down with to-do*

ben_laughing_strawberry.jpg
My delicious Ben, not sleeping, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

I am a bit of a mess today. One of those mornings when you wake up with a start at 5am with your list of everything UNDONE in your life flashing before your eyes. This is rare for me, so I decided to get up and just get to work, hoping that getting some things under my belt would help relieve that feeling, but it didn’t. As the coffee started to kick in and the emails began to mount, my to-do list kept growing.

And then I remembered. This was the precise feeling I had yesterday afternoon as I rocked Ben. It was one of those nap times where you are desperate for that child to sleep, and as you rock them you are thinking about all of the things you will accomplish while they nap. You count on those precious two hours to yourself, right? And then of course, after nearly an hour of trying to get them down, they are up officially, not sleeping, and now crabby because they are still tired.

In that moment of pure exhaustion and despair I realized the very bad news–I was never going to get enough done. There would always be more to do, I could always have done it better, and the idea that after x, y, and z was done I would feel satisfied, well that was never going to happen either. Because after that, I would notice what a disaster zone our house was, or that my site could really use a facelift, etc.

It is a neverending cycle.

I cried when I took that in. The gravity of that feeling of not enoughness hit me hard. If this is how I am going to live my life, I thought, then what’s the point? There is no joy in this.

As I shared these thoughts with Matt this morning, he echoed my feelings. It seems we are all in need of a paradigm shift. He said something I really appreciate, “If we’re not loving the process then what are we doing? It’s not going to get better at the end of this list, because there is always another list. There is always going to be more so the trick is to love the tasks as much as possible.” Which is another way of saying, let’s love each moment as much as possible. I can see how simply doing what’s in front of you, with as much mindfulness and joy as you can is a piece of the puzzle. Maybe we should trash our to-do lists and create some to-be lists instead.

I would love to hear your words of wisdom people.
…..

And the winner of the photo session from Thea Coughlin’s is Shawn who said, “I must have vaulted from your blog to hers at some point and loved her pictures-images. so count me in…i’d love to get some great shots of family!!” Congratulations! Thea will email you soon.

Follow on Facebook Follow on Instagram Follow on Twitter Follow on Pinterest

Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ME >

83 Comments

  1. Anna-Marie Still

    Funny – here I sit with a squirmy 14 month old boy who also will not sleep. I can actually feel my to-do list growing and deadlines not being met. I decide to do some blog hopping, hoping to ease some of the tension I feel, and I hop here and find you in a similar boat. So I will wave to you and smile, from my boat to yours wishing us both some calmer seas!

  2. Heidi

    i don’t think anything is harder than having a child that does not go down easily (or at all) for bedtime or naps. I really thought my life would never be the same, especially when everyone else seemed to outgrow sleep troubles by 6 months or so. I can tell you that we finally (finally!) have a 5YO who sleeps great, but it took us about 4 years to get there. I feel much more human these days and much more able to tackle my to do list. You have to do what feels right for you, but my advice is to cut yourself some slack. It may feel like it’s been forever and you will never get your life back, but you will! Until then (and no one knows when then will be) – let a LOT slide and do whatever you can to take care of yourself.

  3. Zoot

    I’ve been struggling with the same mental state for a few months. And I’ve also had similar moments…almost of clarity…when I realize that “Does it matter?” I mean…half of my “To Do” list relates to things that won’t actually improve my family’s life significantly.
    Ex) Cleaning the bathroom sink. Putting up the clothes so we’re not living out of laundry baskets. Lint-brush the couches.
    No one will even care if I leave these tasks behind. So why do I keep them on my list?
    Wow. Sorry for the blabbing. Obviously you struck a nerve… 😉

  4. andrea

    i think down with to-do is really the way to go! i have not had a to-do list in years. and things do just somehow get done!
    i do have a list of things i’d like to do, ideas i’d like to put into motion, i also keep sketchbooks full of creative visioning… and yet i don’t have that “to do” feeling about any of it. these plans and lists keep me from feeling lost, i use them like maps that help me get to where i want to go. like, instead of a to-do list with laundy and grocery shopping i can just remember that i love lots of fun, clean clothes to choose from when i’m getting dressed and i love easy access to healthy foods and then doing these things just kind of flows from that love instead of being forced by the obligation of the to-do list.

  5. Lu

    Oh, I am so feeeeeeling this message. I am finding myself wanting things to happen now and people to act now and waiting on them has been making me crazy. I realized that while I was waiting on them, they were living their lives. What was I doing? Waiting…and going crazy wondering when they would do something. So now, I am paying more attention to what feeds and makes my soul feel good. I guess you can say enjoying the process of living instead of waiting.

  6. dani

    I don’t know if I have any words of wisdom. I’m sitting in the middle of my to-do list checking blog posts because this is where I would rather be…instead of cleaning my house. I think your post is right on. Maybe my only words of encouragement is that the lists do go on and on…and I think that setting aside a day to get those “things” done is good..just don’t let it consume you. Be ok with a mess. These are things that will be there tomorrow. Live through the fussy, tired baby. Because those moments won’t always be.

  7. Jolie

    This spring I was stuck, feeling sorry for myself, trying to figure out what I needed *to do* to get myself together.
    I walked in to Powell’s Books here in Portland and thought to myself, “Ok, Universe– somewhere in this store must be a book that will show me what to do to fix whatever is wrong with me. Show me where it is.”
    I started walking down the center aisle and the first book that I saw was titled, “There is NOTHING Wrong with You.” Whoa. Strong message from the Universe.
    Since then, I’ve been working on just being, rather than doing– what I do doesn’t define who I am. And what I don’t do, doesn’t make me less than who I am.
    It’s hard to keep this comment short, but I guess what I’m saying is: Rocking your boy and being a momma is who you are, Andrea. All that stuff to do will get done, or it won’t and it won’t matter.

  8. Stacy

    I don’t have kids, but I do have that feeling of having a never-ending to-do list, and it recently got to the point where I just couldn’t stop … couldn’t sit down, couldn’t relax, couldn’t be still. Every little thing seemed so important, like my life would fall apart if I relaxed for a couple hours. To get back on track I went to the coast for a few days and reflected on what is really important and made some decisions about letting go of some of the things in my life that eat up my time and energy. I’ve only been back a few days, but so far things are much better and I am remembering to move a little more slowly and give myself lots of down time. I hope this helps.

  9. Stacy

    I don’t have kids, but I do have that feeling of having a never-ending to-do list, and it recently got to the point where I just couldn’t stop … couldn’t sit down, couldn’t relax, couldn’t be still. Every little thing seemed so important, like my life would fall apart if I relaxed for a couple hours. To get back on track I went to the coast for a few days and reflected on what is really important and made some decisions about letting go of some of the things in my life that eat up my time and energy. I’ve only been back a few days, but so far things are much better and I am remembering to move a little more slowly and give myself lots of down time. I hope this helps.

  10. dani

    I don’t know if I have any words of wisdom. I’m sitting in the middle of my to-do list checking blog posts because this is where I would rather be…instead of cleaning my house. I think your post is right on. Maybe my only words of encouragement is that the lists do go on and on…and I think that setting aside a day to get those “things” done is good..just don’t let it consume you. Be ok with a mess. These are things that will be there tomorrow. Live through the fussy, tired baby. Because those moments won’t always be.

  11. The Other Laura

    I’m struggling with this too, mainly because it’s summer and my son is not in school and I’ve had to just embrace the fact that I’m not going to have the long stretches of solitude I need to write. I’m trying to just let all that go for three months and enjoy popsicles on the porch but the “things not get done list” does wake me up sometimes.
    I’m trying to change my EXPECTATIONS.

  12. greta

    i’ve been struggling with this too, and trying to be more mindful of every moment and appreciate each step. we’ve also been struggling with the nap and bedtime difficulty lately, so i know that feeling of so desperately wanting the child to sleep so that i can work/clean/nap etc. i finally gave up the struggle, and decided to just enjoy those moments as much as i can. my daughter is only going to be two once, and the time is already flying by. if she wants me to sit while she falls asleep, why not just appreciate it? soon enough she will be asking me to leave! i make it easier for myself now too by bringing a book for myself – i read her books then tuck her in, and then i sit in her room reading my own book until she falls asleep. sometimes it takes an hour or more of waiting, but because i’ve stopped thinking “just go to sleep!” or “i need to get x y and z done!” the whole time, it’s a lot more pleasant for both of us. 🙂

  13. suganthi

    Oh Andrea..{{{HUGS}}}. I have never felt that you needed a hug from me, but today all I want to do is hold you and tell you.. good god Andrea, do you have any idea how may lives you inspire and that you should never feel like there is “so much to be done”. You have done enough and more.
    I will admit to having this feeling of overwhelm regularly, but I think I have ADD, I underestimate how long it takes to get things done, I am like a child looking for instant gratification, putting away things that I don’t like to do, but I always get stuff done. I truly believe that things just work out. It is impossible for me to stay in gloom and doom for more than a few hours, I enjoy(ha ha..sounds strange) a good cry, a long run, some Yoga, sleep and a bright sun in the morning and I m ready to take on life.
    Goodnes, I don’t knw what I have blabbed above, but I sure know you will figure it out.

  14. suganthi

    Wish I could edit post after it is postred. It shoudl read putting off as opposed to putting away.
    The “to-be” list that I have now for myself is
    Be the best you can be.
    Making any other other list is to overwhelmign to me. xo-S!

  15. suganthi

    Wish I could edit a post after it gets posted. It should read “putting off” as opposed to “putting away.”
    The “to-be” list that I have now for myself is
    Be the best you can be.
    Making any other other list is too overwhelming to me. I am confident that you are smiling and back at it with gusto.
    xo
    S!

  16. ellie

    today i’ve been thinking how full of failure I feel, how full of things undone, not done quite right, not done as brilliantly as they could have been, not done on time, not done in a way that makes everyone happy. what Matt says makes so much sense. it can’t be about doing everything perfectly to end up with the perfect thing/feeling/outcome, nothing is ‘perfect’ in that slightly strange sparkly clean, no mess kinda way I expect it should be. there will always be more to do, always more i could have done. so here’s to finding a process that is enjoyable, exciting and fulfilling.

  17. Karen Maezen Miller

    One thing: come to see me at the SSF library on Saturday: Zen for Parents: Peace & Patience in the Everyday Everything else waits.

  18. Diana

    I read this today in Cheri Huber’s book “Be the Person You Want to Find”. It hit me with a big, hard, A-ha!
    Parallel Reality
    “A huge part of the maintenance system for egocentric conditioning is the belief in a parallel reality. This original faulty premise from which people can live their whole lives goes like this:
    There is an alternate parallel reality that exists simultaneously with this reality, and in THAT one, everything is as it should be.
    In this parallel reality,
    I know what I should know
    I do what I should do
    I feel what I should feel
    I look how I should look
    I never forget to remember
    I always make the right decision
    I always say the right thing
    On and on and on…!
    Here, in THIS reality, I *should* know better but don’t. There, somehow, I do.
    (kinda funny, isn’t it!)
    In this way I am able to suffer nearly every moment. If I am constantly comparing this moment with an imaginary moment in which everything is as it should be…
    How can I not suffer?!
    It would serve us well to see that we never know better, that this is an illusion, an imaginary world perpetuated by looking at a moment that has passed and saying, “it should have been different”.
    There is no different, no should, no better, no other.
    THIS IS IT.
    When we are truly present, really here, this is all we could ever hope for, everything it should be.”

  19. Puanani

    Oh, you are so not alone. I have found that I must forgive myself. I must remind myself to be kind to myself. I was lying in Shivasana one day, I realized that I tell the puppy a million times a day, “You are such a good girl, you are a good girl.” But I could not remember when the last time was that I told myself that I am a good girl. I can a tell a DOG a million times a day, but I can’t recognize when I am a good girl? Time for a shift. I spent the last bit of the class telling myself over and over again that I was a good girl! And I am. But oh, do I remember the “Please just go to sleep phase…” God be with you. Enjoy the moments though, my baby is headed to university this fall…

  20. Teresa

    The feeling not-enoughness! The “how will I fit it all in”? I’ve felt this. It can be a decidedly tragic thing to realize.
    It is the blessing and the curse of the human mind that we are capable of such things as ambition, desire, and willpower. It can drive us to create, to love, to inspire. But it can also drive us mad.
    What separates one state from the other? It must be a very thin line, if one exists there at all.
    But it’s also in the power of human thought to choose how we approach that line – not in fear, or flight, but in mindfulness and understanding. You’re already there! Keep on, you’re doing great.

  21. GailNHB

    Words of wisdom?
    Sip your coffee slowly.
    Love your man and your son and yourself.
    Take photos. Write in your journal. Paint.
    Create superhero jewelry – and throw something special together for yourself, totally unique, a design you don’t sell. Just for you.
    Cry when you need to.
    Cook with your neighbor.
    Eat, drink, laugh, listen, enjoy the summer.
    The rest may or may not come.
    But you will be fine, dear Andrea. Just fine.
    And so will Ben.
    All is well.
    That’s all the wisdom I’ve got.

  22. Thea

    Andrea-oh girl how I hear you!
    I was in the longing for nap for 2 days. I nearly melted down on Sunday afternoon after 2 days of no naps. I am ever shifting between the oh my freakin god I have so much to do, and wow-the air is cool, my son is so gorgeous, isn’t laying her inthis moment fabulous…..
    I just keep trying my best to live on the second side…it just seems a couple days of that and then I am spazzing out because my list grew longer! LOL.
    Namaste

  23. crissy

    “to-be lists” i love the sound and intent!!!
    sometimes (if i remember) when i’m at work and sitting in a meeting, i’ll step back for a moment, take in each person and try to think about what a priviledge it is to be sitting in a room with these individuals who know are smart, or have such-and-such experience, etc. and what an honor that i have been included in this meeting. this is hard to do if the meeting is really boring or not going well, but i try to remember even then.

  24. Catherine

    Jerry gets home at 7pm most nights.
    By 5pm I am a bit fried and need a break from mama duties.
    By 7pm I am REALDY to hand off Max so I can tend to my list.
    Today he came home and told me he didn’t have time to help because he had to work from home.
    He took Max for a while and I ran around the house, folding laundry, cleaning up the disaster of my house, and felt angry.
    Angry that I had to beg for time to clean. I wish I was begging for time to go get a manicure or make art or sit and look at the tree outfront for a while…..And – actually I wish I didn’t have to beg at all. But that time would bend for me and give me some much needed nothingness.
    When I actually have all the time in the world….I watch tv.
    So these days – any time I get feels like a squeeze – and I get anxious about using it “right”. the pressure kills me.
    Anyhow -Jerry is watching Max right now and I am sneaking this post to you before I go back to get Max and carry on.
    Acceptance is the key to all of my problems today
    when I am upset – it’s because some person – place or thing is unacceptable to me and I will not find peace until I let go absolutely and accept what is.
    ( paraphrased and added to: from the big book of alcoholics anonymous )

  25. Sarah

    You can only live your life in the present. The past is gone. The future is not here yet. Everything you have ever done or will ever do can only be done in the present moment. If your mind is always in the past (beating yourself up for your perceived faults) or in the future (worrying about what must be done), you are NOT living your life. The PRESENT moment is all you will ever have.
    Peace

  26. Mira

    (Coming out of lurking to finally share. SS gang has been rocking my world. A gift I cannot even begin to describe in words. But now you tapped on one of the “reasons” why I have yet to create MY blog. Sharing my creative expressions of me… And yet it’s also perhaps one of my biggest inspirations. busy being mama)
    Oh how I hear you Andrea! You just described many of my days. 2 year old won’t sleep. Mama is frustrated, overwhelmed, and feeling less-than. Precious nap time. Please.
    And then I remember- as I rock, hum, rub a squirmy back- that this time is fleeting. She won’t be little forever. (and presumably, won’t need as much of my time and energy as she does now- or will need it differently?) And I do _so_ LOVE being a mama. Being madly in love with this little being. Witnessing the blossoming of another person, whom I happen to think is magnificent. And so I try to release the every present, ever growing to do list, for now. And to be present to what I am right now. Which is a mama. To this sometimes screaming, sometimes delightful, always loved little being. Who chose me to come through into this world.
    I really do want to give her my full attention. After all, she is one of my creations too. Certainly her own, not ‘mine’. but you know.
    Anyhow. It’s good to know I’m not alone.
    Don’t know if these are words of wisdom more than a simple Thanks.

  27. Jennifer/The Word Cellar

    I like the idea of a to-be list. I always make a “ta-da!” list. It sounds so much jauntier than a to-do list, which just makes me happy. When I cross something off, I can say, “Ta Da!” 🙂 But I’m with you on enjoying the process — that’s the way to be, definitely.

  28. Elizabeth

    Andrea,
    I’ve been reading your wonderful blog since way before little Ben was born. When I saw today’s picture I thought: Wow! He’s grown up. The baby-ness is gone and you can clearly see the person he will be.
    I love the idea of a Ta-da! list. Letting go of perfectionism in the areas it doesn’t really matter (as long as your home is not a health hazard, don’t worry if you can’t clean it every day) and ENJOYING now, rather than wishing it away is key. You tried so hard for this brilliant little boy: don’t worry about the unimportant things (even this blog, much as I love it, isn’t as important as your sanity and time with your son). So many things on to-do lists won’t be important 5 years from now. Let yourself let them go.

  29. kellyb

    such truth in these words.
    i will be carrying them with me
    today. well, as long as i don’t get
    so frazzled that i forget!
    big hugs mamma.

  30. kellyb

    such truth in these words.
    i will be carrying them with me
    today. well, as long as i don’t get
    so frazzled that i forget!
    big hugs mamma.

  31. bella

    **Maybe we should trash our to-do lists and create some to-be lists instead.**
    ~This will be my mantra for today~ I think you’ve touch on a feeling that affects so many working moms. I could definitely relate.
    Hope you have a good day!

  32. bella

    **Maybe we should trash our to-do lists and create some to-be lists instead.**
    ~This will be my mantra for today~ I think you’ve touched on a feeling that affects so many working moms. I could definitely relate.
    Hope you have a good day!

  33. bella

    “Maybe we should trash our to-do lists and create some to-be lists instead.”
    ~This will be my mantra for today~ I think you’ve touched on a feeling that affects so many working moms. I could definitely relate.
    Hope you have a good day!

  34. alexinamer

    mitigating movit place sea china relation contributed

  35. marcy

    the push to do more, be more,have more…it is a feeling most of us have.Then we feel like “less” when we can’t fit more hours into the day, when we don’t have time or energy to run through our to do list and then create a new one…the pressure of our culture is unrealistic and yet we all buy into it…and we all know better….I try to remember that all my time is infact ALL MY TIME no matter what I am doing and that there is room for everyone and everything, so that I remember that the time in which I am sitting is the only time there is…and then i know that this doesn’t always work…and I will have to remind myself over and over again

  36. moe

    here’s my take on it, dear girl:
    notice when you feel begin to feel all sped up. notice the sensations in your body. notice your thoughts. notice the rising emotions.
    let this be the signal that you need to stop and take a deep breath and refocus on what is right in front of you. like a camera lens going from wide focus to narrow.
    practice this. have a sped-up partner that you can call when it happens to reinforce your shift.
    good luck and have fun!

  37. Original Hardware

    I can sooo relate to what you were dealing with here. I am a mother of a 3 1/2 year old son. I feel tormented at times when the little boy doesn’t do what I expect and then I feel like I am fighting an uphill battle to create something for myself–my business. It is a neverending thing, you are right, and your husband is very insightful for putting it like he did. There is always a list. Sometimes the grace comes when you can let it go and soak in those precious moments. Sometimes I am good at this, and at other times I am not! Thanks for your honesty!

  38. Original Hardware

    I can sooo relate to what you were dealing with here. I am a mother of a 3 1/2 year old son. I feel tormented at times when the little boy doesn’t do what I expect and then I feel like I am fighting an uphill battle to create something for myself–my business. It is a neverending thing, you are right, and your husband is very insightful for putting it like he did. There is always a list. Sometimes the grace comes when you can let it go and soak in those precious moments. Sometimes I am good at this, and at other times I am not! Thanks for your honesty!

  39. jennifer

    I, too have been feeling this way. I have a 19 month old who is a pretty good sleeper most of the time. But even though she is a good sleeper, I still have so much to do in that time that she is sleeping. There is never time for “me”. I haven’t done anything for me in such a long time that when I do have time, I have so many things I want to do, I don’t do anything:) Not sure why or how this happens. The one thing I am going to do is get a house keeper – although I will feel guilty about it for a while, I think it will help with my happiness level. It won’t make all my work go away, but it will help. Happiness is a choice and I tell myself that everyday.

  40. bahiehk

    I kinda like Matt’s point.
    And I would add to it that it’s important to be together in that process.
    Like delicious Ben’s shirt says:
    IT’S OK, I’M WITH THE BAND! 😉
    On a lighter note, check that to-do-list… I’m sure you can relate.
    http://www.tmcm.com/comics/tags/to+do+list/tmcm050131
    love from Switzerland,
    bk

  41. Rochelle Quigley

    What Matt said to you SO hit home with me today. As I am that person that can’t wait for vacation and the second it begins I am counting down the minutes knowing that it is ending soon. On my way to work today I recognized and realized that I must live in the moment if I will ever be happy.
    Thank you for helping me say it aloud once again today!
    Rochelle

  42. jakki

    I don’t like to re-quote a blogger to another blogger but I got this quote from Allie Edwards’ blog the other day…
    Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
    I read that and felt it in my gut, instantly, that I PLAN my life away with things that do not matter or should I say, should not be before enjoy my son’s smile…or my other son’s laughter…or even the way my dog looks at me with his puppy dog eyes when he is begging for a walk…
    I still have a list (cant break that habit YET) but I try to grab hold to those little things that make me a better person TO me

  43. Bill N.

    With three children at home (1, 3 and 7) I completely know where you are coming from. Such irony. In the developed world we have much to make our lives easier, more flexible and more comfortable yet there’s something in the human condition that prevents us from taking full advantage. This can be good when it drives us to achieve and create but we can also see its darker side in the anecdotes posted here.
    If the goal of life is survival, success or failure is easy to gauge with each breath you draw in. When your culture and inner voice tell you success is measured against a backdrop of endless possibilities it’s not so easy to know when you’re done. If your goals are family oriented (at least here in the U.S.) it’s even worse because our society places so little value in your “job”. Your sense of self worth and value has to come from within.
    A realistic sense of your goals is the first and most important step. Knowing who you are and being comfortable with that is a lifelong journey. Something to look forward to.
    In the mean time my advice is to repeat the mantra “be where you’re at”. When you’re rocking a child be there, not at your computer. When you’re in a meeting with a client or taking photos of a subject, be there. Devote yourself to it. We take too much pride in being able to “multitask”.
    Lists are good tools but only if they free you and not bind you. My wife is a list maker. I often see her making two mistakes. First, she makes a paper list and still tries to maintain it in her head. Trust yourself. When you finish something, consult the list and move on. Second, she prioritizes the list and tackles it backward because she knows those things may not get done. Don’t do this! It’s a recipe for stress. You prioritize for a reason.
    With children all this advice is easier said than done I know. By far, in my opinion, the hardest thing about raising young children is that they are unpredictable. They don’t fit neatly into a meeting planner.
    Nice web site.

  44. Andrea

    Um, yeah.
    I’ve officially ditched the to-do lists. Not to say that I don’t write things down, because I do, since I’m forgetful.
    But I used to have mighty awesome to-do lists that would run some 20 items long. For one day.
    And I’d complete, oh, about 2-3, and feel like I *failed* yet again. Another day gone by when I didn’t complete my to-do list.
    Then I realized that the things I was writing down were multi-part processes that could take weeks or longer.
    So, I tossed the to-do lists and with the exception of a few things (like paying the electricity bill before it gets cut off), I don’t *do* to-do lists anymore.
    I let things float to the top.
    If it’s important, it will float to the top of my consciousness, and it will get accomplished. If not, it won’t.
    Life’s been *so* much simpler.
    And, for full disclosure’s sake, I’m not as accomplished anymore.
    Nor am I a raw nerve any longer.
    Life is good. Stuff gets done when it gets done.

  45. shawn

    Ok…so I never win NOTHING so I was totally giddy when I got an email from a famous photographer…I had hoped to plan a summer trip up that way but due to sandwich generation special I’m in that won’t be possible…but Thea mentioned I get a different sort of goodie which will be just as great for me!! Thanks so much for picking me!

  46. Nerdy Renegade

    Great post, dear Andrea. We appreciate your transparency and insight.
    As I was reading, I kept thinking, “just be present”. I have to remind myself of this often when my monkey mind kicks in.
    Lately, (I think it’s the influence of summer) I’ve been really focusing on the *ease* of life. Going with the flow. Accepting what is ~ with a sort of curious detachment.
    I recently read this amazing quote:
    Show up.
    Pay attention.
    Tell the truth, without judgment or blame.
    Don’t be attached to the outcome.
    (http://www.angelesarrien.com/four-fol.htm)
    To BE lists sound GREAT to me!
    Trying to find ourselves in the DOing is so 80’s and 90’s. Hee, hee!
    Oh, and I almost forgot this uber important piece of wisdom…take care of yourself!!! The best thing you can do for others is to take good care of yourself. How might you need to ‘be’ today in order to make that a priority?
    Deep, full, present breath and hug to you ~
    Lisa

  47. rachael

    how about a combo–to be lists where you write mindfull reminders for your soul, and ta da lists where you CELEBRATE what you’ve accomplished. (you only write it once it’s done!)… i’ve never done either of them, but the ta da list sounds exciting! the idea has me wanting to PAINT my ta das on a wall, day in and day out, covering them up over and over again. so much less stress… the important stuff floats to the top & then you celebrate accomplishing it.
    andrea–your sanity & happiness are more important than anything else. everyone’s feeling crazy and overwhelmed all the time. (what a silly world we live in!) but luckily, this means you have no one to keep up with. let’s all just throw in the “pressure towel”… ya know? you have permission to step back, relax, love your moments, do what you can, and believe that it’s enough. truly.
    you are a huge success. and completely enough.
    love to you,
    rach

  48. rachael

    how about a combo–to be lists where you write mindfull reminders for your soul, and ta da lists where you CELEBRATE what you’ve accomplished. (you only write it once it’s done!)… i’ve never done either of them, but the ta da list sounds exciting! the idea has me wanting to PAINT my ta das on a wall, day in and day out, covering them up over and over again. so much less stress… the important stuff floats to the top & then you celebrate accomplishing it.
    andrea–your sanity & happiness are more important than anything else. everyone’s feeling crazy and overwhelmed all the time. (what a silly world we live in!) but luckily, this means you have no one to keep up with. let’s all just throw in the “pressure towel”… ya know? you have permission to step back, relax, love your moments, do what you can, and believe that it’s enough. truly.
    you are a huge success. and completely enough.
    love to you,
    rach

  49. yasmine

    beautiful Andrea, thank you so much for your honesty in all that you write. am still sitting here reflecting on your post, and mulling over your rockstar-readers’ comments, too.
    a little bit of a tangent, if you’ll forgive me, but may i ask where Ben got his tshirt!? =)

  50. heather murphy

    hello dear andrea::
    i haven’t read thru all the comments, so I am sure something similar has been said. i was once in a state of panic and overwhelm over my to do lists. she had me read the list to her and then she had me pick 3 things to do that day and trust that all would be well and that I was enough..
    thank you for sharing where you are!

  51. heather

    p.s.
    wishing you much gentleness and peace!

  52. Jennifer Dizon

    dear andrea and the wonderful people who come together in this site,
    i can sooo relate. but as we grow we the answers are given to us and all we have to do is to remember them and shout it out to the little gremlin inside that says: it’s not enough, there’s more to do, you’re not accomplishing it all, etc..
    we are enough. now. and always. and the endless to do’s and to be’s live only in the past and the future. a race against weird time, against a self that’s dying to be more than what it already is.
    “there’s no fear in the present moment…”
    something like that. 🙂
    remember too, that “where you are right at this very moment is where you’re supposed to be.” it’s up to us not to judge what the moment is, where it is, and what it’s filled with.
    love and light,
    Jen 😀

  53. kazari

    Make a ta-dah! list.
    Put on it everything you did today, whether or not it was on your to do list. Cuddled Ben for 2 hours should probably be the first thing on the list…
    Seriously, you get so much done even when you don’t touch the list – celebrate it!

  54. mamie

    ah, the list. the one i once turned to in need of direction, or organization, of help. it seemed to work for awhile.
    then i returned to work and my patient lists are jumbled with the grocery list and the wishing i could do this craft list…and reading this remided me of the time i need to take to breathe and be.
    and oh, those missed naps. those were really rough days. but now that i am not home during a bunch of those naps, i almost miss that.
    i like the idea of just embracing the moment at hand, including reading this post and writing this comment. you always rock my world, mama andrea.

  55. mindy

    i can completely relate to this. it’s such a mixed blessing being a mother and being creative and a big dreamer… while one is always tugging us in one direction, the other is often pulling us in another. you’re right… it is about staying in the moment and embracing “what is” instead of focusing on “what could be”, but therein lies the immense challenge. if we can make that shift even some of the time (because realstically who can be in that place all of the time?), this is a gift we can ultimately give to ourselves. thanks for these thoughts. xo

  56. rowena

    When I feel that way, I start keeping a Did-Done list. It’s so easy to only concentrate on what you haven’t done, to feel the lack, the not enoughness of it all.
    Sometimes I just need to mark that I got every one dressed and fed everyone three+ times in a day. A shower can be a big thing. Or commenting on blogs. Or finishing another painting. Or running errands to the wherever or reading a chapter of a book. When we start paying attention to where our time and energy actually goes, we stop thinking that we are wasting it… and we can also be more conscious of it if we are spending time on things that are not fulfilling and/or necessary. Where can we cut back? What do we REALLY want to get done.

  57. donab

    I have been struggling with such similar issues in my life. For me it is all around my job – too many responsibilities, too many projects, not enough staff. I have been jumping from crisis to crisis, never getting quite enough accomplished, feeling like I’m failing on all fronts, doing a poor job at everything.
    Last week I took a really big step back and re-set my approach. What has been working for me is keeping lists, but really simple ones. Only the critical things. Each day I scrub the list and only keep what I think I can do that day and what is critical that day. And then I focus only on the thing that is directly in front of me, with full attention and my best self. Having a list actually help me to do that, because my brain isn’t swirling around trying to remember all that stuff. And when I’m done with a task I let it go (“don’t be attached to the outcome”) and move on to the next one.
    Someone recently advised me to imagine someone practicing Aikido when I’m at work, and feeling pressed and attacked on all sides. I don’t actually practice Aikido, but what it looks like to me is a lot of stepping to the side. Letting the force of things go by, not trying to absorb their force to control the outcome. Work into the empty space behind the action. And this is helping.

  58. Paula

    I love the concept of wabi-sabi, even though I struggle to practice it. I’m a recovering perfectionist.
    A definition from the noble harbor website that says it better than I could:
    Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s simple, slow, and uncluttered–and it reveres authenticity above all.

  59. paula

    Oops! I realized after I posted that the noble harbor website apparently adapted that quote from the description by Robin Griggs Lawrence found here:
    http://wabisabihouse.com/_wsn/page2.html
    Sorry! Little did I know that she is responsible for me knowing about wabi-sabi through the article she mentions here (in Utne Reader in 2001).

  60. Heather

    Thich Naht Hanh would say that you are already onto something with what you and Matt discussed about loving the moment, making the work, breath, emotion, duty, joy of the moment matter.
    http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/thichnhathanh/transcript.shtml
    You are doing it. You are helping others do it. I will be wearing the Earth superhero necklace you made on my pregnant self as I present my Master’s research on Saturday, while my parents babysit my 2 year-old. Even if we balk at the idea of needing help, we are not meant to do it alone. I am reading your blog tonight while taking a break from editing a final draft because I love your humanity and your search for Truth and I know you’ll help me keep it all in perspective rather than spin off into my data. The best we can do is to help each other do the best we can. Thank you for ALL you do.

  61. Heather

    Thich Nhat Hanh would say that you are already onto something with what you and Matt discussed about loving the moment, making the work, breath, emotion, duty, joy of the moment matter.
    http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/thichnhathanh/transcript.shtml
    You are doing it. You are helping others do it. I will be wearing the Earth superhero necklace you made on my pregnant self as I present my Master’s research on Saturday, while my parents babysit my 2 year-old. Even if we balk at the idea of needing help, we are not meant to do it alone. I am reading your blog tonight while taking a break from editing a final draft because I love your humanity and your search for Truth and I know you’ll help me keep it all in perspective rather than spin off into my data. The best we can do is to help each other do the best we can. Thank you for ALL you do.

  62. Jane Sunshine

    Andrea, can I stick this post on my website so that more people can read it? This struggle is so common for mom’s everywhere- and you have articulated it so well. So many times I have said to my 17 month son, sleep, sleep, mommy’s got work- and those are days that he wont.

  63. Jane Sunshine

    Andrea, can I stick this post on my website so that more people can read it? This struggle is so common for mom’s everywhere- and you have articulated it so well. So many times I have said to my 17 month son, sleep, sleep, mommy’s got work- and those are days that he wont.

  64. Mallory

    I still make to-do lists (my brain just doesn’t retain minor details like “pick up children from mall after work”) but I have a new love: My Ta-Dah! List. On a Ta Dah! List, you list everything you have miraculously accomplished during the day. Try it some time, you will be amazed at everything you get done. Then, marvel in the awesomeness that is you.

  65. Laurel

    I was doing some free writing this morning, self-affirmation style, and realized that part of what I wrote had a lot of relevance to this blog post, that I also read this morning. (As a disclaimer, I write “I am” even though really it’s just what I strive for – my ideal self.) thought I’d share since evidently we are struggling similarly =)
    “I am confident in myself enough to be comfortable expressing who I really am instead of put up a front. I don’t overdo trying to be a “hostess” and make every situation go well, and be responsible for outside events. I am not a failure if something around me fails. I am attending the events of my life in the same way that I create art. I do not ask for various events, make other people, I am not responsible. I learn to read and be comfortable with my actions and responses. My largest concern is that every moment of my life I am connected and mindful and I do whatever it takes to continue and nurture this connected feeling. Every conversation, every event that I am a part of is an expression from the universe. I can choose some things, but the getting there, the being there, the choice, are all part of the ride. It’s all a never ending ride, and I am not necessarily the driver –just a backseat driver? Instead of feeling stress to accomplish things under deadlines or to get so much done, I simply do as much as I can. If time is “being wasted” I consider the universal message behind the time being wasted. Because I feel that I always do my best, and attend in small ways to every area of my life, and remind myself of this frequently, I do not immediately berate myself if things are not going according to “my ideal plan”. Instead I try to find a way to use the time wisely, soulfully, within the circumstances. If I am late for something, that I feel responsible for, I simply get there as fast as I safely can. Why yell and scream and huff and puff and kick and punch (myself), really? It does not help me to get there any faster. Is it possible to forget those nastier manifestations? I try to get there as fast as possible, and I assert myself strongly when needed, but I recognize that a calm state is infinitely more effective in the long run regardless of the situation, and this helps to control my helpless expressions of anger.”

  66. richele

    I think you follow me through my life thinking the same things I do.
    it’s kinda spooky;)

  67. richele

    I think you follow me through my life thinking the same things I do.
    it’s kinda spooky;)

  68. robyn

    My days of being the “never get anything done mom ” are over. I can tell you, yes, you are not alone. However, This too shall pass.
    The times of Ben interrupting life will be short lived. Hang on, it does get better. I found that having quiet time was the best course of action. It allows a young child to stay awake if they please, but still frees up some time for your needs, lists or things that need to get done. By giving them rules about what quiet times is – you must stay on your bed, you can read books, or play quietly with toys, you cannot get off your bed – those kinds of things, you’ll find the balance you need and they’ll sometimes sleep and other times find the quiet for themselves quite rewarding. It does happen every day is the best rule of all.
    I miss the days of not getting anything done, as I loved the excuse of a childs’ needs to giving up and goofing off on occasion. Alas that is not so now, and I really wish it were different. Savor those days.

  69. Carole

    Oh my. Exactly how I am feeling today! Thank you for the perspective (HUGE breath in, HUGE breath out….Aaaaaaaah.) 🙂

  70. Dan

    Someone is pretty good with the picture-taking machine.

  71. kate

    Oh Andrea– a to-be list, brilliant.
    I find that when I spin out of control, it is an act of forgetting. And when I rediscover some truth, like living in the moment, it is just that– a rediscovery, a remembering, a reminder. We are all so much wiser than we seem to be to ourselves sometimes, busyness clouds our wisdom and we act from a place of desperate reactivity which is so rarely our highest and best.
    Reading The Power of Now, for example, was simply a reminder of things i used to know. I hope with time I will remember more easily and hold on to that knowledge longer. Wishing you peace.
    Wishing us all peace.
    warmly,
    Kate

  72. Kate

    What wise words from Matt! You have no idea how much I need wise words.
    How about a just-be list? To-be makes me feel like a to-do. Maybe an entire sheet of paper saying just-be, just-be, just-be hanging from the fridge door would do the trick.
    We are all enough. That’s all anyone needs to hear. You are who and what you are and that is enough.

  73. Linni

    YES!
    I don’t do that overwhelming feelings any more..whenever I feel my chest and throat filling up…i think what am i doing right at this very moment…thinking..ahhh…i’ll just do this 100% instead of worrying about all the other things…for in this moment is perfection. right now. right here. perfection xx

  74. Linni

    YES!
    I don’t do that overwhelming feelings any more..whenever I feel my chest and throat filling up…i think what am i doing right at this very moment…thinking..ahhh…i’ll just do this 100% instead of worrying about all the other things…for in this moment is perfection. right now. right here. perfection xx

  75. Stacy (mama-om)

    Whenever I feel that overwhelming urge to DO, I recognize it, and then I breathe very deeply into the well of my tummy, making a space for me to settle. Here. Now.
    A lot of my most intense TO DO energy can happen when I have a not-napping child or a never-ending nursing child… Recntly, my sons and I started playing “the mindfulness bell game,” where we ring the bell for each other (or even just say “ding”) as a way to bring each other to the present moment. Last night, my youngest son did this for me while he was nursing, and nursing, and I was getting “done.”
    He said, “Mama, be mad mama.”
    I got what he meant right away, and I said, “Oh man, I am so mad and I am so tense and I want things to change –”
    “Ding!”
    I breathed deeply and then I said, “Thank you.”
    We smiled and hugged each other.
    And I had really returned to my open heart, the heart that knew I wanted connection with him, the heart that truly was willing to nurse him longer.
    I had returned to the present moment.
    Blessings to you —

  76. Stacy (mama-om)

    Whenever I feel that overwhelming urge to DO, I recognize it, and then I breathe very deeply into the well of my tummy, making a space for me to settle. Here. Now.
    A lot of my most intense TO DO energy can happen when I have a not-napping child or a never-ending nursing child… Recntly, my sons and I started playing “the mindfulness bell game,” where we ring the bell for each other (or even just say “ding”) as a way to bring each other to the present moment. Last night, my youngest son did this for me while he was nursing, and nursing, and I was getting “done.”
    He said, “Mama, be mad mama.”
    I got what he meant right away, and I said, “Oh man, I am so mad and I am so tense and I want things to change –”
    “Ding!”
    I breathed deeply and then I said, “Thank you.”
    We smiled and hugged each other.
    And I had really returned to my open heart, the heart that knew I wanted connection with him, the heart that truly was willing to nurse him longer.
    I had returned to the present moment.
    Blessings to you —

  77. Hanne

    Badly need your help. Anyone here do that crazy fox stuff? Help me! Can not find sites on the: Human lace front wigs. I found only this – 34 wigs front lace. High-def HP LCD Monitors Compared Enter your Email With love :confused:, Hanne from Liberia.

Ready for your next creative adventure?

Download the Mondo Beyondo dream generator!

Latest from the blog

Some of the best books I’ve read this year.

Some of the best books I’ve read this year.

  Some of the best books I've read this year The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You by Karla McLaren This book travels through a whole vocabulary of emotions and truly celebrates them - showing you that each one (even the so-called...

read more

Ready to add color to your life?
JOIN OVER 5,000 INSPIRED GRADUATES IN AN ECOURSE

Camp Wonder-Seeker

30 days of ease, joy and cultivating wonder

Creative prompts, stories and secret missions that will bring you help you wake up your creativity, invite you to see the world in an entirely different way + celebrate ordinary beauty and magic.

Capture the Magic

Rock your camera-phone - and discover that beauty and joy are everywhere.

The very best camera is the one that’s with you! I’ll show you how to get on your own path of joy and delight while learning photography skills along the way.

Brave Blogging

30-days of breathing life & inspiration into your blog

Blogging is still the best way to grow your audience and find your tribe, while connecting to your voice and your spirit!

VIEW MORE COURSES