If you're anything like me, I have learned that one of the best ways to keep myself on track is to have a "To-Do" list. At any given moment, I have a clear overview of what needs to be accomplished and there will be some task on my list (small or large) that I can take on should I choose. It's one of those living documents that is forever having things checked off it while also getting longer. It gets pretty ratty looking, and then eventually I have to start over...moving those things that didn't get accomplished to the new list.
My list is getting longer and longer since I know we're leaving on a short US trip next week. I am seriously trying to coordinate a surprise birthday party for my husband during the weekend after returning to Berlin, only to turn around three days later and run off to Spain for an on-site teacher training leaving my husband and daughter in Berlin through the first weekend in December.
I am running out to get little gifts for people in the US, organizing visits to long-time friends and a few traveling relatives while also preparing for my second half of my MBSR Teacher Training. I am to meditate 45 minutes a day and I have two books I need to read by the 22nd of November. I need to maintain my website, coordinate brochure design and printing for my upcoming MBSR courses next year, hold an informational meeting for my classes, and promote my classes on every Face Book page I can think of. Oh, and I also am going to acupuncture and physical therapy appointments for my left knee which has turned from torn meniscus to bruised bone. There are also issues at my daughter's day care that involve her getting beat on and taunted, and a Halloween party tomorrow. Cake and of course a costume will be required. Needless to say, I have a few things on my plate.
I was up wondering how in the world I was going to get all of this done and seriously considering getting out of bed to see what could be tackled on my out of control list at 4:15 this morning.
So, what's my point? I am not my "to-do" list, and neither are you. I have somehow forgotten in the past few weeks that my self worth is not dependent on how much I can accomplish in one day. I can stop and stare out the window without feeling guilty. I can spend 30 minutes talking on the phone with a girlfriend about whatever we want and be fine with that. I can just spend time focusing on my breath and all of my bodily sensations in the moment and set down all of those worries. I am human after all...and if I can't enjoy this life now, then when can I?
We are not our clean house, our folded laundry or our gourmet dinner that took 6 hours to prepare.
Ever notice how we delay our happiness?
"I'll be happy when I find a new job."
"I'll be happy when I lose 5 Kilos."
"I'll be happy when we take that trip to Italy"
"I'll be happy when..." You know where I'm going with this.
We expect that at some point we will find ourselves at the top of the hill looking down; we will have gotten over something or completed some goal and we will find happiness. Our lives will be serene and peaceful and we can enjoy the fruit of all of our labors, sitting back in our chairs and taking that deep, satisfying breath. It will feel like finding the gold at the end of the rainbow.
Except it doesn't work that way. This is your life. It's and ongoing thing. Smooth sailing doesn't usually last for long. Ever get to the "end" of something or accomplish some amazing goal, only to find that there is a new challenge or goal the next day? Yeah, that's how it works. We might want to celebrate the accomplishments before moving on to the next big thing.
So amidst all of the stuff you need to do, you also need to notice how you are feeling or what is on your mind. Take time to not only feed and clothe your kids, but to cuddle and listen. Hold hands with your partner. Laugh when something minor goes wrong instead of getting angry. Enjoy your lunch and really taste it instead of wolfing it down so that you can get to the next thing.
These are the things in the end that will amount to something. Be happy now. It's all you've got.
Your list will still be there when you get back to it.