To Do Lists and Expectations

It dawned on me today that I have a lot of BIG stuff on my To Do’s.  At first I thought “YIKES!”.  Soon though, I was really ok with it. I’ve never been a plodding, carefully considering, look before you leap kind of person. I’ve always been a Jump First and it seems to mostly work for me.

SO, now, when I feel overwhelmed or unfocused, I can remind myself I’m doing BIG STUFF and it’s okay if I just do some little stuff. It’s even ok if I lay low and do nothing on my lists. I might need to recharge the batteries.

I definitely make sure that family is the alarm clock. I make decisions and time allotments so they can be happy. Maybe take the trash out for Carm if I remember before he does, encourage him to make time for his hobbies.  Sauntering to the park. Watching cartoons. Taking a hike at the farm. Give the kidlets my attention. Do Eric’s laundry even though he’s all grown up, but he’s studying. Even though most of my practical time spent keeping Sophie’s school viable, or keeping a poetry community thriving, that’s less important than kids feeling important and my men too.. I’m not spectacularly good at this approach but I feel good about giving it a priority status. I always get “more” accomplished or get through the writer block after I stop for them. So you know, win/win.

For months and months I was beating myself up internally for all the stuff that’s not getting done, for all the time that felt wasted. So, with some regularity I began writing down everything I did during the day. It felt kinda silly at first. I even listed the obvious, like “drove kids to school”. After a few days I got a realistic picture of  how my time is spent. You know what? I do a lot.  It just doesn’t look like I’m doing BIG STUFF all day. It’s a gazillion little steps. Some go towards my massive goals and some are the “routine” of daily living. I NEEDED to see this realism.

So much of the meat of  BIG STUFF is about developing new habits. We all know this means crazy challenging. Regardless, I want the change, I want the new habits. Health issues pointed directly towards my mindless eating and uneducated choices. It’s funny it all started with an acquaintance, who is now a good friend ( hi Christine!) who lent me a book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. This book led me down new paths of knowledge. More books and films.. Learning about real food vs what the food industry offers us. I used to think food was just fuel, an aesthetic, an ethnic buffet or family tradition. I didn’t see how politics, ethics, morality and good health were inextricably linked. So one of the BIG THINGS has been teaching myself how to cook a new way. The Metabolic Syndrome was knocking on my door. I also sleuthed my gluten sensitivity. It’s kinda like stepping into a new world.  It means restocking your pantry, and “unlearning” to bake and finding affordable options. I can’t just grab a bite anywhere. So much more prep than I’m used to. I will talk about this more I’m sure. It’s meant that I approach shopping as “voting with my dollar”. I don’t just shop where it’s convenient.  But yeah, BIG change.

Another BIG THING is being accountable. Not being lazy and letting things go too often. Purging all the excess. Paying attention to grown up things like bills and budgeting. Embracing organization-in a way that’s mine, devising systems that work for me. I GO-GET but I’m not so good at FOLLOW THRU and Details. Adapting this new approach means I take time to reflect before I say yes to a favor or a request. I do this because I want to be as good as my word. I don’t want to flake on things so much. I don’t want to be a control freak but I do want to have some control. I make great strides one week and then fail big another. It’s hard making this adaptation/transition BUT I do know it only takes an hour or two to spruce up for company now. This in contrast to at least 8 hours, if not a whole weekend, it took before. More often the the kids and I can find things. We still have to look a few places, and guess a few times. But things DO show up.

A REALLY BIG THING I’m addressing is “Stop making excuses”.  It’s so easy to rationalise why things aren’t working out and how it’s not my fault.. Or blame someone else when a plan didn’t go my way. Or say it’s Baltimore’s fault when an event limps along. I’m being mindful of what I want to do with my time and energy and encouraging myself to do the stuff that’s maybe scary or maybe that’s tedious, but necessary. I have SUCH a wonderful life full of opportunities and great people and challenges and passions that it just makes sense to me that I go for the gusto. Seems wrong if I don’t try, if I don’t grow and stretch and learn. Give myself permission to fail, as long as I do my best.

Wow. I guess I gave you a little tour of my psyche currently. I thought I was just going to remind myself, little steps are fine. Thanks for listening!


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