A couple of years ago my friend got me one of those Smash books – a little notebook full of pictures and words intended to inspire the artistic soul. I’ve never used it because I’ve never felt like anything of mine would be good enough or pretty enough to put in it, but then lately I’ve been reading a lot of poetry (by WordPress poets – they’re pretty good) and I want to write down the ones I like in a nice little place so I can go back and enjoy them time and time again. So I pulled out the Smash book and looked through it. One page is titled TOP 10 and has a numbered 1-10 list with space to write whatever top 10 I want.
Since I had decided to fill this little book with other people’s inspiring words, I headed to the hub of all inspiring words – my Pinterest quotes/sayings board. (Heh.) And I copied down the top 10 things I want to do every day always and called it my Top 10 TO DO.
1. No matter how busy you think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance. Obviously reading is important to me. Reading the Bible, reading poems (lately), reading to my students, reading for fun, reading for knowledge, reading for spiritual and personal growth – I want to read a lot and forever and moving forward I want to be intentional about mixing it up every once in a while and reading things I wouldn’t usually read.
2. Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. In life it is so easy to blame our short-comings, failures, and laziness on outside factors. “I’m a woman.” “I’m young.” “I don’t have a lot of money.” “I live in a third world country.” “I don’t speak the language.” “I’m new.” “I’m single.” Blah, blah, blah – I’m calling BS on myself. If I want to write a book I can start right now in my metal folding chair at my dining-room-table-turned-desk with my beloved laptop and write a story. If I want to be an amazing teacher I can start right now in my thirty minute English classes with my hand-me-down and homemade materials. I can do what I can every day where I am with what I have to achieve what I’ve set out to achieve!
3. Art every day. Whenever I’m tempted to beat myself up about not finishing a book yet (you know, after five months of trying – geeze, Suzanne, why haven’t you published a novel yet?) I remind myself that as long as I am writing something I am exercising my mind muscles and becoming better. For me, art is mostly writing but I also like to craft things, something I’d like to do more.
4. Don’t be delicate. Be vast and brilliant. Don’t be delicate. Don’t rely on others to do things I should be doing myself. Don’t place my worth in the hands of others. Don’t give up. Be vast. Don’t be one-dimensional. Don’t be shallow. Don’t be uninformed. Don’t pigeon-hole myself. Don’t do the same thing over and over expecting different results. Don’t settle. Be brilliant. Read. Do my best. Shine my light. Listen to other people. Grow, change, learn.
5. Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. I beat myself up about things I’ve done in the past, ways I’ve messed up. Part of forgiveness is forgiving yourself, forgiving myself, for ways that I’ve messed up in the past. There’s nothing I can do about the mistakes I’ve made yesterday except to ask for forgiveness and to not make the same mistake again. Then when I do make the same mistake again, I can ask for forgiveness and not make that mistake a third time. I can’t except my past self to do/not do things I have only recently learned are right/wrong for me. Grace and high standards.
6. Write hard and clear about what hurts. Don’t hold back. Write it out and let people read it.
7. Do small things with great love. It’s so easy to look around at my ninety students and the families they represent, the hundreds of street dogs, the homeless and the hungry, the shoe-shine kids asking for the equivalent of ten cents, the cat-calling and dignity-buying men and feel helpless. What can I do that will make a difference? Maybe I can only do small things, but I can do them with great love. I can hug a student and tell them they are loved, loved, loved no matter what. I can take care of my cat well. I can give away my leftovers. I can chat with a kid in the park, letting them know they are more than their job. I can smile at a man and look him in the eye, instead of waiting until I’m home to complain about the way his surroundings have shaped him. Small things, great love.
8. Be brave with your life. Doing things with great love usually means leaving my comfort zone and putting myself out there. I want to be brave to do the right thing. I want to be brave to try new things even if I might mess up or look silly. I want to be brave to ask for forgiveness, to ask for help to understand, to ask for prayer and accountability.
9. Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters. A specific way to live out number 8 – I want to discern and know when to bite my tongue and when to chime in. Sometimes I don’t want to step on toes and so I stay silent, but what I’m really doing is silencing the Truth in me and that’s shameful. Some things need to be discussed. Some things don’t. I’m learning what’s what.
10. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before. The exciting news is that for the past 13 years I have been checking this off my mental yearly to-do list. Now that I’ve kind of settled into life in the DR, I want to keep it up. There are so many places to go in the world and I’ve been to so few. Heck, there are so many places to go in this country and I’ve been to so few. Just to qualify, “someplace” here means a city, state, or country and “go” means a day trip, overnight, or extended stay.
11. To sum up all good intentions and life goals – Love God, Love People. I Love God and Love People by doing tasks 1-10. I love God by spending time with Him and learning more about Him through His Word, His creation, and His people. I love God by becoming more me – by honoring my passions and practicing self-care. I love people by doing the dishes and cooking the occasional casserole. I love people by spitting the Truth and spending quality time. I love people by acknowledging the God and Goodness I see in them and letting them hear about it. LGLP, always every day.
What’s on your Every day always TO DO list? Do you have a bucket list or a list of Yearly resolutions? I’d love to read about it!