|Last Thursday's High Country trail|
Last night I finished reading a book and turned out the light, snuggled into my nice bed and closed my eyes. (Smart Guy usually comes to bed an hour or two later.) It wasn't easy to fall into sleep, as the story in the well-written book kept intruding itself, but then I began to think about the title of this post, which usually helps me get into whatever the mood of the present moment might be. Sure enough, I realized that the need for structure in my life is on my mind.
I like to wake early and go to bed early. If I stay up until 10:00pm (like I did last night), it's rather unusual. My normal bedtime is two hours earlier than that. Sometimes I'll try to stay awake, but it's usually a lost cause, as I begin to doze in my chair. But the book was impossible to put down: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It was recommended by one of my blogging friends, and it's much different from my usual fare. It's a mystery/thriller that has more twists and turns than any book I've read for awhile. It kept me awake, even though I'd had quite a full day at the Drop Zone.
My summer life and my winter life are completely different, but the structure of my days remains the same: wake early and read and comment on my favorite blogs online, then check out the news and comics I enjoy, read email and respond. By that time more than an hour has passed. I get out of bed, dress for the day, and head to the kitchen to make breakfast. By the time I leave the house to catch the bus (at 7:05am), I've been awake for two hours. At this time of year, the walk to the bus is really pleasant, birds singing away, a few people sleepily heading into their own days, and it feels good to walk at a brisk pace for a half mile to the bus stop. I see the same people there every day, and they see me. We sometimes chat for a bit.
When I get off the bus at the downtown station, my coffee shop is just a half block away. My fisherman friend Gene is usually already there, but while we enjoy our lattes, little Leo and his dad and a couple other friends usually arrive. I miss all of them when they are not around. Gene will leave in a week for his summer fishing hiatus in Alaska. He and his crew will be gone for six weeks or so, depending on how the fishing goes. I'll miss him while he's gone, but I will also reap the benefits of some great sockeye salmon when he returns.
Then I head to the Y at around 8:30am for my 9:00 class. I see the same people every day, and even if I only nod a greeting, we are all part of each other's daily lives. This time of year, everyone is lightly dressed and smiles are the most common expression I see. In the winter, we are huddled into our coats and hurrying from place to place, trying to stay warm and dry.
After my workout and shower, I head back to the bus to my home. I see different people on the way back; we all know and recognize each other. It's nice to be part of a community. Once I'm home, I usually spend some time catching up with Smart Guy, and I fix my lunch from the wonderful ingredients that he prepared earlier.
Then comes the part of my day that varies depending on what needs to be done: garden, laundry, shopping, reading, visiting the library, appointments, whatever. Sometimes we might go out together, but it's more usual for us to follow our own pursuits. In the evening, though, we are usually watching our favorite TV shows together or spending some time just hanging out.
On Thursdays I go hiking with the Senior Trailblazers, and on the weekend, my routine varies depending on the weather and time of year. Yesterday I drove down to Snohomish and enjoyed playing in the air with my friends. I didn't stay late, though, and headed home with plenty of daylight left. However, I buried my nose in the book and was pretty much stuck there until I finished it and was released.
And here I am, finishing up my post, thinking ahead to the day's activities. I need to harvest some strawberries and check on the progress of my garden, and I'm thinking of going for a nice walk around Lake Padden for my daily exercise. The weather has been so wonderful that it's difficult to think of being inside when I could be outdoors enjoying it. So far the temperature has been in the low 70s, perfect!
Although there is nobody telling me how to live my life, or that I must rise early and head out the door, it's through the structure of my day that I find enjoyment and stability. It's probably a holdover from the years of working. I was always the first one at the office and was more productive then, before others arrived was when I was most able to concentrate. I tell people who ask that the main part of my life that has changed in retirement is that instead of having a job to structure my days, I get to choose my own path and satisfy my own needs.
I love my life. And I love my routines; my enjoyment comes from having full days with a structure to bind it all together. But that's just me. How about you?