So, if a structured lifestyle is out, what is the configuration of my ideal day? I would characterize it as orderly but in an organic way, not driven by anything as arbitrary as a clock.
1. Synchronization with the sun: When I have the freedom to control my schedule, I wake up when the sun rises. That means that my wake up time changes with the season.
2. Related to item #1, I have as much natural light as is possible. When I worked for a network of health clubs a few years ago, I chose to hold my training appointments in the two clubs with huge windows looking out over a pool and courtyard.
3. “Can we have class outside?” (a question asked of almost every teacher on almost every really nice spring school day I remember!) Even on days when my main activity is (I confess) watching television, I take breaks between favorite programs to go outside for at least half an hour at a time.
4. Changes of scenery. At more than one job in the past, I’ve selected duties that allowed me to spend part of my workday at one location and part at another. On my best days now, I have a 6am dog walk, 8am workout, a couple of hours in a cafe with the laptop, another dog walk, a few hours sitting with cats or playing with dogs at the SPCA, dinner in a restaurant with a book/notebook, some social time with friends, and a few hours in front of the tube before bed. Working the eight-hour work shift feels like being stuck in a particularly creepy episode of the Twilight Zone.
5. Open body language. I didn’t realize how important this was to me until I briefly worked for an organization that sent young instructors into public schools to teach physical education. During the training session, I observed that my colleagues, fellow kinesthetics, spent break times chatting while doing sit ups, shooting hoops, rather than sitting or standing still. I noticed that I was breathing continuously! I did not have the sensation I’ve had when working office jobs — that I took a giant breath as soon as I stepped out of the doors. I had attributed it to office formality or stress. I believe it is just the strain of being in a group of people who do not constantly move and the unconscious stifling I do to fit in.
I think I’ve discovered the fountain of youth — JUST saying NO to the “straight job” track. My body needs to know it’s alive!