the Christmas list

To do lists: I rely on to do lists on a daily basis. Sometimes my to do list is very short and simple (laundry, post office, bake bread); other days it is seemingly never ending. Enter the Christmas to do list. How many people have a Christmas to do list? I’ll guess a lot.  It seems like every time I cross a task off my list, I add two more. And suddenly my to do list is not keeping my stress level at bay but rather is acting more like a billboard of all my tasks left untouched. And I begin to feel a little daunted that I won’t get it all done. (Pregnancy hormones–and the little person standing on my bladder–certainly don’t help as I wake up at least once every night, wide awake and my mind starts wandering.)

I have re-evaluated my list and realize that even if I do nothing on the list, everything will be OK.  How many of my items are voluntary tasks? Wishes for Christmas, but not requirements? Instead of racing against the clock today to check these tasks off my list, I will let the day lead me. If I’m still in my pajamas at 11:30–oh well. Don’t bake that pound cake? Oh well. Haven’t knitted four squares for the baby’s blanket? Oh well.

In other words, I need to re-adopt Island Time. Besides learning how to tie knots, take a third reef, and read the depth of Bahamian waters, the most important lesson I learned while sailing around the Caribbean for 2 1/2 years is a concept I call “Island Time.” My stress levels were nearly non-existent while we were cruising. Certainly there were times when stress and anxiety were present: a rolly night in a bad anchorage, getting caught in a squall, using that eyeball navigation over a coral reef, another boat dragging into us at 2AM. Yes, there were stressful times on our Caribbean cruise. But, while the stressors were large enough to cause us to worry about our safety and the safety of our boat (and home), they were few and far between. It was very easy to put all of the other small stresses of daily life in perspective and realize they were not make or break. No milk for tea in the morning? Oh well. The internet connection is down (again)? Oh well. I adopted Island Time. And my overall well being was good. Excellent in fact.

It is hard to adopt Island Time living in a big US city. The hustle and bustle gets into my bones and, before I know it, the small stressors become a major deal. I was talking to my pastor about this and he agrees. Why does a trip to the post office suddenly seem like a major task?  Why does the pile of unwashed clothes seem so daunting? Are we hiding our major stressors behind our small stressors? Perhaps my Christmas to do list isn’t as important as I think it is, but I am using it as an outlet for other stress I am feeling in my life that I don’t want to deal with.

I am giving myself a day off today to do what I want. I will not worry about my novel. I will go to yoga at 6PM if I want to. I will bake cake if I want to.  I will only look at my to do list if I am sitting on the couch staring at the wall and twiddling my thumbs. Island Time. This is my early Christmas present to myself.

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