The Wish List

Every morning this summer I have vowed to spend a few minutes on the back patio watching the sunrise. I envision swinging on the glider, with my cup of coffee soaking in the serenity. How often have I accomplished this simple wish? Not one single morning, not even on the weekends, and it is August already.

How many other simple things do I push away feeling too harried and too rushed to accomplish? In all honesty, I am a bit nervous about opening that door, afraid of what I'll find stuffed in there. A few come to mind without much effort: more time spent with my husband - quality time - not the kind where we sit on the couch side by side with our computers or watching T.V. How often do I call friends and family? How often do I make the time to meet with them? 

My Wish List includes time to do all those things, plus having the time for the Have To List, without feeling like I need bionic body parts to accomplish it all. Experts suggest getting up earlier. I do, usually between four and five o'clock, and still I run out of time. As much as I'd like to blame the day job, I know where the problem lies - distractions and the inability to set parameters. 

Instead of setting a time limit on some activities, I get in the frame of mind to finish - regardless. For some things that is good, for other tasks not as good. Some tasks will never truly be finished and it is better to do a little everyday and then move onto other things rather than to marathon for hours and get nothing else done, and yet for a perfectionist, this is almost like telling us not to breathe. 

As Richard Rohr stated in this week's mediations, our society is built on the Merit System. We are only worthy citizens if we accomplish, achieve and succeed, the exact traits that keep perfectionists in a constant state of turmoil. I've spent my entire life in this frenzied state of mind, wishing for the ability to let go, to relax, to enjoy, and more importantly, to rest. 

It isn't too late to start working on my Wish List. I may not be able to manage everything, but by golly I ought to at least get out on that glider this morning, shouldn't I? 

Another perfectionist will understand what a huge challenge that is. There are unread e-mails waiting for a response. I haven't done any editing on the novel yet this morning. The dishwasher hasn't been unloaded. The bed is unmade. The weekend laundry isn't finished. I haven't checked my Facebook notifications yet and someone may be having a birthday, or need prayers or cheering up. There might be an interesting post I haven't read. And, what about the novel I offered to critique? Haven't worked that yet today either. 

I can do all those things this morning, and then guess what? That's right, no coffee on the patio swinging in my glider watching the sunrise. What's so bad about that? Resentment. Yep, I'll resent all the time I spent on other things and spend the rest of the day chastising myself for not making the time to do some of things on my Wish List. 

How to escape that merry-go-round? I need to set parameters, and define goals with set time limits. Sounds silly to those not caught in this spiral, but trust me, it is the only way out. By setting time limits, I can appease my perfectionist tendencies and my goal driven ideals. I can say I did ten minutes on this, twenty minutes on that, ad nauseum. 

This is only an exercise, a tool to teach myself to let go of so much busyness in order to make room for more of the things that actually add quality to life, mine and others. It is a way to teach myself where my focus needs to be and to let other things go. I can tell myself the police aren't going to storm my house and cite me for an unmade bed, or a few dirty dishes in the sink, but my internal police won't let go that easily. 

So, to change this cycle, I need to start with small steps, setting time parameters on activities is one step. And the first on my list today is the patio, not tomorrow, today. Want to lay bets as to whether I'll make it? Maybe I'll surprise myself - and you. 


  1. So true...we all have choices to make as to what to do with our limited number of hours each day. And sometimes, the things that seem so pressing, that shout for our attention, aren't nearly as important as the things that whisper to us.

    1. Exactly. I love the term, "that shout for our attention, are not as nearly as important as the things that whisper to us." Great description. One writer suggested using the shelf life as a gauge. Will this matter tomorrow, next week, a month or year from now? If not, then do the things that will matter and let the rest fall in line according to their purpose.

  2. EEEK! I am the world's worst about calling friends and family. I'm the worst about using the phone! I have several catalogs I'm supposed to order things for Mom from (it's the only way she can shop) and several appointments I need to schedule for MSB and me, and have been putting them off all week. Sigh. I'm awful!

    1. Well, Linda, I'm not good at either. I WISH I were! And as far as my sitting on the patio? So far this week, maybe five minutes. I did manage two phone calls. Anything else? Nope. Ah well, there is always tomorrow. And, besides, you have a good excuse, you've been ill. I don't have any excuse other than following too many rabbit trails and not enough discipline. As my sister says, "I have a lot of will power, just not enough won't power." Sigh. Working on it. :)

  3. Again...ditto. The session I listened to today tells to make a joy list and at least do one thing on your joy list per day. She talked about perfectionism stealing from just take action, even if it isn't perfect.
    I am learning...this new shaping is pulling all directions, but in the end I believe I will have accomplished something if I continue to persist.
    Blessings as you move forward...may you see the sunrise!

    1. Yes, indeed, Janette. Let's hope we both manage some joyful things on our list this next week! Blessings to you as well!


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