Fighting Parkinson’s, and 2022…the year of good days! Part 3

On January 1st, I announced 2022 as the year of good days. Today we take the good days theme and expound on it again.

Parkinson’s has a way of shaking your confidence. However, your confidence slowly can be re-built.

I felt that a big part of my problem when I had Parkinson’s was that I would look at my “to do“ list for the day and become overwhelmed. I would look at my daily “to do” list and decide that I never was going to complete it that day. This attitude was very paralyzing and made me feel completely incompetent to do anything on the list; I struggled to even get started. Emotionally, it would look like a “bad day” even before it got started.

In my recovery, I realized that this way of thinking was exactly what I was doing when I got Parkinson’s, so I would need to do something different to turn what looked like emotionally “bad days” into emotionally “good days.”

Here was my “to do” list solution:

I used two yellow pads. To the left of my laptop was the yellow pad that was my “to do“ list. I added one word to the top of the list: aspirational. My previous “to do” list became my “aspirational to do” list.

To the right of my laptop, I had a blank yellow pad. At the top of that yellow pad, it said, “to do.” I would pick one thing from the “aspirational to do” list, put a line through it, and write it on the pad to the right of the laptop that said “to do” at the top.  Then I would accomplish that one thing.

I would go back to the “to do” list and cross off the one thing that I had just completed. Then, I would tell myself, “Good job Howard, you have completed everything on your ‘to do’ list.“

At that point, I would assess how I felt. If I felt like my energy was okay and I could entertain doing another task, I would pick another thing from the pad on the left, put a line through it, add it to the pad on the right, and then accomplish it. Then, I would go back to the “to do” list and cross off the task that I had just completed. Then, again, I would tell myself “Good job Howard, you have completed everything on your ‘to do‘ list.“

Sometimes,  if I was having a day where I was feeling pretty good with more energy, I would actually get everything on the “aspirational to do” list completed. On other days, if my energy was low, I might get just a few things accomplished.

In any event, since the list to the right of my laptop was my actual “to do“ list, utilizing this process, every day I completed everything on my “to do“ list. It helped me re-build my confidence as I always completed my “to do” list to the right of my laptop. Every day became a “good day.”

This process offers many positives in your recovery. It will help you to stop worrying, actually get some things accomplished, slowly re-build your confidence, and help with your sleep (because you will feel better about yourself and because actually doing things, rather than thinking about them worrying about them only, promotes sleep as opposed to interrupting sleep)…AND: The joy you feel every day in finishing your “to do” list will ignite your dopamine flow, thus making the tasks easier to accomplish.

You can do this!

You are worth it!!!

All my best,

Howard

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15 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and 2022…the year of good days! Part 3

  1. Bob Wa says:

    Thanks for you information, very positive and a big help.

  2. Rick says:

    I find by doing little projects during the day takes your mind of the situation and if I get tired during the day I don’t hesitate or feel guilty to lay down and close my eyes for 20min or so, I find that rejuvenating. I also like to get a few things done thru the day as I feel a sense of accomplishment vanishing at moment. I’ll write it down in future and tick it off. Still doing the full recipe and fighting for that win!
    I won’t give up 😊😊😊😊 Thanks Howard and lots of love to everyone

  3. Tery and Werni says:

    Thank you very much, dear Howard, a wonderful advice
    to feel good and to start with joy!!

  4. Marie W says:

    Thank you Howard for a very practical solution to what many of us face everyday. You have been there and walked in our shoes yet you have a beautiful way of giving us hope until we achieve that ultimate recovery.

    Thanks a million
    Marie in SC

  5. Heather says:

    Thank you so much, dear Howard, I am at this very moment trying to breathe, because I have just done exactly the wrong thing and had to give up on my to do list… as soon as I have recovered, I will do as you suggest!!!

  6. Mary Ellen T says:

    Thank you, Howard, I am going to follow your advice! Sounds like a good idea, as I am trying to figure out how to get anything done! This is exactly what I need.

  7. Marie says:

    Howard, this is brilliant! Thanks for sharing this. I love the idea of the “Aspirational To Do List”.
    What a creative and practical way to focus on feeling good and celebrating achievements. Often my To Do lists are daunting in their enormity. Thinking of them as aspirational is being realistic and kind to myself. There is no way I could possibly do everything in one day, especially since I am continually adding new items. No reason to feel bad about that.
    I have been practicing this wonderful technique today. It’s fun! I really get a kick out of it! Replying to this post was on my aspirational list today. I just moved it over to next up position on the other list. And now it is done. Crossed off.

    Good job, Marie! You have completed everything on your To Do list!!

  8. Val H says:

    Faced with this rather difficult concept (for my P-brain) of having two to-do lists, I stopped reading about halfway through, feeling daunted by the text itself, and had to come back to it to grasp what Howard was saying, at which point I realised his message was relevant to something I had been trying to achieve this week in relation to clutter – the external evidence of my inner rummage.
    For ages, I have wanted to thin out the contents of a plastic drawer unit, incongruously stored in my wardrobe, containing my hand tools, paintbrushes and odds and sods for DiY projects I can no longer undertake. But every time I opened a drawer, I quickly shut it again, feeling overwhelmed by the chaos inside. I couldn’t believe how many nails, screws, wall plugs and drill bits I had accumulated – enough to stock a hardware shop. Plus, things like hooks, bolts, and THREE spare locks for the front door.
    The way I made a breakthrough was to empty the unit and pick out things that belonged together, such as my carpenter’s plane and sandpaper, and put them somewhere separate. The rest of the stuff I dumped in a crate to sort at my leisure and decide on things to give away. I imagine the charity shops are crying out for escutcheons.
    I think this is my version of Howard’s two yellow pads – decanting stuff from one receptacle to another in order to advance in stages and help me envisage the completion of the task. I didn’t think about congratulating myself aloud because I haven’t been in the habit of talking to myself, but … I just did.
    Years ago, I was a minimalist but I gradually succumbed to untidiness, which I think is as much of a precursor to Parkinson’s as constipation and loss of smell.

  9. Rabindar says:

    Thank you Howard for the practical way to organise and complete the “To Do” List for PD warriors like us. Keep motivating us with ideas for us with PD life and mind.

  10. Dianna S says:

    Thank you Howard for another brilliant idea I intend to follow. Giving myself 2 thumbs up as I accomplish to do’s will be especially good for me.
    Love & Joy to all. Dianna

  11. Ray says:

    Thank you as always dear Howard for keeping us going. I am still fighting despite every other day bringing sudden advanced symptoms which I know is qigong purification. I do tasks slowly being in each moment and being grateful for each achievement then rest. My love and best wishes to all.

  12. Karen In Ireland says:

    Hi Howard, fabulous idea but I have to be completely honest, (as is my form on here) in saying that there are some of us on here (and I am not complaining lol ) whose daily to do list would look something like this.
    Get dressed without drama 🙂
    Go downstairs and make breakfast without drama 🙂
    Make it to bathroom as often as I need to today without drama 🙂
    Be able to do my walking practice after lunch (walk from kitchen sink to back door
    (4 times on a Great day) because every day is a Good day ( I am so enjoying using that way of thinking and finding it Really helpful)
    You get the idea. I am just saying to my warrior friends whose days are similar to mine. Lads and ladies, we are still doing great. Okay we can’t do “ to do “ lists but we are blessed in what we can do and are going from strength to strength. I thank God so often throughout each day, as I feel blessed to be able to do what I can do. I thank God for Howard and my fellow warriors every day. I pondered over the weekend whether or not to write how I was feeling about this, but I know in my heart there are hundreds of people visiting this site and I know they feel deflated when they think “ oh what joy to be able to do anything outside of functioning each day. “
    Howard, you know I love you, please don’t feel that I am disrespecting this post, far from it. It is for the hundreds out there who don’t post but sometimes feel they are not progressing when they read how others are able to do tasks. I am owning it myself as that is how I felt.
    Big Love, Karen xx

    • Val H says:

      Dear Karen
      Since you were brave enough to post this honest comment after a weekend’s pondering, I’d like to say thank you for speaking up. You have done me – and others, I’m sure – a service for sharing your struggle without self-pity – and I say that as someone who often feels like a doomy voice on the blog but, like you, I still feel grateful for what I can do. And so grateful to Howard for his innovative ideas and unflagging support along the way. I hope that, one of these days, you will get to your back door, open it, and keep walking. In the meantime, if I can add one of my own things to your ‘doing without drama’ list, it’s to be able to bend down and pick up the morning paper from the floor without swearing!
      God bless you for your humour. It goes a long way.
      Val

      • Karen in Ireland says:

        Val, you are a diamond.. thank you for being you. I appreciate your comment, bless you. 😇 I laughed at your “doing without drama “ it’s the little things that make all the difference in our day..
        I would never say you were a doomy voice on the blog, Quite the opposite as you are so dry witted and I don’t think you know how funny you are, I have said that to you before. ( still think you should be writing that book, you are only in your early 60’s)
        Louise Hay didn’t publish her first book until she was 58 and had to self publish it. If you have a mouth in your head you can use a dictaphone lol . I say this incase you can’t type or write. 😊
        What’s the worst that can happen? I love writing myself, I have volumes of diaries from my childhood all the way upto a few years ago. So who knows we could both be sitting on a bestseller lol
        “ He who dares Rodney” as Del Boy would say. Lol.😊

        • Val H says:

          Or as Mae West said: ‘Keep a diary, and someday it’ll keep you.’ There’s gold in them thar diaries of yours.
          I would love to talk more about writing if there was a time and place. Suffice to say, it’s pretty important to me. Reading, likewise. If it hadn’t been for Howard’s book, I would never have found the Recipe or the blog.
          Thanks so much for your complimentary words.
          I just hope you’re using that Dictaphone yourself!

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