The to-do list sham

My marathon long to-do list; it's the scapegoat of why I "to don't." 

I unearthed this in talking about blogging at 300-hour teacher training last weekend at Inspire Yoga. My fellow trainees know I have a degree in journalism. They asked me about it, and I declared myself on hiatus, when in reality it has been a 10-month drought. My intention to blog begins as probable, but quickly slides to questionable as I pick apart grammar. Then my quest starts for perfecting every last comma. I get distracted, and I move into the doubtful camp. And from there, it's just a brief layover to inactive. 

I'm embarrassed to share that I formulated a well-written blog about how putting up a Christmas tree is a Declaration of Independence for any single woman. Except I picked at it until it bled, then got busy with other "things," and even though it's 95% done, it will be shelved for at least 10 months, assuming I remember it's still there. 

In order to feel better about being a writer who doesn't write, or fill in the blank with noun and verb that fits your life, I recite my litany of "reasons." My personal laundry list that makes me "busy"  -- mothering, teaching yoga, planning for my running clients, carving out time on my own mat, running 30-35 miles a week, eating healthily, socializing a bit, sleeping - then hit repeat.

But Tara, my lead trainer, looked at me unblinkingly and said, "You know, you sound a lot like me when I make excuses about why I've gotten away from my yoga practice."

And for those who think that "practice" simply means time on the mat, reconsider. It's not about how many classes you take in a week - though that is physical part of the equation. It's more about trying to find some steadiness in your mind -- as if you could take a colander, pour out your thoughts, strain out the muck, and you'd be left with what really matters.  

In my yoga classes, I always address ditching the distractions, and I'm no different than my students. But I'm determined to improve. So I'm starting with shelving the sham of the "to do" list. The question I need to better focus on is not how much I have to do, but how do I choose to spend the currency of my precious free time. 

As a writer, it's that damn blinking cursor - or insert your obstacle of choice -  and it feels so limitless. It's taunting me a bit, and I can't just watch it blink. To address it requires time to think and slow down. My brain would rather flitter along like the stones my dad used to skip across the Gasconade River, which would stop oh-so briefly to skim the surface.

And nothing is more surface skimming than social media.  I can troll for a great writing idea on Facebook, while looking at pictures of food or people's perfect vacations. Or I'll see what's trending on Twitter, and that will help me focus. Perhaps it's time to check my text messages, respond to a few, dig through the black hole of my e-mail, and suddenly it's time to pick up my son from school.   

It's easy for me to clear the physical space, which is why I coach running and teach yoga. I tell my clients and students it's not about a quick fix, it's usually about getting started and making it a habit. If it's just 10 minutes that you have, do a few rounds of sun salutations, the multivitamin of your yoga practice. Or you tie your shoes and move forward, even if it's just a slogging mile and you are embarrassed because it's too slow or you have to stop at the side of the road and your lungs are rebelling. Just move forward. Do something.

As a runner, I build my base, except this time, instead of logging miles, I will first commit to writing and clear the mental space. This means I'm paying attention to, well, simply paying attention. I'll grab a sledgehammer and knock off the rust around the part of my brain that formulates ideas and spend less time flittering and twittering. 

That's where my real yoga practice can begin. 


Comments
Patrick
- 2016-01-24 at 01:38

What a great place to start! I can't wait to follow you this year.
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