My to-do lists are very important to me. I require the structure, and I embrace it. The hierarchy of these lists is very detailed. From “Bucket List” stuff all the way down to “Don’t Forget The Dog is Outside” and everything in between.
For the past five years, one whole high-level layer of the hierarchy was devoted to my mom. I was responsible for her overall well-being: Her housing, overseeing medical stuff, legal things, paying bills, overseeing investments. Everything. And that includes all of the stress and worry and “Am I doing this OK?” and being proactive that goes along with it. This responsibility was at the forefront of my every waking moment, and many of my sleeping moments, as well. It was constantly vying for position with the “Mind Your Health and Stay Alive” layer, and usually winning. I lost myself in the process of trying to be a good daughter.
My mom died on May 19th. Death changes everything for those left behind. There’s the grief, to be sure. But you can’t dismiss the changes you go through when you realize that without the deceased as part of your life structure, you ARE someone else. Discovering who I am now may take the rest of my life, and a big part of that relates to my to-do lists.
I still have The Mom Layer in my list hierarchy, as I’m the administrator of her estate. But it’s a simple estate, and there’s an attorney managing the process. I still haven’t completely exhaled, but I’m moving in that direction.
It’s finally sinking in that I no longer need to worry that she’s not eating enough. That her pain isn’t being managed. That she will run out of money. That someone will take advantage of her. That she will fall. That she won’t go see the doctor when she needs to. That her MS is worsening. That she isn’t being honest about her symptoms, pains and struggles so that I could, maybe, help. That she is angry. Sad. Confused. Unhappy. Afraid. That she resents me for caring for her. Yes, that’s a thing.
Believe me when I say this was a huge job, made all the more complicated by things I won’t delve into here. It was all-consuming.
With that layer effectively gone, I’m finding that other layers of my to-do hierarchy that have been relegated to dusty corners of my brain are starting to peek out. This morning, for example, I was sitting here trying to wake up and thinking about my day when all of a sudden I “heard” what can only be described as a shout inside my head: “YOU NEED TO LOOK INTO TURNING YOUR BOOK INTO AN E-BOOK!”
I hadn’t thought about that in, well, about five years. Back in 1997, F&W Publications/North Light Books published my book How to Make Enchanting Miniature Teddy Bears. For such a niche book, it was pretty darn successful. It went out of print several years ago, but it’s always been one of the things I’ve been most proud of in my life. I’ve often wished it was available as a Kindle book, and I’d just started looking into it when life got complicated.
When I heard that “shout” in my brain this morning, my heart started beating a bit faster. My mind switched on. There are things to do, bits to investigate, decisions to make. I need to dig up 20+ year old contracts. I need to learn about the Amazon publishing process, too, and going from an already-published book to eBook format is apparently outside the norm. I’m excited! The game is afoot! I literally live for projects such as this. It’s always been my fuel.
This should be an interesting adventure, but it’s by no means the only Reminder of Me that has popped into my head over the past week. I need to melt glass again, which means having someone clean out my studio, test the equipment, do ALL the things. I also stumbled across my Things I Must Bake Successfully At Least Once In My Life list a few days ago (I’m looking at YOU, croissants!). I’ve already dipped my toes into the waters of the Amazon Affiliate and Influencer programs. I need to organize and destash things from both of my studios. I’ve picked up where I left off on writing The Great American Novel. And more. Much, much more. More than ten lifetimes worth, to be sure.
Can I do this? Can I do ANY of this? And, to be honest, does it really matter if I actually do the things? I’m almost convinced that simply remembering and rediscovering these things that are important to me — even if only conceptually — is the critical point. Reconnecting with these passions is helping me to feel whole again. It’s almost as though these bits and pieces of me are being pulled back together in an effort to recreate a cohesive “self” once again.