#TakingBackMyLife – Or – Pandemic Loses, I Win!

Good Morning, Everyone! Hope you are all happy and WELL! Today begins a new,  probably sporadic, series of posts on how I plan to take back my life and survive this stinkin’ pandemic! Hope you’ll enjoy following along as I document the things I’m doing to get over the isolation, depression, and frustration many of us have been suffering through for well over a year now.

To begin, I want to share with you the (presumably) simple thought that jump-started me on the journey to taking back my life.  It was as easy as recognizing, and accepting, the difference between these two phrases: “Have To” and “Want To.” They are not interchangeable, in spite of what we sometimes tell ourselves. 

I found I was getting more and more depressed every day as I fell farther and farther behind on writing, blogging, housework, and more. Every morning started with a long “HAVE TO DO TODAY” list, and that in itself often stopped me in my tracks, especially as it continued growing daily. It was overwhelming me.

But guess what? If you haven’t already realized this and have been beating  yourself up over similar issues, here’s the truth: HAVE TO and WANT TO are two very distinct things. 

Sure there are things you really have to get done if, say, you want to keep your job, or maintain your health. But once you’ve jotted down those things that ignoring could cause dire consequences for you or someone you care about, almost everything else can be listed on the WANT TO page. (And some of them can even go way down at the bottom, too, as you learn how to prioritize them according to your preferences.)

So, when I finally woke up and realized I was putting an unnecessary burden on myself (and my health) by treating everything in my life as being a HAVE TO DO item, when most of them weren’t, I began taking stock. Turns out, my Have To Do list is much, much shorter than I imagined. Probably 95% of the things I was trying to do are now listed on my Want To Do list, instead.

Well, good golly gosh! That was actually quite easy to set up, and I found I’d just simplified my life hugely.  I can take care of the Have To items first each day, then move on to the Want To tasks, and work on the ones most important to me at that time. And now I can do that without feeling guilty, which was an amazing burden lifted.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’d be happiest of all if I could clear out both lists quickly and easily, but one thing I’m slowly beginning to accept is that I can’t expect to keep up the same pace today that I’ve kept up for years. Like it or not, time slows us down. But not being able to do it ALL doesn’t mean I can’t do ANY of it, and that’s what I’m focusing on now: clearing off the HAVE TO list each day, and doing whatever I can on the WANT TO one.

Yes, I miss my blogging friends on days when I can’t get to their posts when I’d like. But I try to keep up when I can, even if I’m a bit late, or miss a post now and then. And that’s something I can live with, because I think others understand. And yes, I’m also making slower progress than I’d like on my current WIP, but I AM making progress. I’d thought in my darkest days that I should just give up my writing, but I no longer believe that. I just have to accept that I’m writing at a slower pace and be okay with it. And I am.

With all of the above in mind, I made up a New & Improved Weekly Work Schedule so that I’m not approaching each week in a helter-skelter, slipshod manner. However, the schedule includes two open days where I can either catch up on a project that’s running longer than I expected, or do something totally new and spontaneous, like writing a post on Taking Back My Life.  😀 I have flexibility with the schedule, AND I’m not going to to into a blind panic if things get shuffled around now and then. It’s meant to be a guide, not a grueling punishment, and I’m not going to worry a bit if unexpected interruptions cause me to miss the day’s scheduled tasks.

Between realizing that I don’t have to do it ALL every day, and refusing to continue to feel depressed or angry when I fall a bit short of what I planned, I’m already feeling a lot better. And I hope those of you who’ve been hard on yourself in a similar way will find some ideas here that can help. They’ve made a difference to me, but I’m a simple soul, and not always the smartest about what’s good for me. Still, let me know if you’ve had to do something similar to keep your sanity. (Inquiring minds ALWAYS wanna know.)

Oh, and one last thing. On my HAVE TO list were all my long overdue medical  appointments and check ups, and I’ve gotten to all of them as of this past week. Plus, my cardiologist AND my family doctor had only good news for me! I’ve got my diabetes under pretty good control right now, and my cardio guy says I’m going to live to be 100 if I don’t catch you-know-what. So I’m already making my two lists work for me, and hope some of you will find something similar that helps you reorganize so you can go forth with good cheer and good health!

DON’T FORGET!

83 thoughts on “#TakingBackMyLife – Or – Pandemic Loses, I Win!

  1. I like how you broke up things into have to and want to. So true. I’ve been working on that have to myself, especially when it comes to health. Thanks, Marcia:)

    Liked by 6 people

    • Like most things in life, Denise, it’s all in how you look at it. Sometimes we just need to get our heads straight and understand the difference in what we really MUST do and what we merely WANT to do. It’s made a huge difference in my outlook already. Thanks for stopping by today! 🙂 Go forth and be happy, whatever you’re working on. 🤗

      Liked by 3 people

      • Totally agree to you, Marcia! Thank you for motivating! Sometimes its really boring, so i had silenced the radio and the tv. LOl Feeling much more better with not listening to a officials scheduling out of the crisis, if these plan are withdrawn after two weeks! Have a beautiful weekend! Michael

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks, Michael! Listening to all the commentary can certainly put you into a DEEP depression, for sure. I do not turn on the tv during the day, and really don’t watch it at night, either. I see alerts go by on my phone, and a quick scan tells me if I need to look at them any closer. If it’s not directly relatable to me, I delete it. I decided that much constant bad news would rot my brain, for sure. 😯

          Hope you have a wonderful weekend, too! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

  2. This all sounds good. We are just too hard on ourselves. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it has taught us to take one day at a time. Not easy for planners like us. I´ve made myself slow down and it is good for me, my family and my health. We´ve even adopted another rescue dog! I can hear you saying, “Is she crazy?” Well, a bit but it does one good to have a little one to look after and gets me away from the computer from time to time. Also, I have two dogs to talk to now!! Sending many hugs.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I think the biggest trick is realizing what’s really important to us as individuals, rather than what others think should be important. And if another rescue dog makes you happy, then it’s obviously good for you. We have four cats. (At our house, cat hair is a fashion accessory.) But they make us happy and teach us that relaxing now and then is a real good idea. (They are experts at that, and sometimes you just have to sit down with one or two of them and enjoy a bit of it, as well.)

      I’m glad you’ve decided to slow down a bit and take one day at a time. Life is easier that way! Thanks for stopping by, Darlene! Always nice to see you.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Excellent advice, Marcia. I’ve fallen into the same trap and not ticking off everything on an impossible list just reinforces the sense of failure and panic. I also love the idea of building in free chunks of time. I intend to shamelessly copy these ideas and post them into my own chaotic life! 😀

    Liked by 5 people

    • I’m SO glad that what’s working for me might be useful to you, Trish! Copy all you want, and like me, learn to a) set reasonable goals, and b) be easier on yourself. Hope it works as well for you as it has been working for me, now that I’ve finally figured it out. And thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to comment, too! 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Olga. Yes, except for my ongoing problems with skin cancer issues, none of which are life-threatening ones, my health is darn good for my age, apparently. Even the black fog of Pandemic Depression hasn’t changed that, though I think finally getting a handle on it has kept the stress from eventually causing physical issues. You take care as well, and stay healthy and HAPPY! 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing so deeply, Marcia. I suspect most of us are right there with you. It seems life has been on pause for some time now. I often look around me and wonder, how did I ever get so much “done” before … before our lives upside down? You’ve been and are an inspiration for me. Yay for all the positive health reports! Blessings and hugs, my friend.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Gwen! We are all struggling with these unsettling times in our own ways, and they’ve taken a toll on us, for sure. I think focusing on getting the few HAVE TO things done each day, then not worrying about how far I get on the WANT TO things is going to make my life much, much easier, and I hope you’ll be able to adapt something similar to make your life easier, too, my friend. It sure helped remove a weight from my shoulders! And you are always an inspiration to me, Gwen! Thanks so much for your kind words and for the blessings and hugs. Back atcha! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Staci. The new outlook is helping tremendously, and it was great to have my two “main” doctors so happy with me! The clean bills of health have taken some work, especially the diabetes, which is a never-ending “maintenance” job. But getting a normal A1C on my 3-month average glucose levels was VERY rewarding. It’s one thing I can’t let up on, but I’m used to my new dietary habits now, so eating better has become a habit I barely have to think about.

      Thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to comment. I appreciate it! 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Jeanne. Hope you found a nugget in there you can use, if needed, too! And I’m pretty happy about my latest health dates. After staying home for a year, I was almost afraid to see what my doctors had to say, but VERY relieved to find out it was pretty darn good. Thanks for stopping by today, and taking a moment to say hello! I appreciate that! 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly so, Yvette! It made all the difference in the world to me. Now I can breathe again, and let go of all that tension and frustration! (Much more of that kind of stress, and I doubt I would have gotten such good results from my latest doctor visits.) Thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to weigh in. It’s very much appreciated! 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, John! I don’t know that I’m totally “in control,” yet–but then I never have been before, so probably shouldn’t expect to make the leap from total chaos and frustration to absolute calm tranquility. However, I’m definitely doing a whole lot better at not letting everything beat me into submission, and it’s making a big difference in my life. Getting up each day feels MUCH nicer! My plan is working. So far. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to say hello! I appreciate it! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Yay you caught up with doc visits – and an even bigger yay for the good news! I like the way you approached those lists, Marcia – especially the two flexible days you give yourself. If last year taught me anything, it’s that even the small steps add up.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks so much, Teri! I had to do something or just lie down and give up, and I’m not generally a quitter. The approach I’ve chosen has already jump started me on life again, and I’m feeling so much better. Less stress, frustration, and depression, in spite of the last year’s best efforts! I’m a fairly flexible person, in general. You don’t make it 77 years without learning to roll with the punches, after all. But I do best with a general plan to help me stay on track. I’m not rigid about it, but it helps keep me focused on what’s something that I have to do as opposed to something that I’d like to do. That’s made all the difference in my attitude. And the good news from my doctors truly brightened my spirits, too.

      You are so right. Small steps eventually turn into long distance travelling! Keep it up, my friend! And thanks so much for stopping by today! 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I really like the way you’ve approached this, Marcia, with Need To and Want To. It all makes perfect sense. I’m really glad you’re doing so well health-wise, too. That is FANTASTIC, my PenderPal! 🙂

    I think we all have dark days when we think about hanging up writing (especially when the WIP is stuck). I often do. But we’re writers and what would we do without that passion to drive us?

    You take care, stick to your new philosophy, and stay safe! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Awww, thanks, my fellow PenderPal. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and I appreciate your kind words. Yep, we do all have down days, for sure, but this past year has KEPT many of us wallowing in them, and it was definitely time for me to figure out how to move forward, pandemic or no pandemic.

      I promise to stick to my new philosophy, and perhaps even add some additional tricks to my repertoire! And please stay safe and well, yourself! We have BOOKS to discuss!! 😀

      Thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to say hi! 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Debby! I’d been trying to change my outlook, but was so overwhelmed by falling behind and still being isolated 95% of the time, I just couldn’t do it. Until I accepted that it was okay to not do every single thing in the world I wanted to, every single day. The HAVE TO and WANT TO distinctions saved my sanity! And now I’m finding it much easier to stay positive and focus on the things I’ve gotten DONE each day, instead of on the stuff I wasn’t able to get to. MUCH less exhausting and stressful approach. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to comment. 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh I know that feeling. I had to learn for myself that I don’t HAVE to do all the things I feel I should, and by giving myself permission, its much easier now to get the things I want done. So glad you’ve found the key to your self-made prison!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, exactly. What YOU said! 😀 I’m still quarantined at home most of the time, only going out once or twice a month and observing every safety precaution I can think of even then. But I’ve stopped resenting the isolation and am trying to take advantage of it, rather than just railing against it. (Shaking my fist at the sky was accomplishing NOTHING, so a new way to look at the situation became critical.) 😉

          I’m glad we’ve both given ourselves permission not to try to do every single thing we feel we should. Life is better for it, isn’t it? 😀 ❤

          Liked by 2 people

  7. You go, girl! Love this post, Marcia.

    I came to a similar conclusion last summer. I stopped worrying about the things I couldn’t control (Is my family safe?) or the menial household chores that took me away from my HAVE TO list. I’m one person, and that became my mantra. I still get overwhelmed from time to time. Don’t we all? But I’ve learned to balance the HAVE TOs with the WANT TOs.

    Quick question: Which list is Wildlife Wednesday on? 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Sue, and I’m glad to hear that you’ve been working on the HaveTo/WantTo thing. It’s a great way to stay positive and focused on actually getting stuff accomplished! (And, ahem, I’m sorry to say that I’m discontinuing #WildlifeWednesday, at least temporarily. It was one of the things that needed to be put aside for now. 😦 Hang in there, though. It might be back, though possibly in an abbreviated version.)

      Thanks for stopping by and taking time to weigh in. Glad you’ve found the same approach to be helpful to you! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I love your have-to vs want-to. It’s so true. I hear ya on the muddled pandemic life. I’m rather introverted, and I’m actually okay not being out and about so much, but I do feel frustration for school children, people out of work . . . well, everybody everywhere. I’ve eaten about 10 pounds of frustration in the past year!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oooh, yes on the eating frustration, Priscilla. It’s been a hard year for many of us, and so depressing, I was beginning to think I’d never snap out of it. But the HaveTo/WantTo thing made a huge difference in my outlook. And I’m done beating myself up over not reaching unreasonable goals, too. Now, I set myself things well within the realm of possibility, and when I get them accomplished, I reward myself! (Usually with a half hour break to read or video chat with my daughter, or the like. Something NON-fattening and with ZERO sugar, except for the virtual smooches from my grandkids! 😀 )

      Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks so much for stopping by today! 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ve been faced with some of the same things, Marcia. Every day feels like a rat race and I fall farther behind. So, your idea of making the “have to” and “want to” lists makes sense to me. Like you, I love visiting all my blogger friends. But if I can’t make it to all of them, I can’t make it. The world doesn’t stop turning. Right now, my priority has to be on my current WIP. I’m a little over 30,000 words into it but in reality, should have been done by now. Oh well. Again, the world hasn’t and won’tt stop turning. Thank you for your inspiring post! Best wishes!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Jan, and for each of us, there will be different things that go on the Have To list. For me, even my WIP went on the Want To list, my criteria being very strict in that the only things I actually HAVE to do are the things that keep me healthy and/or involve something critical to the well-being of my loved ones. Everything else went on the Want To side of the ledger, including my WIP, though it’s pretty darn close to the top, for sure. But, as you say, the world won’t quit turning if I don’t write another book, and while I’d be SAD not to do so, I’d survive. (After all, I only intended to write ONE when I started out, and I’m now at seven novels, three novellas, and a book of poetry.)

      But the important thing is to make the list work for YOU, and to accept that you can’t beat yourself up when you don’t check everything off your lists each and every day. Life is tough enough without being our own worst enemies. And you are right. If you can’t make it to all of them, it’s FINE. You do what you can, and let it go.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and adding your thoughts! 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Inkplume. I’m glad the post resonated with you, and yep. Now you know just what to do to improve your sleep! 😀 Rearrange things into those two categories, and take care of the Have To list first. Then do as many as you can on the Want To side, and let the rest go until another day. No more bullying allowed. Sleep well!! 😀 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Naturally! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I agree. For many (most?) of us, it’s time to step back, take a deep breath, and reassess how we’ve been going about things. Even this beginning step of mine has helped me breathe easier and relax more. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking a moment to weigh in! 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Sally. It was simplify or die, drowning in misery amid a sea of undone tasks of all sorts. This way is better. Getting MORE done than I have in months, with far, far less frustration and stress. Yay! Good luck with yours, too. (I’m always amazed at everything you accomplish!) And thanks on my good news from my doctors, too. I will be seeing a lot of my dermatologist over the next few months, I think, as I have more issues with pre-cancers to be treated. Hopefully, we’ll catch them all before they become problematic. And none of them should be life-threatening, so I’m not expecting complications. Making my cardio guys and my family doctor happy was HUGE, though. I’m feeling much better about my overall health than I have for a couple of years. Woohoo!

      Now YOU stay healthy and happy, too, and we’ll BOTH keep on rockin’!!! 😂🤗

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Thursday March 4th 2021 – #Interview Barbara Spencer,#LifeBalance Marcia Meara, #Free cookbook Eat Dessert First Greece | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  11. Your post has made me smile. 😊 I know and feel everything you talk about. I’ve done something similar with my tasks… and I seem to actually be doing them now rather than ignoring them like I did before…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Glad it made you smile, Beth. It’s amazing how just making a schedule or a few simple changes in how you organize your work makes all the difference, isn’t it? I was just feeling hopeless, and now I feel much more in control, yet able to remain flexible when necessary. I feel like I have OPTIONS each day, and options are always good! Good luck to you on staying in charge of how you spend your hours, even during hard times. This is something we can ALL do better at, if we just make up our minds to it. 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  12. What a wonderful and insightful post, Marcia. So full of wisdom! I tend to do what I want (in general) and let the rest go until its a must, but I love your two lists for those days when I’m feeling overwhelmed and guilty. Thanks so much for sharing!!! Hugs.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks so much, Diana. It really helped me to stop looking at all the many, many things that were piling up, and just sort them into things that I really HAD to do (or else there would be repercussions) and things I merely wanted to do. Still important, but the sky would NOT fall if it took me a while to get to most of them. Such a simple thing, yet it provided immediate stress relief. As did accepting the fact that I don’t move as fast as I once did, and it was OKAY for it to take me longer to accomplish things. I think we are often our own worst enemies when it comes to what we believe we can do in a single day. I know I was, anyway, and decided I had to let go of that type of self-inflicted stress and frustration. (Those things can KILL ya!)

      Glad you enjoyed the post and good luck with whatever method you use for dealing with this stuff. (Especially in times that are already so filled with stressful things we have no control over.) And thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to weigh in. Happy weekend! 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  13. ive also been going through the whole i ‘have to do this thing today’ phase lately especially with keeping up with online school and whatnot, but i’m glad to know i’m not the only one struggling 😁, thanks for sharing this and i look forward to reading the rest of your journey :))

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Poorvi, and I wish you the best of luck with regaining control over your life. I know you can rethink your current approach that isn’t making you happy, and come up with some easy solutions to let you breathe easier. Hang in there! And thanks for stopping by today! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Love this! Never thought to divide my to do list into two distinct categories but you’re right, often times it’s that added perspective of what a list like this can provide that can change the game entirely! Thx for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad you think you can use this simple idea to make your own life easier, Bossy! That’s great to hear. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking a moment to let me know you enjoyed the post! And have a great week! 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Jenny, and wish you good luck with creating your own HaveTo/WantTo lists. They’ve sure helped me! Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to let me know your thoughts, and have a great week! 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Sometimes a lot of have-to’s feel like that because of pressures making us feel like we have to but we don’t even ‘want to’ when we really peel back the layers 🧐

    Great post Marcia – I enjoyed reading your reflections and love the laughter advice at the end – very true 😊✨

    Liked by 1 person

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