A Different Kind of To Do List

I recently decided that rather than referring to our national and global situation as “challenging,” I’m going to start labelling it as “powerful.” Like the proverbial Phoenix triumphantly rising out of the fire and ashes, we can harness the power of the fire and ashes of the current chaos to envision and create something different, something better. And I think that starts with us generating a different kind of To Do List that can actually be a fun—and powerful—process . . .

Even with all the suffering, loss, and upset during this past year of the pandemic and the past many years of political upheaval, there has emerged a substantial and bright, shiny silver lining:

  • In our personal lives, a lot of stay-at-home has eliminated many of life’s distractions and provided the opportunity for self-reflection. It enabled us to more clearly recognize and more fully appreciate who and what is important to us.
  • In our public life, this time period has revealed A LOT about what’s not working and needs to be fixed in our society, culture, government, workplace, healthcare, education, the legal system, etc.

Now, finally, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. The signs are hopeful that, even if we have to endure some more of the chaos, the global “Pause” may lessen and our world may be opening up again sometime soon.

With that in mind, as an inveterate To Do list maker, the other day I found myself starting a typical list but then, interestingly, it morphed into a different kind of To Do list: a list of all the things I want to do when the country and the world open up for business again.

It started out very practical. With vaccine #2 completed, at the top of my list is to get a haircut—my once very short, easy-care Pixie cut is now down to my shoulders. Then I listed some house repairs and improvements to our still new-to-us AZ house that we’ve delayed due to COVID.

Then I went a bit broader: a list of friends and neighbors to invite and start entertaining again for brunch, dinner, or wine and appetizers outside sitting around our new yet-to-be-used fire pit. And a list of favorite restaurants with outside dining that I want to enjoy again. And then broader: identifying a volunteer situation that contributes to my town.

And broader still: donating part of the next COVID Relief check to Chef Andrés’ World Central Kitchen.1 And paying closer attention to congressional bills up for a vote so I can contact my representatives and make my voice be heard. And even broader: resuming a practice of envisioning Light surrounding the planet and all of Humanity.

And I realized that my list was morphing into a much bigger, “envisioning”-type arena. I found my mind opening up to the almost limitless possibilities I could add to my list. It was astoundingly freeing to shrug off the blanket of constraint we’ve been under and, instead, having a broad horizon open up before me. It was glorious!

So turns out my list became more than just an ordinary To Do List. Rather it’s a “Hope List” or an “Intention List.” It’s filled with possibilities that make me feel free and unburdened by constraints and, at the same time, can enable me to make a difference in domains that are important to me.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had a therapist who said we need to experience both ends of a spectrum to be able to identify a middle ground. Well, pre-pandemic, our lives were filled with unending distractions and often frenetic busy-ness; and then for the past year, a “pause” of much of that. So we’re in a perfect position, having experienced both extremes, to find a middle ground that we create, that we choose for ourselves. And it starts with a new kind of To Do List.

Judging by my list, items seem to coincide with ever-expanding circles around me:

  • Personal
  • Family and friends
  • Neighborhood, community, town
  • State (province, etc.)
  • Federal
  • Global
  • Universal (Hey, why not think REALLY big??)

So, with these circles in mind, I suggest you try it . . .

1. Get out your journal or notepad—and maybe some colored pens, pencils, or markers; or use an app like a Notes checklist.

2. Start your list with the “practical” stuff, e.g., haircut, specific home fixes/improvements.

3. Then close your eyes and envision the blanket of constraints we’ve lived under recently—all of its limitations, fears, and upsets.

4. Now envision that blanket lifting off, take a deep cleansing breath, and envision the wide open, broad horizon ahead of you.

5. Then write—without stopping or editing—for 10 uninterrupted minutes (or 1 sheet of paper, front and back) answering the question:

How do I want to fill that wide open, broad space?

6. Lastly, use your writing to generate a To Do/“Intention” List. (It doesn’t have to be comprehensive—you can revise it at anytime in the future.)

(NOTE: I strongly suggest you include items related to your “domain(s) of interest” that I’ve discussed many times. For example, in the domain of government accountability, I want to volunteer and work to replace our U.S. congressman who helped foment the Capitol riot, and who recently spoke at a White nationalist conference.)

If you find it challenging to shrug off the blanket of constraints, or you can’t envision that wide open horizon, or if you feel like your list isn’t as complete as you’d like—if your inner-knowing is nudging you that something’s missing—then just let it percolate overnight or a couple days, and do the exercise again. And again if needed. Or generate your list in a manner that works for you, like putting it on the fridge and adding to it as you think of another item.

View this “Intention List” as a bridge that will take you from the present “powerful” times to the future you want to build for yourself and for Humanity.

Oh, and at some point when appropriate, we need to start actually doing and checking off items from the list. Review your list often to assess your progress, and revise it as necessary. (And give yourself permission to do something I do: if you complete a task not on your list, add it to the list and check it off as done to experience a sense of completion. And as your situation and interests evolve, feel free to remove items from the list even if not completed.)

As I often say: We CAN do this. And it doesn’t have to be onerous. It can be fun, freeing, and personally fulfilling. And even if it’s still several weeks or even months before we can implement our lists, at the very least our envisioning will send forth a strong wave of intention and of “hope energy.”

This is a time bursting with potential. Let’s harness and use that potential to its fullest.

BTW—In the meantime, the chaos continues to swirl around us. So as always, I remind you to, e.g., observe how much of the news is actually conjecture and opinion often masquerading as fact or a fait accompli. And as usual, I urge you to not get sucked in to any scare tactics about what might happen as though it’s already real or inevitable. If it’s something we’re really concerned about, we can either take action to forestall it, or if it happens, we can take action to resolve it. We are NOT powerless.

In fact, I believe quite the opposite: we are VERY powerful if we put our minds to it. After all, we are made of the same “stuff” as the stars. We are Beings of immense Light. Let’s let our Light shine bright. Try it: close your eyes and feel your energy—your Light—swirling around inside you and then emanating out in waves. THIS is who you are.


1 Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen

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