The typical free time of a city gal like me is "supposed" to be used as such: going out for drinks - OR - going out for dinner to a fun new restaurant. And let's just talk about it - I definitely do those things. [food blog is proof :)]
But lately I've been putting a lot of thought into how I want to use my "free time." I have free time in quotes, but it doesn't feel like I actually have ANY free time - but the thing is, I do. I do because somehow - amidst my crazy busy traveling life, work life, personal life, seeing my family life, staying in touch with friends life - I still somehow am caught up on all the TV shows I secretly watch. As we know from my how-to-save-money-in-your-life-so-you-can-travel-like-you're-wealthy-when-you're-not article, I don't have lots of TV channels or DVR... but dammit, these shows are all online these days, and I'm a night owl (- which we also knew).
The point is - if you have time to lean, you have time to clean... I wrote that just to be funny, but immediately realized it applies quite literally here. I should be cleaning my place more often. I should be doing a LOT more things more often...
I should be reading books, I should be doing much more exercise - MUCH more yoga specifically, I should be writing more, I should be educating myself - learning more languages, familiarizing myself with more poetry, I should be singing more!, and well - I should be making the world a better place. (Sidebar: If anyone can get me into a Chicago a cappella choir - or just any choir that does pop/rock, I'd probably makeout with you.)
After my most recent trips to London and Paris, I committed to bolstering my life when I came home. Tonight, on a Friday night in the fine, bustling city of Chicago - I volunteered.
Oh, it wasn't super impressive - I wasn't helping the elderly or doing good in some impoverished neighborhood - I actually got to decorate potting planters as a gift for some bigger volunteering event happening in the city this weekend. But still I am proud of myself: I did it completely on my own - completely just for me. There's an organization called One Brick that offers volunteer opportunities for busy city folk who want to volunteer but are too busy to commit to any one recurring time obligation. It's pretty brilliant - they post volunteer-needed events in the city on an electronic calendar, and if you want to help, you just click and sign-up. Pretty cool.
So tonight, in a round about way, I helped support an organization (Seeds of Service/Project Yes) that builds community gardens and gives youths good activities to do when they're not in school. I support all of that indeed. I still have to read the pamphlet I got, but I know it talked about Food Deserts in it - and that always gets me excited, because I think in the long run, topics like this draw attention to the need for Farmer's Markets - and we all know I'm into Farmer's Markets.
The point is - we all want to help charity, but a lot of us don't have extra money to donate to them - even if we wholeheartedly believe in certain causes. If we shift our priorities just a little though, we do have time to give - and I believe time is a pretty valuable gift. Whenever I craft gifts for people I care about - I think of it not just as art or personalization, I also think of it as a gift of my time. More than ever, these days I see my time as super valuable - and I'm only willing to share it if I believe I'm using it well.
Just some thoughts on this warm summery evening in Chicago...
Other groups I've had GREAT experiences volunteering with:
Anyway, I'm nobody's role model. I love my dinners out and I love nights of drinking in this fun, awesome city. But, I promise you, there's room for BOTH.