GUEST POST!!! Sarah, a long term reader of my blog, who has become a wonderful friend wrote this post. I think many of us can relate, so I’ve published it here with her permission.
I have always made to- do list for myself, since I was a first time mum, and as time went on and life happened I relied more and more on my to- do list. Every day before I went to bed I would sit down quietly with my to-do list and count each marked off item. Each completed item gave me a great deal of satisfaction, a feeling of success and told me what a great mother, wife ,daughter I was. After all look how organised and together I am. And then I would make my to-do list for the next day, tidy my desk, and sit my list on the top of my empty desk ready for my next successful and all that I would achieve. My to-do list became my best friend, she was my personal complimentary soul sister, we thought alike, we achieved great success, we needed each other, the perfect fit.
In a way I measured my value by the success of my crossed off to-do list. And so did my friends and family. They always commented on how organised I was, how I always got everything done, how my house, kids and life ran like clockwork. I was used to my friends saying” I don’t know how you do it all, six kids, two businesses, working and a Fly in fly out hubby and you cook!” Everyone knew that if you need it to be organised and to actually get things to happen then ask Sarah, after all she is super mum!! And I took pride in that, even grew smug in my ability to out to-do list all my friends, I was the best at it.
And then my life broke! Just like that, Monday 2.32 pm – sitting across the desk from my Dr.
Just like that- you have inoperable cancer, you need to start treatment ASAP, the hospital will call your mobile when they are ready, and you need to get there ASAP.
Then I drove back to work, sat down and made a to-do list- call husband overseas see if he can come home, ask my mum to fly up and look after the kids whilst I am in hospital, organise an extra large shop to cover when I’m in hospital, reorganise the work schedule to cover the business, contact the school and explain the kids may need extra support, need new pjs and slippers, oh and kick cancers butt.
And I did – nearly 18 months of treatment but finally finished my list, ticked off the last box- kick cancers butt.
Well kind of, the cancer was gone, but damage had been done by the high dose chemo- I had a stroke, and then I was told that I had developed severe rheumatoid arthritis!
So ok new list- with a new last box- kick RAs butt!!!
Every day I made a new list, ticked of my achievements and worked faithfully to my list.
However soon my to-do list started to change, as time went on my list became different, gone was my loving, smiling friend who told me how successful and good I was. Instead sometimes my to-do list got bitchy – and at times she would sneer and give me that look. I am not sure when it started but I noticed more and more an item not crossed off. I tried to ignore it, but she kept reminding me every time I saw her, you miss one, oh don’t worry people do sometimes drop the ball!
And then it got worse, I thought my list had developed PMT, two things not crossed off twice this week, my list would look back at me and tut at me, failed twice today! Soon it had full menopausal tendencies, she would snap at me, bitchy remarks on my failures, rub in my inability to complete even half my list.
As my disease progressed my failures mounted, my list of ten to-do item would remain undone, she began to haunt my sleep. What had I archived today, nothing, my list remains untouched.
I would make my daily list, and then cry because I knew I could not do all the things on the list. I tried new list methods, post it notes, writing different colours, so red for the first 3 most important items, green for the 3 less important items and black for non-essential items. I thought this was a great idea, after all at least the three most important items will get done.
But they didn’t, and now my list had big red angry items screaming at me. I couldn’t even achieve the three essential item for the day. I was a big fat red failure!! She hated me and I hated her with a vengeance, she was going to break me and I was drowning fast.
She was defeating me, she reminded me I was a failure, RA was winning, I’m a bad mother, house keeper, wife and friend. And I believed her, I understood her harsh judgement, I knew I deserved her scorn!!!
Then a friend, a real friend not my to- do list soul sister, but a real person asked “Why do you do a to-do list?”
I looked at her as if she was from out space! I could not believe she had asked such a thing, who did not have a to- do list!!!
She didn’t!!! What are you mad I said how do you function?
I wing it!! – this from one of the happiest people I know, she didn’t have a list, and she was happy, her kids were happy, her house was clean, her shopping was done.
That kept me awake most of the night, my mind was racing, could I do it, could I not have a to-do list!!! Oh horror, could it be possible?
So that day I made NO to-do list, but I felt bad. I kept going to my desk and looking for her, but she was not there. I would start to write one, but then force myself to stop. That night I couldn’t sleep, I was sure I had forgotten something, I got up and down several times, checked the kids, the windows and the doors.
This continued for several days, I was a walking wreck. I could not do this I needed her, I missed her, I was not coping without her.
But I couldn’t give in, that would be just another failure. Or could I, maybe!!
I walked to my office, and stared at the desk, no list but an empty white board!! What if I just write one thing on the White board, surely that’s ok.
And so I did- one thing- and it felt great, I felt free and I went back to bed and slept like a baby.
The next day I bought a permanent marker, rubbed of my one to-do item, and rewrote it in red permanent marker, and there it has remained. It’s the only item on my list, and I will achieve it everyday.
And every time RA is winning, every time I miss my lists, every I feel that I have achieve nothing I look at the White board and read my item. And know that I have archived the most important item on my daily list.
Live today the best you can and enjoy!!!