We all try so hard in January: to “do better,” to complete the “shoulds” we failed to complete last year.
Not me. Spirit is handling my agenda these days. And with more wisdom, kindness and efficiency than when I was in charge.
I have been an organized, list-making gal, believing that lists were what made me efficient and productive. I was indeed efficient and productive, generally completing my daily or weekly to-do lists (“work”) before more exciting things (“play”). When I noticed I seldom found time for fun or creative activities, I began adding them to the lists. But grumpiness often muddied satisfaction in my competence.
Then one day a shift happened. I looked at my to-do list in a new way. Instead of the sum of “what must happen today,” I saw it as a compendium of suggestions. I began asking, “what needs to happen today?”—and “what does NOT need to happen today?” Not what my clipboard-clutching, inner drill sergeant calls “need,” but need from a larger perspective. Perhaps what a soaring hawk’s sharp eye might perceive. To discover this I had to pause, breathe, shift attention from my head (and all its “shoulds”) into my belly and listen. “Make the call to the repairman now. You don’t need to pay that medical bill today.”
This felt different. I didn’t resist because the drill sergeant was no longer ordering me around; instead, the hawk’s larger view was helping me see what was required in my world.
These messages—whether from Hawk, my intuition, Spirit, or all three—worked well: just before my call a cancellation freed up the repairman; postponing paying the bill saved time since an unexpected, corrected statement arrived within days.
So each day I‘d scan the list, focus inward, listen to what needed to be done and what did not, and follow it.
But weeks later my life sped up. My list, consisting only of appealing projects and necessary tasks, filled an entire legal-sized sheet. I felt overwhelmed.
Yet something new began to happen. In the morning as I lay in bed, just barely awake, directions floated into my consciousness: “Sign up for class this morning. And then paint.” This voice was stronger, more authoritative, as if knowing I was tempted to go back to my old ways. When I complied with these instructions, business, pleasure and surprises flowed beautifully together. My call to enroll came shortly before the class filled up later in the day. My painting session was creative and delicious, providing energy for an unexpected call from a distressed friend that evening. Even less inspiring tasks like “clean the bathrooms today” or “take the car for an oil change” went smoothly if performed when suggested by Spirit–I marveled at how often the timing was perfect or significant. So I rarely failed to follow through, and when I did balk the day was noticeably bumpy and unsatisfying.
Each day a surprise. This was fun!
It was also scary. Every morning Intuition/Spirit advised me one or two things to concentrate on that day, but ignored everything else on my long list. How would all those other things get done?
Especially since this Voice was kinder than my own, instructing me, for example, to “go outside and play” or “have fun with friends,” items not on my list at all.
Miraculously, six weeks later, even though Spirit didn’t seem to be paying attention to it, my long list was completed. Completed with flow and ease, even when the work was hard.
So now with trust and delight I allow Spirit to set the agenda for my days. I still make lists, but only to release my thoughts on paper so I don’t have to carry them around–or maybe lists inform Spirit of my intentions? I listen for direction, eager to discover where each day will take me.
Spirit is teaching me exquisite timing, guiding me in balancing work with play, will with serendipity, and self-care with care for others.
What a relief to let the drill sergeant rest!
Dorothy Walters says it beautifully in her poem, “Don’t Make Lists:”
Every day a new flower rises
from your body’s fresh soil.
Don’t go around looking
for fallen petals
in a fairy tale, when you’ve
got the golden plant
right here, now,
shooting forth in light from your eyes,
your awakening crown.
Don’t make lists,
or explore ancient accounts.
Forget everything you know
I brim with gratitude and wonder at this exuberant universe.
(By the way, here is a lovely little essay about the tyrannical land of “shoulds.”
I’d love to hear your stories.