For the thirteen years I lived in the historic district just West of downtown Loveland, Colorado I maintained a morning and late night routine which only now, ten months after selling my house do I truly appreciate … and miss. To be clear, my sense of routine may differ from others, for the longest I went without leaving the state was a little more than four months. But for those days in which I was in Colorado, my routine was defining for me.
As one who has been self-employed for most of my working life, my routine is entirely under my control. For those of you who have “real jobs” and dream of running your own company, realize that in this place you are the only one who determines when you rise, when you eat, shop, exercise, work on the house, visit friends, and when you make time to generate income. It is a wonderfully horrible, self-inflicted condition from which you may never recover for the very thought of someone again telling you when you need to be at work causes waves of anxiety, yet, the realization you are one hundred percent responsible for every dollar you earn is enough to invoke a panic attack.
The only way to survive self-employment is routine. Hourly, daily, weekly routine.
As one who is truly not very good at routine as I am forever distracting myself with the next big thing, I do look back to my years in Colorado and realize that in the chaos I called norm, I had a wonderful daily routine which helped me define my self-employed days, both as CEO of Terra Soft and as a contract web developer before and business developer in the past few years.
If I was not sleeping outside on my sleeping deck, I usually slept on the floor of the living room, nestled between the couch at my head, matching sofa-chair at my feet, and home theater system and bay windows to the left. Two or three books, my laptop, and cup of tea stacked to my right closed the boundaries of my safety zone. On rare occasion I even set up my tent in the living room to provide the deepest sleep possible without being out of doors.
Each morning I woke to National Public Radio. No matter what time I went to sleep, 11:30 PM, midnight, or 1 AM, I always woke at 6 AM even if I remained in a slumber while listening to the morning programs. The NPR theme song was for me not unlike the sound of the radio on my grandparents farm in Iowa. No matter where you slept in the farm house, you knew Grandpa and Grandma were awake when the smell of coffee and the sound the of the local news radio filled the air.
On Saturday or Sunday mornings, the voice of Scott Simon was as welcomed as a phone call from my own father. I would prepare my breakfast of yogurt or oatmeal, Colorado honey, granola, bananas or blueberries and juice and then settle in for an hour of listening to and learning from national and global news, personal stories and story telling.
Today, from Buffalo Peak Ranch, two hours west and south of Denver Colorado, after nine months living overseas, I need something to bring me back to that norm. This will be my home for the next three to four months. The isolation is wonderful, the only way I could return to the United States after learning to live in so many cultures, after adjusting to so many norms. At the same time, the isolation is challenging, for I crave the kind of connection which is ever present in Africa, greetings, handshakes, smiles at every corner, in every shop, school, store, and home.
In this place, now, I must make routine again. In this time, now, I must finish the projects I have started. No one will wake me. No one will scold me. The reward of three finished films and at least one finished book will be mine to carry and mine to own.