Give Your To-Do List the Boot and Wake Up to Your Life

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Life is not found in long lists, but in the time we live awake to people, possibilities and the present moment.


It’s Sunday. There’s blue sky above, Fall swirling through the leaves and the smell of change in the air. It’s brisk but sunny enough to do anything. I love Autumn with its Orange happiness peeking from doorways, trees, shop windows and farm-stands. The crickets are chirping outside despite the fact that it’s afternoon. Perhaps they love the season as much as I do. I’m not sure, but either way both the crickets and I need rest sooner or later. I’ve just returned home from church…

welcomed by the dog awaiting his walk. I want to brush him off with a lie- the lie I tell him too often lately, ” I’ll walk you later.” I am the person who has lied to their dog…I know, it’s so wrong…I mean, who makes a promise to their dog they don’t keep? Don’t tell me you don’t talk to your dog! But the question is have you ever rationalized to your dog?

“I’m sorry Bum, I will walk you later, I’ve got so much to do….but really we’ll walk later, ok?”

I continue, “I know, I know, I’m really sorry. Forgive?”

Of course this is met with abundant tail wagging, because let’s face it, your dog is the most faithful being on the planet. Dogs always believe your lies. They love you. Period. End of discussion.

I grab the leash, because I know I need the walk as much as he does.

I need the rest.

I need to be awake to what is before me. Present. I don’t want to breeze through the gift of today on auto-pilot. It’s so easy to do.

I leave the cell phone, walk toward the door, down the steps and across the yard. I pass the wilted peach rose along the walkway which has offered up its beauty for the past few weeks. First as a bud, then I watched the blossom pop with ripe full petals. Every day I walk by the single bloom appreciating it’s message- the importance of  living life awake, not numb. The peach rose will be here, but for a short time.

Are we any different?

I think we are prone to growing numb to the precious tenderness of now.  I know I am. We forsake the rest we need to keep perspective. Today, I was teaching a lesson with my Sunday School kids, about the Ten Commandments. We got to the Sabbath and my fellow teacher reminded us of the days when stores were closed for business on Sundays. These first and second graders could not fathom this reality.

Lately, I feel this aching. The same aching I used to hear in the voices of my elders; sensed in their ways. The distance between the generations, the passing of time that chides, reminding me of my own temporal existence. The aching within that is what the rose knows and accepts without question.

The messages around us tell us to hurry up, do more, be more, consume more, push, take, grab, get.

I don’t want to be more. I just want to be.

The messages come at us from every angle, crowd us…crowd me. These messages don’t tell us to rest. Never. The messages coming through our news, news feeds and podcasts,  shouting loudly as each competes for our attention.  All these things I need to do, not do, fail to do, should never do, weigh me down. My soul is exhausted as it longs for nourishment that can only come by the coming away.

So I do. I walk the dog. I smell the rose. I ponder the moments, feed my soul. I gather the stones, stare at the stars, laugh too loudly, and hug too tightly. I let the lists go. I block my ears to the drumbeat of the world telling me that doing it all is being my best. I believe it is a lie.

I’d rather live like the Rose.


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Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at

11 thoughts on “Give Your To-Do List the Boot and Wake Up to Your Life

    1. What? What sign up? Bootcamp? No that has not happened yet…enough of this talk. lol. I need to get an e-mail out to those I have in contacts…It starts Thursday…until following Thursday: October 15th-21st!


  1. This is so beautiful Dawn and such a precious reminder. Thank you for the wisdom to plan, but not to be consumed or ordered by them. . . . as if they were drill sergeants. The day is lovely in St. Louis. You have inspired me to let out the dog and to take a walk. He’s pretty much of a drill sergeant, so I let my husband hang on to him (or I’d be dragged everywhere). But I will enjoy a solo saunter. Thanks forthe encourragemnt.
    no time to correct typos. ii’m out the door!


  2. I hear you, Dawn. In both the canine and the cosmic. And lied to myself as well. That’s what we’re trying to do. What strikes me, though, is what comes back at you (all of us) from the other side) from both dog and God (is it any wonder they share the same letters?) The unconditional love. That’s it. You don’t have to prove anything to him (her). The day in God’s creation is a bonus to the dog. Loved, desired but not demanded. You will be loved if you stick to your to-do list. Thank God you didn’t. Thank God you loved back. And that we do learn to give to that ‘ask for so little, but love you so much’ best friend.
    I love this post. I love that you took a walk in the world with your dog and discovered so much about life.


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