To-Do List

Things that have grown out of this daily writing practice: increased self-awareness, goal setting, and habit tracking. I have long lists in my head of all the things I want to accomplish–from the mundane to the practical to the grandiose, from immediate to short-term to long-term. I’ve finally started making handwritten to-do lists again in a notebook dedicated solely to this purpose. This sounds ridiculously obvious, right? Stop jotting down random notes on the backside of electric bills and buy yourself an actual notebook. Nothing like clearing the hurdle of simply beginning.

Here is an example of the list swirling in my head before I get it down on paper:

  • Send birthday present to a best friend in New Mexico (whose 40th birthday was over a month ago)
  • Work on photo albums (a goal I’ve had since my daughter’s birth over 2.5 years ago)
  • Cultivate more paid freelance work; organize list of new opportunities and create pitch schedule
  • Send photos to Gramp
  • Pitch for Orange Dot
  • 1,500 word essay for Parks and Points fall contest / deadline: Oct 1
  • B,C essays / deadlines: Sept 15 and Sept 30
  • 2,500 essay for workshop on Sept 22 / deadline Sept 12
  • Upload iPhone photos to computer so I can actually take pics and vids again
  • Halloween costume
  • Flesh out children’s book idea
  • Review Oct writer’s conference schedule; choose workshops for Sept 14 registration
  • Christmas gifts for 12 kids in our extended family (I created a separate list for this and intend to tackle it over the next few months; checked two off the list yesterday)
  • Research and apply for MFA ?????
  • Kathy Fish flash fiction writing class 9/12-9/23 (any prep required??)
  • Bday gift for 5-year-old
  • Finalize wedding album edits
  • Wedding anniversary weekend Sept 17/18 – VT??
  • Potty training!!
  • Organize new story ideas
  • Submit new poem to at least 3 journals
  • Find dress for sister’s engagement party on Saturday
  • Update LinkedIn profile (partially accomplished yesterday)
  • Yoga
  • Reschedule toddler’s well visit

This sample list is real, but incomplete. You can see that some of these tasks need to be broken down into several smaller tasks. Some are long-term goals; some tasks have deadlines coming up so quickly I’m not sure how I’ll meet them. Being at home full-time with a 2-year-old who does not yet attend preschool means my free time is very limited; it comes in small chunks, little slivers. I also provide childcare for a neighbor a few times a week. I make weekly schedules, but they are always subject to change and require ongoing flexibility.

Recently I’ve become more and more interested in personal organizational systems. Not only is staying organized key to developing my freelance career, it’s also hugely helpful in maintaining balance in my personal life. I don’t want to be scrambling at the holidays and managing loose ends, which is how I’ve felt since becoming a mom. Time and energy evaporate.

I belong to three writing groups on Facebook, and when freelance writer/PhD candidate, Erin Stewart, posted a link to her article How I Do To Do Lists, I pounced on it. I especially love her method because it speaks to organizing writing time and freelance work. Plus, it’s flexible and straightforward.

Stewart’s article also links to an article on Bullet Journals, a huge craze that’s news to me. I read this and immediately got super excited. Not only does bullet journaling sound like an amazing organizational method, it seems like the ideal transition for me once I complete this daily writing project. As of today, I have 132 posts left until completion. While it will be a relief to finish this project, I’m afraid it will also leave me feeling slightly untethered. I’ll continue to blog (maybe weekly), but I also want to maintain some sort of daily practice for myself. A bullet journal seems like just the thing.

So, dear readers, do any of you keep a bullet journal? Any to-do list freaks out there? What are your organizational methods and systems? Tell me how you manage this busy, chaotic, beautiful life.

(Post 233 of 365)



Yoga and Poetry

photo source

I’ve been waking up grumpy. Almost like a teenager. Like, pleeeeeease just five more minutes.

After two years of sleep deprivation, we are finally sleeping through the night. I should be rising with the smile of the well-rested. But every morning at 4 or 4:30 or 4:45, my toddler leaves her bed and crawls into ours. Sometimes she settles down, but most times she tosses and turns, thrashing her body against mine. She will say, “I love you so much!” and “Remember, we go party yesterday?” Because apparently every day is a party.

My friend Rachel wrote about her morning yoga routine with her little ones and it got me thinking. I have to turn this around. What if we started each morning with five sun salutations? What if we woke each day and recited this Mary Oliver poem like a prayer?

We practiced this afternoon. Hands together, namaste. Arms stretching way up. Bending forward to touch our toes. When I moved into other poses, like cobra and downward-facing dog, she started to climb my body. But a few sun salutations… I think we can do it. Tomorrow morning, we start anew.

(Post 224 of 365)

Why I Wake Early

-Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who make the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and crotchety—

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light—

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.