Tag Archive | to-do lists

Abbey, Mim & Me – Our Special Words for 2014

M-A-M closeup bronze

January is a time every year that I start thinking about how I want this year to be different from previous years. Sometimes I make New Year resolutions. Some years I formulate specific goals. Every year I come up with an immediate to-do list. At a minimum I need to plan how I’m going to get caught up on the bookkeeping for the previous year so I can deliver our records to our accountant to figure our taxes.

To-Do ListI did my January to-do list last week, but I hadn’t thought much about any goals or resolutions for 2014. Then I happened to catch about a minute of an interview with a consultant on TV as I was switching channels. His advice was to pick a single word that would be my focus for the year. He recommended thinking about my needs and wants, praying about it, and then waiting for the word to come to me. It might take a few days or even weeks, but the consultant assured all viewers that just the right word would come for each of us. I thought about it for a few minutes, wondering what word could be my word for the year, but nothing came to me immediately. The next morning the word was in my mind. The word was JOY. That surprised me a little, but then I thought, I’ve been pretty serious in many of my blog posts and much of my ponderings over the past year. Maybe I need to focus more on some of the joyful things in life. Hmmm.

Mim headLater that day I mentioned it to Mim. She said, “We have a book about finding your special word for the year. I can’t remember the name of it, but the author is Debbie Macomber. I’ve already chosen my word for this year. It’s ENOUGH.”

“Enough?” I repeated. “That’s kind of an unusual word to choose. What made you choose that?”

“Oh, there’s a lot to that word. I need to think about what is enough – enough money, enough food, enough work, enough to give to others, enough to keep for myself, enough books to read – I need to know when MORE isn’t better, to recognize when ENOUGH is ENOUGH.”

Then Mim added, “JOY is a good word for you for this year. Did you notice that the quotation on the January page of the wall calendar in your office is about JOY?”

No, I hadn’t noticed. I went to check it out. It was a quotation from Buddha.

Joy comes not through possession or ownership
but through a wise and loving heart.

I think I’m going to learn a lot about JOY this year. By really pondering the word, the concept, of JOY for a whole year, I can’t even imagine some of the new insights I might gain.

Then I said to Mim, “I’m getting kind of excited about becoming more aware of JOY in life. It’s going to be fun to be on the lookout for appearances of JOY throughout the year.”

Abbey with toyShe smiled. During this conversation Abbey had come over to join us. She said, “I’ve been thinking about a word for myself for this year, too.”

“Really, Abbey. What’s your word?” I asked.

“PLAY,” she said. “Even though I’m well into my 80s in human years, I still like to play. I really liked that stuffed pig with a squeaker I got for Christmas. We all need to remember to play, even if we don’t jump quite as high and run quite as fast. By having PLAY as my word, I’m going to remember to focus on finding at least a little time to PLAY every day.”

Mim and I agreed that PLAY was a good word for Abbey for this year.

ENOUGH, JOY, and PLAY. Those are the words for the three of us this year. I’ll keep you posted as the year progresses with what it means to have these words as our focus.

One Perfect Word book coverI couldn’t put my fingers on the Debbie Macomber book, so I went to Amazon.com to find it. The title of the book is One Perfect Word: One Word Can Make All the Difference. As I explored the book online I decided to download a Kindle edition so that I could re-read the book as I’m beginning my own year with the perfect word of JOY.

From the back cover of the book –

Debbie Macomber reveals in inspiring, moving stories that the simplicity of one perfect word can become profound. When Debbie took the time to intentionally focus on a single word – such as prayer, trust, or surrender – for a whole year, this act changed not only herself, but those around her.

“The surprising thing is that when we decide to focus on one word for the year,” Debbie writes, “God takes part in the choosing. That’s why the word is perfect for us. We may not see it at the time, but as we look back we see that it all worked together – our word, our life, our journey.”

ENOUGH, JOY, and PLAY. Let the year begin!

Mim, Marian and Abbey wish you a Happy New Year!

ENOUGH, JOY, and PLAY. Let the year begin!

To-Do Lists

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important. [Bertrand Russell]

We all like to think our work is important – whether the work is what we do on our job or what we do at home. Many of us have so many important tasks to accomplish that we create to-do lists to be sure we don’t forget anything. Worse yet, if the list is so long we know we’ll never get everything done, we prioritize the list so that we can at least try to accomplish the most important things.

My mom taught me how to make to-do lists by the time I learned to write. Every Saturday morning after breakfast the two of us made a list of everything we had to do that day, and we decided which one of us would do each task. The lists usually included vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the bathroom, cutting flowers (if it was summertime), baking cookies, and so on. By the end of the day, we had crossed everything off the list, and we felt a good sense of accomplishment.

Now I usually make my to-do lists on Monday mornings. What’s frustrating is that I know I won’t get everything done, so I try to prioritize. How did I get so busy? I’m self-employed, and I’m my own boss, right? I should be able to cross the unimportant things off my list. But which ones are they?

Yesterday afternoon (I try to avoid work as much as possible on Sunday) I picked up a book that Mim received for Christmas, 100 Favorite Bible Verses for Women. As I was scanning the table of contents, one entry caught my eye: “God’s To-Do List.” The verse was Proverbs 16:9, People may make plans in their minds, but the Lord decides what they will do. [New Century Version]

That prompted me to think about some of the interruptions that drop into my day, like getting a call from a friend whose business is not surviving this economy, and he just needs a listening ear for an hour. Or, sitting with a guest who wants to talk about what she’s learning during her personal retreat at Whispering Winds. Or, receiving an urgent request from Mim to watch one of our assisted living residents while she deals with another crisis. None of these things were on my to-do list, but these things suddenly become more urgent and more important than the tasks on my list.

So, what happens to my to-do list? Some of the tasks get done the next day, the next week, or never. As the list gets longer and longer, I can get more and more anxious about how busy I am, and worry about how my important work isn’t getting done; or I can try to see the list from a different perspective. Probably a better way of saying this is, I can try to see my list, my priorities, and my life from God’s perspective.

This is where finding some quiet time is crucial – whether it’s taking a walk for a few minutes or a few hours, or going away for a personal retreat for a day or two. There will always be tasks on my to-do list. But I guess God has a to-do list for me, too. Just as I used to sit with my mom on Saturday mornings to compile our to-do list, I need to spend time with God to integrate the tasks on our respective to-do lists. My top priority really needs to be spending time with God to begin to understand God’s perspective and God’s priorities. Only then will my to-do list really matter.