To Do, Ta Done, Ta Da

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One of the frequent refrains I hear from clients is that they always feel like they need to get on top of their tasks. When they finish one set of activities, another stares them in the face. This energy drain is a significant factor in how people experience stress, but it also provides us with a way to use those challenges to strengthen our resilience and gain control of those day-to-day tasks.

This relentless drive and focus usually diminish our recognition of the importance of celebrating success. Acknowledging and honoring our achievements not only refuels our passion but also reinforces the value of our efforts, laying a stronger foundation for future challenges. Appreciation is simple but requires “intention” to make it happen.

Watching my wife, Sheila, work on her soon-to-be-released book, The Art of Grieving: How Art and Art Making Help Us Grieve and Live Our Best Lives, gave me a simple way to minimize the stress of those “to-do” lists.  She has successfully used this device for her writing, editing, and working with the publisher over the past several years. Now, she embarks on a mission to market and promote this effort, aiming to demystify grief and loss for everyone and illuminate how these universal experiences can be transformed into meaningful gifts.

Sheila’s first career was as a professional dancer. She then became a social worker and university professor, and now, as a “dancing social worker,” her focus has shifted to that of a grief advocate. In all these efforts, she demonstrated extraordinary focus and discipline. Like any performance artist, the ability to zero in on the task at hand and master it as best as possible is critical to that all-important theatrical callback.

I sometimes refer to her concentrated focus as her “Attention Intensity Disorder.” An example of this happened one spring Saturday when we went to a garden nursery and selected flats of vibrant flowers. After a morning of preparing and filling beds, I was ready to call it quits, my thoughts drifting to an afternoon ball game. Sheila, however, remained steadfast in the garden, laboring till dusk with barely a pause for water, her commitment unwavering until the last plant was tenderly placed in the soil.

Yet, what truly sets Sheila apart is her innate understanding of the importance of celebrating each milestone, no matter how small. This philosophy, which she so eloquently explores in The Art of Grieving, is manifested in her practice of marking completed tasks with a ritualistic flair.

From the initial listing of functions, the “To Do” list, to the recognition of completion, the “Ta Done” list, to the celebratory exclamation of “Ta Da,” Sheila brings a sense of delight to her process. These moments of celebration, whether they involve a high five, a shared hug, or the clinking of wine glasses, are infused with the same spirit of appreciation and mindfulness that she demonstrates in her writing.

Observing Sheila’s journey, from the inception of this book over ten years ago to this pivotal phase of bringing her vision to the world, fills me with a great sense of pride. Her relentless pursuit of her goals and her profound understanding of the human heart and its resilience in the face of loss are inspiring and revolutionary. Each time Sheila declares a “Ta Da,” she is setting an example of the power of acknowledging achievements and the beauty of sharing our journey with others. I am immensely proud of what she has accomplished and deeply honored to be part of her world, celebrating each step, each “Ta Da,” together.

The Art of Grieving will be available for prepurchase in April and will be released in May. Please drop your name off here to receive updates.

© Richard Citrin 2024

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