Square boxes and a task listed on its side. I look down at my phone and brace myself for the day that follows. I hold a gentle space for how I feel overwhelmed at the tasks ahead. I try to invite curiosity for today, curiosity allows me to feel the excitement. The excitement stems from the opportunity to learn something that might shift my perspective, allow me to look at things differently.

A kind friend shared with me how they write a note on their to-do list as an affirmation of what they were feeling at the moment. The affirmation, they shared, helped them be present with where they were today and how it might shape their day.

As I write this, I realize how powerful a tool it was. To be able to offer love inwardly as we attempt to go about our days working through our to-do lists. Acts in real life, outward forms of activity.

I pick out a marker and write at the top of my list,
"You can go at your pace, N. You chose to begin, celebrate the tiny wins."

And for a week after, I chose to continue this experiment of mine. I wrote a sentence, an affirmation in some capacity, on top of my to-do list. And in the little ways, it changed how I went about my day. The sentence on top was my offering an allowance of love to myself, to navigate my day and meet myself where I am, every day. On the rough days, and the lighter ones, too.

I recall Susan Sontag writes about journaling and I draw that parallel to the lists we create in notebooks, on our phones. As I tried to find one, honest sentence to describe how I felt and scribbled it on top of my list, I was, in part, building a sense of self. A sentence that allowed me to reconnect with how I felt, what lay ahead for me, and an offering of hope.

'In the journal, I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself. The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it.'