12 Things I Would Do If I Didn’t Have to Work

Imagine this! Your life fairy godmother just waved her wand and *poof!* you can do whatever the heck you want to do with your time.

What do you choose?

Mama Kat suggested we blog about “10 things you would do if you didn’t have to work.” Before sharing my list, I must add two caveats:

First: I love working. There have certainly been things throughout my career that I did not love and did not do to the fullest of my capabilities, but in general I value being part of a team, contributing to a goal, making a difference. If I won the lottery, I suspect I would keep working in some capacity, but I would take advantage of the windfall to fit in a heck of a lot more of the things I am about to list.

Second: Up until May 2014, when I left Healthy Kids, I had always worked full time (with tiny breaks when I moved back to Tallahassee from NYC and my two maternity leaves). The whole time, I thought “I don’t know how I’m fitting this all in” and almost always felt like I wasn’t giving anything 100% because I was split so many ways.

Having been out of the traditional work force for three years, I can attest that (at least for me) it is true that “people who have the most to do get the most done.” When your day is unstructured, it takes an iron will to whip it into some kind of order. If I did not actually have to work, I absolutely know I would need to have some type of structure (probably in the form of work!) to keep myself together and prevent inertia. (This is why taking on a structured part-time job in January 2017 that, although it is done from home, requires my full attention from 6:45 am to 12:30 pm every day was a game changer.)

Here is my list of 10 (plus two bonuses), in relatively random order (paging Fairy Godmother STAT!):

Travel to Valencia, Spain

I took a Spanish course in college that was far above my fluency level. Ironically, I learned so much from this class — from being forced to keep up with a group composed mostly of native speakers. I am not sure exactly what it was, but something about Valencia piqued my curiosity and ignited a desire that has been in my gut for decades.

Personal Life Goals

Picture me here! That’s what I’m doing. Credit: Flickr user Bruno.

A Spanish Immersion Program

Perhaps this should be in the number one slot (but I would be willing to muddle through a trip to Valencia with my less-than-advanced Spanish!). No matter how many courses I take and how much practice I get locally, nothing replaces having to live with a language for its usefulness to language learning.

More Yoga

Arguably, I could do more  yoga starting … NOW! The minute I finish this blog post. But my list for today (besides the fact that there may well be a Category 3 Hurricane here within 48 hours) is lengthy. I have been to yoga once in the past six months, and I have missed its benefits … for my body as well as my mind. I’d love to buy an “unlimited” yoga card and use it without my mind reeling from the 1,001 other things I should be doing.

Personal Life Goals

More Aggressively Pursue Options for My Tachycardia

If you have been a reader for a while, you may be aware that I have multifocal atrial tachycardia, mostly exercise-induced.

Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers apparently has a similar problem (he has atrial fibrillation, which is worse (relatively) than my MAT). He is scheduled to have an ablation, and I hope it works (I was not a candidate for an ablation after my electrophysiology study in April 2015). It’s important to keep in mind what Terry Francona, the Cleveland Indians manager, who also had an ablation, said: “You’re talking about life, not just baseball.”

What would I do differently about my medical situation if I didn’t have to work? (Caveat: I’m sort of assuming that along with her dispensation allowing me not work, the Fairy Godmother gives me a bit of a blank check!).

My tachycardia issue has gone far past interfering solely with my running at this point. I need to find a solution.

The nurse practitioner at my appointment yesterday scheduled me for another check in four months and said, “you know, another EP study wouldn’t be the end of the world; the circumstances that prevented an ablation before may have gone away by now.” She’s right, but I hesitate to take the time off from work (the gig economy doesn’t come with medical leave).

But there are some additional avenues I have hesitated to follow. A friend with extensive personal experience has urged me (strongly) to get a second opinion from the Cleveland Clinic. She is right (and to be fair, my electrophysiologist said he would help me pursue a second opinion if it was important to me), but I hesitate, wary of the long list of diagnostics I need to send them and the price tag. Ironically, I would (and have) advocate to any friend to be their own strongest advocate for their health.

The past year of not running has (in some very small ways) revealed some qualities about life I had been missing (hello, Saturday mornings!), but good golly I miss running. I miss exercise endorphins. I miss my running community.

Clean My House

Yes, I have written before (as recently as last week) that I know myself well enough to know I need help to overcome my housecleaning inadequacies. BUT with a little extra time, I think I could master the basics.

Help at a Public School

In my mind’s eye, this means reading with elementary school kids, but I imagine there are some middle schools and high schools that could also use a caring adult to pitch in. There’s so much work to do — teachers are stretched frightfully thin and I would love to help relieve some of the stress.

Be a Hospice and/or Alzheimer’s Association Volunteer

This one is inspired by our recent experience and the ways volunteers made the process of navigating terminal illness with a loved one more bearable. I know in our area, the outlying counties beyond Leon are more stretched for volunteers; I would be willing to drive quite a ways if it would help a family be a hair less stressed.

Go to New York City Much More Frequently

Best case scenario: I have a tiny, but safe, studio in New York that is available to me year-round and I use it. I could go with an annual two-week stay or briefer, quarterly stays. I need NYC far more often than I get it.

Take a Cruise

I’ve never been on a cruise and would love to check this off my list! I’m not too picky about which line (although Disney Cruise Lines would be extra-magical!) or where I go. I just want to be able to chime in to cruise conversations with some experiences of my own.

Spend Time at the Beach

When we went to Daytona Beach earlier this month to help Wayne Kevin with arrangements regarding school, we had dinner at the beach both nights we were there. I only got a quick glance at the sea, a few moments on the sand, but even that little bit of time was restorative.

Personal Life Goals

Write More Letters

It’s no secret that I love snail mail but I send out far fewer letters than I would like. I would especially love to send out “just because” notes.

Travel to Australia

I have relatives in Australia; visiting them (and the country) would be a dream! Not sure what I would do first, or what my priority would be, but three top contenders would be to see the Sydney Opera House, to visit New South Wales (I know this is a broad desire!), and to visit something well off the beaten tourist path (I have plenty of time to come up with a plan on that).

YOUR TURN

What would you do if you didn’t have to work?

Personal Life Goals

This post is a response to a Mama’s Losin’ It prompt: 10 things you would do if you didn’t have to work.

Snail Mail Treasures

If my inner monologue on the way to the mailbox every day were to be visible to anyone else but me, it would look something like this:

Mail Gifts

Cards Are Fun Snail Mail

When I went to the Type A East conference in Orlando in October, I met the Hallmark Signature team. The team introduced us to the Hallmark Signature line and treated us to a preview of their new commercial – I dare you to watch it and not cry!. The Hallmark Signature line showcases unique processes, detailed craftsmanship and attention-grabbing dimensions. By unique, I mean things like: this card RINGS. It has a bunch of little bells that RING!

Snail Mail is Not Just For Christmas

I’ve shared before how my friend Kathleen is pretty much the last “snail mail only” person in my universe. A mail day that involves a  missive from Kathleen is reason to celebrate, indeed.

That’s why, when the Hallmark signature team encouraged me to choose a card to send to someone special while I was at their booth during the conference, I chose one for Kathleen (besides, since she is “snail mail only,” her address is burned into my brain and was the easiest to remember!).

Hallmark encouraged us to share via video why we had chosen to send our intended recipients a card (glad I have all that practice with Table Topics in Toastmasters speaking extemporaneously!). Click here for mine.

When Unexpected Snail Mail Comes to Roost

In addition to the fun of cards and letters, can you imagine anything more delightful than an unexpected package full of treats? That’s exactly what I found when this Roost Crate showed up on my doorstep.

I got to know Roost Crate’s proprietor, Kelly Pugliano, when we attended a Shot at Life summit together. Then I had the pleasure of watching her work hard to build this business, which creates a “farmer’s market in a box,” concentrating on the best farmers and small batch artisans in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Here’s a picture of contents of the welcome box I received:

Mail Gifts

And a rundown of the artisans:

    • The brown sugar fig soy wax candle is from Berry & Birch, a 2-woman team from Springfield, MO, which produces eco- and animal-friendly soy candles “handpoured with love.”
    • The lemon lime lip balm is from T&J Soaps, an artisan soap maker in Troy, NY, who packages the lip balm in vintage slider tins.
    • The oatmeal, milk and  honey goat milk soap is from OMy! Goat Milk Bath and Body, a Virginia Beach, VA, company that makes all-natural products with fresh goat milk. (And while we’re talking goat milk products, allow me to plug another incredible goat milk product, Kid Power Organics, which uses its profits to help children in Cambodia. Meet their goats and learn about their goat bank here.)
    • The chocolate bar is from Barkeater Chocolates, which handcrafts non-GMO and gluten free chocolates in the Adirondacks. (Who’s up for a tasting tour?!)
    • The rhubarb vanilla honey jam is from V Smiley Preserves, a New Haven, VT, artisan who makes small batch handmade jams and preserves and has a vision to “expand the farm into an agri-cultural hub; seed-saving, arts, education, dining and events.” I’m rooting for her to succeed.

Mail Gifts

  • The beautiful handcrafted coasters (thanks for throwing in this extra, Kelly!) are from Oh, Sew Urban! They are available at the Anchor No. 5 Boutique in Troy, NY and can be reached by email at eaurban@gmail.com.
  • The deluxe canvas tote bag is sold directly by Roost Crate, is machine washable, and will be put to use by me year-round.

If you want a bounty of Roost Crate deliciousness to show up on your door (or to gift one to someone who deserves an artisanal sensation for the senses), visit Roost Crate by clicking here. Order by December 15 for holiday delivery, and use the code GIFT10 for 10% off.

Here’s a sneak peek of the next Roost Crate, which features an Adirondack Soy Candle as part of the goodness:

Mail Gifts

NOTE: I also think it rocks big time that Roost Crate donates 10% of its proceeds to Capital Roots, which works to reduce the impact of poor nutrition on public health in New York’s Capital Region.

Your Chance at Snail Mail Happiness

Because every non-bill, non-junk piece of snail mail brings me such joy, I want to spread the fun around with a giveaway.

The Hallmark Signature Team provided a gift pack of three beautiful signature cards (including the one with the little bells!!), and I am sharing forward the lovely Oh, Sew Urban! coasters. Of course a green pen will be included too!

Mail Gifts

Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Is there someone in your life who would be cheered up by a piece of snail mail? Why not resolve to drop them a line today?

Mail Gifts

Image Credit: JDurham/Morguefile

NOTE: Hallmark Signature provided the cards for the giveaway, and Roostcrate gave me the welcome crate, from which I am delighted to share the awesome coasters.

In Praise of Snail Mail

Carolyn Gaines passed away last week. Carolyn was a fellow parishioner at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church. I believe we may have met in person once, but our connection was established when we began exchanging “snail mail.” For her birthday (I think it was her 85th), we were all encouraged to send her cards, since she valued snail mail so much. I sent a card and got back a lovely reply. Over the years, every response of mine was returned with a lovely note from Carolyn.

A 2010 Letter From Carolyn

A 2010 Letter From Carolyn

Carolyn’s passing got me thinking of snail mail and the ways in which email just isn’t the same.

Snail Mail Makes Us Think and Process Differently

For me, writing a traditional letter forces me to retrieve a different set of writing tools, especially if I am writing by hand but even if I am typing a letter that will be printed and mailed. I discovered this most recently when I participated in the “Snail Mail My Email” project.  SMME is “a worldwide collaborative art project where volunteers handwrite strangers’ emails and send physical letters to the intended recipients, free of charge.” Admittedly, when I volunteered I focused on the “handwrite” component instead of the “art” part. I hope the recipient who requested a “gray striped cat, turnips, and a gingko leaf” appreciated my efforts which were pretty amateurish!

One of my SMME projects, featuring the turnips and the "gingko leaf."

One of my SMME projects, featuring the turnips and the “gingko leaf.”

Snail Mail Feels Like A Gift

It is tangible. You can hold it in your hand. I still love the thrill of paper in my hands. My friend Kathleen is a true “snail mail only” person. My family knows that if the mail contains a letter from Kathleen, all activity will come to a standstill until I devour it. I am pretty sure Kathleen is this generation’s Erma Bombeck. I hope all her great material gets compiled into a book someday and makes her a million bucks. We’ll be able to say we knew her when (and heck we may be able to sell her old letters on eBay (just kidding….)).

Letters from Kathleen are always a treat!

Letters from Kathleen are always a treat!

Snail Mail Makes Us Wait

Who among us hasn’t tapped out a lengthy email missive to a friend, analyzing the day’s events with its frustrations and high points? Or a lengthy email missive to a friend, written with no filter in a moment of anger or frustration, that went beyond a “venting” session and verged on hurtful and spiteful? When I sit down (finally … it always takes a while) to respond to Kathleen, I am forced to think about what really mattered about the intervening weeks. I think she gets a clearer view of my life for hearing about the things that mattered enough to commit to paper. And the little things that didn’t deserve to have more energy spent on them remain unwritten.

Snail Mail Gives Us Memories

Sure, we could print out the important emails in our lives and put them on a bulletin board. It’s just not the same. Fifteen days after my mother in law’s death, and about six weeks after receiving her postcard from her “bucket list” trip to Rome, I am so happy to have this little memento. She and I sat at her computer prior to her trip and went through her address labels so she could have them with her in Rome. I know she and my sister in law Mary went to special efforts during their trip to apply the labels, write a note, and get the special Vatican stamps. It is so much more meaningful than any email they would have been able to dash off.

Postcard from Raphael's Tomb

Postcard from Raphael’s Tomb

The postcard Barb sent included the poem “The Key to Paradise” by Mother Teresa on the back. One of its lines is “Find the time to be a friend.”

Thank you, snail mail, for being a way for us to carve out time for our friends.

Is there someone you could delight with a piece of snail mail? Why not drop them a line?