dog, worried, anxious

That Pesky To-Do List

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dog, worried, anxious
Allie looks a bit anxious sometimes when she visits. She’s not sure of her status in the pack.

I don’t spend much time loafing. I work hard 9-5, I work hard in my personal business, and I’m always trying to learn new things. In the end, I’m usually working, cooking, meditating, reading something instructive, or doing something constructive. Normally, this isn’t a problem, but a few weeks ago I started criticizing myself over some things left undone. The most important things on my to-do list hadn’t budged for several weeks. I knew that I should do these items, but I didn’t. Then I felt bad for it, resulting in a rare bit of anxiety. I blamed myself for a lack of follow-through, a lack of motivation, and general laziness – even though I’d been pretty busy with other tasks that were also important that couldn’t be postponed.

dogs, silky terrier,
Nutty talked to Allie — “Don’t be anxious here. You can be a pack visitor and I’ll be your friend!”

A talk with a friend showed me how silly I was being. I have the power to make the list; I have the power to revise it. I had a talk with myself and stopped pressuring myself. I re-thought my to-do list and cut myself some slack. The self-criticism just wasn’t helping, so I let that go too. After all, my heart is a good compass, and the brain has very little idea of where to go. It is up to my heart to know what I need to do and the brain’s job to make it happen. I should have known when I felt bad about my work that something about my approach was wrong. Somewhere in there, my heart took a back seat and the brain came up with what it thought I should do. As much as my brain thinks it knows everything, it doesn’t. My heart not only knows what should be done – it also knows when I’m not ready. In this case, my brain had the right list – but it hadn’t consulted my heart on the timing. I was forcing events to happen too soon.

dog, confident
Allie is settled and confident. No longer worried.

I had to let go of some of the less critical things. My blogging schedule, for example, already looks like a train wreck the first month I tried a schedule. I went back to doing it when it I could and chucked the schedule. Whew! That felt better. Then, I did some things that felt like the right thing to do, but they were nowhere close to being high enough priority to go on my list. My brain started to berate myself for a lack of focus, but I knew that this just wasn’t the case. I was getting back in sync with myself which is always the cure for any anxiety I invent for myself. In the end, those extra things gave me more information and skills, so that when I finally did start the most difficult thing on the list, I was more capable and ready.

So all that time I agonized about not getting anything done, I was wrong. I was just getting all the preliminary matters done that I hadn’t known were needed. In the end, it all worked out in perfect order and timing. I can be so silly sometimes! Now, my list says it’s time to relax and read a book that has some tantalizing information waiting to be revealed!

Have you ever torture yourself with a to-do list that is impossible to achieve? How do you deal with it?

Labyrinth, forest
A labyrinth must be worked one step at a time, in order. No short-cuts, no racing to the middle. Sometimes our life is this way too. Somethings must come first before we can get to the prize.

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Work in Progress

First baby on our new pear tree.
First baby on our new pear tree.







Finding Equilibrium

pink water lily, water lily buds
As one lily blooms, two other buds wait their turn.


  1. I keep an appt. book on my desk and always have a list of what I would like to get done. I used to push myself to clear the list but not any more. If I don’t get something done I either move it to another day or decide it may not need to be done.It is not always easy to listen to my heart instead of my list, but I am learning to do it on a daily basis.
    Thanks for this article, Karel. It seems women, in particular, have a need to push to get it all done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think everyone pushes– but not everyone lets their heart have a say. So for some the list is done in the end, but the heart tasks (including those things we do to keep everyone else on an even keel ) are overlooked. It’s much easier to get everything done, let’s say, if I ignore everyone else’s needs. I think this type of juggling– along with our drive for fulfillment- adds enormously to the pressure and complexity. I’d like to say that men feel this too, but my conversations with men don’t reflect that they do (or as much, any way). So I guess we’re in (reluctant) agreement!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I liked when you said you talked with a friend. While the decisions and get up and go have to be my own, I am glad to have a friend to share my feelings with. I usually find my friend has some of the same concerns I have and we share some ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have trouble leaving a task I really like to move to the next one. And sometimes, what I really like isn’t all that productive. Like reading, cleaning out my inbox, etc.


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