I am in the midst of preparing for a week-long birding trip with my husband. This will be the first together without our daughter in eighteen years. This morning my long “to-do” list closed in on me. I thought back to the last four days of our Alaska vacation in which “winging it” brought about some of our most memorable experiences. Here I was, facing a beautiful cloud-free November day, with a good half-day of “to-do’s.” Did they really matter? Could I seize the moment and ditch the old to-do list?

Seize the moment. On a morning walk, we spotted brilliant fall colors blazing against bright blue skies in Seattle. What's not to love? If only we make time to enjoy them.
Seize the moment. On a morning walk, we spotted brilliant fall colors blazing against bright blue skies in Seattle. What’s not to love? If only we make time to enjoy them.

Three Wins

On a whimsical walk with my dog, in a neighborhood I used to live in but seldom visit, I pondered Dan Sullivan’s advice in The Gap and the Gain. He talks about reflecting on “three wins” at the end of each day and projecting possible wins for the following day. Instead of tackling that intimidating to-do list, what if I rewrote today’s wins as:

  • Providing myself with massive self-care
  • Spending time outside with my dog
  • Packing for my morning flight

Would the world really collapse if I didn’t get another blog post out?

A beautiful deep-yellow tree caught my eye against the clear blue sky.
A beautiful deep-yellow tree caught my eye against the clear blue sky.

Seize the Moment: Simple and Good Enough

Of course not. I write on deadline for myself, to prove I can. But the question was enough to get me thinking about the broader scope of my blog. Of the lessons I return to repeatedly. Like the five-minute action in Keeping it Simple and Good Enough. What if I reminded readers of some of the tools we all can use whenever we get overwhelmed? When we all feel invisible pressure to “do everything, and do it perfectly?”

The longer I walked, the more I realized that I yearned to write something big, stupendous, and amazing. But my inner voice kept whispering KISAGE. Could I write about listening to our inner wisdom? What was my spirit asking for heading into this trip? What might my three wins be for the coming week?

I looked up and spotted a peek-a-boo treehouse. Then I smiled. I had the answer.

I spotted this gorgeous treehouse and created a story about the users. Did someone build it as a writer's retreat? for kids' sleepovers? for bird watching?
I spotted this gorgeous treehouse and created a story about the users. Did someone build it as a writer’s retreat? for kids’ sleepovers? for bird watching?

Listen to Your Spirit

If I had to put my recent thoughts to a musical score, I’d set it to Hans Zimmer’s Time (from Inception). I’ve been playing it on repeat over the last two weeks. Zimmer’s music inspires me so much that I recently acquired sheet music. I’ve been setting aside fifteen minutes a day to practice it on the piano. I wish I could create something as awe-inspiring as his music. But I am also struck by the clean simplicity of the closing bars.

My post this week is equally simple. It is a reminder to listen to your inner wisdom, what Tama Kieves calls our “spirit” in her weekly course. In it, she combines her book, Inspired and Unstoppable, with wisdom from A Course In Miracles. When we take time to trust ourselves, give ourselves massive self-care, and listen to the wisdom within, we can find our way out of any maze.

The whimsy of a turtle statuette on a bench next to a pumpkin.
The whimsy of a turtle statuette on a bench next to a pumpkin.

Seize the Moment: A Different To-Do List

So, I scrapped my to-do list and simplified it. Doing so made room for creating a short blog post. And what about my goals for the coming trip? I created them while sitting outside barefoot in the November sunshine.

Simple:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Be gracious and respectful
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Seek tiny moments of joy
  • Re-connect with my husband
The raspberry colors of this maple stand out among the green, yellow and orange around it.
The raspberry colors of this maple stand out among the green, yellow, and orange around it.

What has you stuck? What matters most? Is your ladder leaning against the right wall? Can you rewrite your list with five-minute actions in mind? At the end of the day, as you look back at what you accomplished, do you feel good about your priorities? I do. Prioritizing self-care allowed me to finish what’s most important.

Published by Courtenay Schurman

Co-author of The Outdoor Athlete (2009) and Train to Climb Mt. Rainier or Any High Peak DVD (2002), author of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills/conditioning chapter 4 (3 editions), and Peak Performance column for the Mountaineers Mag (2014-present). Member of PNWA, SCBWI, EPIC. Served on the steering committee for WOTS (2019-present). Completed UW Certificate program for Children's Literature and Memoir. Co-owner of Body Results, Inc. in Seattle. Climb leader with Seattle Mountaineers for over 15 years. Volunteer at Woodland Park Zoo since 2014.

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  1. Have a wonderful birding trip. Look forward for seeing what birds 🦅 you will capture. 🦜🦢🕊🦆🐣