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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Monday, October 13, 2014

That #%&! To-Do List

There too much to do! There aren't enough hours in the day! I'm so overwhelmed, I don't have the energy to do anything! Sound at all familiar? Or is that just my life?

Case in point--it's been twenty-two days since my last post here. And yet my to-do list says I will write a post at least once every seven days.

Another case in point--Last spring, my son finished all the structural work on our renovated dining room, leaving me "only" the finish work. On my to-do list is prepping, painting, refinishing the dining table, making new cushions for the window seat, finding a set of chairs, new window treatments, a new centerpiece. . and so on. So far I've patched a few plaster cracks, sanded most of one window frame and. . .well, I've walked through the room at least twenty times a day. Does that count for anything?

Starting to see where I'm headed here? The old to-do list is nothing but a list. It doesn't contribute inspiration, motivation, or time. In some instances, it only serves to make us feel inadequate and frustrated.

It's so easy to find reasons, not to mention excuses, for not getting it all done. In my case, there are jobs, the ones that include a paycheck as well as the ones that are rewarded with meals on the table and a semi-clean house. Then there's my family, especially my husband, whom I refuse to completely neglect for the sake of. . .well, anything. Oh, and there's that book I'm working on, the one I hope to get out by Christmas? Don't let me sit down to the computer and open that file. I'll never get anything else done!

In my life, I've been to this place so many times, you'd think I could see it coming and maybe take a different tack? Being overwhelmed by too much to do is nothing new, but I have to ask why I keep letting things pile up. Then again, that's such a dumb question. First of all, I didn't let it happen. I did not intentionally commit to all of this in order to end up feeling overwhelmed. What I did was set out to accomplish a number of  worthy tasks, and forget to give myself permission to take as long as needed to complete them. Everything on my to-do list was put there by me. The deadlines are my own. There are no penalties for delays. Well, other than my own impatience, but there again, I'm the one in control, right?

Emerson said "life is a journey, not a destination." The to-do list will never be completely done. Along the way, other opportunities and responsibilities will jump on board and distract us, or perhaps lead us to something more important at that moment. If we are closed to those distractions, what might we miss out on? Yes, the list is important as a general reminder of things I need to accomplish, but I refuse to let it make me feel guilty or nonproductive. I hereby, once again, give myself permission to enjoy the journey, to explore the sidetracks, and learn from the delays. Maybe I'll even put those things permanently at the top of my new to-do list.

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