know how to do something perfectly right, to try and fail. Life is far more fun when we feel permission from ourselves and our community to be human, to be new at something, to be an amateur.”

Launching next month, her new book challenges us all with the notion that fun matters and is something we all need to survive. Downs delves into the joys of being an amateur, the power of falling in love (not just with people, but with life), and why we need a hobby. With her signature storytelling style and whimsical vulnerability, Annie is the honest and engaging friend we all need to guide us back to staying true to ourselves and finding the fun we need. Book clubs take note!

If we needed just one more reason to adore this cheerful spirit (we certainly don’t), Annie has also partnered with ABLE to collaborate to make the perfect everyday bag. Not so coincidentally named The Annie Tote, the bag is not too big, not too small with a pouch that conveniently snaps out to be carried as a clutch on its own. She has been involved (and a huge fan) of the brand since day one, enjoying watching them grow, what they make, and loves WHY they make it even more. While the advice may be simple, her tips below are amazing daily practices to make sure you remember to always add a little fun into your life!




If you look at your day, from start to finish, you will find a free 30 minutes somewhere. Block it off. It’s for you and it’s for fun. Just like with any other hobby or meeting or habit, if you don’t put it on the calendar, it won’t be prioritized.



Scrolling is not a hobby, but you need a hobby. I love social media, but it doesn’t actually give us space or rest. So a few minutes away from it, you’ll see the world outside, pick up a book, organize a shelf. Set an alarm on your phone for thirty minutes and walk away from it. 



Nature is telling us things every day as the season’s change and the birds chirping and the vitamin D. My friend Jo says there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. So bundle up for just a minute and head out.



Whether it’s a book you haven’t read or a recipe you’ve been wanting to try, give yourself permission to be new at something, to be trying, to be an amateur. Maybe pick up a craft or an instrument or plant bulbs you’ve never planted before. Amateur life is a fun life.



Sit and remember it. What did you love to do after school or in the summer? When you were alone in your room, were you reading or dancing or praying or drawing? Maybe pick up one of those hobbies from your childhood again!



Okay, you can pick up your phone again. Text a friend, call a friend, send a voice memo, ask around and see what your friends do for fun. It’s an easy question- “Hey, I was just wondering, what sounds fun to you?”



Maybe the most fun thing for you today is to sit on the couch, let the sunshine on your face, close your eyes, and rest. Without rest, fun is hard to prioritize because you are hustling through your day tired. So if your 30 minutes of fun today need to be resting, that will make for a better 30 minutes of fun tomorrow.