Lists...Again, by Susan Beyler

My mom was a confirmed list-maker.  As I observed her manage the home, I knew this was a helpful tool.

Fast forward – I am a confirmed list-maker.  But, my life is very different than my mother’s and my lists are same and more – much more complexity.

In her life, she could cross something off the list daily, weekly and monthly.  Even though the same things would appear on the next list, the feeling of progress and movement was tangible.

Not always true in my life.  Since I mastered dummies excel, I have an on-going list that stretches back in time that can be measured in months (a few even longer!).

There’s no way I can channel the world my mom lived in into my world and I find myself having to wrestle with a bad-taste-in-my-mouth shame.

This was not a helpful tool. 

So, why keep lists that stretch back? 

In my world, it was (only) for the benefit of not having to remember what I try to remember is something I need/want to do. 

It freed up energy to put other things into my head! 

And, things do move.  It’s the priority that is in constant flux.  Keep a list long enough, and you can sort out the top ten easily.

For example:

Full list ready for the day, I was cleaning up breakfast and having that first cup of coffee.  I was sweeping and moved something and was confronted with the strange bumps all over the wall.  Another sip of coffee and I remember – I was teaching my granddaughter to use the electric mixer.  We were making frosting; she pulled the mixer up when she was done – without turning it off. 

Ok; mystery solved, work commences.

End of day – nothing moves on the list.  The cleanup just kept unfolding and had to be done. 

Sipping my tea – new realization. 

Any movement on or off the list is to be celebrated.  End of sentence. 

Having a rigid experience of list-keeping is like covering my dinner table with my Gramma’s lace tablecloth and (always) something gets spilled.  I can either freak out or rejoice when I get the stain out!  End of sentence!

Susan Beyler
Integrative Therapist, The Estuary