Wednesday, June 22, 2016


When you’re in charge of more than one person, say by running a business or keeping track of kids, it helps to collect and organize information about everyone’s schedules, be it in a list or calendar. Externalizing your daily priorities clears some space in your head for other things that need to happen, or, in other words, helps your mind stay sane and uncluttered. Making a to-do list should be more empowering than disheartening, but toeing that line can feel like walking a tight rope. Between work for Wish with the Sky Foundation and being a mother of 4, here are some insights I’ve learned over the years.

Having everyone’s schedules in one place is a blessing. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have last-minute meetings or pull out important flyers from your child’s backpack the night before something important is happening, or other unpredictable event like car trouble or illness. The beauty of a to do list is that you can ideally shift around your priorities to accommodate these snafus. It can also be a nice reference point that brings you back to center when those outside forces come into play- all you have to do is refer to your list and get back on track!

When your to-do list starts becoming a script for your life, or you start getting anxiety around completing all the items in a given day, you have probably crossed the line from helpful into harmful. If writing down a list of what you have to do in a given day is stressful, it might be time to find a new approach to getting organized. You may even consider breaking up with to-do lists altogether- and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You might consider reimagining the way you approach a to-do list. One alternative is the 1-3-5 list, where you pick one “big” thing, 3 medium level things, and 5 small things that you will accomplish. For other alternative list structures, take a look at this article from Work Awesome.

Rather than nixing to do lists altogether, it might be a good idea to build in some balance. Create some time, be it a couple hours each day, or setting aside the weekend, to be agenda-less. It doesn’t mean you have to float around and do nothing, just that you mentally free yourself from creating a list. After all, an agenda does not make life any more or less important. Let yourself (and your kids) enjoy a bit of time here and there without worrying what you’re supposed to go to next.

Moderation is the key. For the important things, like meetings, practices, rehearsals, etc., it’s important to keep track of what’s going on. But if every waking moment is dictated by this list, it will start to feel more like a burden than a tool. Life wasn’t meant to be an itemized list of things to check off! Not accomplishing everything you’d initially hoped to in a day is ok- you are wherever you need to be in a given moment. The to-do list is a guide, not a rulebook.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


“Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in the world, but it has not solved a one yet” -Maya Angelou

There’s a lot of madness going on around the world, our country, and sometimes even our own backyards. It can be a tough pill to swallow, and even more difficult to have conversations about tragic events to young children. In light of recent events, here are some ideas on coping with events and teaching our children to do the same.

For many people, being proactive is an important part of making sense of and overcoming tragedy. Rather than staying stuck in the past, or the problem, becoming proactive helps you look for a solution and focus on the things you can change. It also forces you out of your own head, which is important to tap into but is easy to get stuck in during periods of grieving. Volunteering or reaching out to others are great ways to do this.

It’s okay to grieve. While there’s certainly something to be said for “going through the motions,” bottling your emotions hinders your recovery process from a tragic event. Feel what you need to feel, without judgement. If you have kids, allowing yourself to do this encourages them to grieve as well. Another important part of the process is allowing others to help you if you need it. Many of us feel the need to shoulder our burdens and grief, isolating them for fear that they will spread and contaminate the lives of others. It’s a normal fear, but unnecessary. If these people were struggling, you would want to help them in some way- so let them help you if they offer.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers-so many caring people in this world” (Fred Rogers). Remember that for all the grief and terrible events that occur, both isolated and everyday, that there are good people in the world who are willing to help. That’s one of the only things that restores faith in humanity and the world- remembering and being able to find the truly good things. And in times of confusion, it’s a good for children to understand that when there is bad, there is just as much good surrounding us.

When something tragic happens on a larger scale, it can make our individual efforts feel almost insignificant. Who cares if I donated a pint of blood? What difference does my volunteer work make? No one person can save the whole world, but our individual efforts do add up. And when it comes down to it, the most important thing you can do is surround yourself with the people you love at home, because the world always needs more love: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family” (Mother Teresa).