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Michiana Chronicles writers bring portraits of our life and times to the 88.1 WVPE airwaves every Friday at 7:45 am during Morning Edition and over the noon hour at 12:30 pm during Here and Now. Michiana Chronicles was first broadcast in October 2001. Contact the writers through their individual e-mails and thanks for listening!

Michiana Chronicles: Work

Heather Curlee-Novak

Work and earning a living is a huge part of our lives…no matter our age or occupation. Even staying home with kids is work. Big Work. Unpaid. Caring for family of all ages. Cleaning the domicile…or at least, at some point cleaning the dishes? Hopefully? Getting out of bed too dang early in the morning…all of it work. Interacting with Other People. Work. Volunteering our time, even if enjoyable, can still be work. In social circles, when referring to work, we mostly mean employment. Most of us have made money doing something or other for huge chunks of our lives.

My first job was at McDonald’s, as a teenager. I loved the perk of free food, and I hated the polyester uniform. I’ve bussed and waited on tables, worked in a factory, written a book, kept bees, edited romance novels, sold toys, used cars and apartments. I’ve taught other folks how to sell things too. Part of that work was teaching them how to care for their customers, to smile on the phone, to listen well. Training was my favorite job. The public speaking of it was just grand. As you may sense, I adore an audience! I also loved my work as Director of Connections for a church and encouraging folks every week. I love the spark I can hand to another human.

Currently I am in early retirement and I love it. My husband doesn’t. I guess it would be hard for him to go to work every day while I lounge on the couch. I do stuff. I clean some things and cook some things and drive our kids around…but I feel REALLY relaxed about it all. The freedom and ease allow me to spend time with my beautiful mother-in-love, Monte. I can see friends, enjoy hobbies and offer others assistance from the space of not being employed.

I’ll look for work in the Fall when the kids are back in school. Or, work will find me, perhaps. My last two jobs came from other people suggesting me to the powers that be. I’m not sure what I will do next when I come out of this luscious early retirement. Something part time, where I can encourage people who need lifting up. My Hubby said I would make a great Walmart greeter since I’m so friendly and we are still married. I’m not sure what I will do, but that ain’t it.

While I have worked in many different jobs, there are many jobs I absolutely should not do…for the good of humanity! I will not be a manicurist. I’ve drawn blood both ages ago from my infant child and just this week from my mother-in-Love. I cannot be trusted with nail clippers. I cannot work in a bakery. Even my skinny high school self gained fifteen pounds in the six months I worked for Macri’s Bakery mall kiosk. We could eat anything broken and I sure was clumsy! You’d be surprised what often happened to my favorite cookies and chocolate mousse cake. Add in menopause and working in a bakery is just off limits. I won’t do manual labor because going up and down the stairs in my house after breaking my leg, suffering from plantar fasciitis and the bone spur I’ve named “Hank” is now manual labor enough. I’d have to be careful working with people because as I have *ahem* matured, I have little patience for other people’s bull-uh-nonsense.

Maybe I’ll go back to life coaching? I am particularly gifted at seeing other people’s shortcomings. I am really good at telling other people what to do to better themselves…even as I refuse to follow my own advice. Well, maybe that is out too. Maybe, when I sadly leave this bliss of early retirement, I will find the perfect job for myself once again. I want to be useful, make a difference, and still have freedom to enjoy my life now, while I am living it. Maybe….Instacart delivery driver? “What do you mean you didn’t order these donuts? They look delicious!”

Music: "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton

Heather Novak's professional history includes sales and customer service training and troubleshooting for businesses, but she loves motivational speaking best. Heather leads church events for youth, singles and women, has spoken for Chicago Apartment Association and many organizations throughout Indiana. Nowadays Heather is just another stay at home wild mama trying to loose some weight, keep some sanity and enjoy her life. She is being raised by two little girls named Portia and Libby and is indulged by a guy named John who was gracious enough to marry her. Heather blogs about F Words: Feisty Faith, Fumbling Family, Fairly Healthy Food, Failed Fashion and Fabulous Friendships. You can find her at