An Instagram post by Holly Glenn Whitaker of @hipsobriety grabbed my attention a while back. She made a list of things she doesn’t do anymore, as opposed to the oft’-oppressive and always forever-replenishing to-do lists we compose for our lives and then fret over. I adored her concept and followed suit.
To-do lists that prescribe the way we want to live are futuristic and frequently dependent upon circumstances not yet known. They are full of things that if not finished exactly, won’t be crossed off. What if we only lose 4 pounds when our goal was 10? What if we want to sit down to a family dinner and really talk to each other one day each week and we only made it happen once in a whole month of weeks? What if we’re trying to respond to the world only with love and kindness, and anger or irritation keep bubbling up to the surface and splashing out despite our best efforts? If we take too long, if we can’t cross off every line, we might give up and throw away our list; feeling the crumple of failure as our fist closes and crushes the paper. We can lose focus and end up saying, “just forget it.” But let’s not do that. Let’s change our focus like Holly did and showed us how.
Things we don’t do anymore lists speak of accomplishment, not of what we hope to accomplish. Items on these lists represent big learning, the better place we’ve arrived at and the hard-won growth it took to get there. Lists made up of these items tell ourselves and the world loudly and proudly who and what we are, instead of who or what we’re worried we are not.
I love these lists and what they stand for. And judging by the thousands of souls that responded to Holly’s post with joy, a big exhale and a, “me too!” the same is true for so many of you.
Even if just for a moment, let’s not worry about how far we still want to, have to, need to go. Let’s take note of how far we’ve come. Please, please write your own list.
Here are some things I don’t do anymore:
- Finish every book I start.
- Wear makeup every time I leave the house.
- Chase people.
- Engage with passive aggressives.
- Think there are any guarantees.
- Believe the pain will last forever.
- Try to buy happiness off a rack.
- Decline a cupcake.
- Permit anyone to let me down me over and over and over again.
- Start my day with my phone.
- Let their hate reduce my love.
- View my strengths as weaknesses.
- View my weaknesses as who I am.
- Think all is lost.
- Stay silent.
- Feel guilty about staying home.
- Go to meetings.
- Think more is more.
- Worry/care about whether the outcome will match my efforts (beautifully demonstrated in the photo above).
- Let others’ lack of reciprocation determine my worth.
- Wear heels.
- Ignore the bread basket at restaurants.
- Let too much time pass before I spend some in nature.
- Think my imperfection repels people.
- Think I’m the only one.