Once upon a time, I was a happily married nursing student slash mother of three, documenting my schooling endeavors with a sense of humor. Life changed in three seconds. Now, I'm learning how to pick up the pieces, while managing grief and raising babies.
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As the snow days accumulate, kids stay home from school, I continue to fall behind in my main job of realty. Being a solo parent is no joke, and trying to maintain a business while writing and taking care of kids is stressful. It just is, and I can’t even pretend that it’s not in the slightest.
I was at my wit’s end trying to keep up with myself in Week 2 of the February “To Do” List Challenge, going into Week 3. When I said, “I give up.”
But it wasn’t the challenge that I was giving up. Nope. I was just giving up control or any delusion of control. I literally threw my hands in the air and asked God to take over because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t for the life of me feel accomplished with anything. Spread so thin, I asked God to just handle it, while I chill.
And in doing that, I got the most amazing time with my family and friends. Some times, we get so hyper focused on goals, career, projects, having a perfect home… that we forget WHY we want all of that in the first place… To share the joy of it with others.
Today, I am so grateful for the time I was able to spend at my son’s hockey, with my 3 month old nephew, and with dear friends laughing until my stomach hurt. I was so caught up in being a bread winner that I forgot to stop and enjoy my reason why.
Has this ever happened to you? When’s the last time you had a girl’s night or just held a baby for hours in silence? Both are so amazing for the soul.
Between running my real estate business, writing, blogging, and taking care of the kids, I’ve been majorly tired at the end of the day. So forgive me for just now giving you an update. Here goes though…
Week 2 is done.
I hope you all had a fun Valentine’s Day. I know that we did over here. We survived my birthday, four or so snow days, and Valentine’s Day in there too. I enjoyed using that holiday as an opportunity to tell my kids that I love them. (Yes, I do it year round too, but it’s still cute to make them feel a little extra special.) It’s definitely been a challenge to hold myself accountable this week, but I am please with my growth and how much I’m learning about myself!
What I’ve noticed is that my tendency during the day is to gravitate towards my meal prepping and eating plan. So I’ve been shaping ‘to do’ lists around that and just stripping it down so to speak. Many times, less is more – and focusing on one aspect of your life at a time is ok.
For those of you who don’t follow my personal page (Megan Bajorek), I am on a keto diet (Well, I’m on it during normal business hours… Weekends and evenings have been touch a go for a while.)
I actually lost 33 lbs doing this, and while I fell off the wagon for a period of time, I have been using this February ‘To Do’ List Challenge to help me get back on track with things like meal prepping (See left: baked cheese ‘chips’ to dip in guacamole) and even just drink my 64 oz of water. In Journalism, we learn KISS — Keep it Simple, Stupid. And that’s what I intend to do.
Other things that happened this week… I made the decision to go platinum. As in, I woke up on my birthday so depressed about the weather. It made me mad to think like this, and I said to myself: All I want today is bacon and blonde hair, and I’m going to make my dreams come true. I went out for breakfast with my mom (Bacon? Check!) Then, I drove to the hair salon, where I told my hairdresser, “Make me platinum.”
She didn’t blink twice, just recruited a partner, and got to work. (Blonde hair: Check! Check!) I will probably write more on this process next month after I go in for my second phase. For now, check out the progress that’s been made so far on the right.
What do you guys think? It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do but felt like: how dare I? Now, I’m like: why not?
How have you all been doing this month? Has it been fairly productive, despite the weather? Part of me thinks that we, as humans, were just not made to get things done in the Winter. The Winter is for hibernation…
Yes, after lots of agonizing and figuring out how I can manage this challenge, while juggling my growing career in real estate, my passion project in writing, and ensuring my three children are still fed and tended to, I think I’ve got it. Or rather, I’m getting it. Getting there.
Do not bite off more than you can chew
Save bigger lists for your days off
1-2 items is a major accomplishment on a work day
utilize your lists to form habits that benefit an ultimate goal
Should I go day by day with you? Or just give you an overview? That’s always my question. For the sake of a quick read, I’ll do an overview. Plus, this challenge isn’t about the actual list. I couldn’t make that any more clear. Your list isn’t going to look like my list, and my list isn’t going to look like someone else’s; so to write about my actual tasks would not only be tedious, it would also put focus on the tasks themselves, when really we are trying focus on committing to our own word. That same word that we keep with everyone else–we are going to keep it with ourselves this month. Self care.
The week went a little like this:
My lists started off with four items. Four LARGE items. I stressed out in attempt to tackle these items every day – to the point where I was feeling like an absolute failure. And that’s just ridiculous! Listen, if you’re working, making a home, raising humans, or being a friend, then you’re leaving an imprint on this world, and you should NEVER feel bad because you can’t hold yourself to impossible personal standards.
I got tired. Tuesday was a pivotal day for me. (For some insight on this: View my video here. )
On Tuesday, I shaved my tasks down to three items. On a work day. And again, they were large items that would require a lot fo physical and/or mental energy. And I got mad at myself. And I learned.
In January, I wrote down and set personal as well as professional goals for myself. It occurred to me this Tuesday that I should probably utilize this challenge to perpetuate my progress toward these goals. Like, why haven’t I been doing this already? (A.D.D. much?) Every day, I will do a little something to inch towards these goals.
The key to achieving your goals is to form habits that support them, so then, it becomes second nature.
For the rest of the week (and from here on out, pending how it works), I will continue to make lists of three items, but two of those three items are going to go towards a habit that I want to form. “Drinking 64 oz of water daily” and “making my bed first thing in the morning” each have their own benefits for me personally. The third item will vary depending on the day, and there may be a fourth item on my days off. Other than that, I’m extremely comfortable with this, as it’s simple but still a challenge. Feel free to adopt my policy of building simple yet challenging habits.
When: Tuesday, February 12th (my birthday!) at 9PM/EST
It’s my birthday! Stop by my Facebook (Live for the Reunion) and toast with me! I will be hosting an open discussion with you about grief, my personal journey, and challenges that I face as a solo parent of grieving children. There WILL be a Q&A this time.
(For a guaranteed answer to your questions, submit them via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org by 4pm on 2/12 – otherwise, I’ll be happy to answer as we go 🙂 ) Can’t wait to see you all!
Super Bowl Sunday (or as it’s known in our house: Sunday)
Day 3 is done. (Day 4 is too, but for the sake of story-telling, we will stick with one day.)
There is something that feels self centered and slightly indulgent when I write out my “To Do” lists for all to read, as if anyone gives a crap. Yet, for the sake of accountability, here we go:
write out Thank You cards
visit with family after Jax’s hockey
fold 2 loads of laundry
I don’t see the need to make Sundays stressful. They’re a day of rest anyways. One of my priorities today was to watch Jaxson skate and then hang out with my family afterwards for a little bit. And the “thank you” cards and folding laundry are two items that can be done while watching the most overrated — I mean — the most televised program of the year.
The Super Bowl.
Speaking of Super Bowl, my oldest daughter, who is slightly a tomboy, asked who I was rooting for. You can imagine how deeply disappointed she was when I replied, “Uhh… I don’t even know who’s in it. I think maybe a patriot, right?”
Oozing with sarcasm, she said, “Well, there’s more than one Patriot, and yes, it’s the Patriots versus the LA Rams. Just remember: You’re cheering for the Rams. K?”
So I cheered for the Rams!
It was more like watch an incredibly boring game, while waiting for CBS to pan over to that babe of a coach, Sean McVay. The network really could’ve just played a little Genuine while McVay wiped sweat from his brow, and that would’ve been exponentially more exciting.
The “To Do” List Challenge is already teaching me a lot about myself and how to be an adult. If you’re a type-A personality, super organized, and sharp with your time, this challenge is probably something you’re scratching your head at. For someone like myself though, I’ve struggled for years with maintaining focus and not getting overwhelmed.
I noticed another key with this challenge: Once your items are done on your list, do NOT add anything else. Give yourself the freedom to do whatever comes naturally from there. Maybe it’s straightening up the utility room, maybe it’s talking to a friend for an hour, maybe… you just want to stare at HGTV while drinking white wine… Whatever you do, once that list is complete, do not obligate yourself with more via list. Just do what you want.
Today’s list is complete as soon as I publish this bad boy.
Ok. Safe to say that I definitely have ADD or ADHD or whatever it’s called these days. I have it. It runs in the family. I’ve never been tested, but oh my goodness, it took everything in me to focus my energy on this today. I would have given up if it weren’t for the decision to hold myself accountable on here. ( More on distraction and it’s role later. )
Reminder of what my list was for today:
Go over the bills and finances
Try a new recipe for dinner
Clean the first floor of my house
This last item was a horrible one to put on my “To Do” list, and I’m going to tell you why…
I hate cleaning. –(Ok, that isn’t a fair reason, but I needed to say it. I’ll proceed.)
To clean the entire first floor of the home is an extremely time consuming task.
There were way too many distractions on which to hyperfocus (I didn’t spend 30 minutes detail scrubbing my shower door or anything.)
Yes, I’m not going to pretend that I’m a super tidy person. I’m hygienic and extremely organized within my business and when working, but at home, no. And while it once was a huge source of shame for me (To understand more on this, check out my piece on Love What Matters here), these days I know that it’s something minor to improve on. I like having a clean house. I don’t like to be the person to do it. *sigh* Whatya gonna do?
So when I decided that cleaning the entire first floor of my home was one of my priorities for Saturday, I woke up knowing it’d be a bear, but I had to keep going because I promised myself that I would, and I asked you all to hold me accountable. Good morning, terrifying world…Here goes…
I’ll spare you the details of everything that I cleaned, but I started in my master bathroom. Bad idea. (*Confession: I did, in fact, take 30 minutes to clean one side of the shower door.) Then, I made my way to my bedroom, where I adopted the bright idea to straighten up the closet “real quick” (after having spent an hour and a half on the master bathroom)… please view the results of that below.
Cleaning my closet is a 2-hour personal fashion show slash trip down memory lane. Am I the only one?
If you are playing along and doing the math with me, yes. Yes, at this point, I have spent three and a half hours on a bathroom and partially cleaned closet. I still have to clean my bedroom, the living room, kitchen, another bathroom, and entry ways. Plus, I’m going to make a homemade gourmet meal with the children without killing them and do my bills. Can we all laugh together now?
Ladies and Gentleman, this is perfectionism. This is true perfectionism. No one would ever look at my house and say I’m a neat freak. I’ve only been called OCD at work, where I’m in much more control, but at home, if it can’t be perfect, I give up. And when I go to do simple tasks, it takes me hours to complete them because again, I need for it to be perfect. It’s exhausting and years of this has left me with a slew of residual issues. As a widow, doing it by myself, I’m trying to retrain my brain. Because this way of thinking doesn’t serve me. It’s unhealthy.
It was 7pm by the time that I finished my first task of cleaning the first floor, and I still hadn’t gone shopping for the ingredients to our dinner recipe nor had I touched the bills. I knew that if I was going to be able to face you guys and maintain my sanity, then I was also going to have to improvise my list. Everything can be left to interpretation, right? It was already a winning, productive day because my house is clean, but I committed to myself that I’d always complete my to do list this February and see how that would feel. Therefore, my newly interpreted list became:
clean first floor of the house (check)
make something in the kitchen with the kids (check)
Open a few bills (check check)
I could live with this and still write to you without feeling like a cop out.
Here’s what the evening looked like:
We ordered pizza. Made brownies together. And watched a movie, during which I opened a few bills before snuggling with them.
I set myself up for failure with how HUGE my tasks were.
I minimized the time and energy that they would require.
This is something that I have done for decades.
And at what cost? So I can feel horrible about myself? So I can resent those around me because they must know what a disappointment that I am?
I’m not doing that any more.
This is why I started doing this challenge for February. I wanted to poke at a HUGE sensitive spot of mine called: my insane obsession with “To Do” lists (So obsessive, in fact, that my late husband, Scott, sat me down at the beginning of our marriage and told me that the lists were a major problem. He was stone cold serious.)
See, this is not about someone who knows it all, telling others how to do it. This is about someone who is fed up, who is saying, “Something has to be better than this!”; This is about someone who knows nothing and is learning as she goes. And while I’m terrified, I’m also grateful to have your support.
Moving forward, here are some things to keep in mind…
As many of you who follow me on social media know, I had some serious personal matters going on this last month (really for years leading up to this last month). On top of that, I live here in Michigan, and we are just getting through with a polar vortex (which sounds like something from a sci-fi film, but I assure you. It’s real.. very, very real). I was literally sequestered to my home with my three kids for five days straight. Three kids. One dog. No husband. A plethora of mental health struggles. It was not an enjoyable combination to say the least.
While I was trapped in my home and dreaming of the smell of salt water, I did absolutely nothing. My home became a frat house. My bills piled up. I would write out extensive ‘to do’ lists, but I couldn’t bring myself to do anything. This, along with the combination of just sheer boredom, led me to a thought: What would happen if I followed my ‘to do’ list every day for 28 days (i.e. the month of February)?
Considering this, I could tell you right off the bat that if I force myself to follow through with my ‘to do’ lists every day, then I probably would be a lot more considerate of what I put on there. Often (every time), I write a list of things to do for the day, and I write literally every single thing that I can think of that needs to be done. In the process, I overwhelm myself so much that I am discouraged by the time I’m done writing. What would happen if I gave serious thought to doing a few things every day and then held my accountable with the follow through?
I’m not sure, but I’m going to try. And I would LOVE for you to join me, while I figure it out as I go.
I came up with some rules to start with. Please notice Rule #6 : “Adjust as needed”. This also pertains to the rules themselves. This is an experiment, and I am no scientist, so as I find something isn’t working for me, I will adjust or perhaps, add more. The goal isn’t perfection though. The goal is productivity and to enjoy the process along the way.
Just to be clear: This is NOT going to pertain to my real estate business. I have my own blocks of time for work, and my ‘to do’ lists within that. These are for personal tasks only. If you are someone who works 9-5p, I wouldn’t expect you to write “Go to work” on your to do list, so I will not count anything real estate related; If you’re a business owner, working from home, or running your own direct sales business, then work-related tasks don’t count for this. If you’d like to challenge me to do something similar pertaining to business and working from home, I can certainly do that another month. February’s challenge is for personal tasks only.
Ok, so that’s a start for us. Throughout the month, I will record or write about how I’m doing. I will also spend the next week breaking down how I came up with my rules. If you’d like to check in with me and see how I’m doing, go for it! If you’d like me to message you and hold you accountable, I’m more than happy to do that as well. It should be interesting to see how we feel at the end of the month. Hopefully, it will leave us feeling great going into March.
In the meantime, I wish you all a happy and productive February!