Time. It’s finite. I think most of us wish we had more. The only time I can remember wanting to eliminate days was, as a kid, waiting for Santa. The days could not come and go fast enough. Every single one felt like an eternity. Now, December comes, and poof, it’s January. So, what happened? Except for some workdays, time flies by like a leer jet. And I’m often left pining away thinking, ‘What would I do if I had an extra day or week?’
In the middle of wishing for more time, reality hits. The clock keeps ticking and you’re headed to another day, another week, with every moment mostly scheduled and spoken for. What if we were able to call on our time-maker machine, patent pending of course, and create some sort of alternative universe where we add a “no count” week into the schedule? This unaccountable week would take away nothing from the standard 52 weeks. It’s all yours…to do whatever you wish. All those regular commitments, like your job and family, are magically on hold for this unaccounted-for week.
The question is: what would you do with it? My first thought was, “Oh, that’s easy, I’d sleep in and then do nothing or whatever I want. By any definition that seems super lame, and a total waste of a week. So, I decided to give it some more thought, and I found it turned into a bit of a brain bender. What I expected to be an easy agenda to shape feels more like a pressure-packed stressful task.
I started with thinking I would use it as a travel week, leaving the family behind, since their unaccountable week doesn’t fall at the same time, and fly off to a tropical, exotic location with a sandy beach where I could lounge in the sun and read book after book while sipping Mai Tais. No emails to answer, texts to respond to, just a few photos taken for Instagram. I order room service, or not. Sleep whenever I want. Leave clothes on the floor, or not. Scream out loud when I feel like it, or not.
While my plan sounds like a relaxing reset, it still seems slightly lame. It’s not a memory-making kind of week. There’s nothing earth-shattering or unique about. And, I’m thinking it falls short of how one should use their time if given a “free” week. So, I did some more thinking and came up with a few options with potential.
Attend a writing retreat – Yet to get crossed off my bucket list is the writing of a novel. I’ve started and stopped several times. I think I have a story. After all, fact makes great fiction and I have some worthy gems to work with. Friends who taken writer’s workshops and retreats say they’ve had positive experiences. I’ll admit I’ve had this vision that I’ll be holed up with a group of introverted cat ladies that are amazing writers and I can’t relate to their lives or writing. Perhaps it’s time to get over myself, pack up the laptop and retreat with my writing thoughts for a week. I see there are some enticing writing retreat options in 2018.
Indulge in a week of spa pampering– I thought about going the healthy spa route, where you drink only mountain spring water, eat a piece of kale and a gluten-free flax cracker each day, sweat it out with a couple of hours of yoga, get masked in mud for hours and take a spiritual hike in the evenings. But, the thought alone had me feeling light-headed from hunger. And, the risk of my weak legs giving out on the trail and experiencing a concussion from the fall made me think that I could starve and injure myself during any regular week. If I choose a spa resort, it’s one of those pampering kinds, with no schedules and absolutely no restrictions.
Take a week of classes that stimulate my brain – I often tell myself I’d really love to take a class. Cooking, pottery-making, developing a podcast, improving my blog, writing short stories, knitting, and more. I like the idea of compiling a handful of classes that you can magically take in one week. You can’t go wrong with a week of nourishment for the brain.
Serve as Rachel Maddow’s intern – A few months ago I wrote about my desire to be Rachel Maddow’s intern. I get that I don’t fit the mold. Too old, not eager enough, no Ivy League pedigree, limited national experience. The deck is stacked against me, but my entire career has been in Comm/PR so that counts for something, or so I think. I consider myself reasonably savvy, I’m a great listener and I’m super curious. C’mon, just one week?
Volunteer abroad for a week – This one has great promise. Exploring online, I found some amazing opportunities through United Planet. I love the idea of traveling to Romania and working in an orphanage or safe house for abused women. Or, heading to Ghana to work with kids in schools. That one requires a two-week commitment, so I guess I would have to do one unaccounted-for week and one real week. This opportunity is up there at the top of my list!
Participate in a homestay Spanish immersion program – A year of German in high school left me with the ability to say, “good morning” and “How are you today?” Beyond that, I’ve taken no other language courses. There are more immersion schools at the primary level now, but it’s sad that most other countries have it down where kids are launched into life knowing more than one language, and often knowing English. I can’t master a language in a week, but a week-long full immersion homestay program in Spain will get me much further than I am today.
Provide one week of childcare services for someone who needs it – I lived through the days of finding quality childcare. It’s challenging and often stressful. We were lucky enough to afford good daycare and make choices. So many families are left with limited choices that often put a strain on finances. What if I were able to offer up my services for one week, free of charge, for a family that struggles every single week to find trustworthy, quality childcare for one or more children. I might be a little worn out and whacky by week’s end, but kids tend to like me, and I’m willing to give up my “free” week for a family who could also use a “free” week.
Shadow a private detective for a week – Have you ever participated in that icebreaker where you’re asked if you weren’t in the profession you are in, what would you want to do? My answer has always been to work as a private detective, probably more like the TV kind than what it’s like in real life. I have a keen knack for finding information out, unraveling the layers. Before the internet, I was working on a “case” that involved a family member and a significant other. Rummaging through one’s glove compartment, calling random numbers to find the right one, and conducting some early-morning tailings in the fog had me convinced I’d missed my call. Perhaps it’s not too late.
I have a feeling that Amazon will start delivering items at our doorstep that we haven’t ordered, but shown a propensity online for wanting them (hint: it’s really being tested), before a time-maker machine is invented. So, in the meantime, I need to work on fitting one or more of these “extra week” activities into one of the 52 that exist.
How about you. What would you do if you had a free week, with all existing commitments and responsibilities suspended?