Good to hear from you again, and with quite the questions. So I'm not just blowing wind, let's see: I've had one of the classical 'traumatic' childhoods, have lost many loved ones to various forms of demise and have wrestled with/examined life & death issues from many angles for decades now. This is in response to your first question. Budo training is a part of who I am because it speaks to me of these issues of how we perceive life and death, that the intensity of each is no different in the moment. On the mat I am constantly faced with life and death in many forms because I'm there 100% (might not always appear that way after a tough day at work
). Any energy shift is about life and death; the mind blows open or the ego slams you shut; you realize you escaped blowing out your knee by a fraction of a movement, or were that close to getting your neck twisted. Personal encounters are constantly expanding and contracting, which they do in daily life, but the physicality of the training--for me--makes it all more real somehow. If this is what you meant, then yes, I understand how this training speaks to you.
~~About the other part of your question: I'm 46 and have learned I can have nothing without honesty (with where my body/mind is at any given time), balance and prioritizing. I work a 40 hr week, keep a household, train (up to 6 times a week), am a floundering novelist and am thinking of taking up drumming. I also practice yoga 3 times a week, but do it to stay limber for Aikido. Also light weight training twice a week for bone density. This whole schedule flexes and flows, naturally, as Life dictates at times. In my 2nd year of Aikido I passed through were (it seems) you are now(?). I think overall just prioritizing and organizing, with that onging dash of honesty, helped beyond messure. I don't know if your dojo offers different sorts of classes but one thing that helps me is mixing up the training i.e., beginner's class, advanced class, weapons, ukemi, centering...all a different flavor and different body work/intensity. Also--and this was a BIG lesson for me!--admitting when I'm not up to steam or am nursing a tweek and it's okay (even with myself now) to train low intensity. I find this a wonderful time to work directly on the subtle principles and movements. I came to Aikido from a similar MA but the ukemi was different enough that I had about 3 years of body adjustment but now actually see my body improving through training instead of just being beaten down. It does happen if you allow the time.
~~Hope some of this helps, Deb, take care. Perhaps someday we'll meet on the mat