Chapter 7 I’m Taking Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast on A Moveable Feast Chapter by Chapter

Chapter 7 (of 20) The End of an Avocation 

A Moveable Feast Chapter Seven, The End of an Avocation, Accompanied by Moules A L’ail with French Fries paired with a carafe of white wine.
A Moveable Feast Chapter Seven, The End of an Avocation, Accompanied by Moules A L’ail with French Fries paired with a carafe of white wine

Chapter 1 (of 20), A Good Café on the Place St-Michael, will take you back in time to the story that began my French culinary experiences while reading A Moveable Feast, chapter by chapter. From there, each chapter will take you to the next chapter and culinary experience. 

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway.

Chapter 7 (of 20) The End of an Avocationaccompanied by Moules A L’ail with French Fries paired with a carafe of Mon Roc Blanc, Colombard, France at La Petite Auberge, Islington. 

Notes From Chapter 7: The End of an Avocation

A WorkLife Book Club For One

Notes about Avocation

Racing never came between us but for a long time it stayed close to us like a demanding friend. This was a generous way to think of it.

It was not really racing either. It was gambling on horses. But we called it racing.

I was going to races alone more now and I was involved with them and getting too mixed up with them. 

I stopped finally because it took too much time, I was getting too involved.

When I stopped working on the races I was glad but it left an emptiness. But then I knew everything good and bad left an emptiness when it stopped. But if it was bad, the emptiness filled up by itself. If it was good you could only fill it by finding something better. I put the racing capital back into the general funds and I felt relaxed and good.

The day I gave up racing I went over to the other side of the river and met my friend Mike.

‘You never went to the track much, Mike,’ I said.

‘No, not for quite a long time.’

‘Why did you lay off it?’

‘I don’t know,’ Mike said. “Yes, sure I do. Anything you have to bet on to get a kick isn’t worth seeing.’

‘What do you see that’s better?’

‘Bicycle racing.’


‘You don’t have to bet on it. You’ll see.’

… ‘we’ll go the bike races sometime’.

That was a new and fine thing that I knew little about. 

It came to be a big part of our lives later. 

Mike was right about it there was no need to bet.

As always, when having read the chapter over a glass and a plate, I take a little time to mull it over to consider how it connects to my WorkLife before I write the chapter notes. This mulling can be focused in the present, the past or the future. Really it’s just wherever my thoughts take me in relation to what the chapter means to me and what learning I can take from it.

A Note about my Present Past and Future Story

At the same time, I’m taking Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast on A Moveable Feast, I’m also revisiting stories I’ve shared on my blog over recent years to update them with the continuing story of my WorkLife: The pandemic brought about a change in my work when the in-person individual coaching and group workshops I was due to facilitate came to an abrupt halt. To continue to serve people’s WorkLife learning needs, I began to create resources to help people self direct their learning. 

I, in effect, filled the emptiness from my lost work, which kept me connected with people in person, to remote work, which gave me a sense of connection, albeit working solo.

The day I sat down to write notes about this chapter was the day I republished: Why is it Important to Put Your Interests and Hobbies on Your CV? (complete with my continuing story). In the post, I share Mary’s story about wanting to move on from an organisation, industry and sector that no longer inspired her. 

A Note about Mary’s Story

Mary, a Chief Financial Officer, is very private and wanted to keep her personal and professional WorkLife separate. Because of this, she hadn’t put her avocations on her CV. Now, Mary is also very unassuming and perhaps didn’t recognise or fully appreciate her amazing achievements outside of work.

This is an excerpt from Mary’s story to demonstrate what I mean:

Among Mary’s passions are a love for English Heritage and a love of animals. She supports charities in both her areas of interest through donations, and she is also a trustee and board member of her chosen charities. She does this in a voluntary capacity.

She had also taken a two-month sabbatical, during which time she lived in a small community in remote Africa and worked alongside the local people offering her financial expertise to support them in developing a sustainable business strategy for the community, which allowed them to be self-sufficient in promoting their social enterprise. At the end of the two months, the community held a carnival in celebration of Mary’s support, and she was crowned queen of their village!

Along with all of this, Mary also has her pilot’s licence, and at weekends you’ll find her navigating the skies of Britain along with her husband, a fellow enthusiast.

In my work, I never give advice. This is because I believe everyone has the inner wisdom to figure things out for themselves, and when they do, it’s always more meaningful. 

But that said, people, can sometimes get stuck in their thinking. And so it can help to share my thoughts – not by way of telling them what to do, but by way of giving them a different perspective that possibly could help them to move beyond their ‘stuckness’.

I shared with Mary that I believe it’s important for people to put their interests and hobbies (avocations) on their CVs because they need to share a holistic insight into who they are. 

This is a further excerpt from Mary’s story to demonstrate what I mean:

Having an insight into what’s unique and different about a candidate over and above their skills and experience allows an understanding of how they will perform in the role and in being an ambassador for the company. And as importantly, provides an insight into how the company can support the candidate’s learning, development and growth in line with what is important to them, both professionally and personally. 

Epilogue to Mary’s Story

Mary’s story does have a happy ending. Putting her interests and hobbies on her CV opened up a greater range of roles for her. She has since secured a role in an organisation, industry and sector that inspires her.

I love that my profession allows me to immerse myself in the world of people’s learning and that I get to participate in their WorkLife journeys. Mary’s is just one story of the 100s of client stories where people’s avocations played an important role in their WorkLife.

For some, their avocation remained a hobby or interest outside of work that gave them a sense of fulfilment. For others their avocation became their vocation when, as with Mary, they lived their WorkLife true to their passions. For all, their avocations helped their WorkLife learning and development. 

This chapter was a reminder of the importance of avocations.

Many of the avocations of the people I’ve worked with are good avocations. But as with Hemingway’s story, I’ve also experienced people’s stories of bad avocations, which they have had to stop. This left them with an emptiness they then had to fill. 

In my book, WorkLife Book Club, the back story of the character Benny was that he had been under immense pressure to save his company from failing, which would have resulted in significant job losses. In his fight against this happening, he had to give up much of what was good in his life outside of work. This was because what he needed to do required him to work every waking hour, and he had little time for anything else. He was living and sleeping at the office, and in the darkest of hours, when he was alone with an emptiness to fill, he filled it with the only thing he felt could keep him going and get him through the difficulties he was facing. That thing was alcohol. 

Within a short space of time, things spiralled out of control. An intervention from his colleagues, family and friends saved his life. His circumstance of recovery filled the emptiness of stopping drinking. Then at a much further point along his road to recovery, Benny felt he could begin to fill that emptiness brought about by stopping drinking with something else. 

He chose a book club simply because he loved reading and also because he wanted to enjoy a sociable experience that wasn’t focused around alcohol. The WorkLife Book Club took him and his fellow members on a culinary journey through the streets of Shoreditch, East London, while discussing WorkLife struggles and successes through the wisdom found in the books they read.

Words of Wisdom

Hemingway replaced horse racing (or gambling) with bike racing which became an avocation (without the need to gamble).

Benny replaced drinking with shared learning through reading and culinary experiences.

For both men, these were new and fine things they knew little about that became a big part of their lives later. They became their avocations.

Hemingway learnt that Mike was right about bike racing – that there was no need to bet.

Benny learnt from his new social experience – that there was no need to drink.


Unlike previous times when I wasn’t sure when I’ll read the next chapter of A Moveable Feast over a glass and a plate. This time I know because I read the next chapter over desert and a glass of wine at La Petite Auberge

… Let’s see where A Moveable Feast the next chapter story is going to take me …

The Continuing Story …

… I can now share where Chapter 8 (of 20) Hunger Was Good Discipline Took Me …

Today I enjoyed Moules A L’ail with French Fries paired with a carafe of Mon Roc Blanc, Colombard, France at La Petite Auberge, Islington. 

Se souvenir de toi, Norma.

3 #FunFacts about Mussels (Source Eyre Peninsula Seafoods).

#FunFact1 Mussels are good for the ocean

Not only do they taste great, mussels are a crucial part of healthy marine ecosystems. Without mussels, the ocean and her inhabitants wouldn’t fare so well. And that’s because mussels are natural filter feeders.

#FunFact2 Mussels have more iron than fillet steak

It’s quite amazing to think that such a small morsel can have so much iron, but it does.

Mussels are a great source of iron. They are a lean protein and will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

#FunFact3 There are male and female mussels

Have you ever wondered why some mussels are orange and others are white? It all comes down to gender. The orange mussels are female and the creamy white mussels are male. Both have the same rich, sweet flavour you love.


School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning?

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may want to self-direct your learning by starting your WorkLife Book Club For One, For Two, or for more people. Guidelines for Starting and Running Your WorkLife Book Club will help you do that. 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Your WorkLife Your Way

How To Use Your Voice To Express and Protect Your Identity 

How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively

You can view the complete collection here: The School of WorkLife Book Series.


Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers), it helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

I'm Carmel O’ Reilly. I'm a writer and learning practitioner. My books and learning resources are designed to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning. As founder of School of WorkLife, my guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.