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alistI woke up this morning at around 3:00 and realized about ten minutes later that I was not likely to go back to sleep as my mind had begun ticking off things on an already-made list and things that I needed to add for completion in the next few days. I gave up trying and, in a rare move, got up to read what was left of our “assignment” for the book club meeting tomorrow. I smiled at God’s sense of humor as I read the chapter heading: Intention: Slow Down. Sprinkled throughout the chapters of this book (Life Is A Verb by Patti Digh) there are activities which the author calls challenges. What I read before I was finally able to go back to sleep for two more hours certainly fell under that title. There were two parts to the challenge. I was happy to see the first part because I have recently begun such a practice – at least while I eat – but the second will, I think, be the more difficult process for me. Here is what Patti recommended.

  1. Today, for one hour, imagine that you can only do one thing at a time. If you are drinking coffee, you can’t check e-mail. If you are talking to your neighbor, you can’t be folding laundry. If you are walking to get your mail, you can’t be talking on your cell phone. If you are eating, you can’t be reading. One. Thing. At. A. Time. Try it.
  2. Write for five minutes without stopping in answer to this question: What is on my to-do list today? List every single thing you need to do today, those things that are past due, and those things that are coming up. Stop. Now write for five minutes on this question: What must I do or I shall die? Using your answer to the question, What must I do or I shall die, practice different ways to say no. For the next 37 days, when you are asked to add something to your to-do list, if it doesn’t match your do-or-die-list, say no.

How outrageous these thoughts are to someone with an overactive sense of responsibility! They did not, however, keep me awake. As a matter of fact, I went back to sleep rather quickly, so perhaps there is something in these “challenges” that I am called to consider. It can’t hurt…and might help considerably! I can only try…