The Not to Do List

This morning after I had a few cups of coffee, I began to wake up and get motivated. It is Saturday and old habits die hard. Saturday was always the day I would do as many of my chores for the week as I could cram into the day. I have been retired since 2012, but this habit has stuck with me, making my Saturdays typically frantic and stressful. As I was gearing up to change the bed linen, this thought hit me. I don’t have to do this today! I need to make a Not to Do list and put this on it! This will wait! I was pleased with myself, but soon I caught myself looking at the bag of laundry in the corner and thinking I should wash, dry and fold it to stay ahead of the game this week. Then I quickly decided that this too could be put off. Today would be a day of rest. With the extra time, I was able to make a leisurly call to a good friend I love but have not been in touch with because….too busy! For once I didn’t begrudge the time. I just enjoyed the conversation and the good feeling of reaching out to someone I care about and maintaining a good friendship. I also used some of that extra time to read, meditate, and  spend time with each of my animals, showing them how much I value them as individuals instead of caring for them quickly and mechanically. I lingered in conversation with my husband for longer than ususal. I had the sweetest day and actually got quite a bit done, looking back on it.

It occurrs to me that not only can I put those chores that can certainly be done another time on that list, but that there are attitudes of mind that can go on there as well. Some of these I would like to lose for good and never do again, but that is a lot of pressure. So I put them on the Not to Do List for today, because, in Truth, today is all any of us has. If I slip tomorrow, that is in the future. The times I have slipped in the past are in the past and I am free to leave them there…if I choose. One of these attitudes I put on my list today is the nagging sense that I should be doing more to accelerate my enlightenment. Today, I just put it on that Not to Do list , and am reminded that when we seek Truth, when we seek clarity, when we seek to walk in Love, the very things we are seeking seek us! There is no need to make spiritual growth into just another worrisome “should”. The Truth is that once we have declared our desire to be closer to Divine Source, that desire picks up a momentum of it’s own and Spirit is the One who ultimately lifts us up Higher. For all our good deeds and good practices, we are ultimately raised up by our Creator, not by our own doing, or striving. All that is required of us is that we make the decision to rise and that we trust that it will be so. Spirit takes it from there. We can relax. Worry of all kind is another attitude of mind that is appropriate for the Not to Do List. I read the best quote about worry today on Face Book in a post by a very wise friend of mine, Ocie Woolsey. The quote is attributed to Van Wilder and goes like this:

Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

…true words of wisdom! Worry keeps you in a state where you are stalled out and ineffective, sitting on your backside making plans A, B and C while life just flows on around you. Worry keeps you from thinking creatively. Just for today, try putting worry on the Not to Do List. I tried this today and didn’t worry about a single thing all day long. It was energizing! In a broader sense, worry includes self-doubt and fears of all kinds. Who can pledge not to ever worry again? But who can’t take a day, or even a part of that day, and put a temporary moratorium on worrying? This is not beyond anyone’s ability, no matter how entrenched in turmoil they are. In fact, the more you worry, the more you need to call time out on it! There are other things that can go on the Not to Do List.

As humans, we all sometimes do things that are not truly ours to do. If we are naturally the caring type, this can really get out of hand as we allow ourselves to slip into feelings of responsibility for the happiness of those around us. Each of us, in reality, is responsible for our own happiness and must find our own way to it. We always know, deep down, when we are about to do something that is not ours to do, yet we often go ahead anyway, out of a sense of mistaken ownership of the problems of another person, or even from a conscious or unconscious need to be loved and accepted or to control another. The worst part is that we can go on for years doing this, doing too much for others and in so doing, neglecting our own needs to the point where we don’t even know what they are.

I find that sometimes I catch myself making a massive To Do List in order to avoid doing things I find unpleasant or challenging. There was a funny commercial on TV about that a while back. A couple was coming up with ridiculous things that simply had to be done in order to put off buying life insurance or something important but boring and tedious. I forget what the commercial was selling, but you get the idea. What makes the commercial funny is that most of us see ourselves in it. I know I do! The key is to ask yourself What is it that I really need to do in order to have a sense of peace and relief but am putting off because I am feeling overwhelmed?  Sometimes we need to clear our plate when there is just too much on it in order to make room for what really matters.

I’m not saying there is no place in our lives for a To Do List, and I work from one nearly every day. I am pretty sure that some important things would not get done by me if I did not! Of course we need To Do Lists. But we also need to take a look at them and see if they really belong on the Not to Do List, if just for a day, in order to make room for that which our hearts tell us to do! This can be the padding that keeps the straw from breaking the camel’s back. This can be the safety valve we need to release some of the powerful pressure the average person is under as we live in the world today. All it takes is a kinder choice, a decision to be gentle with ourselves and to really look at all our To Do’s and ask ourselves what doesn’t truly belong there! Leave some time open each day and you will see that not only will your burden be lighter, but you will be leaving room in your life for the mysterious workings of The Divine. You will not regret it. That laundry can be done tomorrow! Leave some time for Spirit to guide your steps, and you will walk in greater peace, grace, and Beauty.

By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just for I seek not to please myself, but Him who sent me.   John 5:30

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