The To-Do List: Friend or Foe?

With the holiday season upon us, many of us are making our to-list lists, checking them twice, and adding more and more …. in fact, probably spending more time making the lists than actually tackling the things that are on the list. Some of us might even add something to the list, that we’ve already done, just to feel the accomplishment of then crossing it off the list… Don’t deny it. You’ve done it.

We make these to-do lists in the hopes of actually being able to complete the list. Lets be honest, we will never complete these lists. We will constantly want to be striving to do more, make something better, trying to be ahead of the game, and yet, often we are still feeling very far behind.  We stare at these lists and feel defeated. We are dragged down by the knowledge that the list is going to beat us. It is always going be there and we will never defeat it.

Here is the change in perspective, the kaleidoscope view, for that never ending to-do list: Make it your friend, not the judging foe who is staring you down like a failure. Make peace with the fact that the list is going to be a constant in your life, much like a friend, helping support you and guide you through your days. The to-do list can separate the must-get-dones, the want-to-get dones, and the hope-to-get-dones. The to-do list can help you make better, more thought-out decisions on how your days/weeks/life should look. Therefore, be honest with yourself on what you do put on the list. Maybe even sort your list into must do, want to do, and hope to do. Groceries would fall under must and that awesome Pintrest project would fall under want, and realistically, organizing the storage room in the basement would fall under “hope” but probably won’t do. To be honest, my list currently has no organization about it.

Most importantly, your to-do list means you haven’t thrown in the towel on life.  You haven’t given up. You are going to wake up the next day and keep trying to tackle the list down. You want more out of life. You want to give more to life. You have a purpose. You are going to rise to that list and take what pieces you can off the list, feeling so much accomplishment and pride. Then, much faster than you took the items off,  you will add more to the list with great aspirations and visions of what could be.

So, as I look upon the piles of to-do lists that I have floating around on the dreaded collect-all counter, and around my lesson plan book, and taped to the back of my phone (because it is more in my face than in the notes section of my phone), I am going to spin that anxiety of having soooooooo much to do, to the peace of knowing I have a purpose. I am calmer knowing that I won’t get it all done, ever. The list isn’t mocking me, screaming “failure” at me, but rather letting me know where I am headed. Anything that I can get off the list is a success and anything I can add to it is an even bigger success that I am here, I have hopes, and I have a path to reach them. Because really, the to-do list is really just a daily bucket list and all your days add up to your life.

What’s on your list? What are you going to do with your life?

Why read/write this blog? (An introduction of who I am and what I am about. )

My sweet boy and I. December 2014
My sweet boy and I.
December 2014
My amazing husband, beautiful girl, and me. December 2014
My amazing husband, beautiful girl, and me.
December 2014

Do you ever get that feeling in your stomach, you know, the one that feels like you ate a rock, that has now grown to a boulder… The one that stops you in your tracks and pulls you down with thoughts of all the horrible things that could happen because you read about it once and so clearly, your family is next? Or the feeling that everything is just spinning (or spiraling as we call it in our home) out of control?

Are you a wife and a mother and maybe even a working parent too? Are you trying your very hardest to do everything to these standards you set for yourself, but yet feel like you are failing at everything, except for keeping your children alive, which well, if you saw above, something tragic must be coming to my family soon because I have read about something horrible that happened to another family….So, I am probably not even doing a good enough job at keeping them alive.

Do you feel a horrible guilt trying to enjoy every moment you have with your family, because this moment will never happen again and maybe, just maybe, that tragic thing will really happen and then you will think, “crap! I should have made those moments count.” But you also have the guilt that if you don’t take the time to make your home clean or your 1,000 ideas into life, the current moments just won’t be as enjoyable? I mean, really, I am less anxious when my home is clean but, I have anxiety about taking that time away from spending time/connecting with my family.

Well, if any of these ramblings remind you at all of yourself, then you are a lot like me. I am Ashley. I live in northern Minnesota, with my incredible husband, beautiful daughter (2), and sweet son (9 months). I have horrible anxiety….and have dealt with my anxiety since I was 16. I have created this blog to openly and candidly share about my own experiences in hopes of giving power to others who are in a similar situation. I have found that speaking about my anxiety gives me the power over it, instead of it over me. I also find that if I find an outlet to share about all the beauty that there is in being truly real, it brings the wonderful things into focus for me.

Come along. Share your story. I promise to keep it real, chaotic, beautiful, and messy.

Just like life.

Re-prioritizing and Re-structuring.

You know when life gets to feeling really heavy, but you can’t point a finger at why? That is where I have been lately. I am very blessed to have an incredible and supportive husband and two beautiful babies. I have a warm home and am in the 9th year of a career I am very passionate about. I have food in the fridge and pantry, gas in our …mini van…. and really, really, life is good! I should be so grateful for all these blessing and know that so many have so much less. But that is when it hits me…the rock in my stomach. I have so much love in my home and enough material things to survive a full life-time on and then the guilt of not being okay with that all.

The house gets clean. The house gets messy. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The laundry gets done and then someone spits up, poops, or throws up on it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I am going to clean the shower. Shoot. Both kids are asleep and I just got a moment to actually talk with my husband, should I take this opportunity to connect with him or clean the shower… another day the shower doesn’t get clean. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I have lesson plans to do, meetings to attend, meetings to re-schedule and then attend, emails to write, phone calls to re-call. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I finish 8 hours at school redirecting behaviors and come home to redirect a 2 year old and a now mobile 9 month old. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I hit this wall about two weeks ago when I was randomly crying at the slightest and most inopportune moments, you know, the moments when you are supposed to have it all together. That is when I knew this was my bottom and I needed a change. I needed to re-prioritize and re-structure how I was living my life and by default making my family live theirs. My family deserves to have a mom and wife who is grateful, joyous, and present, as these are the traits I hope to see in them as well.

I recently read this quote, “Remove stressful activities and demands from your life. If you cannot, then learn to joyfully deal with them. Either way, no more complaining. You are in charge of what you allow in your life and how you cope.”- Brendon Burchard

So, I cleaned “house.” I stepped down from some activities that were adding muck to our lives  to make room for other things that bring joy to myself and my family. I took a look at things that I thought were important and things that I thought weren’t and restructured how our home could work…. And, I started saying “no,” because I had also read the very true statement that “Every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. Make sure yes is worth the no.” I am saying yes to my family. Yes to the minimal requirements.  Yes to enjoying my hobbies again. And yes, to enjoying the moments we have as a family, as my littles will only be so little for so long.

I am saying no to anything that takes us away from that or that will bring negativity into our home… as life hands out enough of that yucky stuff on its own.

As I snuggled up with my little girl today, who is home sick and therefore I am home with her, I kissed her on the head and said “Thank you baby girl for making me push pause and see what is important.”

…and then we snuggled in and watched a movie together. That is a moment I can forever say yes to.