I’m high-strung. I adore plans, and planners, and sticky notes. I have a meal planner, calendar, and life planner, and yes, they are all connected. I have notifications on my phone for everything: meditating, showering, picking up my kid from school. My lists have lists and my habit is making everything into a habit.
I come by it naturally. My dad is the ultimate list guy. My mom on the other hand writes a grocery list and promptly forgets it on the kitchen counter.
To be fair, some of this list making is an attempt to control my ADHD. Like my dad, I just might forget to pick my kid up from school if there isn’t a reminder. So yes, I have an alarm to snuggle with my kid, because it’s too important to be distracted from.
But, this listyness – it’s a word now; I made it up – can wreak havoc on my peace. Because, no matter how well I plan, life always happens. Like pretty much every day. Every. Single. Day. And when things don’t go according to plan, I quickly get frazzled, and then nothing happens.
This year for Christmas I asked my mom for Michael Hyatt’s new Full Focus Productivity planner. I’m a big Hyatt fan, and I send lots of my clients to his blog when they need to beef up their platforms (and honestly, what writer doesn’t need to beef up their platform a little?).
It’s the planners dream come true. It even helps you plan out your off time on the weekends with his Weekend Optimizer. Now I can cram even more into my weeks, but only the things that will actually help me achieve my dreams.
My mom, in her infinite wisdom, also gave me a copy of Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.
I love Shauna. She has a way with prose that makes it feel like poetry. She’s also a blonde, slightly older version of me. She’s a Dutch Pastor’s kid from the Midwest who grew up to be a mother, world traveler, and harried writer.
As I was setting up my planner for the year, seeing just how much I could smash into this year to make up for falling behind while sick last year, I was also reading her book, chronicling how she realized that doing, doing, doing was keeping her from being. Being with her family, being content, being a woman, person, Christian. How she didn’t listen to her body when it was giving out, when she was throwing up in parking lots, when she was up crying all night trying to hit self-imposed deadlines. Sounds like someone I know…
So I wrote in my Full Focus Planner as a goal: Give yourself grace. I underlined it 3 times.
And I’ve needed it this year. January has been a mess.
The first week back to school, Drake was there for 1.3 days. He was sent home one day for an allergic reaction, which lasted into the next day. Then it was MLK day, with 1 day back to school before there were two snow days, which was followed by my husband having a terrible flu bug, and you guessed it, me catching that flu bug. And no family flu epidemic would be complete without the kid getting it.
It's also had other challenges. My mom had knee surgery, my best friend had more health scares, and my husband was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a couple years of worsening mental health. Plus, he’s also in school full time and working full time at the university in our town, leaving me to deal with all the household stuff when school is in session.
I’m way behind where I wanted to be on Joop Does America.
But, because of my planner, every day I see the goal to give myself grace. And I do. Three days with snow on the ground in Athens, GA is a miracle, so I enjoyed every minute of it with my son. And I would have normally made my self sicker trying to work while puny, but I rested. I even slept 15 hours in one day.
Drake went back to school, which is good, because even though I am trying to give myself grace, I still have work to be done. And thankfully this planner shows me all the little victories I’ve made along the way.
Even with all the distractions, my final version of the Joop Does America will get to the editor this week and Joop will have it today, after I read through it one more time. And in April, I will be on my way to my ancestral land to visit new family, and maybe find some old family too.
I live in Athens, Georgia, with my son, my husband, and an ever-revolving list of exchange students, who are a never-ending source of entertainment and writing material.