Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ode to the To Do List

Like Gabriel, who is learning to commando crawl and to walk while holding onto Mama, I am learning how to motor up in my life. In addition to getting more sleep and having a baby who is a tiny bit more independent, my hand to hold has been the lowly To Do list.

I start the day by tearing off the last day's calendar page, and on the back of that, I list what I want to accomplish that day.

Pretty standard, right? Sure. Everyone has To Do lists. You use them all the time at work, where there's so much to do on a schedule. I actually think it's MORE important to have To Do list when you don't have such a rigid schedule. Without the To Do list, my day kind of dissolves into an unformed mishmash of whatever is at my fingers that very minute. That COULD be something productive like baby proofing the studio or writing a poem, but it could just as easily be something draining, like 4 hours on a mommy message board, or home decorating show after home decorating show.

On my To Do list I put everything. I put shower, I put dress, I put eat breakfast. Without the list, it is quite possible that I just forget to do that sort of thing. It's easy to get caught up in whatever, and not do the basics. Just as easy as not doing those things you REALLY want to do. Like writing.

Yes, I put my writing goals on there, too. I'm giving myself and my ambitions enough of an importance to make it to my daily To Do list. It's only the thing I've wanted to do with my life since I was 15. It deserves a place on my To Do list, and in my day, right?

I know you can't just say, "Hey I want to be a writer," and not put in the time and effort. The same for anything that's worth doing, really. The same for being a mom. You have to give it the attention it needs. And being a part of a couple, too. Or having a nice home. But those things have a tendency to demand your attention.

The baby doesn't sit back and let you ignore him. And the dishes start to smell if you don't take care of them (so does the kid.) But your own ambitions??? They start to shrink and turn into a hard pebble inside of you, that you can ignore. Yes, you can ignore it, even though it burns a mysterious hole in your gut.

That's the case for me, anyway. Being creative makes me feel productive and it makes me happier, and then I have more energy and attention to give all the other things on my To Do list. And things that aren't on there, too. Things like singing and dancing Gabriel around the living room, or taking a walk with him and running into mommies and babies from the play group. Even having a beer while making dinner after Gabriel goes to sleep.

In other words, having my To Do list has enabled me to start living the life I want to live, instead of just the one that I fall into.

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