A mid-midlife crisis

I’ve been in a midlife crisis for the last couple of years since I made the choice to be sober. I feel like I’m in the middle of a midlife crisis during my midlife crisis. I don’t love the word crisis so let’s just say I’m going thru a lot of self evaluation.

I guess I’m searching for myself. I’m looking for a “definition” of who I am without alcohol. I’m searching for myself as: a husband, a dog dad, a son, a brother, a friend, a golfer, a runner, a cyclist, a gamer, a project manager, a work-from-homer, a home owner, a community member, a Christian, a meditator, and others.

I’m constantly evaluating my life for what’s important and re-prioritizing. This leads to a lot of change. I pick up and drop hobbies. I prioritize my time as best as I can. I change my focus based on my needs. Lately, I’ve been prioritizing self-care. I find myself physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted a lot.

I saw this on Facebook from My Positive Outlooks. Find them on Facebook for positive quotes!

Big life changes lead to self evaluation

Marriage. Divorce. Second marriage. Purchasing homes. Trouble having kids. Church changes. Dog owner. Career changes. Sobriety. Fitness.

I think most of you will agree that those are all big life events that lead to change. All of these events have led to big evaluations of my life.

These events all had a profound effect on me. These events all led to incredible chances for growth and change. And I’ve needed help from family, friends and professionals for each step of the way.

I found working with a psychologist initially when I went thru my divorce. I take my mental health way more seriously now and see my counsellor once a month. But I didn’t start like that. I remember saying that the “d-word : divorce” didn’t exist in my vocabulary. It’s easier to speak like that when you are young. Now I say “never say never”.

Trouble having kids will change your focus from building a family to “What am I going to do with my life now?”. I never planned to live a life without kids. Compared to people with kids, I have a lot more free time for myself. And for me, it’s made it hard to find meaning in life. I think I’m still searching for meaning in my life. You end up investing more of your time in the family and friends that you have. And we invested our time in our dogs. Our dogs have become children to me. I can’t imagine my life without dogs. They are so precious to me. But it’s still an adjustment to not have children of my own.

And, of course, my changes with sobriety and fitness are well documented in my blog. This is my current stage of life. I’ve been sober for over 2 years, yet I’m still searching for my meaning in life. I’m still struggling to define myself. I’m still trying to find my center. Even after 18 months of blogging and opening up, I’m still searching for myself. I’m still struggling to figure out who I am.

What have I been focusing on?

Golf, fitness/cycling, selfcare, rest, dog park, family and friends. I’m finding myself crunched for time this summer.

Golf is a time consuming sport. A round of golf this year is running anywhere from 4 hours to 5.5 hours. Add 1-1.5 hours of driving time. Add 1 hour of warm up time. A round of golf is 6-8 hours of time. That’s a full day. I’m golfing two times a week this summer on Tuesdays and Saturdays. So on Tuesdays, I work a full day in the office, and then spend the rest of the day at the golf course. It’s a long day. Saturdays are filled with golf. And a round of golf can be exhausting…especially with the weather patterns we’ve been seeing. Wind. Smoke. Rain. Heat. If I add any type of additional time with my swing coach or at the range, that’s another 2-3 hours a week of time. Roughly, that’s 15 hours per week with golf. That’s a part-time job!!

Fitness is also time consuming and physically exhausting for me. I walk on the treadmill 6 times a week with my coffee for 45 minutes. I walk at lunch with Jack 5 times a week for 45 minutes. That’s already 1.5 hours a day walking. Last week, I had a full week of cycling training: 2 hour ride twice and a 5 hour ride on Sunday plus prep time for rides. That’s 18.25 hours a week (approximately) walking and cycling. Last week might have been a little high on the activity scale for me. But I bet that I spend 15 hours a week doing fitness activities.

Wow! 30 hours a week spent on golf and fitness. No wonder I’m finding myself tired all of the time this summer and out of time for anything else.

We’ve also added 1 hour at the dog park almost every evening. That’s about 5 hours a week or more depending on who is there. I’ve really enjoyed going to the dog park. We’re meeting lots of people and dogs in the neighbourhood. I know about 20 different dogs and 4 people. Although a bit scary at first, the dog park has become part of our routine. I find it very refreshing. Instead of heading to my computer or tv after supper, we head to the dog park. We get a good dose of social visiting and laughter watching the dogs play. Our dogs don’t play much. They walk around and greet all of the other humans in the park. It’s very cute and our poodles have become a big hit at the dog park. In my mind, they are the stars of the show!!

The rest of my time (in no particular order) is spent with family, friends, gaming, self care and rest. And we occasionally book up a weekend to Sundre or a weekend trip.

My body and mind are feeling the effects of committing to more golf and cycling this summer. And other hobbies and time for other things is impacted. A lot of days, I’m too exhausted to do anything else.

What am I missing?

Volunteering. More time with family and friends. Yardwork. Housework. Cleaning up clutter. Gaming. Dog sports. Ukulele. Leather crafting. Time at the beach. Time in the backyard. Recovery and stretching.

I only have so much time and energy each day. I don’t have room for more. These are all things that I no longer have time for or wished I had more time for. At the end of the day, I’m constantly prioritizing my time. Things like dog sports, leather crafting and ukulele have simply fallen off my priority list. I just don’t have time to commit to them and other things are more important.

There are other things that I wished I had more time to do. Our basement needs a major declutter. Our stone floor needs a full steam cleaning again. I would love more time at the beach, more time in the backyard and more time meditating. I’m usually too tired to do more. So I’m doing the minimum.

Family and friends time is prioritized as best as I can. Big events are a priority to attend. Keeping in touch via email, texts and phone calls is a priority. I’m doing the best that I can to keep in touch with my loved ones.

Finally, I always wish I had more time to volunteer. My workplace, Alberta Blue Cross, provides a ton of opportunity to volunteer in our community. Once in a while, I see an opportunity that I cannot refuse and signup. I really enjoyed volunteering for the PTO Canadian Triathlon finals in Edmonton last year, which led to my cycling passion this summer. So, one volunteer event led to a new hobby that takes time away from the opportunity to volunteer more. At some stage in my life, I want to volunteer more. This may have to wait until retirement.

This is always the bucket of time that suffers because of my fitness pursuit. This is always the bucket I’m constantly monitoring as well. Am I spending too much time golfing? Am I spending too much time chasing marathons and Tour de France – Edmonton? Am I too focused on personal fitness and thus recovery? Do I just need to be tired and do more?

Maybe this winter is finally the winter that I declutter the basement. I’ve been threatening to do it for years!

Filling Time

Honestly, society is focused on being busy and filling time. I find myself doing that a lot. Earlier this year, I had a lot of trouble with quiet time. I saw a big dip in meditation time and time spent reading because I didn’t like the quiet. I’m slowly getting back into a better routine with meditation and reading.

Is that why I keep finding new things to occupy my time? Is that why I took up cycling last summer? Or is cycling part of a fitness lifestyle that I didn’t want to lose when I injured my toe and couldn’t run? Is my toe feeling good enough that I can go back to running? Do I want to be a runner and cyclist? At one point, I thought maybe a triathlon might be next, but I just don’t have the time to add swimming to my list of activities.

It’s hard to “sit around”. Sitting around feels like a waste of time. I have a difficult time defining what sitting around is. I have a hard time being idle or doing things that don’t “contribute”. I’ve spent countless hours in therapy to accept being idle and accepting that I don’t always have to be busy.

Something like playing video games is really fun for me. But I can spend hours doing it. Those hours, instead, could be spent cleaning the house, or working on clutter, or doing yardwork. I feel so guilty about idle time. I feel guilty about my choices to golf or train for a cycle race instead of hanging out with family and friends or doing housework.

I continue to work thru this. Maybe it’s why I’m signed up for so much golf and cycling this summer. I’m trying to deal with that guilt. Or maybe, I’m just not able to be idle and these hobbies don’t seem like a waste to me. I’m doing hobbies that means something to me. They add value to me.

Yet, 30 hours a week is a lot of time for housework, yardwork, decluttering, etc.

I’m really evaluating what I do with my time right now…

How much psychology is too much psychology?

I’ve added a second psychologist to my calendar. Sounds funny when I’m talking about having no time; so I added something else. But I’m struggling a little mentally with my golf and fitness and I want help.

I’ve been very negative this summer. WIND! SMOKE! Ugh. Every time I golf or cycle there is wind and smoke. It’s not fun! I wrote a blog about windy days. You can check it out here: https://denniskreba.com/2023/05/18/windy-days/.

I’m not enjoying or having fun golfing or cycling. I’m finding myself lost in a grind. Golf is a constant grind of improvement. Wind and smoke only make it worse. Part of my enjoyment of golf is enjoying the summer weather. I’m finding it hard to enjoy playing golf in 40 km/hr winds. It’s been a very windy summer.

And cycling is about the same. It’s no fun cycling in big winds. And I’ve really pushed myself for a big goal with this 135 km race in August. This means hours and hours on the bike in the wind. It also means hours of cycling lost due to rain and smoke. I haven’t spent nearly enough time training this summer as I had hoped for the race. I only recently put a 115 km test ride together that gave me the confidence to proceed with the race in August. Up until that test ride, I was ready to quit due to lack of training. I’ve also been fighting some setup issues on my bike. I never anticipated that it would take me so long to find a comfortable riding position.

This happens to me. I commit to something and I pour my energy into it. I’m “all in”. I start cycling last year in August, and this year I’m training for a super huge 135 km race.

I decided in July that I would start working with a sports psychologist (Katie). Mainly my goal is to find the fun in golf again. I’m finding myself grumpy on course. And with my goal to be a single-digit handicapper, I’m finding myself focused too much on score and mishits than enjoying the game. I figured my problem is resiliency. I’m not resilient to adversity on the golf course. For some reason, I cannot accept the ups and downs in scores; I think I should be more consistent. I get upset at the time spent training, practicing and playing without results. I’m focused on the mishits, the negatives, and missing all of the good that I’ve achieved. And the more I try to control my emotions on the golf course, the less I seem to enjoy golf.

It’s easier than it sounds but I really just need to relax and remember that golf is fun! I thought I needed help with that.

But something has happened that I didn’t expect…my new psychologist is asking me questions that I don’t know the answers to. I’m being challenged in ways that I wasn’t expecting. That’s leading to a lot of self reflection. That’s leading me to another midlife crisis. I’m analyzing why I golf and why I’m into endurance fitness.

  • What are my core beliefs and values? How does golf fit into that? How does cycling fit into that? How do endurance sports fit into that?
  • What’s my goal in a round of golf? Am I there to enjoy the weather? Am I there to enjoy friends? Am I there for the competition? Do I enjoy the conversations?
  • Why do I golf if I’m not having fun?
  • Why do I want to be a “great” golfer? Is it for me? Is it for other people to see me as a great golfer? Why have I always dreamt of this?
  • How does golf make me feel?
  • Is golf only fun if I’m hitting the ball well? Why do I start catastrophizing after a couple of mishits? Why am I drawing conclusions from a small dataset?
  • Why did I sign up for a 135 km road cycle race? What is the role of achievements for me? Why do I set endurance goals? Why am I hesitant to move down to the 85 km race? Why do I need my goal to be “uncomfortable”?
  • Why do I enjoy endurance sports like running and cycling?

Ugh. That’s a lot to think about. I’m spending a lot of time in reflection about my life. Why do I care about what I care about? Why am I so concerned with being a great golfer? Why can’t I enjoy an average to bad round of golf that’s probably a great round for someone else? Why do I like endurance sports? Why do I set big goals like riding a 135 km road race or run a marathon when it’s way above my current skill level?

Who am I? I feel like I’m asking myself that question again.

Wrap Up

In fairness, the weather has been atrocious this summer. My swing coach and golf mentor said it’s been the worst weather for golf that she’s seen in 24 years of teaching. One of the things I enjoy about golf and running/cycling is the time outside. But the weather this summer has made that time very challenging for me.

I think setting big goals can have a negative effect on me. I get too focused on the goal and forget about the journey. I’m not resilient to setbacks or adversity. And I’m always reaching ahead. I’m never satisfied with today. I always want to be better at everything. As a perfectionist, that’s how I operate. It’s hard to turn off.

For golf, I’m focused on my score and handicap instead of enjoying it. And a single digit handicap is hard work. It’s not an easy goal. If golf isn’t fun, and I can’t handle “bad” rounds, then I shouldn’t be playing or I need to change my expectations. I’m only trying to get better because I enjoy golfing. But I don’t need to be perfect. I need to find a way to enjoy the journey, but right now it feels like a grind. And that’s why I’m seeking help.

I happened to mention my cycling journey at the same time to my new sports psychologist. I’m reading a book called How bad do you want it? – Mastering the psychology of mind over muscle by Matt Fitzgerald. Katie recommended the book and I already found the concepts invaluable during my 115 km training ride. I think I like endurance sports because they push me to my physical and mental limits. I like having a goal and achieving that goal. But why?

Picture credit to I Love Fitness on Facebook.

This all leads to fundamental life questions. And I don’t have all of the answers…yet. I’m searching because I’m not satisfied with my status quo. I’m not satisfied with my mindset. I guess I’m not 100% satisfied with my life right now. And I’m asking myself some tough questions.

Links

Plug for my golf coach if you’re looking to up your game: https://www.katrinakellygolf.ca/contact

Plug for Katie Castle at The Bridge Sports Therapy and Training center in Sherwood Park. I’ve only seen her twice but I enjoyed both sessions so far. https://thebridge.fit/team/katie-castle/

One Response

  1. I’m 58 and have felt like I’ve been in my version of a mid-life crisis these past few years.
    The kids are off on their own and my parents have left the planet. Oh, let’s not forget COVID.
    I think we all get to a time in our lives where we wonder what’s this for? Have I done enough or done anything?
    I’m not shopping for flashy sports cars or looking for a mistress. But there are times when I wonder why should I keep doing this? Is this fun, enjoyable or have any meaning?
    I think most of us could blabber on for thousands of words about life, but few of us have any answers that mean anything to anyone else.
    I do think that as you get older the questions fade away, get answered or make you laugh. And others can never be answered.

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