To-do lists help me when I need more than a cup of ambition

I'm sure Dolly Parton knows what I'm talking about

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by Caroline Gainer |

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You know that Dolly Parton song where she tumbles out of bed, stumbles to the kitchen, and pours herself a cup of ambition? A recent day was one of those days when I need more than one cup of ambition.

Days like that one make me almost wish I was still in the 9-to-5 grind where I had so much to do that I had little time to think about it. Then I remember I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cannot tolerate the stress of running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

I consulted my COPD action plan and found that I didn’t have any troubling symptoms, so I poured myself another cup of ambition and headed toward the dressing room. Once I finished getting dressed, I turned to my list of things to do. None of them seemed tempting, so I picked the least disagreeable item.

That least disagreeable item was to water the plants. I have many spider plants in hanging baskets and some other prize offerings. Spider plants are among the best plants to provide oxygen and clean the air.

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When my to-do list does me in

I moved on to the next item on my list and so on until I completed it. In most cases, I do as much of my list as I can do. I’ve learned to pay close attention to my energy level and save enough enough to exercise at 6 p.m.

A photo of spider plants hanging in baskets.

Columnist Caroline Gainer keeps baskets of spider plants because they help filter the air in her home. (Photo by Caroline Gainer)

The list has a vital role as it supplies some extra incentive to try to get things accomplished. Without it, I’m tempted to do nothing some days, especially days like that one.

The to-do list can also be my downfall as I can be so bent on finishing it that I become too tired or ignore symptoms I should be paying attention to. Either of these things can lead to an exacerbation.

With COPD, I cannot easily rebound from those little hiccups. One night’s sleep is often insufficient to compensate for a day of overdoing it. I may need to rest the next day. If I look at my COPD action plan, it tells me to rest when I am more tired than usual.

I know I need to learn the signals my body sends out and pay attention to them. I must heed its warnings. If I overdo it, I may need a little more than just another cup of ambition.

Note: COPD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of COPD News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.