Years ago, a work associate was rushing to finish up the day because she had to get to her piano lesson. I knew she also golfed, played the guitar on a professional level, sailed, and was an excellent pianist without taking lessons. What amazed me about her was that she was also a wife and mother and a brain surgeon. All I could do was work and take care of my kids. If I got any reading done, I felt like I had really accomplished something. What is it that motivates some people to accomplish more than average?
My new favorite TV program is Million Dollar Listing. It follows three very different, young male real estate agents through the maze of Manhattan real estate sales. One of them is an obnoxious Swedish guy who used to do Gay porn. Not that one thing has anything to do with the other. He has a driver who takes him to his appointments in a Porsche, and wears shirts that cost $700. I remembered this as I got into my now eleven year old car wearing designer jeans I bought at the Salvation Army. (Having money is not the goal of my discussion.) As much as he gets on my nerves, he said something that hit home. He said he was successful in his business life because he got up two hours earlier than everyone else and went to bed two hours later. This got me thinking about myself and my lady friends who accomplish a lot in their day. I know that if I get up a 4 in the morning, my friend Michele will be awake, and probably Jill and my sister, Liz. We get up at that ungodly hour because our minds are racing with things we have and want to do. (Or a dog or cat woke up us and now we can’t get back to sleep. Regardless, we’re up.)
When I was younger, if I didn’t have to go to work that day, I would go out to my studio and work. Textile art can be hard, often dangerous work. My carder can take off a finger if I’m not careful, or grab a handful of my hair and hold me captive until Jim misses me. He works California hours, however, so I may have to stand trapped until after ten. Or, as I almost discovered this week, lifting a dye pot of boiling dandelion flowers can have disastrous results if the pot handle breaks when you are trying to get it off the burner. Fortunately, it didn’t dump all over me, but just narrowly. So rather than watch TV or waste my time buying underwear or yarn on ebay, when I get up at 4, I write. Maybe that’s why I finished five books in a year. That’s a lotta insomnia.
When I was a young mother, I could spend an entire weekend cuddling on the couch watching TV and reading with my kids. We called them veg days. Now I can only do that if I’m sick. I hate wasting time. Everyone I know who has something to show for the time follows a list. They may make their list first thing in the morning, or follow one that is ongoing. I’m in the later group.
My mother was a great list writer. But she often defeated herself by making a list that included some items you’d expect to accomplish over a lifetime. For instance, on the same list she’d write ‘buy milk and crackers, organize receipts for taxes, find roofer, landscape the side yard’. She told me to be careful not to put so much on my list that I would be unable to get at least one thing done. Our conversations in the evening regularly began with ‘I didn’t get my list done today.’ Liz found lists among my mother’s effects when she died. I treasure those pieces of paper.
Now my lists include one item from each ‘food group’. I have to write something, work for at least fifteen minutes in the studio, do something domestic, finish at least one dreaded chore, and talk to a friend. I’m trying to add some exercise into the mix. Today my dreaded chore is to enter checks received into the business Quick Books account. Yuck.
My friends inspire me with their activities. Jill’s gardening stories prompted me to do a little myself. Liz’s business accomplishments inspire me to be more organized about my own. Betty’s exercise plan encourages me to do some myself. Judy’s calls to her aged aunt reminds me to get in touch with neglected friends and family. We are so interwoven in our lives, I forget I can have a positive influence on my friends like they do for me. Thank you!