I have a little black book I call “Book of Magnificent Possibilities,” but it’s really devolved into my “Book of Dreaded To-Do’s.” It’s full of the “Call the insurance company about the higher car rate,” “Make appointment with eye doctor,” “Pick up socks at WalMart” — that sort of thing. There’s also the “Organize my life,” “Organize Liberty’s life,” and “Figure out how to get more quality sleep” items that are not so much tasks, but full-fledged long term projects.
Over the years I’ve used tiny calendars, 5 x 8 in. Daytimers, and 8 1/2 by 11 in. Franklin-Covey planners: two-page a day, lots of dividers for different types of to-do lists, complete with pencil case and outside zipper! Calendars and planners have definitely been my toys of choice. Now I just have a family calendar on the kitchen counter, plus my little black book of to-do lists.
Well, just before my birthday on Sept. 29th, I lost that little black book. I NEVER lose my to-do lists or calendars. I’ve lost my driver’s license once, but never my planners! (Sometimes I can be disgustingly efficient —- but for a coping mechanism in life, this has at least been a useful one!) I searched everywhere, called every place I’d been in the past week. Nothing.
Now, you know how much I love analyzing dreams. When unusual life circumstances take hold, I’ve also looked at those life events as though they were dreams, and wondered if there might be any messages I’m trying to tell myself. So, if you dreamed that you’d lost all of your to-do lists, what might that mean for you???
Uh, duh! For months I’ve been aching for more time to write, paint, read — all those depth-dimension activities that don’t pay any bills nor get the “to-do’s” done. Unfortunately, there’s a part of me that labels those depth-dimension activities as selfish and time-wasting, as a shallow businessman might label art as a waste of time and public resources, and look with derision upon those “creative types.” I’d been unconsciously prioritizing going to the dollar store to get those little dish scrubbies that have handles, over bringing into form some inner vision of compassion and wisdom seeking. (Those 40% off coupons from Michael’s Craft Stores could be the death of me unless I smarten up!)
As much as I’ve worked to detoxify my psyche from judgements that are just plain wrong, we are all saturated in our cultural values and generations of “thou shalt not” messages. I’d like to hope that by the time I’m an old woman I’ll be “my own man”, to use a metaphor that in fact makes a woman invisible, but likely I’ll be separating the poison from the treasure all of my life. I know that one of the most important things we can do in our human lives is to create more consciousness and develop more inner freedom. This allows us to nurture love and liberty in all those within our reach. In my wiser moments I know that the best way to do that is to engage in all those depth dimension activities.
If I’d only dreamed that I’d lost my to-do lists rather than actually doing so in “real” awake life, I might not have pondered this for the days that I have. (The book did show up a week later.)
LOSE THE TO-DO LISTS, Cat!! Spend, no, INVEST what time you can into the things that might really last, the things that are really worthy of what little time you may have to do them. Even 10 minutes within the midst of other worthy commitments is something that can help create a richer, deeper, more compassionate world.
So. What has YOUR life been telling you lately?
Dear Flamingo Gypsy,
It’s so good to hear how you are following what makes your heart sing. I so see that you do what you are —- even when you were teaching full time and tending your mama and aunt, you were/are sharing a love of and wonder in life, sharing compassion and encouragement. It’s wonderful that you can ditch all the to-do lists now and follow your spirit.
I’m blown away that you can get by with so few hours of sleep; you remind me of my SIL who could manage well with less than four hours — when she married my brother she initially wondered if he had some illness b/c he needed 8 hours! Apparently her whole family managed on little sleep, at least compared with my family.
Not only is my body different than yours (even at my best health, I needed all 7 or 8 hours), but these days with dealing with being woken over and over by pain, I am in bed (or comfy lazyboy chair) perhaps 10 hours to get 6 hours or so of sleep, and sometimes less sleep. I’ve finally made my peace with sleep and my needs; for years I tried to get by on less, even disciplining myself with journals and charts. (I look back on that and think, “Oh, dear body, why was I so hard on you?” though I do remember why I was so hard on myself, too — there was so much I wanted to do, only 24 hours in a day, and too much leftover programming telling me that I must give all; that if I weren’t dead yet, I hadn’t given enough. Sad, difficult times.) Making my peace with the way things are has included recording and working/playing with my dreams, which brings much richness to my life, and having wonderful audio teachings or music available for me to turn to when sleep needs to come but won’t, without stimulating me into full daytime awareness. Also, the amount of pain often has to do with how the previous day has gone, so I attend to balancing my days as best I can. As well, I use both natural sleep aids and medications to sleep as well as possible.
Flamingo Gypsy, you’ve got me thinking about a lot. In fact, I’ve just written another blog post about this, and invite you to take a look at it in response to some of your queries.
Much love to you, Cat
DEAR! Cat~ Can hardly wait to read what you’ll come up with next! This post of yours sure sent my head spinning and has need fodder for many conversations for me. I just love it when something strikes my curiosity bone and makes me go exploring!
DEAR! Cat~ I’d be willing to bet my husband Steve wishes I had productive TO DO lists like the ones you lost when you lost your book. I meditate for over an hour each morning, go to yoga and meditation and book clubs and writing circle and knitting, do volunteer reading and circle up with kids to lead kids’ church and I don’t do much housework. I’m even spoiled by having Juanita come in and clean the main part of the house 2X a month AND my husband has always done the laundry and the shopping. My favorite me~time is between midnite and 4 a.m. (For years I got by on only 2-4 hours of sleep. I need naps sometimes now.) Soooo…. I can create most any time spirit moves me. I’d like to thank you again for nudging me into art journaling. I am pushing way past my edges and experimenting with new mediums. Tonight I went outta the box in defining mixed media by painting with acrylic paint amidst something I started out with woodless water color pencils. I spent my whole life before retirement with my life full of TO DO lists. I just sorta retired them when I retired from teaching. (Altho even when I was teaching I didn’t have too many Suzy Homemaker chores on my TO DO lists.) After raising kids and teaching and tending to my mama and great aunt in their homes, assisted living and nursing home gigs I just decided I would focus on doing stuff that feeds my soul and insides because thisaway I have more good ju~ju energy and I can better lend my listening ears and helping hands when and where they are needed. So I read good books and ride my bike and go down to sit on the floating platform on the river in my backyard whenever I can. Are you prioritizing your TO DO lists to have more creative time now that you found your lost book? Is it a battle or a struggle for you to carve out time to do things that make your heart sing? If you threw the book away and simply sat and daydreamed your perfect day~ what would you do with it? How could you increase the 10 minute snatches of time you’re making for yourself now? I remember when I was teaching and tending both my mama and great aunt and could not get down to my backyard river I would stop at a park overlooking the bay and spread out my blanket and read for about 30 minutes in between visiting them in different towns in their nursing homes. And I could do without sleep for a whole nite just so I could meditate if I’d been up all nite. How much sleep do you really need? Just wondering….