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Lists – Understanding the difference between needs and wants

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the projects I take on. I know, I do it to myself. But that’s how invested I am in my interests – I go all in. So this morning, in such a state, I considered my day before I even got out of bed. I went to my home office, turned on Gregorian chants on Pandora, lit my salt candle, breathed deeply for a few moments, and began my lists. Lists help me corral my thoughts into smaller steps.

I breathe.

I open a small notebook, and on the left-hand page begin to write a list of projects that I’m currently working on, what needs to be done, and the focus of the project for the day. For instance, my new writing project – I’m researching and writing something every single day. It doesn’t matter if it will be used or not in the final manuscript, but it is an action that requires me to move forward. I have two blogs that I’m working on (personal and for a blog community), course outlines, and a book review. These are my  most pressing concerns.  And when I think about it, it does seem overwhelming.  But I also know that for today, or the next few days, I only have one thing in each of these categories I will need to focus on.  To ignore this step is to ensure I get stuck and remain stuck – to move forward seems daunting. 

I breathe.  

On the right-hand page are my personal goals – what I intend to do in the present or immediate future, again with what I want to accomplish and the focus of that accomplishment. So, at the top of my list is exercise.  I’m on a bone-building regimen, which means I have to  put stress on my bones.  My doctor suggests a walk.  And it’s challenging.  Sometimes it’s windy, or snowy, or rainy, or maybe I just don’t feel like it.  It’s that latter one that gets me into trouble – that’s when I get stuck.  So I’ll up it to two 30-40 minute walks each day to not only build stronger bones, but to alleviate the stress I can work up about my projects. However, pressing focus is my CV, which is in dire need of updating and organizing.  I’m not looking for a job–I’m retired (kinda – I still have all those projects); I need to organize my work and my accomplishments in a way that allows me to track what I’ve done, which will reveal gaps that I can perhaps fill.  

I breathe.

This became a priority because recently a publicist reached out to me regarding their services.  If my book, Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption, had been new, I could see how their list of marketing tools would be important.  However, it’s two years old, and by now, I’ve accomplished many of these marketing strategies on my own with the help of my social network and my press publicist, Rosemary Sekora: a myriad of media interviews (podcasts, online journals, national and international news sources such as radio, or printed media, and national op-eds in highly-read media.  I’ve been invited to participating in many speaking engagements, including keynotes, and I landed a TEDxMileHigh talk!).  This reveals that my gaps are few and amazingly precise, more wants than needs: an invitation to talk with On Being’s Kristia Tippett, a television conversation about my book, and my book making it into a national book list of must-reads, especially during Native American Heritage Month and National Adoption Awareness Month, which happens to occur on the same month.  As I said, those gaps reveal my dreams, the icing on the cake.  I’ve achieved important goals.   Doing the CV reorganization not only allows me to re-engage with my work, but it allows me to also re-engage with my accomplishments, an important exercise during these precarious times when there are so many things challenging us to be our best selves.

I breathe.

I look at my lists, and I look at my accomplishments.  In the past hour I was able to focus on two things I set out to do this morning: write lists and write a blog post.   And between my breathing, my Gregorian chants, my candle, my lists and my blog post (please share!), I feel in a much better place to take on the rest of my day.

I hope you do too!


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