Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Procrastination

Learning to Listen When Opportunity Speaks

Have you heard the parable about the man and the rising flood? I found it Here: 

“A terrible storm came into a town and local officials sent out an emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood the nearby homes. They ordered everyone in the town to evacuate immediately.

“A faithful … man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying to himself, “I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will send a divine miracle to save me.”

“The neighbors came by his house and said to him, “We’re leaving and there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man declined. “I have faith that God will save me.”

“As the man stood on his porch watching the water rise up the steps, a man in a canoe paddled by and called to him, “Hurry and come into my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the man again said, “No thanks, God will save me.”

“The floodwaters rose higher pouring water into his living room and the man had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they shouted. But the man refused, waving them off saying, “Use your time to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!”

“The flood waters rose higher and higher and the man had to climb up to his rooftop.

A helicopter spotted him and dropped a rope ladder. A rescue officer came down the ladder and pleaded with the man, “Grab my hand and I will pull you up!” But the man STILL refused, folding his arms tightly to his body. “No thank you! God will save me!”

“Shortly after, the house broke up and the floodwaters swept the man away and he drowned.

“When in Heaven, the man stood before God and asked, “I put all of my faith in You. Why didn’t You come and save me?”

“And God said, “Son, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car. I sent you a canoe. I sent you a motorboat. I sent you a helicopter. What more were you looking for?”

In Julia Cameron’s book the Artist’s Way, she speaks about Synchronicity:

  • A woman admits to a buried dream of acting. At dinner the next night, she sits beside a man who teaches beginning actors.

  • A woman is thinking about going back to school and opens her mail to find a letter requesting her application from the very school she was thinking about going to. Cameron, Julia. the Artist’s Way, p. 63

Cameron goes on to say that we are often resistant to the acknowledgment of when synchronicity is at work in our lives.

“It’s my experience that we’re much more afraid that there might be a God that there might not be. Incidents like those happen to us, and yet we dismiss them as sheer coincidence. …

“If there is no God, or if that God is disinterested in our puny little affairs, then everything can roll along as always and we can feel quite justified in declaring certain things impossible, other things unfair. If God, or the lack of God, is responsible for the state of the world, then we can easily wax cynical and resign ourselves to apathy. What’s the use?” Cameron, Julia. the Artist’s Way, p. 63

As I began to read about synchronicity, I thought about the Parable of the Flood. In the flood scenario, a man refused to listen to several voices who were trying to save him from impending disaster, but I believe that we also refuse to listen to directives when they are simply trying to point us in the right direction or to lead the way to success. Julia Cameron says that because we feel unworthy of any help or any direction, we often dismiss these guiding lights.

“We call it coincidence. We call it luck. We call it anything but what it is–the hand of God….

“When we answer that call, when we commit to it, we set in motion the principle that C. G. Jung dubbed synchronicity, loosely defined as a fortuitous intermeshing of events. Back in the sixties, we called it serendipity.” Cameron, Julia. the Artist’s Way, p. 64.

For the past several weeks, I have been leading an Artist’s Way workshop, and I have begun to notice how that because of my attending to the ideas set out in Cameron’s book, I have begun to evolve.

I have faced the fact that denial is one of the forces that keeps me stuck in the quagmire of not moving forward with my ideas and my creations.  http://jackikellum.com/the-artists-way-versus-the-queens-of-denial/

I have acknowledged that I have problems with procrastination, and I have begun a program of to-do lists that I have already noticed paying off http://jackikellum.com/why-do-we-procrastinate-baby-steps-might-be-the-cure/

Because I am actively employing some of Cameron’s ideas in my life and because I am reading and re-reading the Artist’s Way now, I am also aware of the very real possibility that some voices and some lights in regards to several of my own ideas and projects have been trying to get through to me. In exactly the way that Cameron has described, I have discounted the paths that seem to be opening before me. I have told myself: “Don’t make much of this break-through or that. It is a coincidence. You simply don’t have a good hand. You have never been dealt a decent set of cards. You never will be. Don’t gamble.”

Cameron suggests that when we are given great ideas, we can also be given the means to accomplish those ideas, but she reminds us that we must move forward:

“Ideas don’t get opening nights. Finished pays do. Start writing.”  Cameron, Julia. the Artist’s Way, p. 62.

She reminds us that Joseph Campbell describes the breaks that follow as: “A thousand unseen helping hands.”

“We like to pretend it is hard to follow our heart’s desire. The truth is, it is difficult to avoid walking through the many doors that will open. …

“We say we are scared by failure, but what frightens us more is the possibility of success.

“Take a small step in the direction of a dream and watch the synchronous doors flying open.”   Cameron, Julia. the Artist’s Way, p. 66.

©Jacki Kellum May 4, 2017


Why Do We Procrastinate? Baby Steps Might Be the Cure

Image result for what about bob

If you haven’t seen the movie What about Bob?, find it and watch it today. If you have problems with procrastination, watch this wonderful film twice. You’ll probably recognize yourself somewhere in the movie, and you might also see a plausible solution for dealing with procrastination: Baby Steps.

Image result for what about bob Image result for what about bob

If you remember, Bob drove his psychiatrist stark raving mad, but before he was committed to the asylum, Dr. Leo M. Marvin had written a book titled Baby Steps. In it, he suggested tackling life’s problems in small, manageable units, rather than trying to conquer them all at once.

Image result for eat elephant one bite at a time

I know that I have problems with procrastination. In fact, when I examine all of my weaknesses, I can probably lump several of them together and file them under one big blanket heading: Procrastination.

  1. Problems with Clutter – Procrastination [I Put Off Throwing Things Away]
  2. Problems with a Dirty, Messy House – Procrastination [I Put Off House Cleaning]
  3. Problems with Weight Management – Procrastination [I Put Off Going on a Diet]
  4. Problems with Making Appointments for Doctors’ Visits, Dentist Visits, etc. – Procrastination [I Put Off Making the Call]
  5. Problems with Tax Season – Procrastination [I Put Off Getting My Taxes Prepared]

I decided that I needed to know more about my problems with procrastination, and I sought information from the website Psychology Today, where I found myself described several times Here:

” Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. For them procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one. And it cuts across all domains of their life. They don’t pay bills on time. They miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts. They don’t cash gift certificates or checks. They file income tax returns late. They leave their Christmas shopping until Christmas eve.”

Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow.” Or “I work best under pressure.” But in fact they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying “this isn’t important.” Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources avoiding.”

” Procrastinators are made not born. Procrastination is learned in the family milieu, but not directly. It is one response to an authoritarian parenting style. Having a harsh, controlling father keeps children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from internalizing their own intentions and then learning to act on them. Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion, one of the few forms available under such circumstances. What’s more, under those household conditions, procrastinators turn more to friends than to parents for support, and their friends may reinforce procrastination because they tend to be tolerant of their excuses.”

I am not a lazy person. In fact, I work at one thing or another 12 to 18 hours every day. I laboriously dig in my garden and move mounds of dirt there. I write continuously, and I work hard at finding just the right phrases and words to express myself, but for me, gardening and writing can become ways to procrastinate from doing other things.

“Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don’t take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mail is almost perfect for this purpose. They distract themselves as a way of regulating their emotions such as fear of failure.”

I suggest that all procrastinators read the article at Psychology Today, but I’ll  conclude with this final thought on the issue of procrastination:

“Procrastinators can change their behavior—but doing so consumes a lot of psychic energy. And it doesn’t necessarily mean one feels transformed internally. It can be done with highly structured cognitive behavioral therapy.”

I have decided to try a form of Baby Steps as my own cognitive behavioral therapy. I have begun making a list of things that I need to get done. Initially, when I began the list, my goals were too large and too general for me, the Procrastinator, to manage.

For instance, my messy house is an enormous problem for me, but it would be a mistake to add to my list: “Clean My House.” That goal is gargantuan and too vague for me to actually tackle. Although I have other studios, my bedroom has become my main workplace, but I also cannot clarify my list by simply saying, “Clean Bedroom.” That task is still unmanageable.

I need to break my list into small, bite-sized tasks that can be completed in an hour or less, and then I need to select ONLY one task and complete that one. In an hour or in a day, I need to complete one more task, and I need to continue to move forward until I have completely worked through my list.

To help organize myself, I have decided to keep a daily diary where I keep a running list of things that I need to do. I also want to begin writing morning pages every day, and I am organizing a daily diary type of journal, where I’ll have a form of the following To Do List for each day and the morning pages for that day, too. I don’t consider either of these things to be stuff that I am doing for any type of publication or self-expression. These are simply things that I intend to do to bring more order and functionality to my life. I found the following list online. This one might work for you, too. After I have completed a task on my To Do List, I’ll reward myself by checking that item off my list. You might prefer to give yourself a little smiley face or a star, but I believe that after an item on the list is completed, some sort of reward or ceremony is in order.

As you see below, after merely making my To Do List, I have already earned one star.

Here Is My List of Things to Do This Week Begins:

  1. Make a To Do List
  2. Get Blood Work Done
  3. Call the Family Practitioner for an Appointment
  4. Call the Eye Doctor for an Appointment
  5. Call the Ob-Gyn for an Appointment
  6. Call the Hair Dresser for an Appointment[Two
  7. Go to the Pharmacy – Shock them by picking up the meds that have been sitting there for 9 days.
  8. Paint the Rose Arbor
  9. Re-route the Grapevines
  10. Paint the Grape Arbor
  11. Paint the Hall Wall Going Down to the Art Studio
  12. Paint the Hall Wall Going Up to My Bedroom
  13. Mop the Art Studio Floor
  14. Move One Kitchen Pantry Cabinet
  15. Clean My Kitchen Stove
  16. Clean My Refrigerator Outside
  17. Clean My Refrigerator Inside
  18. Clean Off Dining Room Table – Completely – Leave No Stacks of Anything on It
  19. Clean Off My Credenza – Completely – Leave No Stacks of Anything on It
  20. Wash Sheets and Change Bed
  21. Clean Bathroom Sink Top
  22. Clean Toilets
  23. Mop Bathroom Floors
  24. Fill One Garbage Can with Junk to Throw Away that I Normally Would Not Throw Away. Regular trash does not count. [Two cans gets two listings and two stars]
  25. Completely Organize One Shelf in One Bookcase. [Two shelves gets two listings and two stars three shelves get three stars, etc.]
  26. Fill One Bag for Goodwill. [Two bags gets two listings and two stars, three bags three, etc.]
  27. Sort All of the Fleece Fabrics and Shelve Them
  28. Shelve All of the Cotton Fabrics
  29. Read One Chapter of this Month’s Book Club Book [Each chapter gets a separate listing and a separate star]
  30. Go Cut Bamboo to Create an Obelisk for the Children’s Garden
  31. Go Buy Seed for the Children’s Garden
  32. Plant Seeds in the Children’s Garden
  33. Write Morning Pages  [Each morning page writing session gets a separate listing and a separate star]
  34. Go Outside Somewhere and Write about Something Growing or Flying or Flitting in my Garden, at the Beach, by the Wayside, etc. [Each outing gets a separate listing and a separate star]

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you conquer procrastination? In Baby Steps–One task at a time. How do you stick with your program? One star at a time.

©Jacki Kellum April 27, 2017


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