Do five things

There have been four sunrises, thus far, in 2023, each a bit different than the last.

I began the process of disassembling Christmas yesterday. The tree is still intact, but the various other Christmas-y “notes” about the house are gradually being put away. I’ve learned not to tackle everything in a single day lest my bones and joints completely rebel. The interim result is a good deal of chaos. And throughout the process, which will take several days, I often feel as stuck as if my feet were buried in concrete.

It’s fairly astounding to me that I so often feel that way. Knowing there are things to be done, often quite a lot of them, and yet all too willing to noodle the day away. At day’s end, feeling guilty because I haven’t been “productive.”

It’s a fairly common malaise, I know, and may have at least something to do with the lingering gloom of winter days. But I’ve had this stuck feeling in other weather and other seasons. It’s tempting to write the stuck business off as a consequence of retired life, even “demi” retired life, but I know for a fact that younger people go through this, too. In fact, it was my daughter who finally got me moving.

“Do five things, Mom. Any five things.” This was a strategy that had worked for her. she said. I was game. In fact, I tried it while we were still on the phone. Then we hung up, and I did five more. Following her good counsel, I kept it simple, and I kept count. Empty the dryer… fold the tea towels… take out the recycling… start a grocery list… reschedule the dentist. Don’t think your kids can’t teach you anything.

Then, as miraculously as the rising sun, with those five tasks off the plate, I did five more, still keeping it simple, still counting out these mini-accomplishments that, taken together, made me feel a bit more energetic, a bit more dynamic, a bit more productive. I’ve been using this technique almost every day since, even on days when I don’t feel especially blocked, and not just for household chores. Read 30 pages… plan two blog posts… spend 15 minutes on Ancestry… write thank-you notes. Eat an apple… walk Enzo… call a friend you haven’t heard from in awhile… write the new Penn State President to tell her you’re rooting for her…

People tend to set themselves up for failure at the turn of the year, making promises they know they won’t keep, then feeling guilty and self-deprecating when they end up right back where they began. That’s just another way to get stuck. I can tell you that in 2023, there will be no resolutions, no broken promises, no good intentions paving the road to you-know-where for me. I’m just going to keep following my daughter’s advice, doing five things, then five more, and then maybe five more.

These sunrises were captured during early morning constitutionals with Enzo, in the last weeks of 2022.

Thank you for reading. I wish you all the very best—health, happiness, prosperity—in the new year!

5 thoughts on “Do five things

  1. Jerry Robinson

    Great advise, Angela! Thank you. What we normally think of as resolutions can be too grand and unrealistic. But, each of your five things is in itself a resolution in the present moment, and a baby step to making you a better person. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Judy@NewEnglandGardenAndThread

    I’ve never been good with resolutions, but five things could definitely work. I’m basically a person who gets bored easily so I usually can find something to do, but there are those days when my back hurts, and I have to push myself. Wishing you a healthy and happy 2023!


  3. automatic gardener

    I take it one step further and write down my list on the pile of scrap that I cut into note paper. It is very satisfying to cross off a finished task. And I cheat. If I did a task not on the list, I write it down just so I can cross it off. I also keep a list of big projects that take more time and are great to do on gloomy days. Go State!


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