Why does it already feel like the year is flying by? It's only the second month yet I can't help but feel so much has happened while at the same time not enough has happened. In other words, I'm starting to panic about getting things done. I think part of this is coming from my 41 for 41 list, which technically started in November thereby making my "new year" three months old. And some of it is coming from a hard-driving process that my friend, Ann, and I are doing called "micromovements" (more on that in a second). But I also suspect that my decision to embrace marbling as my "second career" is contributing to this sense of rush. I feel like I have a lifetime of learning I need to cram into the next minute, hour, day, year because I got a "late start" (how could I not have known about this art form until I was in my 30s?!!). I want to be a kick-ass marbler and I want to be that NOW.
This is all to say that I'm beginning to have a love-hate relationship with my to-do lists. I'm digging my 41 for 41 because I'm doing things that always "fell between the cracks" year after year--things that were easy to put off until "another time" but that time always ended up just floating out there and never anchoring. But this list also makes me anxious because if I'm not crossing something off it every single day, I feel like I'm not doing anything. And then I get mad at myself.
That's where the micromovements come in. Some of my goals are straight forward and easy, such as a visit Watts Towers. To accomplish this, I just need to look up the hours it's open, pick a day to go, and determine how to get there. Simple. But some of my goals have many more layers to it, like becoming part of my local art community. With the micromovement process, I break that big idea into lots and lots of little steps, pick one of those little steps, and get it done in a set time frame (Ann and I meet weekly). Then the next week, I pick another little step and get that done. And so on and so on until there are no more little steps left and the big goal is accomplished! Micromovements help manage the sense of feeling overwhelmed (not to mention the feelings of fear and uncertainty) that often comes with BIG, IMPORTANT, MEANINGFUL goals that leave us like a deer in headlights: where do I being, how do I get there, what the hell am I doing?
And, like my 41 for 41 list, I have a love-hate relationship with my micromovements. First of all, they work. Boy do those micromovements work! I've gotten things done that I don't think I would have had I not taken those baby steps toward accomplishing something. Secondly, having Ann as an accountability partner makes a huge difference. It's not only motivating, supportive, and inspiring, it's much more fun! And thirdly, I'm definitely feeling more confident these days when approaching something new.
On the other hand, micromovements are ALWAYS there, sometimes whispering, sometimes shouting at me. I have moments where I want to tell them to f-off and that I'm going to do what I want to do today...which usually has nothing at all to do with a single thing on any of my lists. And that's when I feel guilty.
I just got back from an unplanned week away from home (I was in Florida helping my sister-in-law recover from a medical situation) which means I was away from all my lists and micromovements and everything one is normally responsible for doing during a day or a week. All I did was what had to be done at the very moment. No planning. No crossing things off lists. Just reacting. And it felt really, really good to do that.
Upon my return, I took a step back and looked at my goals and lists and micromovements and decided to start clean. I threw away all to-do lists, re-prioritized goals, and took on fewer tasks than I had been taking on these past few months. And I think that's what we all need to do every once-in-a-while. We create these lists and have grand ideas of what we want to accomplish and then dive right in coming up for air only when we have maxed out our lungs. And that's not all bad. Focus, action, and accomplishment are the whole point. But it can also get out of control. I think we need to build into these lists time for reflection, for a break, for CELEBRATING all that we HAVE done so far and all that we GET TO DO down the road. I don't want to become a slave to my lists. I want them to be as alive and beautiful and adventuresome and fluid as I am.
I love you 41 for 41 and micromovements. Thank you for getting me here today. But as in any healthy relationship, it's necessary to have your own time too. Instead of seeing February as another passing deadline, I'm going to enjoy February for what it should be--the second month of the year, Black History Month, the month of love, the month where I participate in the Arts Crawl, and, most importantly, some time for living life off the list.