Tag Archives: goals

How to tackle a to-do list

I am constantly beating myself up for all of the things I don’t get done. The never ending, always growing to-do list is my daily reminder of all the things I failed to accomplish each day. Around 9:00 p.m. each night, once I am home from work, everyone is fed, back from various activities and a bit of quiet has settled in the house, I look at my to-do list on the counter and inevitably choose to sit on the couch and watch a show instead of tackling something productive.

Sadly, I end up not even enjoying my relaxation time because I am haunted by thoughts of what I should be doing instead and how I failed to make the most of my time. These nagging feelings continue to build nightly. Then, eventually, one evening I am so overwhelmed, crabby and stressed that I lash out. Like when I walk into my daughter’s room, filled with the strangest hoarding collections that could trigger an avalanche. Or I open up my son’s daily grade information online and see homework assignments he didn’t turn in or a low score on a quiz in an easy subject…which just proves his lack of effort. (The negatives to both a parent and child from giving parents access to a kid’s daily school life is a whole other blog in itself.)

I will say both the kids deserve “the talk” they get after these encounters, but maybe not with the level of frustration present when I snap.

After one such instance, I finally decided it was time to whip myself into shape. I decided to organize and figure out what I was actually doing with all my time so I made a list one day. (Yep, another list!)

  • Woke up for Pilates
  • Came back home and got kids ready and on the bus
  • Went to work
  • Grocery shopped over lunch
  • Back to work
  • Got dinner served and eaten before son’s practice
  • Answered a few quick work emails
  • Helped daughter finish cereal box book project
  • Quizzed son for the next day’s science test
  • Tucked in daughter
  • Went back to daughter’s room to explain why I couldn’t go on tomorrow’s  field trip (was less comforting and more annoyed as 20 minutes passed until I yelled,“Just go to sleep!”)
  • Looked at to-do list but didn’t do anything
  • Watched a show
  • Went to bed

The next morning I looked at my “what happened today” list and was somewhat impressed with all I got done. Plus, the cereal project box wasn’t part of the normal routine and did suck up my time that was available to work off my to-do list. Also, usually grocery shopping would be on my to-do list for the week, but running out of milk that morning forced the quick lunch-break shopping trip. I decided to add those two items on my to-do list and then immediately crossed them off. Strangely, that felt great.

In fact it felt so good to cross something off the list, I started adding things like, “do the dishes,” “work out,” and “fold laundry” to my weekly to-do list just so I could actually cross something off. It was a high being able to cross something out each night. This “cheat” helped me let go of all the other things I wasn’t actually getting done. It also helped me feel like I was a fairly productive person. I certainly felt better while on the couch watching Orphan Black.

I am now in the process of changing jobs with an unheard of luxury of one week off before I start my new position. This week, I had big plans of productivity with all the extra hours I was granted. So, what did I do? I made an even bigger list, of course. The first day I actually was able to cross off “organize the linen closet” but that was it. Though, I did think often about how in 20 minutes I would get up and conquer more of my list.

“Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.” Vanilla Sky.

(Yep, I should have added watching old movies with a glass of wine in the middle of the day to my “week off” to-do list.)

Until Thursday morning, I really didn’t stress too much about not doing anything at all. But then I felt that shadow of panic and self-blame approaching. Thank you to Stormy for the reminder that maybe I just needed to relax and do nothing. I am really happy her advice wasn’t just to get up and start doing something. So, I added “relax” to my list and enjoyed the day free of guilt.

Interestingly, on Friday I woke up, made coffee, organized my own closet, got rid of clothes, cleaned the house, bought a living room rug, wrote a blog, signed the kids up for summer camp, did some work to prepare for my new gig, and planned the next week’s meals. Maybe there is something to be said for giving yourself a break once in awhile.

Another Year, Another Goal

A more appropriate title may be, another year and hopefully a goal. I don’t mean my vision board goals, which I never even put together in 2015. The kind of goal I am working toward is achieved on the ice.

Though life hasn’t slowed down and I am behind with all my normal to-dos, I have spent the year with a feeling that I need more. That something was missing. (Perhaps the curse of ditching the vision board.) Not coming up with any good ideas, I decided instead to try out hockey.

The idea first formed this summer but came to fruition while I was working off some of the forced hockey parent volunteer time in the concession stand. (Stay away from the slushies. Anything that can stain your skin can’t be great for your stomach!) During my shift, another hockey mom working with me mentioned she has been playing hockey for the past three years. She had fallen for the game watching her son through the years and decided to give it a try herself. She found it one of the hardest and most thrilling things she has taken on – both physically and mentally challenging. That aroused my interest. She also assured me that there were all levels of play including the most basic beginner teams. The association does a formal assessment to place you anywhere from AAA to C3. C3 being a lower division than the lowest found in the kids league. That is where her team is ranked, and in fact she just got her first goal ever this year.

I started thinking that maybe I would try the summer clinics offered to women who wanted to play and then join a team next season. That night I went to the WHAM (Women’s Hockey Association of Minnesota) website and saw there was an upcoming assessment. Being impulsive and impatient is my nature, and with summer clinics so far out I decided why not just jump in feet first? I was sure I could figure it out. I had watched enough games. So with confidence, I registered myself even though I have never been on hockey skates. (It couldn’t be that different from being on figure skates?) The season was half over so I would be unlikely to get picked up by a team but I knew getting assessed would commit me to the following year and get me focused on a training plan. The next morning, to the dismay of my horrified son, I started trying on his old equipment and I was all set.

I was able to get three practices in at a local rink before the assessment. I used the time to try to learn to stop and skate backwards. I quickly found out that stopping in hockey skates is a totally different world from figure skates. I somewhat figured out stopping on one side, or more like turning myself into a half circle to slow me down. As for going backwards, I moved in that direction a little bit. I brushed it off that I would probably be offense at first anyway. I even started wondering if I possibly could make C2 level if I could score like I do in my son’s shooting room. I was having so much fun daydreaming, feeling proud and laughing at myself that I amused myself out of realizing how bad I was. You would think it would have been apparent to me with the comparison of the six year olds darting around the rink.

Then came assessment day. Recent college players down to … well down to me … gathered at Augsburg Ice Arena to show off our skills. The first half hour was skating, passing and shooting drills. All of which I failed miserably. The puck is much easier to shoot in the basement when both it and I are standing still versus crossing paths on the ice. And for the skating and stopping drills, they did not go well forwards or backwards. I was becoming concerned since the last half an hour was a scrimmage.

That is where I shined. Not in my skills, but in sweat and smiles. It was so fun hockey sayingpretending to play. I didn’t really do anything but chase the puck around during my shifts and watch the good players actually move the puck and play. I also learned it is very difficult seeing out of that cage, which was a good excuse when I completely missed a puck right by me. But even as bad as I was, it was fun to hear the other skaters on my bench cheer me on. I also loved how each two minutes on the ice had me dying for my next two minutes on the bench to catch my breath. It was exhilarating.

That night ranking came out. My name was registered as a C3 player. Seeing my name on the list felt like I won an award. Granted everyone made the list and I was the lowest ranking possible. Still, I told all my family the good news and emailed my hockey mom/player friend that I did it and would take clinics in the summer so I could be on a team the following winter. Next thing I know, I get an email back asking me to join her team. They were short players lately at games since the whole team has overbooked lives like mine. If I was willing to dedicate myself to showing up and practicing as much as I could, they would take me on so I would be ready next season as they try to advance to C2 play. I registered as a USA hockey member and signed on!

Thus far I have had one practice and one game. At the practice I didn’t embarrass myself too badly. Though one of the coaches took me aside and tried to teach me crossovers. Which basically is a more efficient way of skating, but first he has his work cut out for him just teaching me to trust lifting one skate up and trusting the other to glide on its edge. I prefer both skates firmly planted on the ice and even better a stick in my hand for extra balance support.

The first game went well in the fact that we won. Another plus, was that I have watched enough games to understand offsides and icing so I didn’t get the whistle blown on us.

Playing left wing at my first game - and still staying upright!

Playing left wing at my first game – and still staying upright!

My plan though was to get one goal or at least one assist. It would be my thank you to the team for taking a chance on me. I skated as fast as I could and often I would hear the coach yell to me “that is your puck!” meaning it was up to me to do something. I would have my eyes on it and a deep desire to take it and skate up to the opponents’ net. My biggest motivation was seeing the other team’s player also approaching and knowing if I didn’t at least hit it away from her I would have to skate all the way back across the ice again.Well, the closest I got to a break away was falling across the ice on my face trying to reach for the puck. No fairytale ending here. Three days later I am still sore and I have a bruise on my chin. But I can’t wait to get out there again.

I have never played a team sport and am excited to learn about being part of a team. Even the locker room is foreign to me but I like listening to everyone’s chatter and then the silence as the coaches came in for a pregame strategy. (Not that I could follow or carry out the moves they marked up the board with.) I still feel like a kid hoping to fit in and become one of them soon. So far, all the players have been encouraging and forgiving. Plus having the coaches pull me aside on tips and mistakes, even yell at me on the ice, is what makes me feel most included. They actually think I can maybe contribute.

It is a totally new feeling to be so new to something. As my teammate said, “It is not often as adults we have an opportunity to start the learning curve so low.” Physically and mentally there is so much to learn. It is draining and thrilling to push myself in a direction I have never tried. It has also made me realize how good these 12 and 13 year old boys are. It makes me truly appreciate the strength, skill and grace they have. It may tone down my yelling “move your skates” and “get that puck” as they race down the ice.

Wish me luck in the playoffs! If I have nothing else to offer the team, I am competitive and hopefully that drive will help make up for my lack of skill and talent. I am hoping to report back that I finished my first season with one goal.

Where did all my visions go?

Well, this year’s vision board was not as smooth of a process as last time. Perhaps it was a bit of the first-time novelty wearing off. Or, since I threw out to the online world that I would share it, I knew/I felt like everything I selected would be scrutinized by any followers (since there are only a handful of you at this point, this probably was a bit silly, but I have never been one who likes to look like an under performer).

Now don’t get me wrong. The swilling-of-wine and laughing-with-friends part of this project was a blast. But, I could not find the right pictures. Actually, I had no idea what to put on my board. Instead of inspiring, it had turned into a to-do list project. Witnessing others easily pull theirs together did not help matters.

So there my board sat empty, except for the smiling girl in the rain brought over from last year. I did find a photo of a kid blowing bubbles forming the word dream. That seemed like an obvious one since I had no big aspirations for 2013 – I might as well prepare for 2014.

“Knock off a few easy ones,” a friend suggested, “don’t just think big.” That got me on a bit of a roll…take better care of my nails, try wearing my hair in different styles, a clock to remind me of stricter time-outs with the kids along with adding a “drop everything to read” ritual to try to get control over my children (spurred by a turn off-the-electronics battle as I left the house).

Other easy ones to add an were photos representing getting into better shape. With finding-the-perfect-stomach-and-butt-photo a common search for everyone, the Yoga and Shape magazines were very popular. And soon a drinking game was created: Toast and drink every time someone calls out a spotting of the “It’s a Yeast Party” advertisement. Yes, I am serious that is an actual ad (and placed enough to create a game out of it).

By the end of the night, I had a board put together.  It was fine. (Anyone who knows me knows fine is not a word I like or aspire to in any aspect of my life.)

This weekend I decided to head up to the cabin to “clean” with a girlfriend (a post later on that). I decided to grab my board, thinking maybe I would be able to add something. I wasn’t quite ready to give up.

Well, flipping through magazines I happened upon a photo of a girl. (Is it more proper to say woman? Sorry if I offend anyone, but I am still in denial about my age and prefer girl.) Now I can’t explain what I liked about the photo. Sure she was attractive, but she also  just seemed put together in an eclectic way. Confident. Interesting. Not perfect. I don’t know exactly what it was, but something clicked. I tore off my last year’s spokesperson and put on the new girl. That was it. I finally looked at my board and felt inspired.

KitKat's vision for 2013

KitKat’s vision for 2013

I didn’t achieve that pure happiness of the blonde in the rain from last year’s board. And, I didn’t feel compelled to achieve it this time. This is a different year and I am different. I still want to settle my mind, teach myself to live in the present, and embrace contentment. But, maybe I want pieces of my weirdness, craziness, longing for more to also stay part of me. Be confident to be me  … temperamental, quirky, goofy, stubborn, spontaneous … the whole mishmash of stuff (naughty and nice) that—as a whole—people hired me, befriended me and married me for. I want to improve me without losing me – the good as well as the not-ideal. In this business of life, marriage, kids, career, I have already given up enough of me.

And I’ll tell you … sounds a bit silly, but a few times when I’ve felt my head judging myself, worrying or over-analyzing, I have focused on that picture, stopped myself and switched gears. (Well, and a few times I went down my crazy rabbit hole – but the girl in the photo I picked would give herself a break for an occasional slip up!)

I won’t bore you with what all the photos and words stand for (I will refer to them here and there in other posts) – but I’d love to hear some things others would put on their board. Remember, don’t just think big. I actually got the nail polish out and did my nails after walking by my board and being reminded. Maybe these things really do work. Heck, even Oprah.com promotes doing one.

Visions for what is ahead

Unlike Stormy, I usually forget about setting resolutions. By the time January 1st passes, I am still catching up on my normal tasks such as scheduling a mammogram (could the postcard reminder I received in September be right – didn’t I just have one?) and getting my oil changed. (Yes, I realize oil should be changed more often – baby steps.) It is usually not until someone asks me about my resolutions that I quickly throw some out to the world….umm, eat healthier, start a budget, don’t over-schedule myself…basically the same things I have been saying and not doing for years.

Well last year, I was convinced by a group of girlfriends to try a vision board. If you don’t know what this is, it means creating a collage of photos and placing it where you will see it daily to inspire you to achieve your goals. Sounded a bit hokie to me but I decided sitting around with girlfriends, having wine and giggling over silly wishes would make up for the crafty, spiritual part of the assignment. What did I have to lose?

It was a great night of flipping through magazines together looking for just the right imagery clearly emulating our goals for 2012. Even more fun as the evening progressed and the wine bottles emptied. And, you can always count on girlfriends to see you clearly and provide some honest suggestions you hadn’t even thought of. I came home excited, lighthearted from a night with the girls and ready to give it a whole-hearted try. And true to form, the first couple weeks I looked at it every day. I even knocked off a couple of goals right away. Create some play lists on my phone – check! Organize my closet – check again! January hadn’t even ended and I was rolling through my goals.

And then also true to form, it lost my attention as I was side-tracked by other things. That is until two days ago when I got the email that it was time to meet, share what came true, and make a board for 2013.  Yikes! I couldn’t even remember what was on mine. I also knew some of the other girls really nailed theirs. (It is a bad sign when you remember other’s goals more than your own.) For example, one girl had visions of meeting someone, falling in love and getting married. I remember thinking, shouldn’t she just start with the meeting someone this year? Well I was proven wrong. She got married a month ago. The pressure was on. Especially since, I seem to look at even vision boards as a competitive sport. I dug through my closet and pulled out my board to see how I did.

KitKat's 2012 Vision Board

KitKat’s 2012 Vision Board

  1.  Tennis – check! I took two lessons with Stormy.
  2. Concentrate on career – big check! I got a new, higher-level job.
  3. Yoga – check! I took a few classes.
  4. Start writing – Now that’s interesting, I totally forgot about putting that on. The blog has to count. Check again!
  5. Girlfriends – check! It has been an amazing year of building even stronger bonds with my friends. (More on that in later posts.)
  6. Kids  – Work in progress. If I remember correctly my intention was to do more things with them, enjoy them while they are young, and be a better mom. (Does forgetting this goal make me a bad mom?)
  7. Make time for my Grandmas – check! I haven’t visited them but I have been calling and emailing much more. (Love that one of my grandma’s discovered email, even if her caps lock always seems to be turned on.)
  8. “Stop” – unaccomplished. A word I get told once in awhile when my mind is whirling and over analyzing (when I am caught in a loop) to remind me it is all in my head. That one may need to move to this year’s board, along with the stomach I wanted and haven’t achieved. Actually, I don’t like that word and my head won’t stop – I am who I am. That one won’t move forward to a new year. I don’t need to fail two years in a row.

Overall, I was a bit shocked to discover how many of the forgotten things on the board had actually become part of my year. Perhaps it is like a horoscope that you can always twist to make things mentally fit your scenario.

This year, I am not sure what to put on my board (besides the perfect stomach). Maybe, simply the picture of the woman smiling in the rain. I put her on last year’s board because she looked so happy. Not just content, but joyful. Perhaps this year it is as simple as figuring out what things bring that joy to me. And finding ways to fully enjoy those things (and STOP continuing, worrying about or analyzing those that don’t).

I’ll share my 2013 board next week. If you have some good ideas for my board I’d love to hear them, especially a few that I can knock off quick. I also just snatched up a Living Social coupon for a private horseback lesson giving me one more check for my 2012 board. I have always worked best under pressure!