A Heart-Shaped To-Do List

For over ten years I've wanted to learn to paint. And I haven't. This past August, while struggling through the bike portion of the Troika half ironman, my happiest moment came to me when I was going to finally learn to paint. Really. In the fall I bought a painting kit, asked artist friends about how to start, talked about it, talked about it, and here's what happened: nothing. Until-- I had a session with a coach as part of my ongoing coach training work. Subject: My sense of, um, overwhelmation at all the projects and things I want to do. Result: me spending a greater portion of the day chasing my tail. This panic is that I'll forget about the Very Important Life Projects due to my weak organizing skills. For example, I "organize" piles of paper by throwing them away without going through them.

So: I came to an idea that I would make an artsy to-do list that I could put somewhere for a constant visual reminder of what I WANT to do right now. Instead of it being a finger-wagging Do-This-Or-Else type of list--written on a piece of paper in my messy handwriting--I'd paint it or color it or do something that would get my ass doing some visual arts and help consider which cool-ass things were calling for attention in the present day -- see, a shift and focus already.

I have this spiffy little painting kit, but I've never painted and didn't feel like reading anything about how to mix colors, use water etc etc. Instead of feeling too frustrated, though, I decided to watch the process of what was going on inside -- I was discovering a way of jumping into something totally new that I'd never done before and at the same time working through what was important enough to get on that To Do list right now.

The first draft was a To-Do list written on regular printer paper in bright multi-colored pastel crayons. A super easy start. I felt about five years old but why not embrace the Beginner? Then I bought some spiral drafting paper that was big enough to play on but not TOO big for a novice who gets easily overwhelmed. I turned to my fave artist Marc Chagall for help and ended up printing out a bunch of his paintings and making a collage and then printing out To Dos and New Learnings/mantras I've started keeping on my personal blog. (e.g., one is "Writing is freedom." I'm all about freedom.)

I made the shape a heart because it's round and sexy and lovely and also reminds me that the Things on my To Do list can all be done from love--activities I've chosen and that are heart-felt. So I put on the TV and got out my scissors and glue and did this collage that resulted in THREE simple To Dos--or Get-to-do's. Don't Forgets.

Hey! Maybe that's what I can call a To Do list; A Forget-Me-Not.

Did I love my piece of art? Not really. It felt childish and silly. But I like the effort behind my heart-list-project, and what it might tell me about my desires and aspirations from its position on my fridge.

What did I get out of it all? When starting something totally new begin with what's comfortable and what you know. Don't judge it. Functional art rocks. I watched how my list of priorities marinated and rose to the surface as I did the project.

The three main items on my Forget-me-not heart collage are all things I really want to do.

So, what is it that you ultimately really want? What is your process to find out a way to unearth three cool forget-me-nots that are not DUTIES, but fun meaningful activities that are tied to your core values?

Have fun, Explorers! What do you come up with?