When the To-Do List Doesn't Get Done - It's a Sign to Slow Down

Summer is unofficially, officially begun here where I live. Yes, it’s not even Memorial Day. But this is Commissioning Week at the US Naval Academy, and along with 9000 family and friends who come to town to watch these midshipmen graduate and receive their military commissions, we all play hooky on Tuesday and/or Wednesday to watch the Blue Angels. THIS is the start of summer.

It’s the transition to summer, really, as we all do our best to stay invested in school in the final weeks, wrap up sports schedules and attend concerts, celebrations, and performances. We’re half in for summer and half in to finish the year strong. Which sort of feels like double dipping, multiplying items on our to-do list (do I need three graduation cards this weekend or four?) and chugging along to the next mile marker.

Do you ever chug along to get to the next stop and then get distracted, wondering, “What on earth am I doing?”

We plan, and we do, and we give. We’re usually moving at such a rapid clip that we can’t find the space to consider what we are doing, let alone what we want to be doing.

I know what I need and desire to be doing each week, I make it a point to plan to get most of these things scheduled, arranged, and completed. I know it’s really an “ideal” and that keeping it all in balance is a fallacy. It’s utter crap that any of us achieve a perfect balance.

I grapple with what it means to do each of these sufficiently, something my friend Jen Louden describes as “conditions of enoughness.” Some weeks, I really nail it, and other weeks, like past one, I just make it to the end of the week and much gets rolled over to the new week.

This week, my head just couldn’t settle on jumping to summer or staying present in this week, with the things I know are valuable and hold value or that I need to do this week. I wish I could say that I got content from my Scrivener files into an ebook or that I completed my business bookkeeping or that I even got some random piles of abandoned clothes in our guest room properly put away or donated.

But the weather was good, so I wanted to do some planting.

I wanted to take some time to watch the Blue Angels without investing the entire day. I set up my office outside and, well, proceeded to daydream while looking at the sky (and the lovely plants I had just nestled in their new beds).

There was a little family drama that needed my time.

Productivity tanked with each passing day.

What seemed to have permeated this week was a quiet voice inside me that in different ways and diverse settings kept raising its voice to say “You’re not doing enough” or “You are not doing what you intended to do.” I despise this voice, but I tried to welcome it like a disagreeable classmate, listening with detached respect. I listened to hear if there were valid points or lessons to be learned. I made my self a “more/less” list to remind my self what I really wanted to be doing. I let that heckler speak its peace but not run the conversation.

I eased into it, knowing that this is not a week that I am slaying the to-do list, but it’s enough for this week. I’m yearning for summer, but for no particular reason. I’m frustrated that many of my May goals and intentions will go unfulfilled. I loathe unchecked to-dos, yet, it is what it is.

When the to-do list doesn't get done - it's a sign to slow down

Often when I am feeling this dissonance, I craft a fantasy that I could teleport myself to a new place and a new set of circumstances, where I could magically slay that list of desires and obligations, look decent doing it and somehow still make a delicious dinner and have all the laundry put away. It’s my personal “I Don’t Know How She Does It” narrative, minus the store bought pie only because I am long past sending a snack to school with my kids. I eventually reframe it to think, I just need to go away and disconnect. To sit with my thoughts and ideas, my writing, my books, my yoga mat, and have some green space and water to look up at when I need a break. I scour AirBnB and wonder which friend with a vacation house would let me set up shop for a few days. I’ve executed this precisely once in my life, and it was yummy and invaluable.

All of this must have been percolating in my head during one yoga class earlier this winter. Organizing a retreat seemed akin to organizing field trips to me, and I’ve done my fair share of field trips. Ireland kept coming to mind, as a place I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. It occurred to me that the Navy- Notre Dame football game will be played in Dublin next summer. The wheels were spinning in high gear, and I raced out of that yoga class, and before my husband could even remove his headset, I was spewing my “amazing idea” to him. A. Retreat. In. Ireland.

There’s a lot more to how Celtic Connection, Creation and Rejuvenation has come to be. I am wildly excited about the opportunity to collaborate with a talented artist and friend, to have the help of another friend and yoga who went to Ireland and did all the recon to plan our excursions (job change anyone? ). This is a unique opportunity for 16 women to come together in 12th-century castle. To stay in luxurious modern accommodations, to participate in yoga, workshops designed for self-growth and creativity, to eat well and to take time each day for excursions in the southeast counties of Ireland or to linger on the castle grounds and do what you’d like. No obligations, no distractions, no noise.

We’ll be sharing more in the weeks to come, so be sure to get on our mailing list. Our early bird discount is good through July 1 and with just 16 spots for adventurous, creative women who want to take a little time away.

If you’re a person who dreams about getting away, consider joining us. If your to-do list doesn't feel like it gets done or if it keeps growing, then e - it's a sign to slow down. This trip months away, with plenty of time to invite a friend, makes plans for work and family to be covered, and take six days in a magical place to slow down just focus on you!