Is Music Essential?

Living in a home full of musicians and music-lovers, and being an amateur percussionist myself, it feels like music is an essential part of life. Still, sometimes I forget about it for a while, doing my writing with no soundtrack other than the dishwasher running and the wind blowing outside my window. After doing a shift or two at the radio station, where the background sound is mostly news and talk, I need to cleanse my palette with some silence, or the simple music of the birds welcoming the day, the frogs peeping at night, the sheep bleating from next door, and the other sounds of living out here in the country.

musicfest15Still, music has the power to stir my emotions in a way that’s (gasp!) even more intense than books. It’s especially stirring when it’s live music. Next month I’ll be attending a big music festival with Quester, as we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I’m so excited!

I’m not someone who only listens to the music I grew up with – far from it. Actually, those “oldies” radio stations often annoy me – haven’t we heard these songs about a zillion times already? What’s new and fresh? While I’m very psyched to see Dead & Company, being a Deadhead since college, I’m also thrilled to be seeing lots of new music while I’m at the festival. We’ve been listening to the playlist on the festival’s website, and it’s all so amazing! Everything from bluegrass and Americana to electronic dance music to alternative rock to stuff I can’t even classify.

I don’t think I’ll be getting much sleep while I’m at the festival…

So all that’s got me with music on the brain! What type of music do you find essential? Do you rely on old favorites or relish new music, or a bit of both?

If you’re looking for some uplifting tunes to listen to, you can check out the Positive Playlist that BlackLion and I created a while back – we add to it as we find fun new songs that uplift our spirits. Please comment below if you have some to recommend!

10 Reasons to Love Growing Older

I was talking with a friend recently about the perks of being the age we are now (I’m 46 as of this writing, he’s in his early 50s). Contrary to what our culture preaches, getting older is not inherently depressing or awful. In fact, research is showing that older people are actually happier!

Don’t get me wrong – youth can be fun, too. It’s not a competition over which age group is “best.” I thought it would be valuable, though, to share some of the positives about growing older, which are often ignored in favor of complaints about the wrinkles, aches & pains, and empty nests.

Here are my top ten, in no particular order:

More free time. My kids are now in their late teens, and I love it. They both still live at home currently (Dryst commutes to college), and so I still get to see them a lot, but they are so much more independent. This means I have more time to do the things I love, and to devote to my callings. I can now take off for a few days without needing childcare – and the kids take care of the four-leggers. Win-win!

Deeper relationships. I love how strong my close relationships are at this point. We know each other well, we’re beyond the point of needless drama, and it’s so lovely to spend time with beloveds who really care about me. I’m also relishing my deeper relationship with myself. I’ve learned what I need, and self-care is an intrinsic part of my life now. I know that I’m worthy ofaetimef nurturing, and that when I take care of my needs, I’m much more joyful and able to give to others.

Less people-pleasing. You know all those memes and articles about “women of a certain age having no f*$!s left to give?” True story. I used to be a huge people-pleaser, fretting about my appearance, my words, and how I came across to, well, pretty much everyone I encountered. It was exhausting. Now I’m more comfortable with being myself and not worrying about what others think. Not everyone will like you. So what? By being authentic, you’ll attract the right folks, the ones who love your unique being. The ones who appreciate your cackling wildly in the grocery story, wearing faery face paint, and dancing even when someone might be watching.

Letting go of stress. Who’s got time or energy to stress over every little thing? As you get older, you realize that time is precious and that there’s no need to waste it on the things you can’t control. When those little things go wrong, like running out of heating oil or dropping the casserole on the floor, more often than not I laugh. Or swear creatively, then laugh. Life’s too short to freak out all the time.

Appreciation of the little things. Along the same lines, it comes more naturally to me as I get older to really appreciate all the wonderful blessings in my life. Purring cats, good books, hot chai tea with non-dairy milk, sunshine, smiles, being loved. These are the things that show up in my gratitude lists, over and over. Life is full of delightful small pleasures that add up to an extra dose of happiness each day.

More practice. Are you familiar with Malcom Gladwell’s idea that it takes 10,000 hours of focused practice to achieve mastery? Think about how much practice you’ve now had at being yourself! And if you have particular passions that you practice regularly, as you get older you’ll be getting better and better at those things. When you have a spiritual practice, achieving mastery in it also means that its effects on your life will be more powerful – like the way a regular practice of meditation helps you be more centered and aware in other areas of your life.

Better connection to your true purpose. Even if you ignore your intuition for many years, eventually your purpose will find a way to make itself known. As we get older, we often realize that we need to make changes that will support us in following our passions. I thought I was maybe getting a late start by becoming a published author when I was 43, but I’ve since heard about many well-known authors who were on a similar timeline.

Lifelong learning. It seems like once we’re out of the education system, we feel more free to learn about things we really feel passionate about. When you’re not obligated to memorize facts and take tests on things you don’t really care about, learning new things is such fun! I found out recently that community college is free for senior citizens in my state. I’ll so be taking advantage of that in a couple of decades!

A wider perspective. As you get older, it’s easier to see the arc of life’s changes. A friend was lamenting how a young woman in her life was so timid and shy that she was letting herself be a bit of a doormat. My perspective? “She’ll get over it. I was like that at her age, and I grew and changed. She will, too. She’s still learning.” That perspective extends to oneself and one’s own journey, as well. If you’re still here on the Earth plane, you’re still learning.

A strong community. The friendships and relationships you build and nurture over time become stronger with shared experience. Sure, some friends will come and go, but who knows? They might come back again. Others will come into your life as you learn new things and follow your passions. Your community will grow stronger as you get older, especially if you’re open to friendships with people of all ages.

Please don’t assume that getting older is a bad thing. When you focus on joy, gratitude, and purpose, your happiness will expand. Ignore the stereotypes, and continue to grow and learn as you age. You’ll love it!

Starcat’s Favorites: Sisterhood & Shout-outs

coffeeshophippieSince last fall, I’ve been taking an intensive business coaching program. It sounds kind of dull and boring when I put it like that, but it’s not. In fact, it’s been exciting, fun, thrilling, scary, and so very powerful. It’s not just about the outer steps to take to spread awareness about my business and writings, but also the deep inner work that supports stepping fully into my calling. It’s certainly been life-changing, and continues to be so.

As part of working with my biz coach, I get to be part of an amazing tribe of heart-centered women entrepreneurs, both online and in person. It’s such a powerful thing, to be involved in a tribe of sisters who are there to lift one another up. Even if you’re not involved in running a business, surrounding yourself with a supportive group of friends who cheer you on is so incredibly valuable. I’m blessed to have friends and family like that, too, and yes, the groups overlap in some cases.

So, for today’s links, I’d love to share some of what my biz sisters are offering. Don’t worry, it’s not all for biz owners. Check out some of the awesome work that’s going on in the realm of uplifting your consciousness and living an amazing life!

I met Nicole through the biz course I’m in, and we first connected at an in-person retreat back in November. She has an inspiring story, does amazing work, and just re-launched her website, Soul Archaeology.

Another tribe sister who is doing very cool work, in this case locally to me (in Maine), is Andrea at The Rejuvenation Grange. She has an upcoming event called “Breaking Free: Exploring Nature to Help Design Your Life-Work Balance.” Something most of us could definitely use! Check it out here.

Have you checked out this empath quiz yet? Jen’s information on empathy is insightful and enlightening.

This free 30-day challenge, offered by Liz at Soulpreneurs Academy, begins tomorrow! I’ve signed up for it and can’t wait to get started.

The latest offering by my beloved coach, Britt, is called Biz Blocks. If you do happen to own your own business, or want to start one, go see what she’s offering. Her programs are fantastic!

This one is a bonus – not someone who’s in my tribe, but a cool TED Talk that’s all about being an original thinker.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, BlackLion and I are offering a fun new creativity workshop next weekend – click here if you’d like more details! Thanks and blessings!

14 Tips for Adding More Play to Your Day

I’ve already written about the power of play and why we need more of it in our lives. Yes, even – and especially – adults. If you’re not sure what in the world I’m talking about, pause here and go read this quote and this post.

Okay, now you’re all caught up to how essential it is to play. But how do you incorporate it into your daily life? How do you find new ways to play, so you can get out of your leisure-time rut? Here are some tips for adding more play to your day.

  1. Dance in the kitchen. Turn up the tunes and dance like no one’s watching. Or if you don’t care if they watch, and participate, invite friends or family members to join you. Get your groove on. Try some goofy moves. Mock the lyrics. Just let yourself go and follow your body’s lead.
  2. Play cosmic chess. This is a fun game I used to play with my friend Luke, years ago. Everything in your environment is a possible chess piece. There are no rules, other than taking turns. You make up the moves as you go along. As part of a match, we once created an amazing impromptu sculpture of salt & pepper shakers, a napkin holder, and other stuff on the dining room table. The winner was unanimously declared when the pile fell over. You might even want to create a fancy cosmic chess set, like this, but it’s not strictly necessary.cosmicchess
  3. Color and doodle. Sure, adult coloring books are all the rage. Don’t dismiss the idea just because it’s trendy. It simply means that amazing artwork will be more readily available. If you’re super artsy, create your own coloring pages. Play with markers and colored pencils and even crayons. Put colors together that don’t ever collide in nature. Color outside the lines if you feel like it.
  4. Have a boffer battle. Boffers are fake padded swords, used by those who re-enact medieval battles. They’re easy to make with PVC pipe, foam, and duct tape. JFGI (just freaking google it). Make a set and have a crazy battle with a friend.bofferbattle
  5. Play with rocks. I love to play with little polished rocks and crystals. I carry them in my pockets like tiny pets. Other people enjoy playing with bigger rocks, making cairns or stone walls. You can collect them from the beach or wherever you go – I find there is always a rock looking to hitch a ride to a new locale. Rocks move very slowly on their own, so they’re often happy for our quick feet and wheeled vehicles. cairnsforfun
  6. Laugh at yourself and life’s odd moments. You know the ones – the GPS gets you totally lost, you forgot to bring that essential item with you, you trip over your own feet (often right in front of that special guy or gal). Find the humor in these little “fail” moments.
  7. Have a scavenger hunt. Find a playful friend or a team and create a scavenger hunt, or find one online that sounds fun. Play your way around the neighborhood or town. If you don’t want to physically collect items, use your phone’s camera and collect photographic proof.
  8. Dress up for no reason. Take yourself out for morning coffee in an evening gown or tux. Wear all your favorite colors and patterns and tie dyes at once. Don a fancy cap. Act natural and pretend you don’t know why people are looking at you oddly. Take silly selfies.
  9. Make refrigerator poems. You know those magnet words you can put on your fridge door? Get some and make ridiculous poetry. Start a story and see who continues it. Anonymously put some on the staff fridge at work and see if others play along.
  10. Play with pets. Dogs love to play chase the ball or stick. If you don’t have a dog, borrow one for a couple of hours. Cats, in the right mood, will play so kittenishly that they will have you laughing until you’re in tears. Catnip is a good motivator. My cats like to play with me and my rocks and crystals, especially if I’m setting up an altar or doing a Tarot reading.
  11. Flirt with someone. Sure, be safe and respectful and all that – I know you have good manners. But in the right setting, a few moments of mutual flirtation will lift your mood. Playful verbal banter is encouraged.
  12. Ask a question. When you’re grappling with a big issue or some uncertainty, ask a question to the Universe at large. Then practice playfully reading the answers in your environment. Each Facebook meme could be a clue. The pattern of ducks swimming in the pond or the shape of clouds are potential omens. Open a book at random and read a line in response to your question. Consider all of these replies equally, and with a light heart.
  13. Get side-tracked. Sometimes we’re out and about and we have an impulse to go a different way, stop into a new shop, or call a friend out of the blue. Follow those impulses! They will often lead to delightfully playful encounters. You can even set up a playdate on purpose – invite a friend to have tea or a picnic, and bring food you’ve never tried before or a silly new game to play.
  14. Invent a silly game. Need a silly game to bring to a playdate? Invent one! Kids are genius at this. Be sure that the game requires liberal use of your imagination. If you come up with a fun game, I’d love to hear about it; post a description in the comments.

Get playing, and enjoy!

Starcat’s Favorites: Nature Walks

riverpathtreesThe weather has finally gotten warm enough around here to go out and enjoy. I’ve been loving all the walks this week. I’ve walked by a marsh, by the river, at the beach, and down the road, with friends and on my own. Such a delight!

It’s time to start thinking about putting up the hammock. And plan some hikes, and camping trips. I’m so excited about the warm weather season! It’s short enough here in northern New England that it really deserves to be savored.

Even with all the extra nature time, I’ve managed to capture plenty of links for you to enjoy. There’s so much good stuff out there!

Earth Day was this week. This is my favorite post in celebration of our lovely Mother.

Cats and books are two of my favorite things – here’s the official word on why cats love bookstores.

Have you gotten in on the adult coloring book movement yet? It’s a lot of fun!

A lovely little glimpse into daily practice as boundaries.

oceanmagickAs the warm weather returns, my mermaid side is emerging once again, and I’m drawn to the ocean and her magick.

Are you being pursued by consciousness?

Discover more about how empathic you are.

The top 100 best memoirs. I wouldn’t have listed “memoir” as one of my favorite genres, but I’ve read several of these, have quite a few others on my to-read list, and want to read more of them now that I’ve seen the list.

Since last fall, I’ve been upgrading the entrepreneurial side of my callings, with the help of my amazing biz coach, Britt Bolnick. Here are a couple of inspiring posts on building your business gradually and working for yourself. I’ve also recently been invited to join a monthly networking dinner based on this article. So much looking forward to the gathering!

I hope you get outside and enjoy the lovely energies of the natural world. Blessings!

I’m Not Rich, Thin, or Young, and I Have a Fantastic Life

goddessselfieBut how is that possible? Our culture is dedicated to the pursuit of happiness. That happiness, as we see reflected in the media, means that you are young (or young-looking), with a slim, attractive body, and enough money to do as you like. We might add criteria for further happiness, like fame, a good education, a loving partner, obedient children, and a beautiful home.

We ignore the signs that our cherished celebrities, those who supposedly have it all, aren’t quite as happy as they might be. Dramatic breakups, drug abuse, and flamboyant spending are the realm of those who are obviously spoiled, or ungrateful, or Doing It Wrong. If we had those resources, we vow, we would live life to the fullest.

Why wait? Why devote yourself to the endless pursuit of happiness? Why not just welcome it into your life, right now, as you are? You don’t need to wait until you are thin, rich, and young to be truly happy.

I know this from experience. I have a fantastic life that I truly enjoy. I am a happy person, which has come from learning to let myself be joyful no matter the circumstances. You can, too.

You long to be rich? Most of us already live like the queens and kings of past eras. Stop and look around you. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you own an electronic device that puts the vast knowledge of hundreds of libraries full of books right here at your fingertips, along with music and art and calculators and maps. You probably have plenty to eat, clean water to drink, electricity, and a warm home to live in. You are clothed, you have transportation, and you likely even have access to health care when you need it. Chances are good that you have friends and family members who love you and care deeply about your well-being.

When you shift your attention from what is missing in your life to the blessings all around you, you are better able to feel happy and thankful. You can see how wealthy you truly are, right now, in this moment.

You want to be thin and beautiful? Our narrow view of what constitutes healthy and beautiful have been heavily conditioned by mass media. Think about those in your life who you love deeply. Picture them smiling and doing something they enjoy. Are they beautiful to you? Of course they are. Do they fit the stereotype of western beauty at this time in our history? Maybe so, maybe not.

Beauty truly does come from within. It’s often easier to see that in others than it is in ourselves.

Try shifting your view to that of health. Think about the ways you are already healthy. Our tendency is to focus on our own perceived flaws and lacks. Instead, make a list of the beautiful health you now embody. Admire the way your legs carry you uncomplainingly on walks through the woods or along the beach. Smile in the mirror, and appreciate your sparkling eyes. Enjoy the way your hands can adeptly caress your lover, cook a delicious meal, and comfort a crying child. Begin to explore and encourage self-love, which is an essential part of a healthy psyche.

Pining for your youth? Is this a real impulse, or another culturally-conditioned response? We are taught that being young is ideal, and that nostalgia for those “glory days” is normal. But was it really a better time, or are you conveniently forgetting the struggles and worries that went along with the triumphs? Make a conscious choice to change your view, and to decide that the best time in your life is right here, right now.

Delight in the wisdom you’ve gained over your lifetime so far, in knowing that there is still so much more to learn and experience, and in the exploration of who you truly are.

You don’t need to be rich, thin, young, or fulfill any other arbitrary criteria, in order to be happy. Dive deeply into the life that you are living right now. Be grateful for your blessings, cherish your friends and family, do the things you love to do, and share your gifts and talents with the world. Living purposefully from right where you are will allow your innate happiness to expand and flourish. Shut off the mainstream media and be uniquely yourself.

You’ll be amazed at how you shine.

Aging Backwards

playfulstarcatI was driving home with my daughter last night after her archery class, singing along to the radio (like we do). I noticed that what we were singing was yet another pop song idolizing being young. It seems like it’s a fairly universal human experience to long for a past time when you were young and free, life was simple, and you were unconditionally happy.

But I just can’t relate to that.

I mean, I had a pretty good childhood. My family is very loving, and I wasn’t abused or bullied or put through any major trauma. All my needs and many of my desires were met. Still, life didn’t feel easy and free. Navigating my daily experience wasn’t simple. It was painfully hard, and I felt awkward, insecure, and anxious a lot of the time. I was shy and fearful. Probably because of the inner stress I experienced, I was sick a lot of the time with colds, ear infections, and sinusitis.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a sensitive type. An introvert, a HSP, an empath, in a world that rewards extroverts and the self-confident. It took me many years to learn the tools and techniques that enable me to thrive, to find others like me, and a few more years to discover that there isn’t anything inherently wrong with the way I am, and to learn to love and accept myself.

As a creative person, public school really wasn’t the best fit for me, although no one would have thought to suggest it. I earned straight As most of the time, and graduated in the top ten of my class in terms of grades. Even so, a lot of the time I hated going to school, primarily because of the cliques and social interactions that left me feeling excluded. But also, as I learned upon entering college, because my spirit was longing for more freedom.

When I arrived at the University my freshman year, I was amazed by the freedom! I could choose my own classes and my schedule. I could study when I wanted, put in the amount of effort that felt right, stay up late and sleep in, and even better, no one was judging me for it. I could choose my own friends, set my own hours, participate in whatever activities I thought I might enjoy – and quit when I was done. I dove deep into literature and philosophy and explored peace studies and spirituality.

Despite my discoveries in college, I felt a lot of insecurity and angst well into my adulthood. I worried what other people thought, a lot. I had trouble making choices and speaking up about my desires. I had to work through a lot of old beliefs and self-doubt to get to the point I’m at now, where I consider myself a happy person. I was just reading an old journal from my mid-20s, and feeling compassion for how often I felt depressed, uncertain, and frustrated. I had a huge desire to write and create, but I seemed to block myself at every turn.

It’s no one’s fault. It just took me a long time to learn to be comfortable with who I am, and to allow my creativity and spirituality free expression.

So, for many reasons, I don’t wish to return to my youth. Not at all. I’m now in my 40s, and this is the best decade yet. Things keep getting better and better.

Many years ago I had a snippet of a dream that stuck in my head in the form of a sentence from a story. I’ve saved it to perhaps use in a novel at some point, but it feels appropriate for this post. “She had stumbled upon a community of people who were aging backwards.”

I feel like a member of that community, now. I am aging backwards, becoming more free, confident, and vital year by year. How about you? Do you feel that your life is getting better and better? I’d love to hear from others for whom the “oh how I wish I could be young again” song lyrics inspire a shudder and a firm “I don’t freaking think so!”

Dear Morning

This is my letter to morning, which is one of the daily prompts from Susannah Conway’s April Love project. I’m a lifelong night owl, and I’ve tried to break up with morning many times. But recently we’ve decided to accept each other the way we are, on our own terms…

Dear Morning,

During much of my life, I never really enjoyed or appreciated you, especially when you first begin. I very much dislike being woken up before I’m done sleeping, and as it happens, my natural biorhythms just don’t line up with what society considers an acceptable rising time.

But now I’m in the groove of working for myself and setting my own schedule. Most days, I wake up naturally between 8:30 and 9am. When I awaken, I now feel a sense of joy and anticipation. I’m ready to rock my day. I know I can begin at my own pace.

My dreams flow through my mind’s eye, mingling with the intention I set the night before as I drifted off to sleep. I stretch luxuriously and look out the window, getting a sense of the day’s light. I sit up, fumbling for my phone. I set my meditation alarm for 30 minutes. I begin with a chakra-clearing exercise, then, connected and rooted, I enjoy my silent meditation.

Well, not silent, exactly – thoughts still flood my consciousness. I sit calmly, unattached, on the banks of my stream of consciousness. Occasionally I dip my net into the water, snagging out an idea that flashes brightly in the sun. Mostly, though, I just let the stream flow by.

When the alarm chimes, it’s time to get up.

After tending to my body, I flow into writing practice. I dive into the pages of my journal, asking and answering the questions of the moment, copying affirmations, following the trail of my gratitude. Or perhaps I bypass pen & paper and proceed straight to the laptop, excited to get started on my current writing project.

Dear morning, my point is, now that I greet you on my own terms, I look forward to the time we spend together.

After some writing, it’s time for brunch and some kitchen chores. No more rushing around. No more eating first thing upon rising, which never worked for me. No upset tummy from getting up too early – yes, that’s a real thing, for me at least. No oh-dark-thirty.

Your sunrises, while gorgeous, are just not for me. I am a deep dreamer, and while some folk are awakened by the sun’s first rays, that’s when I’m busy traveling far away in other worlds. When my dreamscape is interrupted, I feel headachy, disoriented, and nauseous. There’s no reason to fight my body’s need for a later start.

I love you, dear morning, and I’m so thankful that we have created this agreement, that I can meet you on my own terms. I’m thankful that you sneak in each and every day while I rest peacefully. I love that my attendance at your dawning is not mandatory.

I respect your beauty, your birdsong, your fresh breezes, and the way they drift past me through the open window, gently tickling my face while I dream up new adventures to reveal later in the day.


Starcat’s Favorites: Mind Maps & Snuggle Cats

snugglecatThis is the lovely snuggle cat I was cuddling with this morning. I don’t think he wanted me to get up. Sweet Percy Lovecat! He’s definitely on my list of favorites. I’ve also been enjoying spring breezes, chai tea, good sleep, and mind mapping.

I’m in the middle of creating a wonderful project that is part book, part coaching program, and part way of life. It’s called the Heart of the Goddess, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it a time or two. I have a poster-size mind map just for this project, and I’ve been writing in coffee shops and at home and thinking about it on walks. It’s such a thrill! I love when a creative project is so enticing that it takes over a big chunk of my psyche and the inspirations come almost faster than I can capture them. I’m so thankful.

I hope your weekend is going well, and that you enjoy the links I’ve collected for you this time. Blessings!

It’s National Poetry Month here in the U.S. Here’s a beauty from a friend of a friend. I love it!

It’s also April Love month, according to Susannah Conway. She has some fabulous prompts on her website.

De-cluttering is big right now. Here’s a different kind of de-cluttering list.

I have a friend who’s doing bullet journaling, and my Virgo nature is intrigued…though I absolutely adore my Leonie Dawson day planner. I’m sure I’ll try this at some point, though. The indexes! The lists! The adorable doodle drawings! *happy sigh*

Do you know what your love language is? Or how your beloveds most love to be loved?

“Life requires us to move through challenges that are so perfectly designed for us only our ego would wish to spiritually bypass them with a quick fix or end-goal in mind.”

Women, here’s an alternative look at PMS and what we can learn from it.

Have a beautiful week and enjoy the warming weather and strengthening sun!

Escaping The Tyranny of the To-Do List

todolistsOne of the participants in a recent workshop BlackLion and I co-hosted, while explaining what she wanted to work on, essentially said she wanted to stop being a slave to her to-do list.

Can you relate?

Life is full. There’s work, immediate family, home-tending, extended family, exercise, friends, volunteering, self-care, creative projects, spiritual practice, and oh yeah, you should probably sleep now and then. Phew! Sometimes it can feel like you’re on that proverbial hamster wheel, powering through the day’s list and then getting up to do it all over again the next day.

The thing is, life doesn’t stop. Well, except for when it’s your time to die, but that’s probably quite a ways off – and even then, we don’t really know what happens to your consciousness. For now, though, you keep on breathing, your heart keeps beating, and your brain certainly churns out the thoughts. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking you are what you do.

Our culture is certainly set up that way. “And what do you do?” is one of the first questions most people ask when meeting someone new.

The trouble comes when you begin to identify your self-worth with your productivity. It does feel enticingly good to check off those items on your list. I like it, too, and I’ve been known to write something down that I did, just so I can have the satisfaction of checking it off.

But let’s put the almighty to-do list in perspective. You are not more or less worthy based on what you achieve. You are inherently worthy and divine just by virtue of your existence.

A list is a tool. Nothing more, nothing less. I keep lists because I have lots of ideas and I enjoy a wide variety of activities. I also don’t like trying to remember stuff – I’d rather keep the front of my mind free for creative play, and the back of my mind is already full of stories and whimsy and who-knows-what. I’d rather let the list do the heavy lifting in terms of the memory game.

But I no longer let the list be what determines my every move. Sure, some things have hard and fast deadlines – you know, like taxes, planning a birthday party, or that report that’s due at work. Most of the items on my list, though, are things that I choose, and thus the timeline is mine to determine. I treat the list as a menu, a suggestion of activities that I can choose to work on when I feel so inspired.  For example, I’ll set aside a chunk of time for working on writing, or on my business. But rather than being specific, I’ll consult the list to see which related items are inspiring me and which need my immediate attention. This helps me stay in the creative flow, and not get bogged down with tasks that might not be joyful for me that day.

My list also serves as a way of tracking things that are important to me, like how much exercise I’m getting or the things I’m thankful for (I love that my Leonie Dawson planner actually has a section for that).

A to-do list is a container. It’s a place where you can store things that are important to you, to be fished out and polished up at your convenience. Remember that you are the one who wields the tool, and let go of attaching your self-worth to the tyranny of your to-do list. It’s an easy shift to make, once you think about it, and one that will make your daily life much more joyful and easy, when you let it.