I am currently teaching group fitness classes (cycling, aerobics) at 3 different gyms at 6 different locations. Hardly unemployed. I left a high paying, easy, boring corporate job because it was sucking my soul out and made me so depressed that myself, my family, and my friends, quit recognizing me. I've always been cynical with a dark sense of humor, but this job honed that talent into scathing and unattractive sarcasm and disillusionment. So I quit. In a shit economy. And it was scary. But it was the right thing to do.
As to the perks...no, I don't sit on the couch eating bon-bons. (Admission--I did for the first week, substituting bon-bons for expensive cheeses and wine.) I have generated an even deeper bond with my golden retriever, Dante (read about his vacations here). We go for a drive every day and I've taught him new tricks. :)
I read almost obsessively, about a book every 2 days. I've tackled tasks that you can't get to when you're working full time, such as putting together honeymoon and wedding photo albums.
And while those sound trivial, when I was working non-marginally, those are those tasks that hang over your head. I cook more, and I clean a lot more (which, as a feminist, I hate to admit). But most importantly, the fog of depression and cynicism has lifted.
And I'm getting restless. I adore my free time, but I'm needing more, as I knew I would. I'm torn between re-entering the conventional workforce (cue retching sounds here) and going back to school. I adored university. I excelled. But my experience in research psychology was truly what booted me out of doing something like that. Research is crooked. And I don't know that I could be a clinical psychologist...your patients need you at all hours of the day. And I need boundaries. And student loans...I already pay $300 a month. Who needs more?
While I'm marginally employed, I want to use my time for charity. Caauses important to me include (other than saving beautiful golden retrievers' lives) include microfinance--where you loan very small amounts to people in third world countries to help their businesses. My wonderful mother in law turned me on to Kiva. I am a huge fan of public radio (jesus, that's cliche)--I love our local NPR affliate as well as the ultra-liberal Pacifica affiliate. They keep me company as I drive all over North Houston to teach aerobics classes. International women's rights is of huge importance to me as well.
Sometimes it occurs to me that myself and my husband are almost liberal cliches. Just read this site. Hits close to home.