Conquering The List

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Historically, lists have never worked for me. I tend to write down many things, check a couple off throughout the day, and then lose the list somewhere. Then I write out a new list, make another barely-there effort at crossing one or two off, and feel awfully proud of myself despite the glaring uncrossed-offness of the dozen other things I never got to. And then, the best part is that I would wake up at 2:30 a.m., suddenly totally aware of the one really important thing I needed to do by the next day (or worse, the day that had just passed) but had forgotten to even put on the list. No more sleep for me!

I got sick of playing that game with myself, so I ditched lists for many years. But now that I’ve started this blog and am obsessing over this procrastination issue I have, I find myself writing out more and more lists. Even if I dodge some of the items on the list, the theory is that I will at least accomplish a few important tasks as a means of avoiding the really scary things I don’t want to deal with.

Unfortunately, the lists I’ve been working through lately look something like this:

Wash dishes
File nails
Write thank you cards
Open mail
Throw away paper
Clean bathroom

Really?? Opening mail is an accomplishment these days? Filing the snaggle-edge of a broken fingernail is worthy of an hour-long gaming break?

Next, I’ll be rewarding myself for harvesting my crops on time in my Oregon Settler game.

No. This cannot be.

So now I have made a new rule for myself. Everyday tedium is no longer allowed on the list. Things like washing dishes, paying bills, and doing laundry are necessities that I can’t avoid anyway and should not count as accomplishments over the avoidable items that I snooze ad nauseum to my own peril. From now on, no back-pats for easy stuff.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

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Another Snow Day Leads To A Personal Revelation

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Yay, another snow day!

Not really. It is another snow day, but it is most definitely not a yay.

When you make less than one hundred dollars a day and can barely support yourself on that, it is truly infuriating (and scary) to lose three or four days of paid time in one pay period. I am NOT looking forward to next week’s check.

I haven’t done too poorly today, though. I planned well enough yesterday and brought work home with me last night so that I could still accomplish something rather than watching crappy daytime TV and wallowing in my unshowered patheticism.

After a late start, I made my coffee, ate a bowl of cereal, and powered through about three hours of billable productivity. Not as good as eight, but better than zero!

Then, as is the case with my kind, I decided I’d earned a break. So I poured a glass of wine (it’s 3:30 p.m. on a snow day, it’s not that bad), and something interesting happened.

Instead of relaxing in a cloud of easy-goingness, I got super motivated.

Now, to rewind for a moment: My parents, husband, and I have been toying with the idea that I may need to be medicated for a probable chemical imbalance. Apparently, calling in a pizza order shouldn’t make me break into a cold sweat with my heartbeat thundering in my ears. And a loved one suggesting I take some baby steps toward my dream of being a professional photographer should make me feel supported and happy, not leave me sobbing in a full-on panic attack, preferring regret to getting my hopes up and then disappointing and shaming my loved ones with my inevitable failure.

Sometimes, even though I see something I want to take a picture of, or the thought occurs to me to go outside and find something to take pictures of, I won’t. Not because I don’t want to, but because in that moment, that small, simple action feels like a crushing weight of “If you take that picture, it means you believe in yourself, and if you show them that, they’ll just keep pushing and pushing you into humiliating failure.” So I don’t take that picture. And it burns inside of me because those perfect moments can’t be recaptured. They’re lost forever. And it makes me sad and depressed, which just makes me not want to try even more, because look how I’ve already screwed up.

So, back to that glass of wine.

It’s been snowing for two weeks around here, and I haven’t snapped a single shot, for all the reasons just described. But after half of that glass of wine, it was like the bad thoughts got muffled for a few minutes and I got excited and hopeful and pounced on it really quickly. I ran to get my camera, threw on boots and a coat, and went outside and took pictures. They might not be the best, and I didn’t even stay out long because it was drizzling and I was worried about my camera, but I’m so stoked that my downer voices were quieted long enough for my hopeful side to get some air.

I’ve been very resistant to the idea of medication, as I think most people are. But maybe it’s not just my “personality” that makes me terrified of following through on the things I dream about. Maybe it’s not modesty that made me uncomfortable with how much attention was on me at my wedding. Maybe it’s not shyness that makes me initiate plans with friends for fear that they’ll say yes just because they can’t think of an excuse on the spot.

Okay, I’m gonna stop now because this is starting to get scary again. But my mind is more open now, which is half the battle. Now I’m going to back to work-work.