Tag Archive | lists

It doesn’t matter – Yes it does!


What you do matters. What you want matters. How you feel matters.

I’m ready to start my list and I figured out why it is so difficult. Remember those stuck points from cognitive processing therapy?  It seems I am still stuck, big time, on a major one.

“It doesn’t matter” or, related but even bigger,”I don’t matter”

Those two thoughts run rampant in my head, causing downward spirals into negative thinking, but even worse, causing numbness, thoughts of worthlessness, causing my protective shields to go up full force and dissociation to engage.

How do I get past this one when it is so huge? I need to build off those sparks I wrote about previously. Those moments when life sneaks through and I do feel something. I must be in here. And then I parent myself. What if my daughter had no desires? What if she thought it didn’t matter what she wanted? What if she thought she didn’t matter?

Okay. Wow. That hurts, unbelievably so. To even imagine for a moment another child having these thoughts is unbearably painful and brings tears to my eyes. But for me – for me it is truth. Okay. So this is how I will get my motivation and feel something, and get my head on straight. I’ll tap into this pain, because this pain is feeling alive. This pain brings me strength as it washes over me and I realize if only for a moment that if my beautiful children matter, then I must have to. I must still matter. It is just so hard to hold onto that. And now I know I matter most because I have taught my children they do matter. They know it in every cell. They will never question it or hear this in their heads. And I matter to Hubby. I now understand his pain when I say I don’t. Wow. Okay.

So if I take that realization, that raw emotion, my inner strength – how do I make a list of what I want? This is still really hard….



Stop Settling for “I Don’t Care, I Don’t Know, and It Doesn’t Matter to Me.”

It doesn’t matter how small the decision, to begin reclaiming your right to decide what you want, have a preference. Yours is just as important as anybody else’s so speak up, voice yourself.


If you are having a hard time figuring out the one thing you want from your life, why not choose thirty? That’s right. On a piece of paper, write down a list of 30 things you want to do, 30 things you want to have, and 30 things you want be before you die. Sometimes when the pressure to find just one thing is removed, the floodgates open and you discover that there are a multitude of things that you want to do with and in your successful life.

Make an “I want” List

For 10-15 minutes have a friend record your answers to the simple question, “What do you want?” During the allotted time, have your friend ask you the question over and over again. If you’re like most people, your list will range from the very material things to matters of the heart and the true revelations of who you are and what you want from your most true self. Go ahead, start asking: What do you want? What do you want? I want! I want!

So I’ve been trying to trick myself. Ask what I want (what I really really want, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want (sorry for the Spice Girls intrusion)) so quickly that I get a response before my stuck points engage and all my defenses kick in.

I also saw a comment on that page that helped a bit

“I’ve always had a hard time making “I want” lists, so I started with “I don’t want” instead. It’s amazing to see how much hard work we can put into getting things that we don’t even want. Once we eliminate some of those, it’s much easier to see what we do want!”

Things I don’t want? Hmmm let’s try that:

  1. A sunburn
  2. Trump as president
  3. Fake friends
  4. a meaningless job
  5. insects. except maybe honey bees
  6. cancer for anyone else I know
  7. to feel dead inside
  8. to fear so much
  9. to waste my life
  10. to ruin my kids’ lives
  11. to hurt or bother people
  12. to feel irritated or bored all the time
  13. to go on a cruise
  14. to scuba dive or snorkel
  15. to be alone
  16. Poison Ivy
  17. lose my sight
  18. to gamble my money
  19. noisy, smelly fish tanks in my house
  20. to be homeless

30 is hard, so I’ll stop at 20. That was interesting what popped into my brain. So let’s reverse now. What do I want? (remember – do not think about money or what feels possible, only what you want. If you want it but think “that will never happen”, it still needs to be on the list) The first thing I keep hearing is: travel. Go somewhere. Get out of the house. Get out of the state. See something new. Do something.

  1. Travel somewhere I have never been before that has an amazing natural view, landscape, or rich history – mountains, lakes, caverns, forests, rivers, estates, cabins,  mansions, museums, parks, etc
  2. Experience Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue live with full symphony
  3. Take kids to see Joseph and Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  4. Go to a concert without kids – Zac Brown, 21 Pilots, Jack Johnson, Shaggy, Lumineers, Chili Peppers, Chicago…so many options
  5. Walk on a white sand beach
  6. Take kids to Niagara Falls
  7. Write a novel (finish the one I started ?)
  8. See the stars in the giant telescope at the observatory
  9. Hear a jazz band in New Orleans
  10. Sit on a horse (I’m not allowed to ride…)
  11. Paint a large painting from my heart
  12. Join a club or meetup group (hiking, art, photography, writing, book club, drum circle…)
  13. Explore Machu Picchu
  14. Take canoe trip down a river
  15. Join a performance group – get on stage again
  16. Take a weekend getaway with hubby and no kids
  17. rescue and train dogs, certify service dogs
  18. grow fresh herbs indoors
  19. illustrate a children’s book
  20. write and illustrate a book of poetry
  21. get a tattoo
  22. save the world
  23. research and write about the brain and behavior
  24. cure PTSD
  25. find where I fit in, a job with meaning
  26. make a friend to have a coffee with once in a while
  27. be a good person, feel like a good person, feel like a person
  28. See original art from Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Dali, Botticelli, Michelangelo….
  29. Do something that afterwards I say “I can’t believe I just did that!”
  30. Drive a fast motorboat

What do you want to do today?

What if there was no tomorrow? What if you couldn’t rely on tomorrow and another tomorrow and another to delay your dreams, goals and desires? What do you want to do today?

This video is from one of our favorite shows, Phineas and Ferb. Everyday these boys fight summer boredom by coming up with something outrageous to do. So many catch phrases and twisted plots, nerdy humor, and awesome musical numbers. Everyday they say I know what I want to do today. And then they do it. Whether it is building a roller coaster, a time machine, a winter wonderland, robot clones…And of course their pet platypus is actually a secret agent fighting against an evil scientist and no one knows… We just love this show.

I’m guessing most of you spend most of your time doing things you don’t want to do. You trudge through life, running endless errands, doing tedious chores. Maybe you don’t hate your job, but most people seem awful happy to get a day off. But then how do you spend your day off? Escaping life in front of the TV? Are you bored? Tired? Do you even know it?

When is the last time you truly felt alive?


I’m not sure most of us are actually living. If you are, please ignore this. I do know some people that skydive and run with the bulls or climb Mt Everest or whatever. Or I know some people that are going back to school to pursue the career they actually wanted. Living can take very different forms but I do think some key ideas are central.

How to feel alive:

  1. Do something you want to do everyday, not only out of obligation
  2. Tackle your fears – you decide which ones need tackling
  3. Have multiple goals, little ones and big ones, and not all of them related to self-improvement, some are just for fun because you want to do them
  4. Practice mindfulness, live in the moment, experience everything NOW

I think that’s how to get started. I say I think, because I am not truly living. I can’t tell you the last time I felt alive. It has been years, many years. I am idling through life right now, going through the motions of what needs to get done. I enjoy moments, not saying that I don’t. This is different. I might enjoy leveling up in my video game, or that snuggly feeling watching a movie with my kids on my lap. Those are nice. But they don’t fuel me, keep me going, or make me feel alive, move me towards a greater goal, define me, fill me with awe or rock my world if you will.

I want to be amazed. I want to be overjoyed. I want to be excited. I want to feel.

I want to learn. I want to create. I want to grow. I want to experience. I want to share.

I want to feel alive.

So I’m going to start a list full of things I want to do, fears I want to tackle, and goals I want to accomplish. I would list it now for you, but I can’t. My list is sadly empty. White space and crickets. I don’t know what I want. Hmm. So I guess then

Goal #1 – figure out what I want and make a list

There I started it!!

Alphabet Soup in My Brain

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PTSD for me seems to cause symptoms seen in ADD and OCD. It seems my brain gets stuck, or gets scrambled, and is rarely just buzzing along nicely. I generally have too many thoughts, not all negative thoughts any more, constantly bumping into each other in the most rude way. See just as one thought gets started and I think, Ohh that would be interesting, then another thought carelessly interrupts and off I go in another direction.

Here’s an interesting article about PTSD and the brain:


Excerpt “Many parts of the brain are likely to be involved in PTSD.  However, in recent studies two structures in particular have been highlighted – the amygdala   and the hippocampus  . The amygdala receives inputs from the thalamus   and the cortex, and sends efferents to the brainstem  , hypothalamus   and striatum. It is possible that these circuits are important in responding to threatening information from the environment via the autonomic, neuroendocrine and motor systems. Preclinical studies indicate that amygdala circuits are involved in fear conditioning and extinction . . . The hippocampus receives inputs from and sends efferents to both amygdala and the cortex.  The hippocampus plays an important role in memory, and these circuits may be involved in mediating explicit memories of traumatic events and in mediating learned responses to a constellation of cues (“contextual fear conditioning”).  Furthermore, preclinical studies demonstrate death of hippocampal neurons and hippocampal shrinkage after exposure of animals to chronic stress.”

I score high enough on the ADD and OCD tests to be medicated, but have chosen to try behavior/thought modification first and continue on my med-free healing path, thinking the main issue is PTSD. I am coping fairly well, but often have this feeling of disorientation, like thoughts are not in the right order in my brain. I have too many related thoughts all flooding the gate at once and I have to work so hard to focus on one. And then I get stuck on it, but it feels so good to be stuck and focused, no more interruptions, except I actually can’t stop then and nothing becomes as important as my new focal point.


Around noon I open the dishwasher, start unloading it. Then remember that unloading silverware is the 4 yr old’s job, so I call for him. He does not come immediately, so I see what he is up to, and break up a lego fight between brothers. Then I supervise while they make up, and put some legos away. Then I put some dirty laundry in to the hamper. Then I see my book and look at the clock and think I don’t have time to read now.

Then the kids are hungry, so I fix some lunch. I get annoyed that the dishwasher is open and close it to avoid bumping my ankle. As I clean up lunch plates, I see the sink is full, completely full and can not hold anything else. I open the dishwasher and take out a bowl. I can’t remember which shelf we put these on now. I open every cupboard and find similar bowls. I need to nest them to have enough room, and I find some christmas gift cards we tucked up there for safe keeping. I get online and check the balance.

Kid 2 sees me on the computer and asks if I’ll play a game with him. We play together a bit and then a text comes in, Hubby is leaving work and asking do I need anything from the store. I leave the game and look in the fridge and pantry and text back a shopping list. I get thirsty for something in the fridge and have to get a cup from the dishwasher, nothing clean on the shelf. I stack all the cups from the dishwasher together to put them away, but leave them on the counter when I hear my work email bing. Team member asking a question, needs a quick reply, but it doesn’t have a quick answer so I work on that. I get tired from the research and re-writing that email so many times to get my message across clearly. I feel tired and think of my bedroom, currently being re-painted, and think I should shop online for a new comforter. I spend over an hour going from site to site even though I will not be ordering online, because I can’t buy a fabric without touching it first – it has to be soft. I feel angry for wasting time, and then very very overwhelmingly tired. I think I must need coffee.

Stacks of cups are blocking the coffee pot, so I put them in the cupboard first. I can barely get water out of the faucet because the dishes are piled so high, so I open the dishwasher again. I’m feeling tired and restless now, and see the spatula and think it would be nice to make some cookies. That’d be a nice surprise for Hubby to come home to fresh warm cookies. But my counters are a mess, full of dirty dishes that don’t fit in the sink. I keep unloading dishwasher. And then hyper-focus on the kitchen. Nothing distracts me this time so I get stuck and clean feverishly for the next 2 hours.

I didn’t think to start any dinner though. I didn’t make any cookies. I didn’t get back to work yet. I get angry at myself for wasting a day. Somehow, it is 6pm, and all I did was clean the kitchen a bit, and I still have 6-8 hours of computer work. But wait – didn’t I work a bit? I remember some emails. I have to look up the times I sent replies to fill in my timesheet. I forgot to record my earlier work. Now I scan my memory, surely I worked in the morning too? Look at recent docs, internet history and figure out I actually worked quite a bit already but did not record any of it. Good news, but frustrating to try to accurately get paid that way.


Enough of that. Just trying to illustrate how irritating it is to be me, to be so forgetful, so easily distracted. It makes it difficult to trust myself. And it is uncomfortable. I never did get a drink, or the coffee, and probably didn’t eat lunch. I lose time so easily and always need to redirect myself. It is exhausting, like monitoring a child, but it is me.

I have so many lists, charts, and calendars to keep me on schedule and not forgetting anything major. Just have to remember to look at them.