Trading “To-Do” for “To-Be” in this Busy Life


Lately I’ve felt there is simply too much input streaming into my life. Too many emails (even though I signed up for updates on these blogs and already weeded out the ones I just don’t care that much about). Too much junk mail in my mailbox (I’ve considered whether I should simply replace the mailbox with our recycling bin). Too many newsletters and flyers from my son’s school each week (can I unsubscribe, please?). Too many posts in too many groups on too many social media platforms (although, again, I choose to participate and I’m not planning on quitting).

Beyond school ending in a few weeks . . . oh, I’m back. I passed out there for a minute. Beyond that, there’s no end in sight. And for someone who enjoys silence, requires a certain amount of unstructured solitude, and gets a cheap thrill out of eliminating expired condiments from the fridge, I’m not really sure how to deal with it all. I have too much to read and do and it is crowding out what I really want to read and do. What I really want is a sabbatical. What I’ve really got is a normal life like everyone else.

So, what to do? It’s time again to take stock of how I’m spending my time and make conscious decisions about whether I’m really using my time wisely and purposefully. I want to enjoy time with family, to spend time tending my garden, to read for pleasure and read for research, to finish revising one novel so I can begin to write another, to eat delicious home-prepared food, to be still and commune with my Creator, to do my work with enthusiasm and passion, to keep my house clean enough so that it doesn’t clutter my mind.

I’m really good at making to-do lists. I have to recover that chair, weed the south flowerbed, make that ninja costume for my son, water those plants, sew a red skirt, vacuum that floor, sow those bean seeds, write that copy, finish that chapter, sweep up those maple seeds, sort that laundry, get that dead bird out of the garage…I could continue ad nauseam.

But somehow I feel that I might be better served by making a to-be list at this point in life…

To Be:

A loving wife and mother
An obedient child of God
An exemplary worker
A thoughtful writer
A collector of ideas and impressions
A decent housekeeper
A reader of good books
A passable guitarist
A lover of nature
A protector of creative time

All of those sound pretty doable to me. And reading them doesn’t stress me out. I can do those, whether they happen in increments or in concentrated bursts or slowly over time or whatever.

What would you have on your to-be list?

9 thoughts on “Trading “To-Do” for “To-Be” in this Busy Life

  1. It’s as if we are on the same wave length.
    An answered prayer quite often comes in not such a pretty package. I have been praying for insight and direction and what I received was a straw that broke the camel’s back, but in a good way. In my pain I cried out for exactly what I wanted, “I want to work in my garden, I want to fly my airplane, I want to clean my house, and most important of all, I want to spend time with my husband!!!”
    Follow what you want or what you want to be and all the things that hinder that happening, delete. The world won’t end 🙂

  2. I get it. I have been trying to set a daily amount of writing time. So many good things and lots of time wasters. This was thought provoking. Thank you.

  3. I’m in the same place as you, so this post really resonated! In our society, busyness is a badge of honor, and it takes a real concerted effort to disconnect yourself from that. My list would be short: (1) Be present. In each thing I do, in each interaction I have. (2) Create space. Days will go by and I won’t have taken even a moment to pray, to sit outside in the sun even for a few minutes, to allow my brain to slow down enough for creativity to spark. Though my list is short, its never easy!

  4. I need to try to get back on a daily schedule when it comes to writing. I think if I did that, I’d feel better about all the rest.

  5. Yes, space is the most important part. And then not letting that space fill up. Summer is so hard to hold because every weekend someone is asking you to visit or there’s vacation or weddings and graduations. And one day you wake up and it’s late August and your yard is full of long grass and weeds and no one in the house has clean underwear.

  6. 1. That’s very thoughtful of you.
    2. Yes, or at least its bones and feathers. That’s probably all that’s left because it has been there for at least six months. Really.

  7. Haha, yes! My husband and I last year tried a “no sunny day left behind” policy. (We live in Seattle). If it was nice, we resolved not to do chores, instead we went camping, we BBQed with friends, etc etc. It was great but by the end we were so stressed by the filth of our house and how many errands had gone undone that we had to give up the dream. I guess all things in moderation.

Comments are closed.