Rebuilding a life at middle-age is an unpleasant chore. This is a fact younger people cannot fathom, my contemporaries know all too well and older people try to forget. One has no choice but to schlep through each day like a lab mouse working its way through a maze to a hunk of cheese it can smell but not yet taste. The key to making it is to hold on to the grain of hope intrinsic to that statement: The mouse can smell the cheese. It works its way through the maze because it knows the cheese is there.
Some days, I can’t detect a whiff of queso in the air. No swiss, no Muenster, no provolone. Other days, I think I might have a few slices stuffed inside my pillow case.
Cheese is tasty, wonderful and one of life’s great pleasures, but the metaphor grows strained. What I’m after is renewed contentment, specifically, a kind of freedom that can only come from carving out for myself a new career, new routines and new interests. What might the average day of this renewed contentment be like? I got it so cold, I can lay it out in military time:
0400 HRS: Wake up, pull back an 800 thread count sheet and make my way to the bathroom to wash up, slip on gym clothes and head out.
0430 HRS: Spend a good 90 minutes stretching, pumping and running my way to a healthy endorphin rush.
0630 HRS: Whip up a veggie recovery omelette and chow down.
0700 HRS: Blog, pound out prose, do research and promote my work via social media.
1000 HRS: Snack time.
1015 HRS: Back to the keyboard.
1215 HRS: Business calls.
1300 HRS: Lunch.
1330 HRS: Chores.
1530 HRS: Kid time. After school snacks, extracurricular activities, helping with homework and projects.
1900 HRS: Dinner time.
1930 HRS: Kitchen clean up, prep for down-time.
2000 HRS: Down-time. A neighborhood stroll, games with the kids or maybe some TV.
2200 HRS: Lights out.
Just a framework; Google Maps directions to MyNewNormal. It ain’t sexy, but after what I’ve lived through, just a month of days like that would be better for me than a stateroom on a seven-day Caribbean cruise.
I work toward the day when I can make my living doing what I love, taking care of my body and home and greatest of all, being a model of consistency and self-fulfillment to my kids and PRESENT for them. This is dreaming big for me.
Not there yet. Not even close. So begins another day of seemingly random events. As usual, I will exert whatever control I can and, pardon the backpedal, I’ll keep sniffing for that cheese.