Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Things I Did Not Do

I don't know about you, but one of the many things that occupies real estate in my brain is a running list of "things I didn't do today/ yesterday/ this week/ this month/ this summer/ this year".

It goes something like this: Today, I totally didn't remember to not pick fights. I didn't stack as much firewood as I'd hoped. I didn't take any good pictures. I didn't call back any of the people who called me. I didn't finish my writing piece like I had hoped.

Yesterday, I didn't make dinner and we ate rolls and leftovers for dinner. I didn't remember to soak fava beans for tonight's dinner. I didn't go have dinner with anyone even though I should have.

This week, I didn't finish my editing work and now I have a deadline. I didn't write any of the letters I was going to. I didn't go on a walk with Charlie. I didn't finish my holiday card design.

This month, I haven't finished any of the blogposts I was going to do. I haven't managed to call my sister.  I haven't had dinner with any of the ten people/ families on our list.

This year…nah you get the picture though.

I don't know why it's these lists that keep playing in my head instead of the ones of my accomplishments. It's like every time I do something, learn something, make something, I instantly forget it ever happened, because there's always a thousand other things to do. Only, mostly likely I'm never going to get them done to my satisfaction. And this, my friends, is bullshit.

So instead here's a list of things I have accomplished lately:
Today I stacked firewood and went harvesting craft-materials.
Yesterday I said no to social time in favor of playing dominoes at home with my sweetie. I had a great meeting with a new friend/ collaborator.  I got to share goats and turkeys with a little gal who was stoked.
This week I sent out mail to some of the many people who are important to me. I sewed some pretty cool things and made plans to do sewing with a friend. I had some productive meetings. I made a huge batch of sauerkraut. I read some great books and worked on my website and my short stories. And I made three rather decent soups.

Not looking so shabby after all, now is it? What awesome things have you accomplished lately?


  1. Oh Milla…. You just read my mind! I was letting some bits of this same endless list surface up in my mind, for the sake of picking one or two for the evening, and trying not to get overwhelmed by the sheer extend of it (particularly in the "create things" and "see friends" directions).

    Then I thought: wait a minute! You've just mended two sweaters, had a good rest, cooked a great brown basmati rice + vegetables improvised recipe, talked to a friend on Skype and paid some bills online. And you're down because of your periods.

    So I decided to take it easy and start translating my latest post into French (it's only been on my list for a week!)

    Bon courage, mon petit chou :o)

  2. this is exactly what I needed to read right now. honestly. I've been doing the same thing. beating myself up and so I love how you flipped it.

    because in the midst of all the failed attempts, there are so many quiet success.

    great post.

  3. Thank you! Another accomplishment to your list, this helpful and heartening blogpost for your readers.

  4. haha, my list of accomplishments includes soups too! I have to say they did make me proud since they were "experiments" aka I dumped a bunch of stuff in a pot.

    I'm also majorly procrastinating on letters, packages, and making my holiday card designs...its hard not to just sit in front of the fire and get hypnotized by it for hours.

  5. love it!

    I organized my craft closet (this was a HUGE accomplishment!), knitted marianne's hat, started meal planning and began the overwhelming task of painting my room :)

  6. ha, yeah, this strikes a nerve. I do get into the habit of beating myself up about stuff not done, but like you I've been trying to flip a positive spin on it. Sometimes the problem is when a lot of what you've done is conceptual/mental (e.g problem solving, design etc.) and there's nothing material to show for it, it can feel like you haven't achieved anything when actually you probably have. Like earlier I was giving myself a hard time about not doing stuff, but I did sort and delete a lot of files on my laptop, which really needed doing! So even though it's one of those things where it doesn't look like I've done anything, I know that I have....

    I love the comment from Mrs Habit above which says "in the midst of all the failed attempts, there are so many quiet successes." That's a lovely way to put it. Also, one of my mantras since I was diagnosed with CFS (but I wish I'd learned it before): Tiredness is not failure. That helps me not to beat myself up about not getting stuff done.

  7. Oh boy, do I ever fall into this trap! I like this approach though... I need to try it! Thanks Milla! Too cute in your outfit atop a rock though... "the rock just sits."

  8. As usual when it's time to go to bed, and sleep because your body's exhausted, that's usually the time when my mind starts to work furiously, and decides that it's actually THE time to do things. So this happened yesterday evening, and instead of staring at the ceiling for hours, I just decided to sit and write a list of the things that had to be done.
    I didn't do much today, but still I managed to work a bit on a collaboration work while visiting a family at the hospital, baked in the dutch oven a delicious bread and meal (and dinner), wrote a blog article and edited pictures.
    But the "TO DO" list is still so big, and it's already 10pm... Sigh, I'll do the rest tomorrow :)

  9. Doers will always have more to do than there is time to do. Trying not to beat ourselves up about that, that's the not doing part, which oddly takes a certain amount of energy also! In the spirit of celebrating some accomplishments with you here are a few: I went through my closet and got rid of 3 big garbage bags full of clothes (!), last night I finally made a big, delicious pot of borscht with the bag of beets that were getting shoved around in the back of the fridge (plus cornbread to go with it, yum), and lastly I have begun a routine of taking runs every other morning (I have NEVER been a runner) that I have been sticking to, much to my utter amazement.

  10. p.s. That is the cutest picture of you, ever.

  11. I organised a birthday party for a 7 year old! I did the grocery shopping! I finished a small craft project! I went to an intermediate school open day. And watched A TONNE of New Girl on netflix.

  12. Well, there you go. For me this usually happens at about 2am, when my brain says, "wake up, you, let's talk about all the stupid mistakes coming from decisions you've made!" And I go, "no, I need sleep." and my brain says, "not so fast, we haven't explored all the stupid mistakes which will come from any future decisions you're likely to make!" Good to focus on the accomplishments instead. Well done.

  13. Ahh, good way to take control of that nagging little voice!

  14. Oh god yes, I always do this! When I launched my new website and collection, doing every little part of everything you see myself, I was just like "yeah, but I didn't do the dishes". This happens on a daily basis where I never acknowledge what I do accomplish. It might be a good practice to write those things down like that! Big love xoxo

  15. I love this! Feels so good to make these lists. Let's see...I worked two hours straight on a quilt, which is a huge amount of time for me. I visited a craft fair and bought some wonderful things from friends. I just made a delicious chicken/rice soup for my sick husband. I put away about four loads of laundry...without much complaint!

  16. I did my best….
    day after day…
    to fill each moment with activities that would matter in another's life...

  17. That is one of many reasons I like physical to do lists. I get to see everything that has been crossed off the list, and it is an instant reminder of everything I have accomplished.

    I also have certain people I will tell accomplishments to in a way that leaves a record, for example texting my friend about the 11 trillium bulbs I got planted at my restoration site a few days ago. It is now a visible record on my phone of having done that, harder to drown it out with the cacophony of everything I have not yet done. And of course, other people are always much more impressed than I am about what I have done and much less critical than I am about what I have not yet done.

    That word "yet" is also a good little trick. I have not yet done the dishes, and "yet" allows for the fact that I will at some point actually accomplish this. Less negative.

  18. Hi Mila,
    Your list of things you did do is very impressive...I'm afraid I am a list making addict, I don't think a day goes by I don't make a list of what I need to do (and what I'd like to do)...I even have a little notebook and pencil by the bed (it was supposed to be there for creative ideas rather than "must do the laundry and flea the cat however it seems to be filled with chores I mustn't forget to do rather than sparks of creativity inspired by night time readings)
    So like you, rather than think about all the things I haven't done with my weekend so far ("so far"'s kind of like "yet")....I made breakfast for my sweetie, I had a nice cuddle with the cat, I finished sewing some needle-cases and stuffing some pin cushions, and have listened to Bach's Brandenburg concerto's all afternoon.....I am not fretting about the bathroom and kitchen that need cleaning nor the pile of laundry that needs ironing.

  19. I do the same thing! When I start making my lists now I have to mentally prepare myself that not all the things will get done. And I can prioritize but sometimes it will just be the things I feel like getting done, get done and oh well. Tomorrow's another day.