4:30am! That must be the alarm. Better get up and jump into the shower to start my day. The routine begins, a routine that has lasted over 30 years. Once dressed and ready, I head out the door to get to Newark, New Jersey, leaving far too early to hit traffic. 7am I am at my desk. Whether it was in Newark, Woodbridge, Edison or other companies I worked for, I was always at my desk early. I always wanted to beat the traffic and I was an early bird, think better in the morning, more creative. Or so I was made to believe.
A typical day meant that I worked non-stop, lunch at my desk and back to back meetings. It was rare I went out to lunch and if I did, there was a business reason to meet with someone over lunch, it was rarely for pleasure. My bes think time was always in the morning. By the time I got home I felt wiped out, drained. Going out became a novelty that didn’t happen much over the last few years. Sometimes I would attend a board meeting at the theatre, or a quick bite to eat with someone, but out for a long evening didn’t happen much. My years of concerts and in bed by midnight just to get up at 5am and start all over again had basically ended with my 40’s! This work is emotionally draining, and a drain on my brain power. I could not really think much once I was home. Bed time was generally 10pm to start all over again. For the last 3 ½ years, once a week, the alarm would go off at 3:30am so I could be at my desk in Shelton, Connecticut by about 7:15am, not hitting traffic along the 2plus hour commute. On those days, I work until about 6:30pm and then have dinner and sleep at a hotel. I was a regular at a few places in the area and certainly at the hotel. They know me by name, have my credit card on file so no need to even take out my wallet and upgrade me regularly due to my Hyatt status. I get a little more sleep there as I can sleep until about 6am and still be at my desk early.
My errands at home almost all occurred on the weekends, no time to do much otherwise. When I started commuting to Connecticut I realized I could get some errands done there, so I would shop at Bed Bath and Beyond, Trader Joe’s, Staples and the party store when I needed to, but it didn’t happen that much. Most errands were on the weekends, it was hard to do much else.
This has been my structure for a very long time. This has been the rhythm of my life as a professional. And I thought it played to me perfectly. I am a morning person. I am not a night owl. I am most creative in the morning. I think more clearly in the morning. I don’t want to go out at night. These were all the beliefs I had about me and the structure that I thought I had put into place.
Ha! Joke is on me. The structure was put into place by a profession and company that expected that I be in meetings all of the time. The structure was put in place out of necessity to not lose my mind in traffic and be able to get everything possible done in the work day that I could. The structure was in place in order for me to do the best work I could as a Human Resources executive at a Fortune 50 company.
Now, I don’t have structure that is imposed on me. Now my structure is mine to create. Breaking out of the structure and dispelling these beliefs are front of mind right now. Can I stay up later and be productive at night? Am I really more creative in the morning? Do I need to sit at a desk and computer to be creative? These are some of the questions that I am beginning to ask myself.
With my dad still staying with me, I am not fully prepared to begin to experiment with my structure and my new rhythm. I am still waking up early to accomplish things before he and I start our day together. Some days that includes doctor’s visits, some days it means helping him with a shower or handling his bills. Sometimes it is just obvious that he wants to just talk, which we do.
I haven’t really begun to build out my next chapter yet, so my structure still feels similar to what it was with a few adjustments to my rhythm. I don’t get up as early as I did, generally I am up about 6:30 or 6:45 each morning. Lucy seems to be a great alarm clock as her stomach tells her what time to wake me up!
I seem to be staying up later, reading, writing and meditating. I am not drained at the end of the day so I am able to stay up later. I feel somewhat productive all day long, a new feeling for me. My errands can get done during the week as well, so I am not spending my weekends with nail appointments, food shopping, haircuts, etc.
I can see that my rhythm is changing, slowly. I am beginning to eradicate those beliefs one by one and begin to build new patterns for myself. I may always be a morning person, and that may never change. I am beginning to feel different about the night time though and enjoying the freedom that the new rhythm is giving me.
My new rhythm of life, changing and evolving as I evolve. I am excited about finding a new way to work and be so that my work is not my life, it just fits in as a part of me, not all of me.