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My To-Do List Doesn’t Look the Same

I’m sitting here mid-day in my pjs, looking across my backyard into the woods. Where I live, in late February the air is still chilly and crisp, and even a little breeze will chase you back inside for a steaming cup of tea. But today the sun is shining through those barren trees and only snowy silhouette shadows remain in the yard. Sunshine in February is a treat for those us in this part of the world, something we don’t take for granted. I always like to slow down and take it in — even if it’s from the warmth of my kitchen table.

February boasts only 28 days, the shortest month of the year. Why does it seem to go on forever?

My to-do list is here beside me. I’ve filled in all the spaces. There is much I could be doing, but I lack motivation to get dressed and begin anything on the list. What’s on the list, you ask? Nothing critical hence my procrastination. I could sit here and do nothing but gaze at the woods all day long. No one would be the wiser.

Glancing down at my planner, I can see many of the “whats” on my list have changed over the last 16 months. I don’t do a lot of what I use to do (like get dressed before noon). The whats are different because the whys have changed. Have you ever looked at your to-do list and asked yourself “why”?

Why do you do what you do?

Why do we do a weekly grocery run? Why do we go to bed at 11:00? Or get up at 6 a.m.? Why do we make a pot of coffee in the morning instead of just one cup? Why do we plan a menu and get the meat out of the freezer? Why do we do the hundreds of little things we add to our lists (or at least check off in our heads) throughout the week?

It’s interesting to think about it, isn’t it?

After I lost Jon, I soon realized much of what I did every day circled around him and our life together. He was one of my biggest whys. For a while, months even, after he was gone, I scribbled his chores down in my planner. I did jobs around the house that were his, left undone. It was my way of keeping him here.

My whys still had him in my heart and mind and the whats I did reflected that.

I must think about the why because it will determine what I do. Jon will always be in my heart and mind, but now, my to-do list must be about my own whys. Not his. Not ours. That harsh fact stings, breaks my fragile heart a bit more, and will always make me sad, but that truth propels me forward. It makes me look long and hard at my planner.

Even my journal reminds me
of my new whys

The why is defining me in new ways. I may not get out of my pjs at all today. Who cares? I might make some soup. I haven’t cooked much in the last year. I’m almost too embarrassed to count on my fingers how many times I’ve turned on my stove. But today I might make some soup. Why? Because I need the nourishment. I need the self-care. And if I make soup today, I don’t have to cook again for a week. Today I may venture outside to walk in the sunshine. Why? Because I need the exercise and a good dose of vitamin D. I’ll take Jon’s dog with me. Jon would like that (doesn’t count as his list.)

Why? It’s a good question. It’s a clarifying and defining question.

Why?

I’m going to keep asking that question. I think my whats will be more meaningful here — and in eternity — if I keep a big bold WHY? at the top of my list.

Why do I do what I do?

Why do you what you do? I think if you ask yourself that question, some of your whats might change too.

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