Mar 13, 2015
I am totally option gal. I hoard options like it is my given right as a free person. I love choices, love to multitask, and am multi-talented. I am also a child of the media generation. Homework with the radio and/or the TV on at the same time? No problem.
But as an adult with a multitude of mandatory jobs as a parent and a wife, and many other creative endeavors I aspire to experience and learn, I have long been overwhelmed by my possibilities.
I write again and again about my brimming to do lists. And have gotten to the point where I long to have a good long crafting day without worrying about how dirty the toilets are. Because they are dirty right now. And how could I possibly think of doing anything fun when I have a potential health safety issues to take care of in my bathrooms.
When possibilities become a problem, it’s time to take a hard look at why you’ve collected them and what it is that you need to let go of or embrace to make a how to move on plan.
If you can, separate them into different categories after you spill them. Perhaps you see a pattern of visits with people and cards to write. You could be in need of people intouch-ness. Crafting projects galore? You may need some creative time. Cleaning and fixing? You need a space that’s in order and unbroken. There’s nothing at all wrong with any of your needs. They’re asking for your compassionate attention.
Somehow, I have an unwritten rule book in my head about which things can happen before the other things happen. It’s a conscious unquestionable choice that I must have my kitchen cleaned before I get on with the rest of the day. Dirty bathrooms would make my Virgoan Grandmother roll over in her grave. But I can call myself on it and choose differently today. Because I am actually in charge of this vehicle called family and life. Don’t anyone try to tell me different. I can also say no thank you to anyone else trying to throw stuff down on my to do list without me choosing to put it there.
Now is the only time you’ll ever have. Make it possible to have the things that are most important happen in a “now” coming soon to you. Schedules and lives and priorities change. If the time isn’t now, do not however doubt that there will probably be a time in your future when you’ll be able to sit and knit. Or write your novel or just read a book. Mine. Sigh. A little faith here on the knowing-there-will-be-a-time will allow for the release of the anxiety of not being able to do so now. You may find that this perspective change will shift you into a place of permission to do it sooner. Or you’ll revel in the knowledge that you are not giving up, just allowing this to be a two-year from now goal.
Plop that bad boy right into you schedule. My husband says it’s harder to make an appointment than break it. When you get to that moment in your life, that day with that activity scheduled, it may be entirely possible that you may have to cancel. But it’s equally possible that you’ll have opened up a door to make progress.
Even the smallest activities can be scheduled as opposed to waiting for the “right time”. On your phone calendar or your wall calendar, you can write tasks in at 30 minute intervals. A half hour to clean/clear a closet. A half hour to wash all the fan blades in the house. A half hour to read. Keep your expectation about that task at that time and you may surprise yourself with your progress with this method.
I find when you are not actively involved in any of your possibilities, it can make you feel anxious. Take one action step towards any of your goals/activities, and you’ll feel so much better. Even one work-out always makes me feel proud. A half hour with some paper, glue, and markers to work on making a card for a friend and I’m invigorated.
When there’s too many important tasks, nothing’s important. When you overwhelmed by your options, or your obligations, you lose your priorities and your clarity. Perhaps it’s partly about the permission we give ourselves to move on. And maybe it’s also about our lousy methods to organize our thoughts and our time around what we feel we want to do and what we must do. I do think we can outsmart ourselves and using the above mentioned tasks as guides and inspiration, there’s more than a little chance that our possibilities can become the probabilities we want them to become.
Dec 23, 2013
PMS, a full moon, and Christmas aren’t a good combo. Even with a whole lot done, I felt incomplete and irritated at everything this past week. Not feeling the ho ho ho in the holiday tone. Here I had a beautiful baby, everything to be grateful for, and I felt resentful. What?
I want to judge it and yet I can’t when it may be telling me something needs an adjustment.
I’ve been feeling more jazzed than ever to move ahead on my blog. Take the next step. I planned to use all the pictures I’d already taken, enjoy an afternoon or two of all out creativity and take more pictures. I’d have blog posts for days.
Then life happened to me. A ton of “do-this-befores“, baby interruptions, and regular chores. When I missed my dental cleaning appointment, I had a fit. I would not be writing all those blog posts I’d intended to. The timeliness of them had passed anyway. I still had no help with the baby. And all the “Making Big Blog Plans for 2014” posts was making me feel crappier.
By yesterday, 4 days until Christmas, I was saying, “I think I might need some time off.” Time to contemplate 2014, paint my fingernails, read a magazine, create time and brain space. Relax. Be. Breath.
I keep thinking of a scene in the Color Purple where Oprah’s character Sophia drives her mistress’s car to visit her children. She hasn’t seen them in a heartbreakingly long time. It could be the holiday season. Only when they get there, the woman freaks out. Sophia has to drive her away unable to spend time with her loved ones. It’s heart wrenching. And familiar. To be within reaching distance of the one thing that will make you happy and have to leave it.
I desperately need creative time. I know I went and had me a baby and that is what it is. There are ways around this attention conflict. Expectation adjustments are up to me. Meeting my needs? Up to me. Letting things go that are standing right in my way? Up to me. Do your best, let go of the rest.
My present to myself will be to list out my responsibilities as if they were expenditures and overview my task budget. I may be spreading myself too thinly. And diluting my potential for greatness I feel capable of. I suspect I may just need my own permission to be great.
(And for a little Christmas Picture Prettiness, check out my final Christmas Decor Extravaganza post from last year.)
Apr 1, 2013
My intention was to rid myself of all the to-do’s befuddling my mind before I had this baby. I wrote this post about the baby to do list. Not the avoidance of the to-do list that I spoke of here.
But there was more going on behind the scenes than gathering baby supplies and completing house projects. I had committed to completing much more. More than I realized. The truth is mine to tell but maybe I didn’t want to tell it to myself.
I’m a multifaceted girl. Not only do I have a blog, I have a big nasty house to clean and keep, animals and extended family that need care, and two men to take care of. Plus a baby. There’s laundry and cooking and I don’t think I accurately conceive of how much I intend to accomplish on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.
A few items I had wanted to complete before the baby was born, and may still be in the process of doing so:
Redecorate Eamon’s room
Plan Eamon’s 8th birthday party
Clean out garden beds
Take back Marks’ suitcase with wonky wheel
Design logo for the Culinary School for which I am on the board
Redesign husband’s website
Catch and spay stray cat in the backyard
And then remember, there’s still those tasks taken for granted. Like writing thank you notes, balancing the checkbook, watering the plants, changing the cat box, and changing the sheets on the bed. These tasks are a part of maintaining the life to which I’ve become accustomed. Can’t not do them.
I think that our unspoken unaccounted for to do lists can be a form of self sabotage. Our brains fill with purpose and promise of the power of accomplishment. But unlisted and unchecked and continually added to, our to do lists become monstrous brain tape worms.
And I suspect there is more of this going on than we realize. Feeding our anxieties and fueling our compulsions, we relive a low-grade post traumatic stress disorder kinda life. Never enough done and never enough food or alcohol or whatever to quell the voices that say we’ve not done enough or enough right.
My new MO is to attempt to write my thoughts and list them. And thus I can walk away for days. And not to add too many things back on the list that I can’t enjoy its clearing.
I am impressed with myself these days. Anything beyond the baby is a bonus. And I did get the new suitcase, design a kickin’ graphic, and redecorate that room. Call it will power, resolve, or stubbornness. But I’m taking names. Next.
Mar 3, 2013
For many, the “To Do” list is a favorite treasured angst. The baby/hospital prepare list and the bucket list are two other versions of lists at different life phases. Sometimes tasks are just tasks. And sometimes they hold more importance in your head than what they seem to on paper. There’s always one last item hanging on the list, and I should blow it off and ready my mental self to deliver the baby and move on… except, I’d be happier if this one last item were completed.
I thought of the scene from The Jerk where Steve Martin is backing out of the house naked saying, “ I don’t need anything except (he picks up the ashtray)…that’s all…just this ashtray…and this paddle game…remote control…matches…that’s all I need.” All I need to have happen before this baby comes is to complete the redecoration of the big brother’s room. That’s all I need.
Unfortunately, I ‘ve had too much time to actually complete these items. And I’ve commanded completion of said items over the borrowed time while awaiting this baby’s arrival. All except the daggone pillow covers I have put off for “sew” long. They are now sitting in front of me saying, no excuse, sew me or else. Just like during 2010’s Snowzilla snowstorm when I had nothing better to do than load those digital pictures into that digital picture frame for my in-laws. Surely I’ll be super proud of myself for having completed the procrastinated project. And then off to the hospital we will go.
I offer that the trick to getting your to do list done is to stop adding items to it. When I checked back on my list, I was able to mostly clear it. Except for burlapping the walls in the hallway (inhaling the fumes of spray adhesive while balancing on a ladder with a sharp cutting tool in my hand are prohibitive actions at this moment), those pillows are the (ma)lingering To Do.
So I’ll gladly delegate it to my Mom when she’s here helping, hee hee, and have a seat to watch that Netflix movie that’s been on the shelf for a month, I promise. But don’t expect me to nap while the baby’s napping. Once I know the baby’s flavor, blue or pink, there’s baby room in need of redecorating. You know I’ve always been a nester. I’m happier that way.
Jan 17, 2013
The avoidance of doing things we have to do emerged as a theme this week at my house. Our reasons for avoidance seemed to include anticipation of pain and discomfort, lack of clarity, lack of priorities, and fear. And a little I don’t like to be told what to do.
Whether on paper or in our heads, the things to do list exists. These items may be for our well-being or another’s, for progress, clarity, or growth but we know why they’re necessary to carry out. And yet we question and avoid them all the same.
I needed a lot of physical things accomplished this past week. And as the time unfurled in which I wanted to get them done, I realized my husband had his own list and he would be of no help. Physically, I dread even going up stairs. And I knew my tasks involved multiple stair efforts.
I was irritable in anticipation. I snapped at my husband Mark and said he needed to stay right at the desk and finish the thing he kept saying he needed to finish. Because if I heard him say he needed to finish it one more time, I would throttle him. Then I enlisted my seven year-old’s help and plowed ahead. I snapped and growled and ached and groaned. And eventually I was done. Mark eventually completed his task as well.
Then Mark had to go shopping for essential rain gear for an outdoor job called the Presidential Inauguration the next day. He “remembered” this late in the afternoon. I told him he needed to go immediately and just get it done. He sat at the desk to do “research”. He called someone. When he finally made it out the door, he admitted he didn’t feel like going out in the rain and getting gas. And he dreads shopping. Bye, bye I said.
Of course, he completed his mission and got exactly what he needed all by his shopping-phobic self. I had gotten through my forced march of to do’s even though it was slightly painful. But with this last hurrah of my all day morning sickness, everything is painful. When you do what you feel needs to be done, you feel good about yourself. And that is the real goal. And it doesn’t hurt to drop those things which aren’t necessary.
As I am now faced with a To Do list that seems to grow as my energy depletes, I have to prioritize, delegate, and figure out where the real blocks are. Are the blocks based on physical restraints, time restrictions, “I don’t know how” oriented, a need for supplies or equipment, or are you waiting for nice weather. Once I have discovered my reason for avoidance, I can make better choices to help myself out of the “I can’ts” and into the “I did its”. Wish me luck, I’m going in.