11 May 2011


I just read a book called, How Starbucks Saved My Life. I saw the book on a table in a Barnes and Noble a couple years ago and thought my mom would enjoy the inspiring story of one man’s perspective on work, happiness and life, so I bought it for her for Christmas. Along with the book came a sticky note that said: “I want to read this when you finish.” My mom kept her end of the deal, but it took me until this morning for me to complete mine (sorry Mom – I can mail it back now).

I have never been much of a reader from what I remember, which is why my mom would be so proud to know that I read nearly an entire book in one day, finished it this morning and will be finishing a second book before bedtime tonight. This is what I do without television or Internet access.

My parents told me stories about how much I loved to read as a child; I also loved to be read to. I fondly remember a story I heard several times about how my parents were reading me a story one night before bed. Though I was not old enough to read, I had heard the story many times and I completely understood the story in its entirety. At one point, I knew something was not right and I immediately interrupted my mother and sternly advised her that she had skipped a page. Realizing her mistake, my mother flipped back and continued on as all became right in the world again.

In elementary school I excelled at reading and was placed in advanced courses with fourth graders when I was in first grade. As I got older I was a fan of the Babysitters Club and the Goosebumps books. Once in high school, I think I got too busy and too lazy for books. I lost interest.

My interest in books peaked again a couple years ago. I liked reading on airplanes and, while commuting between New Jersey and Ohio for months on end, I found reading non-fiction books an enjoyable pastime.

This book was about a man who grew up in an elitist society on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His family had a sort of celebrity status, he went to Yale and was handed things, including his first job, his entire life. Then he lost everything – his job, his clients, his status, his friends, his money, his family, his health and his self-respect. Accepting a “random act of kindness,” as he called it, joining the Starbucks empire helped him experience life on the other side – the other side of the City, the other side of employment, the other side of diversity and the other side of life – as he discovered what true happiness really was. He found that being happy was ultimately better than holding any corporate title, something I am starting to learn.

When I graduated from college, I had a goal of working in corporate communications for a global company. While working for that company in that role, I had a goal of becoming a vice president by the age of 30. While I am not quite 30 and still have time to accomplish that goal if I so desire, I am also finding joy in just living every day. For instance, Tuesday I met a friend for lunch and we spent the afternoon shopping. Once we parted ways, I ran some errands and then rushed home to meet a delivery man. I cleaned the house, made dinner and went to bed.

On my way home that day, the cab driver started the usual line of questioning:
“You visiting?”
“No, I live here,” I replied.
“Oh! How long you be here?”
“About six weeks.”
“Oh. You work?”
“Not right now. In a little bit.”
“Oh. Housewife.”

There it was. I guess that was my new title. “Sure,” I said. “For now. I am trying it out.”

When asked in the past what it was that I did, I never replied with the same answer twice. Once I said I was on vacation and would be looking for a job once we got settled. One I said I was a freelance writer; another time I advised that I had a blog and was writing about my experiences in Singapore. I had explained that I used to work in communications on a couple of occasions but housewife was a new title for me.

I loved that my mom was a housewife for so many years and the truth is that I really enjoy not working right now. I told myself before we left Ohio that I wanted to give myself two complete months without working and then I would see what I wanted to do – I still have until the end of the month to enjoy my vacation. I am not sure how I would be able to get all of the housework and cooking and errands done if Paul and I were both working crazy hours, but I know we would figure it out.

In the meantime, I enjoy my little successes, like lunch with a friend in the middle of the week without the pressure of knowing that I need to be somewhere immediately after. We were able to enjoy each other’s conversation and company while enjoying the beautiful day outside.

Yesterday, I spent most of the evening reading a book and finished the last two chapters while finishing some coffee on my couch as the rain poured through the sun on the other side of the window. I look forward to tomorrow. 

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