The Hurrier I Go

I woke up this morning and vowed that today was the day. I lay there, making mental to-do lists before coming downstairs to face literal reams of them, and I wondered what it is that I keep doing two things:

1. Making to-do lists that are at best, completely defeatist and unrealistic about how many hours are in a day, and at worst, lunatic.

2. Believing that the only thing standing between me and having that list completed is a decision.  

A decision? Yeah. Here I am, day after day, with excellent and awesome evidence that there are only 24 hours in a day (and that I must sleep for at least six of them, or I want to alternately kick the cat and sob about laundry) and that I can only work for about 12 of them or my life isn’t worth 10 cents of happiness – and still, most mornings I wake up and think "Today I’m getting it together."

Getting it together means that in my mind I’m going to get up, work like a demon all day, get more done than I ever have before, really put my nose to the grindstone, have not one minute of the day that is less than efficient or completely applied, and also clean out the linen closet and re-wash everything in it, because the cat got in there and lay on the towels, and now whenever anyone dries off after a bath, they look like they need an electrolysis appointment. 

I’ll lie there, take a deep breath, and decide that today (and really, every day for the rest of my life) this is who I am going to be.  I am not going to be distracted by my knitting,  I’m not going to throw in the towel when my sister calls, I’m not going to watch a movie in the evening. I am going to work.  All day.  Without cease or regret until I am caught up.  

Then I get up, and despite having made a really unreasonable decision to be a completely different kind of person than I have ever been before, I have the same kind of day I always do, which means I work plenty hard and get a lot done, but still spend an hour googling pickled beets in the afternoon because I’m suddenly gripped by the idea of making them.  Then night comes, some things on the to-do list remain, and I go to bed and lie there… staring at the ceiling (damn, that really, really needs repainting) and flagellate myself with regret, and swear that tomorrow will be better and I will be a whole different sort of person than I was today.  Again.

Anyway, I know this was silly, and circular, and it’s just a way of saying that I didn’t get the blanket started yesterday, but I did do a chunk of a sock while I was on hold, and that really, I wonder how old I’m going to be when I stop trying to change who I am every morning, and start making realistic to-do lists that don’t have things on them like "fix life" and "get organized" because really, those are super huge jobs that are really unlikely to ever be finished, and it’s only that part of me that lies on that bed disappointed that thinks it’s not going well.  The rest of me realized today that if you dry yourself off with a cat-hair towel, every bit of it falls off your body in about 20 minutes, and where this lady comes from, that’s a problem that doesn’t need solving.

1,030 thoughts on “The Hurrier I Go

  1. If it makes you feel any better, all of my towels have dog hair integrated into the fabric. No one complains. Relax. Inhale, exhale. Knit.

  2. Funny you say that, I just found two old journals written 10 years apart and my complaints in each one were exactly the same, even had the same wording in some entries. It was demoralizing to realize that no matter how hard I try I’m still the same old me and I think I need to give myself a break. We both work hard every day and no one dies from an unfinished list. We both deserve a break.
    I think I’ll go knit another preemie hat. Someplace there’s a teeny tiny baby with a cold head.

  3. You ever just get to a point where you realize the stress is not worth it anymore? Because the days when I get like that are AWESOME.

  4. OR you could just accept the fact that your to do list doesn’t have to be DONE at the end of every day. It’s just a written record of tasks that can be carried over to the next day or the next. Things that MUST be completed could be marked with a star but really what you’re doing is writing down the things that need done at some point so you don’t have to hold them in your head.
    So do what HAS to be done and then go knit what you wanna knit. That’s how you do it. Besides, you do way more crap in a day than most people do in a week so stop stressing. You don’t need to change the kind of person you are cuz you’re awesome just the way you are.

  5. It sounds like you are … Human. Just like the rest of us. So, I herewith give you permission to begin the enormous task of simply accepting who you are.
    AND, you get to like yourself. The rest of us? We’re already there. We adore you!

  6. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have dog or cat hair clinging to them somewhere.

  7. “if you dry yourself off with a cat-hair towel, every bit of it falls off your body in about 20 minutes, and where this lady comes from, that’s a problem that doesn’t need solving. ”
    That might be the single best sentence I have read in recent history.
    Thank you. 🙂

  8. Life’s far too unpredictable to worry about”must do lists”As you get older and accept your mortality you finally learn what’s really important and actually start to savour it.Hey, we’re humans, not machines.x

  9. We have all been where you are, and I myself am there almost daily. The cat would find a way to get into the closet again. It is in her DNA. Accept that the cat is the cat. Accept that you are you. And I am going to apply my own advice to myself.

  10. I use FlyLady…. do i get everything done “perfectly”? NOPE! If i did, then I wouldn’t be on the first bootie of your cutest booties pattern still (TOTALLY my fault… i normally have to go up a needle size because my tension is usually too tight… first one I started at knit night and after I got halfway through the foot and realized it would fit my 4 year old granddaughter’s foot….. second one I ripped out because I didn’t like the way the stripes on the self striping yarn was coming out and still didn’t change my needle size…. this one I started a few days ago and am now at the toe)
    As for enough hours in the day? Well, I get out of cooking duty 4 days a week with the 5th day being a crock pot day… My teenage sons like to cook, so we worked out a schedule that took into account our various schedules and activities so none of us have to “give up” anything, we each cook 2 nights a week and Fridays are crock pot days, which only takes me about 1/2 an hour in the morning to get the prep done and throw everything in… plenty of knitting time 🙂

  11. I have similar thoughts and expectations. But sometimes just breathing and being above ground is enough. I’ve said this before but ,they say housework wont kill you, but why take the chance?

  12. My mother only had 2 days in her life when she completed everything on her mental “To Do List”. She lived until she was 91.
    Maybe as well as composing the list, you need to tick or cross off the tasks completed – it might help with your state of mind, it sure helps mine. Cut yourself some slack Stephanie, you are not alone.
    One of my mother’s Rules of Life was that she ‘never read a novel before noon’! – she had 7 children, no running hot water in the laundry until the last two children (after she was 43 years old) and didn’t learn to drive until her 40’s. She said the two most liberating things for women were ‘running hot water and the automobile’. Have a think on that.

  13. Can’t help you, kid. My reaction to completing a to-do list is immediately to do something that isn’t on it, just to show who’s boss. (Also, the cat can’t have lain on top of more than the top towel- or two, if you have parallel piles. Wash the top two. Guilt by association doesn’t apply.)

  14. Regarding the cat hair: Think of the insulation value. This is Canada, and winter is coming. I guarantee there will be a day when you wish more of it would stick.
    I am owned by 4 cats. Every day, I do the sticky-lint-roller thing (3 sheets minimum) just before I step outside. I then look down at my clothes and think, ‘Damn good thing I’m not trying to keep the cats a secret.’.

  15. I never fight my inner voice that says, “You must knit all day today.” In the zombie apocalypse I need a warm sweater or pair of socks and not a clean floor!

  16. “to do list” = “suggestion list” and we all have a suspicion about what happens to those… also I ‘m dying to read the book StellaMM writes about her mother.

  17. “fix life” and “get organized”
    Steph: have you forgotten how to eat the elephant?

  18. Leftover from when it was our son’s bedroom, OUR bedroom has glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. Every night we turn out the light and there is the “universe”. I love it and never want to change it. But mostly it reminds me to breathe and let go of the day.

  19. I blame it on the fact that every once in a while. There is a really rare day where everything aligns in the universe and we do manage to DO ALL THE THINGS in a single day and it feels so good it is like a high and we just want a little taste of that again.
    And also, now I want pickled beets.

  20. When I have a day like that, I start my list with: Make a to do list! Then I check that off and feel better immediately. I also try to only put 3 to 5 items on the list because I know that they won’t all get done anyway. Today, I have 1/3 of one item from the list done, but about 6 that weren’t on it. Phooey!!

  21. I used to make a giant to-do list and feel bad if I didn’t finish it all. Over the years I learned three things
    1. Never write down a large project – break it down into smaller, more reasonably done tasks.
    2. Pick one must-do and one should-do task each day and do them. Anything else that you do should be considered a bonus.
    3.. The list must always have on it the things that you need to do for YOU, like “knit some” or “talk with family”. These are just as important as everything else, and are the things that will keep you sane.
    I still don’t follow these rules all the time, but I’ve found that I’m happier when I do, and so are those around me.

  22. That’s exactly how I think and act. I suspect it’s a human condition that means we’re normal. Do I hear a baby quilt calling out??? But the ceiling fans need dusting. Hmmm.

  23. well said. thanks for the perspective and the smile! i agree with samantha – your last sentence says it all.

  24. You accomplish more in a day than a lot of us do. I get hints and glimpses from your books and this blog that you are a very organized and tidy person. And you even have manicured nails. So don’t worry. Some stuff that we worry about doesn’t matter anyway in the long run. Make a list of the things that are truly important. Right now my husband is facing some very serious surgery. So, there’s dog hair on the floor. What of it? I’ll pick up the broom some other day.

  25. Oppimists: People who are constantly reminded that the world is imperfect, at best, and that they will never meet their own expectations.
    Pesimists: People who are constantly surprised and delighted when they realize how lovely the world really is and how competent they are.
    You decide!

  26. I think you need to make your to do list into a priority list. You finish the top priorities as you are able and then float the list to the next day to reassess! It is much less demoralizing that way.

  27. I’m not kidding when I say I could have written this post. (Except for the part about the cat. I don’t have a cat.) This is my every weekend, and I need it to stop. Thank you for framing it in a way that might get me to chill out!

  28. This post made me think of one of my all-time favorite Amanda Palmer songs, “In My Mind.” If you’ve not heard it:
    Also, I have four cats, and you’d be amazed (or maybe you wouldn’t!) at how quickly you cease caring about everything being covered in cat hair. It is a battle I am happy to lose.

  29. When I was growing up, a poem about middle children hung in my bedroom. This is the line I remember, “you helped us understand the world wouldn’t collapse if you went to bed with dirty feet.” I took that to heart and am happier for it.

  30. When I make a too-ambitious to-do list, I just say it’s for the week. Sometimes, I even get it done in a week.

  31. I’m sitting here at a desk job that I need to keep until I have surgery and post-rehab so my insurance will pay for it (ACL tear)…and reading your blog thinking, “At least you are working for yourself”. And I don’t mean that in a grouchy way or a “grass is greener” way. I love the idea of putting one’s time and energy and personhood into something that directly benefits themselves rather than my corporate overlords. And I say that knowing there’s all those pitfalls of working for oneself. But there’s a huge upside to it as well. So just remember that when you don’t get all that stuff done that’s on your list, at least everything you have done, you’ve done for you. And all the rest of it is still there for you to do for yourself tomorrow. Note – I realize that “yourself” doesnt necessarily mean you. 🙂
    This is my way of saying “I hear you, girl”

  32. I tend to do that to myself a fair bit, too. One thing I really like from the “Getting Things Done” methodology is that things like “fix life” aren’t to-do tasks. They’re areas of focus or responsibility. So they’re on a list that you keep and review periodically, but what you get on the actual to-do list is a task related to a project (like project: Paint the ceiling could have a task “Google painting my own ceiling”). Separating out actual actions from areas of focus or from projects saves me at least some of the self-flagellation. (Not all, sadly. I’m one of those who can feel guilty for feeling guilty, so — reasonable expectations!) 🙂

  33. I always figure my to do list is just a way to get all that stuff out of my head – if it’s written down I don’t have to remember it. my list is now electronic, if i don’t get something done it just moves it to the next day, it even has a someday category,perfect for putting things like organize house, life etc.

  34. Put child-proof/cat proof locks on the linen closet. We had to for our two cats. Never needed them for the kid, but I got tired of the cats climbing into every shelf and rearranging them to their liking.
    Works! Oh, and lists? Baby steps, baby steps. Break “fix life” and “get organized” into do-able 10 minute things. Then go have a brew and knit like the wind.

  35. Gee, I didn’t realize I had a double in Toronto. Only I leave out the making to-do lists part – I just “flagellate myself” for not getting more done. Saves time.
    Speaking of hair – just think of cat and dog hair as “accessorizing.”

  36. I know the feeling. Yesterday was my birthday. I sent my oldest sister a text saying “I took the day off and I’m debating whether to mop the kitchen floor. Maybe I should take my temperature instead.” She called later and asked if I had mopped. I confessed that instead of mopping I chose to sew sleeves into a sweater. Both are tedious but at least you end up with something to wear which almost seemed like a birthday present. I’ll mop another day.

  37. Tell you what, I’ll pop on over and help you paint that ceiling if you help me repaint a wall or two over here. And someone took a chunk out of a corner of one, don’t know how or when.

  38. I second the mention of FlyLady – she has some excellent ideas about time management and getting out of CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) – Not that you seem to have that problem, but still, she can give you a break from that “stinkin’ thinkin’.”
    One of my favorite sayings, origin unknown: “May your house be clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.”

  39. Thanks. I needed that. It’s <1week until students walk through my classroom door, I have two new classes to finish prepping for, and I spent most of my work time today moving desks and filing/recycling stuff. I know that this will make me, ultimately, happier and that the thinking-while-sorting is part of my process…but it doesn’t shake the lump of “why is my friend completely ready for the first full month of classes whatisWRONGWITHME?” that is lodged in my throat.

  40. In our family, the inability to set realistic goals seems to go with male genes. My husband will say things like, “I’m giving up wine for the next month” (after I complain about his LCBO debits), or my son will say, “I’m not going to sleep past noon ever again”. I set the bar low for myself. I try to accomplish one household task per day, other than things like doing dishes and laundry, plus one knitting-related job per day (like doing the schematics and charts for a design). I try to do these things before 3:00 in the afternoon, when I know my willpower dissolves and all I’m going to manage is to cook dinner. After dinner? Forget it. I know my limits, and I know absolutely that I don’t have your energy or drive.

  41. How about, instead of starting the day with an unreasonably long (yes, you know darn well it’s unreasonable!) ‘To Do’ list ….. end the day with a loud and proud ‘Holy Cow, Look What I DID Today!!!’ list.
    One of your more recent days would have entries for ‘Bicycled to Montreal’ and ‘Inspired Knitters to donate $65,000 to very worthy cause’.
    Pretty much every day, you’d make entries for ‘Poured love on my family’, ‘Still a successful published author’ and ‘Another killer blog posting!’, not to mention ‘Darn near knitted my hands off making [fill in project] for [fill in name] as gift for [fill in event].’
    And, after things like that, if you really, REALLY feel the need to, you could add in ‘Did [x] loads of laundry … again’, ‘Washed the dishes … again’, ‘Swept and washed the kitchen floor … again’. After all, it is YOUR ‘HCLWIDT!!!’ list.

  42. The Devil’s Dictionary puts it best. “Hope: desire and expectation all rolled into one.”
    You’re not delusional, you’re an optimist. Only an optimist could believe that two pointy sticks and some string would turn into a sock.

  43. 1. I, too, make lists, that end up being carried over for days on end. I’ve decided I need to do it to facilitate remembering.
    2. I am much older that you, Stephanie, and am still waiting for that “someday” when there will be more hours in a day.
    3. I have a master’s degree in library science. While in school we called it the Master’s in ABC and 123. So, you’d think I’d be better organized.
    You’d be wrong.

  44. I was going to say something really profound. But then I read Ann’s post about the glow-in-the-dark stars on her bedroom ceiling; I have forgotten what is so important, and I feel an urgent need to go to the store and get some stars for my ceiling!
    Smile and Hugs…housework will wait for you!

  45. From my own experience, its way better to face up to the fact that you are not going to get everything on your list done. Try to prioritize the items and schedule a realistic amount of time to do each item over the course of the day. That way at the end of the day you can walk away feeling like you accomplished what you really wanted and needed to do.

  46. A tip for getting cat hair out of clean towels without having to rewash them completely….stick them in the dryer with a wet washcloth and a fabric softener sheet…you’ll be amazed at how much cat hair will go into the lint trap.
    And I make lists, then forget where I put them….eventually everything gets done…all in good time, all in good time.

  47. Read “Getting Things Done”. It changed my entire viewpoint on to do lists, and all things to do list related. Now, when I’m knitting, I pretty much know that would I “should” be doing, right then, is knitting. I read it again once every year. And yes, it’s embedded in my calendar as a reminder, so I don’t have to try to remember to read it once a year. The less stuff you keep in your brain, the more room you have to think. And to knit.

  48. Holey moley, Steph, cut yourself some slack! If you get one thing done besides what you HAVE to do, I think that qualifies as a successful day. Many people work 8 hours, don’t work 8 hours and sleep 8. Anything you put in over 8 hours is overtime, and you should be paid time and a half for it.

  49. It’s the concept of ‘caught up’ that’s the problem. Caught up to what? The race of life only has one finish line, and I suspect none of us wants to get there any faster than necessary. So slow down and enjoy the trip.

  50. You are so like me and probably 95% of your readers.
    You actually get a lot more done than I do. Don’t worry about it so much. Now all I have to do is follow my own advice.

  51. When I began my current job in a school office I had stress dreams about spreadsheets. Following me around town. My to-do list at work haunted my dormant hours and whispered terrible nothings in my ear.
    But the dreams eventually went away as I got used to my new job and I remembered something my aunt had said:
    “The day I can’t clean anymore is the day I stop existing”
    The day I stop making lists, and having a little (or a lot) of stress keeping me going … That’s the day I stop being me. I like me … And part of that was realizing that the stress of the list keeps me moving forward. And that part of me is also knitting, giggling, biking, a taking naps.
    Being yourself is good.

  52. Start with a clean paper.
    Write down what you accomplish as you accomplish it.
    In the evening admire all you accomplished!

  53. I didn’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if this came up. I was driven too, with long unfinished lists, two girls, and a stressful job. Then 9 years ago I was diagnosed and treated for cancer (along with some other health problems). It is a cliche I know, but I after I had to slow down (for surgery and treatments) I really did discover a different speed. I think I learned to be loving and patient with myself and not just everyone else.

  54. I was going to tell you about this awesome blog I read called The Seated View, that had a great post last week about this very subject. Then I remembered that you are a friend of Lene’s and in fact, right here is where I learned about her blog.
    The best tip from that post for me was to only put 6 things on your daily list. I haven’t achieved that goal but I’m aiming for it. I typically fill a whole page with “to do” items daily, and Wonder Woman & Superman combined couldn’t finish it.

  55. The problem is not that you continue to be who you are, the problem is that your list is wrong. It should read:
    1. Drink some really good coffee while contemplating nice things.
    2. Eat toast while knitting.
    3. Phone random friend and have a really long chat.
    4. Write shopping list and email it to husband to pick up on his way home.
    5. Find sunny patch on the carpet and have a nap there with the cat.
    That’s the sort of to do list that gets done.

  56. Who says you’re behind? It sounds like you’re living a rich, full life that could totally satisfy. Once you kick that voice of disappointment to the curb. 😉 Go for it!

  57. Why don’t you get an assistant again? You work plenty hard enough and perhaps some help is in order. Please don’t be so hard on yourself! (((((hugs)))))

  58. My to do list is open-ended. I check of what is done, pick up where I left off the next day, and just keep adding to the bottom. I think of it more as a “reminder” list than a to-do list. It just reminds of what all I want to get done… eventually.

  59. To-do lists for me are a lot like knitting; sometimes it’s the process, sometimes the product. Crossing things off gives me such a sense of accomplishment, but I often have to remind myself that it’s not really the crossing off that’s the accomplishment.

  60. I am really glad you aren’t a completely different sort of person, because then the world would be missing the person that you are.
    And it’s awfully nice to know someone else thinks the same way I do. I still think after four kids that one of these days I’m going to be the kind of mom who remembers to clean all the things on schedules daily, weekly, and monthly.

  61. I am owned by 3 cats and am proud (resigned) to carry a little bit of them wherever I go. Towels with cat hair? pah! towels, sheets, pillowcases….you get used to it :-/ After losing a bunch of important people in my life, I let go of “must-do’s” except at my job. Life is too short to stress about those kind of things. Go play in your garden, sit in the sun with your knitting. Your state of mind is as important (actually more important) to you and your family (and to the BLOG) than things that do or do not get done.

  62. I forgot to add “and have a beer” while sitting in the sun with your knitting…or wine….and actually you don’t need to be sitting in the sun …or knitting…well, you get the idea.

  63. Just remember that when your “to-do: list is finished, so are you. It’s good that your to-do list never ends. Mine never does, and although some days it gets more added to it than crossed off it (like today), it does eventually get done. It’s perpetual, not final.

  64. I keep a running list of things I could be doing (To Do List), and move them to a Ta Done List! when they are finished. The Ta Done List! keeps depression at bay, and the To Do List is something I never expect to finish in any one day, so it does not add to the frustration level. In fact, I find that when I am doing nothing, it feels much more luxurious, since I know darn well that I could be cleaning the lint trap.

  65. There’s nothing wrong with really long to-do lists. Writing down tasks takes away stress from trying to remember them all. The problem is expecting to do it all in one day. Heck, make the list for a week or more. You can check off the items as you accomplish them. Don’t obliterate them — you want to see what you accomplished.
    Personally, I like a list with a short line in front of each task so I can put a check mark next to it. I don’t make lists in order of importance either — importance is a moving target!
    ___ Clean cat box
    ___ Make salmon quiche
    ___ Knit sweater back
    ___ Buy more yarn
    Make your list and work in order of importance or what you’re in the mood for each day. You won’t accidentally do a task that is less important unless that is what you want to do. You can add tasks as they come up and chances are the new tasks really are ones with precedence.

  66. My husband and I call that, “I’m going to come home from classes and write out all of my notes again every night” syndrome. I think it especially hits us this time of year because of school starting (fresh notebooks, new pencils, untouched erasers).
    But in real life, I think I was born in the wrong place on the planet. I’m more of an island girl. I like living life on island time. Tomorrow. Maybe. Or the day after tomorrow. Whenever. I’m so much not a rat-race type. Why do I live near Toronto?

  67. I pretty much do this on a daily basis, too. And I have also stopped worrying about cat hair. But just in case, I’ve put a sticky roller in the car (in addition to the ones on my dresser and in my desk drawer). Then, if I notice the layer of cat hair on my pants leg on the way to work, I can take care of it at a stop light. That makes me feel so under control!!
    (Also, my dad used to say “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get” all the time, so your title made me smile and think of him….)

  68. I understand sooooo much! I’m a mom of a 5yrs old and a 2 yrs old. I’m also a special Ed teacher.yesterday, I put my knitting in my school bag. I knew I probably wouldn’t have the time to even looked At it but I brought it anyway! Of course, I could not find the time to do any knitting during the day. When I came back home, I had a big to-do list for school the next day. Instead, I finished my shawl. You know what, today went by and the kids didn’t notice I waited until this morning to do everything that needed to be done!

  69. Forget the list! Make small notes of things that you must do that you need a reminder for. Things like laundry and dishes are everyday; they don’t need to be written down unless you need to wash something specific for a scheduled function. The big stuff like painting the ceiling can be put on slips of paper in a jar marked “long term goals.”. It’s like a Honey-Do jar for yourself. I really think that your house only needs to be as clean as you expect your friends’ houses to be. I don’t expect my friends to live in immaculate conditions, and they shouldn’t expect it from me; anyone else that comes by should just consider themselves lucky to be invited past the threshold. 🙂

  70. I saw this online the other day and I’m paraphrasing here, but would you want someone to speak to your daughters the way you speak to yourself? So much of your writing shows the frustration you have at simply being who you are. I know that deep down you have a good self image and a healthy, reasonable perspective on life, let that guide you each day.
    It’s noble to want to improve yourself, you seem to continually get better at whatever you put your mind to so I would suggest put your mind toward deserving and relishing hours of pickled beets googling because that is who you are and who you are meant to be.

  71. In the immortal words of Scarlett O’Hara, “After all, tomorrow is another day” where hope springs anew and all things are possible!

  72. If you ever figure out how to change this, please post about it. It was as if you were writing about my everyday experience lol!

  73. This post is totally me today. Except the cat hair part.
    Sounds like you get plenty done, even without the linen closet smackdown. No worries, okay?

  74. You’re not all that lunatic. A complete lunatic would have tried to solve the problem of cat hair on the towels by shaving the cat. Besides, some of the finer cat hairs float in the air and would get on you anyway.
    I take to-do lists with a huge truckload of salt because I know that I never get more than halfway through the tasks on one. . .even if there are only 2 things on the list.

  75. In Iowa, we have a sanity-keeping service called “Merry Maids.” Highly recommend them.

  76. I’ll tell you what my Ph.D. advisor says to me all the time:
    “Put down the whip!”
    Hopefully this helps you like it does me, because there are a bunch of folks that think you are winning life. Seriously, who cares about the cat hair? Or the fact that you wanted to know about pickling beets? As long as you aren’t pickling cat hair it’s all good (and I suppose we should be tolerant and think that’s okay too).

  77. Every morning that I get up I am thankful that I am on this side of the ground. After that I do as I feel to do that day. (be it mothering, housekeeping or crafting)
    Funny how family gets fed (that’s is why take out/delivery was created – keeping those folks glad to get up each morning).
    Family also seems to have something decent to wear. (Thank you Walmart).
    Enjoy your life.

  78. I can totally relate. What is it about the voice in our mind that gets a little on the crazy side when we lie in bed??
    Hope you can keep in the mindset that comes with not worrying about cat hair on towels. I think you’re doing a marvellous job at life. 🙂

  79. You sound pretty normal to me. But just need to accept that not everything on the overly ambitious to-do list will get done each day. I’ve completely accepted the fact that I’m not going to get everything on my list done each day. I just do my best. Some days, my best is better than others. And some days, my best involves browsing the internet, brainless knitting, and loving up my three monster-puppies. We all require a certain amount of “down time”.

  80. The fact that this experience is close to universal doesn’t make it any less disappointing to those of us who seem to possess goldfish memories when it comes to what we are capable of. If I can clean this much in 1 hour, I can clean 10x that much in 10 hours, right? (yes, and then spend an hour googling for prosthetics for the bits I wore off in the process).
    Still, my favorite part is about you flagellating yourself. I immediately think of a beautiful microorganism, and of you torturing yourself with an elegant single cell creature. Perhaps it’s a Canadian thing?

  81. Maybe instead of crossing things off of a ToDo list, you should be listing them on a Ta-Da! list.
    For me this gives me a greater sense on accomplishment and strive harder to add another item.

  82. I used to do all that listing, and planning, getting sidetracked and going to bed with an even longer list. Aaarrghhh!! Then I sat down, with a hot strong cup of coffee, and figured out I should have three lists instead of one. And it works. List one is for ‘revolving’ house and garden, such as laundry, cleaning, meals, shopping … those items that are daily/weekly ever ongoing. List two is for Large stuff such as house maintenance – repairs, painting, fixing, mending … those items that will need doing as and when time, energy and finances permit. List three is one-offs, deadlines, or to keep you sane!! such as knitting, web searches, coffee, writing, relaxing etc. Now pick one or more items from those three lists that you can reasonably expect to achieve in a day without unexpected delays, or utter exhaustion!. Anything not done can go back to its list or transferred over to one of the others depending on urgency. The first two lists will rarely be completed, they just revolve. The third list will get items ticked off and replaced by others. The pressure from unrealistic expectations that you will turn into superwoman will vanish – and you’ll get your head back again.

  83. A husband and wife each made a to-do list. The husband’s list always had everything crossed off. The wife never completed her list. When asked how the husband managed to finish his list every day he replied, ” I only write the projects after I complete them”.

  84. Every day I vow that I will get a bazillion things done, and on top of that my house will be spotless. Then I realize that I have a kindergartener and a toddler, at some point today I’ll have to cook, and, well, internet. So, um, yeah. I feel you.

  85. I love lists. Mostly because my memory is shot and if it doesn’t get written down, it doesn’t get done. So I actually have a bunch of lists going at one time, which is fun and helpful. The key is to see them as reminders so that I don’t lie awake at night pondering this crap in my head. “It’s Ok, I can sleep, I wrote it on the list.”
    The list that is clerical in nature (phone so and so, email such and such, submit invoice for last story, look up the weather forecast for yard sale Day) goes on paper by the computer.
    The list for things that I must do while out and about is on pretty notepaper given to me by my friend and goes in my purse – e.g. mail letters, pick up milk, pay Hydro, deposit cheque.
    The list for General Household goes on a dry-erase board on the pantry door (empty dishwasher, make the bed, bake bread). It’s a rotating list, in that I erase a task once it’s done, and add in new tasks, so that it’s NEVER finished and that’s OK.
    The other thing to know about lists is that, except for “Must Do Or the World Will End” things, you are the boss of them. You can ignore them; they will not sulk or pout and they will still be there leering at you the next day.
    My husband has cancer and when he is having chemo his hands get very cold; so I am knitting him dove-grey alpaca fingerless gloves from 2-ply yarn I spun myself. Time spent on this project is not time wasted – time spent on any but the most essential tasks certainly would be.

  86. I can relate to the “fix everything” and “get it together” sort of items on a list. It is discouraging. Why can’t I be organized, already? even if I have been essentially a single parent for the past year, since my youngest was eight months old and my husband and I separated…
    I guess now, more and more, I try to aim for consistency, small goals, and being as much as possible in the present.

  87. My daughter gave me a sign. “In this house the hair sticks to everything but the dog” which is true. My son walks round in stocking feet so the dog hair sticks to his feet until he goes to the carpeted stairs when it sticks to the carpet. I can’t change it so I tell myself that one day he will leave home or the dog will be gone and then I’ll miss the hair on the stairs.
    As others have said lists are there so that you can stop worrying about trying to remember the stuff on them. As long as the “absolutely must be done or there will be REAL consequences” stuff gets done then the other things on the list are just suggestions.
    I blame search engines. In the old days you would have gone to your one cookbook, looked up how to pickle beets (I’m English, I don’t know what they are or why you need to pickle them), it would have taken 5 minutes and you could have done it or not and moved on. Far simpler.

  88. Been doing the same thing for a week got so tired had to sleep in the afternoon…………so know how you feel (((HUG)))

  89. I do have one standard regarding housekeeping and apparel that I have refused to surrender. That is that I do have to be able to take a shower and get dressed in clean clothes, without being coated in cat hair. This also means that I do not sit down or pick up the cat (petting is OK) after dressing and before leaving the house to go to work or to any engagement where I think I should be cat-hair free.
    It is what makes jeans so great – cat fur generally does not work its way into the weave, and if present it can be readily removed. Weekends (mostly) and casual engagements like a trip to the custard store do not fall in the category described in paragraph one.

  90. I understand, I know your pain and actually I think I may be you except that is impossible. I do lists. I determine, “This is the day!”. And then the day becomes like so many others that I have desperately tried to conquer. I have so many lovely things I want to knit but i “ravel” and use my time looking for so many more lovely things I want to knit as well as work, keep a home relatively clean so as not to be evicted by any health department, maintain a relationship with my 5 brothers and sisters, care for a Mom and Mom-in-law and have at one conversation per day with my husband. I then go to bed so that I may do it all over again tomorrow. I am blessed. I still have a Mom and Mom-in-law, I still have 5 brothers and sisters, I still have a job (to support my addiction to food, shelter and, of course, knitting), I have not been reported to any health departments, as yet, and I still have a cancer-free husband who loves me. The lists do still continue but then again so does life.

  91. I love so much that I could have written this post nearly word for word, changing only accompanying details here and there… Self-flaggelation should probably be made illegal. 😉

  92. Long time reader…first time commenter…
    I have a very wise friend. His advice on “to-do” lists is to always start them as follows:
    1. Make a list
    That way, once you finish the list, you can cross something off the list. Instant gratification on progress! AND even if it’s the only thing you cross off all day, you still crossed something off the list.
    BTW – I’m expecting our second in 3 months. I feel so far behind and have a pad of paper filled with lists. I swear everyday “Today after work I will fix dinner, play with our toddler, AND cross one or two things off the list.” Every day I come home, make dinner or clean up, play with the toddler, and add one or two things to the list. Sigh.

  93. I understand what you are saying and have suffered from that very same problem. I make a list, I plan, then everything goes phttt! Then I had a bunch of life altering events and finally just said screw it! I can only do so much and it’s just not worth making myself and everyone around me crazy. So my house will never look like Martha Stewart lives here. Not even close. It’s ok. Besides, even though you didn’t get everything done on your list, you have the marvelous ability to write and connect to thousands of people with your humor, warmth and love of your favorite craft. I almost choked to death on my coffee when I was reading the part about the cat in the linen closet and needing a electrolysis appointment after drying off with one of the kitty towels. I love that! I can relate! I live that life and so do so many people who read your blog. My towels have dog hair, cat hair and bunny hair permanently attached no matter what I do to remove it. So my vote is List be damned. Just please keep writing about being human. My morning coffee just won’t be the same without my daily choking fit!

  94. I can hear the voice of a certain Presbytera:
    “You only need one item on the to-do list: update the tour page.”
    Seriously, though: I sympathize. I try to remember that being hard on myself never helps and often hurts, but it ain’t that easy.

  95. Sigh! I wish I could offer you a reassuring word and say things will change but I am 62 and you have just described my average day. The only thing that helps a bit is to remind myself that while I didn’t re-organize my entire house today I also did not do crack, become incarcerated, or steal something. I can also look around at some of the things I have succeeded in creating or helping to create–my happy marriage of almost 44 years, my three children, the needlepoint, cross stitch and crewel hanging on the walls and the knitted and sewn items in the house. All in all, it balances out nicely!

  96. Way back in the 80s, I learned that I could make a list, and knock a few items off at the end of the day, but the list would always continue to grow. Subsequently, I decided that a list would not rule my life.
    BALANCE is the key, and yes, your house will never be perfect (look at all the other imperfect people who live there) and yes, you will never get it all done, but in the end, your family will not judge you on your housekeeping skills, but how much you loved them and yes, knitted for them.
    So lighten up, quit beating yourself up for not being able to keep up with the chaos created by everyone else…teach someone else to do the laundry, trade off cooking days and cut yourself some slack. Have time to take a nice long bath, and forget the list. It will still be there…

  97. I’m 20 years older than you (almost to the day) and I’m still wondering when I’ll grow up and get organized. I chalk it up to being a “true” Gemini.

  98. I learned an important lesson as my mother was dying: what will my regrets be on my deathbed? It put a lot of my “oughtas” and “shouldas” firmly in their place. Now, keeping a house whose floors can be eaten from is much lower on the list than meeting friends for lunch, or volunteering my time, talent, or treasure. I realized that the most important things that must be on my “to do” list are things that make me a better human being, and, thus, a better member of society. I no longer beat myself up if the dishes sit until tomorrow if that means I have time to listen to my teenaged neighbor talk as she tries to figure out who she is and how she fits into the world, or crawl around on the floor playing match-box cars with my great nephew. I’m pretty sure these are the things God will ask me about, not whether the guest towels my bathroom were used for everyday.

  99. I am old enough to be your mother and have realized only recently that nobody has likely ever said on their deathbed that they wished that they had done more housework.
    Do what you love first and fit the rest in. You and everyone else around you will be much happier.

  100. LOL! OMG! That is so totally me! I say pretty much the same thing! Although just recently it has been Madeleines that I am googling! LOL! (and… I have a sweater and socks to finish!)

  101. I read recently that that most people overestimate what they can get done in one day and underestimate what they can get done in a year.
    Maybe that means we should all focus on the big picture things more and let a few of the small things slide?

  102. I drape a large beach towel over my towels and washcloths, so my cave-cat can occasionally enjoy his favorite hideaway and I avoid drying my face with cat fur. I’ve also just started draping an extra large pillowcase over my pillow when I make the bed because the cats like snuggling up to my pillow during the day, and I finally figured out it probably isn’t good for my allergies or asthma to sleep on a cat-hair-covered pillow.

  103. Knit more. Fret less.
    You have one of the greatest lives in the world because you know what you love: Family, Friends, Knitting, Celebrating, Creating, Writing and just plain being alive.
    Not everyone has even close to that list of being able to accomplish association with so much love.
    Why would a list of chores make Life better? Why would doing all those allegedly “necessary” things make you a better person? Sounds more like you are just scolding and spoil-sporting reality.
    Perfectionism kills. You really know how to live. Celebrate that.
    More kitty fur. Less lists.

  104. My girlfriend (of 60 years) is the list maker, a skill I had never acquired. Until I hit 35, life was hitting me in the rear, then a doctor asked me to write down “I want ____” and fill in the blank. It turned me around and Life was not kicking from behind. Making lists are still not my forte, but starting the day with just one goal helps steer me in the right direction. Life and I have a rolling relationship, we take turns being in charge. However, there are no “shoulds”. Had a priest tell my friend, “Don’t should on yourself”.
    About that 20 minute rule, it works for me, too. The pre-teen pups return from the pond and Bridget is wet, Edward has mud to his kneecaps and only George’s feet are muddy, but he always has a patch smeared on his side (??). I give them cookies for coming when called, tell them to stay on the porch and after 20 minutes they are clean and dry.
    The general rule: only issues that requires more than 20 minutes need my full attention.

  105. Steph, I have the exact same genetic disorder. I think it comes from the maternal line because my husband has never exhibited this trait; nor has any other male I’ve known. Here’s what I’ve learned from 54 years of life (21 of them married): Even if you get it all cleaned up, it gets messy and cluttered again. Once, when the whole house was mostly clean, my husband and I were talking about how nice it was that everything was orderly and uncluttered and how we’d like to keep it that way. That lasted about a week. (I could almost swear that the clutter is some kind of living thing that creeps into houses after dark, or maybe it comes in on our shoes when we return from outdoors. And then it hangs on like the plague.) When it is too much to bear, I just make sure that I have enough laundry done so that I can go to work, and then I knit or sew or read until I’m calm again. Seriously. Knit on, sister.

  106. Yes!!! I always do what I can, and have the most important things on my list done but don’t sweat it if things like “clean out the closet” doesn’t get done. Don’t be so hard on yourself, don’t try to change yourself 🙂

  107. to Ann at 4:22 PM from yesterday – I want those stars on our bedroom ceiling but the hub says NO. lol
    Needless to say, Steph, you’re an amazing woman and you have amazing children, hub, family, etc – the to do list should be something like “act like I don’t carry the weightof the world on my shoulders today” – and have that be your only item. 🙂
    We love you !!! Keep up the amazing work and if you fall behind, we’re all still gonna read about it. Keep up the pix too – we love those! Can’t wait to hear what Robin’s baby turns out to be.

  108. You have the same awful voice in your head that many of us do! Try to imagine you were observing someone else. Would you really have such unreasonable expectations of them? Would you ever say the sorts of things to them that you do to yourself? Try to be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Try to love yourself just a little bit harder.

  109. Your post was entertaining and aroused much sympathy here, but the comments! They are beyond amazing. Thanks everybody!!!

  110. Wow, that’s a lot to carry around. Why not just put it down, have a beer with lunch, and look at paint swatches for the bedroom ceiling this afternoon? Knitting doesn’t spoil, and neither does work. It’s always still there when you come back to it.

  111. Your blog hit a cord with me right now. I’ve been thinking about what I want in my life and decided that I would really like to live a creative life. Nothing hugely artistic but create things for friends and family and have items in my home that I created just for me to enjoy. Have a pleasant, warm home that I can invite friends over to eat or visit. I started to write this out but got bogged down, as always, in the fact that I’m a messy housekeeper and to do anything that would involve having people actually come into my house will require a month’s worth of drastic cleaning and organizing. Can I do that? Never have been able to before, but maybe THIS time I can. Hope springs eternal for my ADD self.

  112. Oh dear, I recognize myself here … my typical (long-term) to-do list has had the words ‘Write PhD’ on it for the last 4 years and I only have 1 year left .. not to mention things like ‘Replace front fence with small brick wall’, ‘Tidy entire house’, ‘Do garden’. I might as well add ‘Climb Mt Everest’. On the other hand, I only worry about cat hair when I notice it in yoghourt (both cats are black)! Clearly my standards are lower than yours. Maybe I’ll jack them up a bit in the next life, right after I tidy the entire house.

  113. I just lost my dog and I already miss the dog hair. I gave the cats their own space in the linen closet, but there is still cat hair in the refrigerator (??) and just about everywhere else in the house. My bathroom is a wreck, and my kitchen hasn’t been painted in twenty years. Oh well. At the end of the day all that really matters is the ones you love, human or not, and the ones who love you.

  114. I’ll send dog hair to whoever needs it – I have Pembroke Welsh corgi – Wallingford will gladly donate. I am noty search for a pickled beet recipe but for a fig recipe – the tree is full of ripe fruit and the birds, bees and racoons will help themselves if I don’t get it first!

  115. Finding oneself decorated in cat hair might be an incentive to whoever left it ajar to be sure to close the linen closet door next time.
    Meanwhile, I suspect the car was very happy to have such a cozy napping space. Despite the heat, my longhaired cat believes that the only place for a really refreshing nap is snuggled up against my left thigh on the sweatshirt separating my legs from the leather couch. He’s not bothered at all by the worsted yarn snaking across him toward the sleeve I’m knitting.

  116. 51. I say 51 is a good age. And for me this day of being 51 is as good a place as any to start.
    Oh Harlot, how I love reading your ramblings…

  117. You know, this post helped me confront my own insane perfectionism. I just read in a book that we have such a hard time being satisfied and realizing that we are enough, that we have done enough, and that we are fine right where we are. I’ve been trying to remind myself of that and it’s helpful to know others struggle with it too. Hang in there, we are enough!

  118. With the amount you accomplish in your self declared state of ‘disorganized’ you’d be absolutely scary if you “got organized” and “fixed life”!! Be thankful God made you a creative person with an unbelievable mind – getting side tracked is one of the reasons you get so many interesting projects done! And remember not to “should” on yourself!

  119. Some one mentioned Martha. Martha Stewart has a perfect house with perfect parties and perfect crafts and perfect meals. All shinny and nice But remember Martha has STAFF (and eventually jail time). I envy the STAFF part not the jail time. She probably even has staff to write her lists.

  120. I nodded in recognition when I got to the fur-covered towels. And then I thought. What? Because it never occurred to me that they could be washed. Or should be, given that the cat is just going to lay on them again. Towels come and go. Cat hair is eternal.
    My theory is, you can’t help the kinds of things you think about when you’re just waking up. For example, I was worrying about passing the medical check to become an astronaut (I did have to go in for a blood test this morning, but I have no idea where the astronaut thing came from). It’s just one of those nonsensical early morning things. You said yourself, the delusion doesn’t persist after you’ve had coffee. So I wouldn’t worry about it.

  121. I’m so glad that you didn’t mention that if you stopped blogging then you would get more done.
    Do the best you can. I’m overly ambitious when I make my To-do list in the morning too. Perhaps I should make my next day’s To-Do list in the evening when I’m tired….

  122. I used to do that to myself too, but then I realized that stressing myself out with overly long to-do lists just makes me run an anxious circles rather than actually be productive. Now I still make overly long to-do lists, but they don’t have to be done in one day. Then when I am staring up at the ceiling at night I can think of all the things I have done that day and be happy with my progress.

  123. Change “fix life” to “live life” and “get organized” to “organize” and you’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to always cross these off your daily to-do list.

  124. At the end of the day (and the beginning too for that matter!) you are exactly who you are supposed to be. It’s taken me a long time to learn (I’m still working on it) that everything can’t be perfect or the way you want or think it should be. You are happier looking up picked beets than working – and you need to be sure to do the things that make you happy. I’ve learned the hard way that life is too short – it’s the things that you fill it with that are special that will matter in the end. And while I admit a towel with cat hair is not exactly to my liking, it is uniquely you, and that’s what makes it special. And it will make for great memories.

  125. You sound like me, except I have the excuse of being a type A German. What’s your excuse? Probably just being a woman in this culture, trying to measure up to… what?
    Here is what I have learned when I get completely and devastatingly overwhelmed. I say to myself, “Honey? You are good enough just being you, without accomplishing anything. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone or yourself. So. Sit down on the couch for five minutes, grab a nice piece of chocolate and your kitting, and then just knit. I love you.”
    It works, except when the kids keep trying to jump into my lap while I do my time out.

  126. I think sometimes that this is everyone, and if someone gets everything done every day they must be some sort of superhuman freak. I mean, really. I give myself minimalist goals and never accomplish them. I was proud of myself when I took my newspaper for recyling on Monday. Some of it was dated September of *last year*. Trust me, you’re doing pretty good.

  127. Well, glad you’re still finding the time to pour out your un-done angst into blog posts in the middle of busy afternoons :-). As one of my pet procrastinations is finding perfect solutions to every problem that could arise, have you read Getting Things Done yet? I think you really need it. And I recommend If nothing else, you can add 300 items to your list, duly prioritized and with due dates, without having to re-write everything from scratch every week, it saves a huge amount of time.. and you get that lovely email every morning telling you about the 200 things you should do today, with the calm and relief that comes from knowing the other stuff is safe, waiting for your every spare minute in the future. Instead of forgetting or overlooking anything, you can just check them off if it turns out cat hair dries off too! Not to mention you could send items to your loved ones, a pleasure not to be overlooked.
    Hang in there, when we’re all done with our todo lists we’ll be in our cold lonely graves, so stuff on the list is a much better alternative..

  128. Thanks!! I do this too, and I’m glad you took the long way to describe thing. Perhaps the googling breaks are sanity breaks?
    I’m knitting a Barbie dress for my 5 year old out of leftover pink sock yarn. It’s surprisingly satisfying to whip out a miniature sweater dress. 🙂

  129. Your post and comments remind me so much of the personality types described in ‘Get Your Act Together’ by the Slob sisters! They helped me so many years ago to accept myself and realize that my ‘slob’ personality also comes with some fantastic good qualities that many ‘organized’ people will never share. They also give tips for improving housekeeping, but I have mostly forgotten those!! ha!! Once you read a bit of it, you’ll love reading the comments again – so apparent which category commenters fall into. As my wonderful friend Annie once said: ‘wouldn’t the world be such a boring place if everyone was like me?’

  130. One of the many reasons I enjoy reading you blog….. you make me realize that I’m perfectly normal. Thanks!! Enjoy the knitting!!

  131. Stephanie, remember that life is the journey not the destination….and you must be sure to enjoy the journey or you have wasted the life. Relax and enjoy! 🙂

  132. You mean there are towels out there without cat hair on them?
    I once found bunny fur in my kettle. Have no idea how it got in there, he doesn’t even drink tea or coffee.

  133. In Oz, we get pickled beets (whole or sliced up) in cans. No burger is complete without pickled beets, though I’m not sure the vegetarian burgers are better with pickled beets as I haven’t tried one. Hmm… Green salads are better too, but I don’t put dressing on my salads.
    Stashed away in a cupboard in my kitchen are two cans of pickled beetroot from the rare times that a local supermarket in Seattle keeps them in stock.
    I’m avoiding work by reading blogs. I think it is normal to avoid work, especially “self-paced” work.

  134. I feel the same way. I judge my day by my unrealistic to do lists. It makes my husband crazy. But, gosh, there are just so many things that need doing! Yet, her I sit, reading blogs and planning to knit and take a walk. We should resolve to enjoy these more and worry less about the list, but dang these windows need washing,

  135. A friend of mine wrote a song with this line (I don’t know if he originated it or heard it somewhere else):
    Every Problem Has its Price, But If You Worry You Pay Twice.
    I think it’s very true and I often muse on it as I continue to work through a more and more successful effort to break my habit of worry. And it is as much a habit as it is a personality trait.
    Even the reaction of “I didn’t get everything on my list done today”, bad me! is a habitual thought. Try looking at your list making and worry at failure-to-complete as a bad habit and see what insights you receive.

  136. The upside is when you run across a weeks-or months-old list and realize that everything on it either got done or revealed itself as not such a good idea after all. Procrastination can be a bit of a hint from the universe that way.

  137. I needed this today! First week back to school teaching small children = exhaustion and an overwhelming to-do list. My house is a disaster and I just had vodka and potato chips for supper.

  138. I hear ya sister! It probably never gets any easier as long as you’re a wife and mother. But you do a good job of keeping your family a priority and finding balance. Your posts have inspired me through the years to put aside the list sometimes and find time for myself and for those important to me. Things just get carried over to the next day, week, month, year–until they just have to get done by tomorrow!

  139. I made a cross-stitch picture when my kids were small: “You always have time For the things you put First” with Mama Bunny and 3 little ones… then one day I took it to work (and stickied my boss’s name on it – tee hee) – still reminds me why I’m working is to enjoy my family! (my babies, even grown as they are…)

  140. It is a sad fact that our inner voice is such a critic! I have learned to (try to) subvert that harsh voice .. by believing that I am more than the voices in my head. Read that any way you like!
    Also, bourbon helps the lying-in-bed-staring thing. Trust me on this.

  141. You know that whole Product Knitter v. Process Knitter debate? That’s fine for yarn, but I think you should try to be a Process Live-er. Also, maybe you should burn your unfinished to-do list in effigy every evening at 8pm. That way you can go for a truly clean slate. 🙂

  142. Lists are your problem. I only make lists for things like packing for a trip. This way, I make the list for several days and ensure that I forget nothing…like underwear…which happened once when I was in too much of a hurry to make a packing list.
    Beyond that, no lists. At least none that I follow hard and fast–some things just naturally fall off the radar–like weeding the garden–usually by fall, that’s taken care of itself. But everything else that CAN waits until I have the motivation.
    You know, I’ve been thinking that perhaps I lack motivation. Well, at least I got this comment..

  143. keep them on the list. we are not simply the tasks we finish, we are also the challenges we accept. We do not grow complacent in mediocrity when greatness is our goal. being mindful of tasks undone is not failure, it is forward thinking.

  144. I’m in total agreement with Kathy at 6:34 p.m. After my cancer diagnosis, surgery, and 8 months of chemo almost 4 years ago, I actually was able to slow down, not be so driven,and focus on what I could do instead of on what I should do. Then, as I recovered, I slowly got back to my old stressed-out self. Old habits die hard.
    However, yesterday, on my way to the first day of work at a new (highly stressful but a totally anticipated and desired job) I stepped into a pot hole, fell, and broke my foot. My first day pretty much was me limping into the office and asking my new, unknown co-workers for help, and then heading off for an afternoon in the emergency room. So now I’m at home, foot up, crutches by my side, thinking that the universe decided I needed a little bit of a reminder to slow down, pay attention, and knit more.

  145. Like they say, can’t eat an elephant whole, you have to work at it one bite at a time (I never really liked that analogy, kinda icky thought, but it’s a good point).
    Life itself is a work in progress, and none of us are perfect, but we’re perfectly lovable (that’s not an original thought of mine either).
    Yeah, it’s a drag, but to do lists always exist, are always evolving and building and having to be carried over to the next day or ‘the next time’. Sometimes I have to look at my to do list, lay it firmly on the table, and say ‘you ain’t the boss of me’ and quickly walk away. 🙂

  146. I’m now retired after 39 years as a teacher, and at no time did I return after a holiday having done all the things I listed “To-Do”. I have this mantra I love: “A floor is an inanimate object. It doesn’t care if it is clean.” Insert alternatives: towels, fan, oven……

  147. I love lists and irrationality. Your continued dislike of doing laundry is a puzzle to me as I consider it background noise. That said,
    I despise emptying the dishwasher. My dream kitchen has two of them so, in my mind, I just move dirty and clean dishes from one to the other. Rationally I know there will ultimately be a push point but I like my dream which I use whenever my to do list is undone. Ah, dreaming irrationally.

  148. You just described my life. And made me feel better that I’m not the only one, and silly because when I read this I realized how ridiculous it is of me to keep continuing this cycle every… day… for decades… 🙂 Here’s to breaking the cycle [insert clinking glasses and beer chugging here]

  149. I probably should fix my life, but right now I’ll settle for having a house. Once I have a house, I’ll see about becoming a better person, having the house clean all the time (with a dog, a cat, and a baby on the way this is probably a pipe dream), and always having a healthy dinner ready for the table.
    Though right now I’d settle for knowing the bathroom in the new place wasn’t dirty.

  150. Situation normal- am owned by a ginger fluffy who sheds everywhere – except my knitting bag – he is bright enough to know that that would be a really bad mistake. Just take a deep breath, relax and keep right on KNITTING.You know – the important stuff).

  151. I read this and I was sure I had read something similar before- I think it may have been in What Katy Did! Nice stories both. I solve all life’s problems by being an under-achiever.
    Top tip, ditch the pets. You need them more than they need you and life is a hell of a lot easier without animals in the mix.
    pet-free zone here

  152. Steph,
    What is this “caught up” of which you speak? I have never experienced it. Is is fun? I think it might be the problem. I suspect there is no such thing. As a simple test, gain some perspective. Pretend you are 90 years old and bedridden. Your Great-great niece stops by to see Auntie and asks you about your life for a family history she is writing. She asks you what you did that was important, that mattered in your life. You answer her and write those things down on a list. If anything that is on your to-do list is also on that list, keep it. Otherwise cross it off. Leave on the list also those mundane things like grocery shopping that are not important, but if you do not do them long enough they become a crisis. Having clean pants to wear, deposit checks at the bank, etc. Really important things (like the book or the bike ride to Montreal)and mundane necessities. See if family members might help you with the mundane necessities. My husband likes to grocery shop because then he gets to pick what we will be eating for the week, for example. So, I let him. The Tom Sawyer effect. But forget about “Caught up”. It does not exist except as a mirage to torment us.
    Good luck,
    Julie, whose house has amazing dust bunnies and cat hair

  153. I think I would be more worried about the day that you didn’t get up and work toward what you see as your best or end up in the bed with the determination to do better the next day. You are a pretty awesome lady and I’m looking forward to that beet recipe.

  154. just settling in, with some stinky, blue cheese, red and purple pepper strips from some-one-else’s garden, and mini-stoned wheat thins.
    good bye summer@!

  155. The whole over-ambitious, defeatist, overworked, inefficient, and unrealisitc do-list thing? And beating yourself up for not being perfect. That’s perfectly normal. You are a woman in North America. Every day that you fail to be Womderwoman is a black mark on your own self-graded report card. nearly all of us suffer from that disease.
    But googling pickled beets? Really? Now you’ve really gone off the rails.

  156. I strive for the perfection you seek. I never get there in one piece or in a sane and reasonable state that makes my husband want to be around me. We, my husband and I, have come to a tentative agreement on some things. The house doesn’t have to be up to his mother’s level of perfection that may have been in her imagination or she had a bunch (7) of kids to help. (I don’t). But there can’t be pet hair balls the size of the dogs roaming the living areas and there has to be a place to sit on the furniture, clean clothes/towels, and a place in his own bed to sleep. This also means, I can bring him supper to spend time with him on his lunch break, I get to take unexpected trips to auctions, hardware stores and car stores, prime knitting/crocheting time there.
    Stop feeling guilty you aren’t superwoman. The women of my acquaintance/family who have attained that level of superiority have no life that I would want. They live to clean. They have no other hobbies and don’t spend time with the kids or husband. Their family never see them, except from the back as they continually wash dishes or bend over to pick up imaginary lint.
    Personally, I’d rather spend my time at parties talking with my guests and making sure foods are refilled than cleaning up a bedroom that no one belongs in at that time.

  157. Late to the party on this one – I was away, jumping in puddles with bare feet and a 3yo, swimming, kayaking… fun summer stuff.
    There’s a book I read while I was away that I think would help with a lot of the “Problems” you outline. “The Introvert Advantage”. Library probably has it. Well worth reading. 🙂
    And the layette is lovely, btw. Looking forward to the pattern.

  158. Oh, this one struck a nerve!! 🙂 And with a grin, I say–anytime you make a list, realize that it is a WISH list. Not a ‘do or die’ list. Be pleased and happy if you can cross off ANY item for that day, and don’t be shy about adding what you DID do, so you can cross those off as well and be proud.
    After all…you’re only human, and cat hair *does* come off with enough duct tape. 🙂

  159. I needed this post today (and to have no apologies for reading it several days after the posting). And Steph, remember, throwing in the towel when your sister calls is what makes life – all that other stuff just supports the living.

  160. Once in awhile I do get caught up – it just depends on what anyone means by that term… This post made me think of your Christmas knitting! 🙂

  161. I read this quote the other day:
    “For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”
    Something to think about.

  162. Cat hair: it’s everywhere at my house where I have three cats one that’s probably descended from white furred mountain lions. he’s very large.

  163. Earlier today, I was feeling like I wanted to get so much done in this last day of our long holiday weekend. But then I realized that I need to relax some instead of running around like a chicken with her head severed. And I mentally started going through every thing I got done this weekend, including stuff that was not on the official list. So tomorrow, I’m starting the day with a list of everything that I took care of over the weekend, including sub-tasks as separate items. And then I’m going to mark the items as done!

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  165. Let me just say this about that:
    1. I do the same thing: I call it optimism;
    2. Pickled beets are easy, messy and most rewarding to make – and oh yeah, yummy;
    3. Don’t make pickled beets and knit on that white blanket at the same time. Or even in the same day.

  166. You may borrow my teaching mantra. Repeat after me, “realistic and attainable goals.” I’ve seen you knit shawls, I know you can think this way. Don’t even waste time making lists, be zen and do what’s right in front of you. If that happens to be the whiskey bottle, so much the better! Besides, if you were “perfect” you’d have so much less to write, and be about as likeable as poor Martha Stewart. Who wants to be her, really?

  167. Thank you for writing this. I really needed to read it, because I make myself crazy doing the same thing. I wake up every morning with the delusion that I will suddenly lose the urge to procrastinate and will miraculously complete all 38 items on my important to-do list. Every day, I only end up completing those items that absolutely must get done that day, and then I lament my failure. Obviously, I need to set better expectations!

  168. A plethora of dog hair resides on my bed sheets most days. Cooper would be appalled if I removed it more frequently. LOL 🙂 Keep up the great work, and hide that list!

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