Monday, September 19, 2011

Common Miracles, Week 19: Listmaking

“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.”
– Pema Chodron

There are few things that bring me joy quite like making a list. I often forget that in the whirl of life and in the doing--my sometimes haphazard approach to just getting things done. But, when the whirl gets to be too much, and I sit down with "pad" and "pen" (ie my computer, once the post-it notes have piled up too thick to manage), and set a little structure to what actually needs to be done, oh, the joy that fills my soul!

I have known for a while now that the fall would bring the need to apply some additional structure and discipline to my days, and in many ways I've been looking forward to it. There are projects, some actual (paying!) and some just desired and dreamed up, that I need and want to attend to. There are personal habits I enjoy and know bring more energy and better rhythm to my days. And there's the great wish to not feel overwhelmed by all that is on my plate and not to lay there at 3 in the morning thinking about it all. Yep, that little piece I could really do without.

So the return to list making doesn't come from any other place than a need to survive; or at least, a desire to survive better than I have been. But it is an old and well-loved habit, learned happily at my mother's knee as she made lists for her day, week, month... somehow, it just seeped in. The habit sustained me in my corporate days and helped me wrangle a variety of tasks every day. And in my catering life it was essential--ingredients? Check! Menus? Check! Recipes? Check! Order in which items need to be made? Check! The one piece I never did exceptionally well was come up with an "at events" checklist so that I wouldn't leave the kitchen without an essential tool or item. That one bit me in the butt a couple of times... ice, anyone? trash bags? Yes... essential, and five miles away.

My celebration of ordinary this week is simply putting it down on the paper--putting words to what needs to get done and letting the energy from that act become momentum toward accomplishment. Just saying it like that makes me feel like I've gotten something done. (Ha. My bar is obviously a little low at the moment...)

A couple of list-like items have inspired me lately:

I don't need to clean all 40 of those places, currently, and I may not pick the order that's stated above (I went through my makeup drawer on Friday, so I'm currently 19 days off schedule!), but it's a great way to approach getting the clutter out. Gone. Poof. Vanish.

And, I signed up for a daily email that asks me: What did you get done today? Highly accountable, even if what I have to say is: napped, read, ate, watched church on TV and napped some more (hmmm, Saturday, anyone?). I am looking forward to seeing my little entries on the calendar add up over the coming days, weeks, months...

The 40 bags in 40 days poster reminds me of my springtime inspiration... 60 things in 100 days. How many days did I last with that one... hmmm. I'm pretty sure I DID get 60 things done in 100 days, but how intentional was it? (Side topic: does it matter whether it's intentional or not? Some days I say yes, some days I say no.)

So. I return to the list. I celebrate the list. I love the list. I especially love the checkmarks off to the side when items are complete, oh yes I do.

What's on your list this week? I hope you get everything accomplished that you need and want to.

My week's off to a great start; the lists are made and the checkmarks are piling up!

To learn more about the Common Miracle project and how it started, go here.


  1. I love lists, too. Maybe too much. I keep several going, but I find the best are the ones on index cards, a stack of which I keep right next to me in my studio. They aren't big enough for too many things, and I like the feel of a felt-tipped pen scrawling across the cardstock when I get to cross something off the list.

    I actually started having STAFF MEETINGS with myself a few years ago- once a week- to sit down and go through EVERYTHING I wanted to accomplish- household inventory and maintenance, work-wise, creative-fun wise, culture-wise, financially, etc. It worked really well because I would keep "meeting notes" in a notebook and I could table anything for a week or two if it wasn't necessary or important, but still have a record of it. Then I'd make a weekly to-do list from that meeting and knew I would only have to focus on those specific things.

    I don't know why I stopped doing that...

    I need to stop making all my lists "to do" lists and start making more fun lists.

  2. Oh yes, the delight of lists. I have found that retirement and isolation have contributed to fewer lists. But I am with Chel...I do need to make more 'fun lists'.

    This week? I must get off those forms that will allow the government to reward husband and me for 65 years of life.

    I will get each of my 7 gardens weeded, trimmed and prepared for winter rains.

    There are days when I say, where do I start? But there comes the pad with the pen and another list. First things first and all that jazz!

    Have a great week 'doing' and 'enjoying'.


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