It’s no party

Nineteen months ago, thanks to a serious drug reaction, Mom came to live with us. Six months ago, thanks to a really cute iPhone photo, Nessie came to live with us. Once again, against all of my wishes, talents and best efforts, I have become the “responsible party”.

There really should be a better name for this position, something more descriptive like urban transporter or paperwork ninja or para-nurse. Maybe it should have cool initials like EPS (emergency poop scooper) or SCS (sibling communication specialist) or maybe BSS (bill shuffler supreme).

All of this taking care of things and people can easily allow me to forget that I need to take care of myself. So, here is my motto of the day. I’m putting it on my to-do list . . .

I am more than my to-do list!

There. I said it. Out loud. Man shall not live by to-do lists alone! Life not lists! Down with list tyranny!

Okay, maybe I’m getting a little carried away. But you know the feeling. There dawns a beautiful day, birds calling your name, the wind whispering your dreams, the sun daring you to get any work done, the trees dancing, the flowers wafting, and the only thing standing between you and bliss is the dreaded to-do list.

Stop and smell the roses

  1. Find roses.
  2. Stop
  3. Bend over
  4. Inhale deeply
  5. Appreciate
  6. Exhale
  7. Repeat

Alright, maybe this is harder than I thought. I didn’t use to be this way. I’m a time waster and daydreamer from way back. I can do this.

But when I became a responsible party, I had to find a way to get things done. There were problems to solve and I was pretty good at it except for time management. Hence the lists. Lists are good.

But they’re also bad when I don’t put myself on the list. Here’s how it was supposed to work:

Old List

  1. God
  2. Others
  3. Myself

When I do it this way, I never get through with #1 and #2 because they are endless. I need an alternative.

New list

  1. Me

No, that’s not right. There’s enough of that in the world. How about this, I give myself a certain amount of time all to myself. I get alone with my thoughts and find out what they are. Then I come back.

Yesterday I tried this. I limited myself to an afternoon, four hours. Here’s a list of what I did:

Yesterday

  1. Walked several miles where no dogs are allowed.
  2. Took pictures without a dog pulling on me.
  3. Turned off my brain and focused on the camera.
    1. Birds
    2. People
    3. Landscape
  4. It forced me to see what was happening around me.
  5. Went to an art museum I’ve walked by for years in order to cool off and do something new.
    1. Wandered for two hours
    2. Felt decadently selfish.
    3. Got inspired and joined.

Not a bad list

I finally ran out of clock but I had relaxed in a way I hadn’t done for a long time. I liked my life better. I liked myself better. I liked everyone else better.

Maybe I prevented the ultimate problem for a caregiver – burnout. Once you get there it’s hard to come back.

I’m back to my to-do lists because that’s how I get things accomplished. I need all the help I can get. Those of you who know me all just nodded and sighed.

What I Learned

  1. Life is about who I am, not what I’ve done.
  2. I can’t give if I’m empty.
  3. Part of my job here is to enjoy the life God gave me.
  4. I am more than my list.

 

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