I used to hate making to-do lists. Oh sure, I loved the promise of a job well done, the enticement of items ticked off and completed. I’m a sucker for success. But I hated the pressure I felt from the ominous list of shoulds. I should be doing this, I should be doing that. Oh crap, I forgot what I was doing and now I’m not doing what I should be doing. Or, what the hell was I supposed to be doing and where did I put that damn list? Etc. I hated feeling like I was being directed by an omnipotent, bossy list that I was also responsible for creating. Hell, I can’t remember why I come into a room most of the time, how am I supposed to be responsible for breaking down big goals into doable steps each day? I clearly did not think I was up to that level that of accountability.
Because I don’t like to fail I would save myself the shame of guilt and regret by simply not writing a list to begin with. Then those judgey unchecked “done” boxes could never get the best of me. Ha! Yeah, ha. Jokes on me.
I used to think it was because I was a free spirit who did her best work in the moment. Organic and impulsive is when I’m at my peak. Or so I thought. I liked the panic of crunch time, the impending doom of missing my mark. That’s when I felt most empowered. Yes, I was ultra productive when I pushed it to the last minutes, reacting off of pressure rather than planning. Picking the red or blue wire with my career and self-esteem seemingly riding on the line led me the to success and an awesome high. Or so I believed.
But that risk got too high when my son’s wellbeing was on the line. And now I see how the risk was too high for my wellbeing too. I see now, in my chronic disease wisdom world, that if maybe I got lucky and paid the bills or did the laundry, or even ran a business without a list, I never really got to everything I needed to or dreamed of. I never really gave life my all.
I never saw what I was missing until epilepsy. I didn’t see the limits I was fabricating until real-life limits slammed down hard and stopped us in our tracks. That’s when I realized how deep my history of self-sabotage goes. That’s when I was afforded a new perspective and able to look honestly at how powerful I actually am. I was able to own that making the choice to set steps for the day is not a trap but a liberation.
Funny how making a to-do list is kind of the same thing as setting an intention. Setting your dreams, your goals in motion.
No wonder I hated them. They are always unfinished.
But now I know how tenuous life is. I don’t mean the created soap operas I like to create I mean real life actually ending. For real.
So now I know, in my bones, in my cells, in my heart and in my mind, life is always unfinished. It’s not about what you don’t get done, it’s about what you do! It’s how you chose to live that matters. And it is our choice how we want to live, even if epilepsy isn’t.
Life has a funny way of making you face yourself. And when it came down to actual life or death for my son, I wasn’t going to fail! It first I had to admit I couldn’t do it alone. That took about a year. Then we had to find Alex. That took almost six months. But then, I knew I could survive and I was open to anything! And that’s when I awakened to the magic of a to-do list. That’s when I awakened to the power of choice.
And now my life and Buddha’s life is better. In a way, it’s better than ever. We’ve reached heights we didn’t dare dream for. He hits milestones previously out of reach and we celebrate them as never before. No, they are not typical milestones but they are magnificent. And they count! He is self-aware and responsible and he is more confident than ever. And our days? Oh! They are so much better. So much less stressful. There is less crying, less reacting, less anger, less fear. Our days are so much more fulfilled.
In a way, we owe it all to the to-do lists. In a way, they helped save us. I realized, by the grace of God and the indemnifiable Alex, that is wasn’t to-lists that weren’t working for me. It was me that wasn’t working for the to-do list. And now our life is working for what matters. Living!