As I was working towards this new life I am living, I started a document. The point of this document was to record all the things that were important to me. All the things that I was doing that I wanted to continue doing or that I wanted to start doing once I had more time.
I’ve called it several different things; currently, it is called “Work_Life Planning,” though I’m still not sure I’m settled on that…as if what I call it somehow matters at all.
I used one of those SmartArt Graphics in Word. It’s a large circle in the middle, surrounded by four smaller circles. The design falls in the category of cycles, though I might argue it better fits in the relationship category but again, neither here nor there.
In the large circle, I included things I consider personal. I have things like travel, journal, and read that I have and will always do, and things like meditate, learn Spanish, and meet people, that I have tried to do half-heartedly in the past and now want to devote real effort to.
In the four smaller circles, I put the professional projects I am now engaged in. There is CCL, for Connected Content, Ltd., the name of my business; there is UF, for the University of Florida at which I am an adjunct professor; there is book; and there is blog.
To this document, I have since added other items as I grapple with how to manage my time. A graphic representation of the way I try to break up my day and calendars trying to do the same for weeks and months. But I regularly revisit my original circles and think.
I think and I worry.
I think about all I left behind to live this new life I have created. My dream life.
I think about the time, even before I went to Spain and decided on a solid plan to make this life a reality, sitting at a friend’s kitchen table, my relationship having ended just a few months before, while she was telling me I could now do whatever I wanted. And the biggest thing I could think of was to find a way to live and work from anywhere.
Or I think about the time years before that, as I sat in our building’s cafeteria, having lunch with a colleague and friend as she was telling me about the business her mentor created writing dossiers for drugs. This was the moment when the seed was first planted. That I learned I could use my pharmacy training to be a writer and not be tied to working in a particular place.
I think and I worry that I’m not doing it well.
That somehow, I’ve managed to create all this opportunity by way of more time, and I am wasting it. Spending too much of it not making enough progress toward something tangible.
I look at my circles as if willing them to become the purpose, the satisfaction, the meaning that I am waiting for. The feeling I had as I was working toward this goal. Planning, building, saving. Making the dream happen rather than having it fulfilled.
It’s not that I’m not enjoying the dream fulfilled. I am!
I enjoy being able to pop over to Rome next weekend to meet up with a friend. I enjoy that I’ve been to a concert in Hyde Park and my roommate’s art exhibition. I enjoy the fantastic women I’ve met, with whom I’ve had lovely dinners and conversation. I enjoy that I’ve been on dates with men who ask if I fancy a walk and talk about visiting their mum.
I think it’s that, without a new dream, there will always be something missing. That nagging feeling that drives me, again and again, to stare at my circles.
I don’t think we humans – or at least not this human – are meant to only coast. To realize a dream at age 45 and say ok cool, the rest of life is gravy. I’ll just hang out and enjoy.
And it’s not just a matter of goals. Dreams are different than goals. They provide a different kind of spark. You also can’t simply decide to have a new one.
BUT, while I must admit, I started this post feeling rather down and heavy about all of this, I no longer do. At least for this moment. How often, after all, does one get to scan this great big, crazy mixed-up world for a new dream?!
As difficulties go, this is not a bad one to have.
And now, for the little slice of what I’ve enjoyed since last we met…
The Eagles' 50th anniversary tour in Hyde Park.
If you're thinking that's a plane flying over a map of Colorado as Joe Walsh plays Rocky Mountain Way, then you'd be right!
From a pub called The Boogaloo on the way to the Parkland Walk.
Strange to hear the clopping of horse hooves on a busy, modern street in London and stranger still to see a horse-drawn hearse.
Didn't get to go in, but had fun at the pub next door!