I’ve been making lists lately.

Every day, I pull out my newest little notebook, the size I like most for lists, and write out the things I’d like to accomplish before the day’s end. There’s a lot of laundry, dinner making, and dusting. Four days a week, the word “run” appears, sometimes followed by a question mark.

Logistical (take a kid somewhere at some time) and organizational (please put your laundry away, Jenna) things take up a lot of space on these little white pages, blue ink sometimes smeared by writing too quickly or the gloppy pen I love so much. These things, these do this and be there things, can easily be checked off, finished, categorized, happily quantified.

It pleases me to check them off.

But sometimes I put not-so-easily-quantifiable things on my lists.

You know. The things you can’t just easily check off.

Write. Write what? Write a post? This list? A letter to my daughter? A poem? A note to my husband? A song? Any part of that book still clamoring around inside my head? But instead, I just write the one word. Write. And I stare.


Photo. Photo… graph? Photograph what? The kids? The dog? The chickens, for certain. My husband? Inanimate objects? Flowers? Sunsets, obviously. Chucks hanging off ledges of things? (Yes.) Emotions? Darkness? Light? Or am I to print new photos to hang in our space, to remind us of things and times already happened, already passed?

Be kind. It’s been my thing for quite some time, but it’s hard to check it off daily. Yes, I offered compassion and empathy to my kids when they did something they weren’t supposed to do, but then I lost my cool when they pestered me for the umpteenth time about something, about anything. I held a door and offered a good day to an elderly gentleman, but I glared impatiently and mouthed a few choice words to the old woman who cut me off. Do unkindnesses negate kindnesses? Do I need to uncheck the box once I’ve already checked it off for the day?

Breathe. I write this knowing that I will breathe as it is a vital bodily function. But that’s not what I mean, not the full extent of what the word means to me. I want to stay in this calmer place I’ve found myself in, but sometimes I get ten kinds of spazzy when something isn’t where it’s supposed to be or I make a mistake or the anxiety just builds up and up and up and up. It’s in those moments I want to take a step back, take a deep breath, and come at the situation in a calmer, more peaceful manner. But if I have two peaceful moments and ten spazzy moments, can I check this off my list.

I don’t know.

I know that I keep writing these things on my lists. I keep wanting to write, to photograph, to practice kindness, and to breathe. I keep wanting to come back to these things, these things which matter so much but don’t fit easily into boxes. I write them because I want to remember them, to practice them, to keep them close to my heart and mind.

At the end of the day, I just want to look at my list and think back over the things I’ve done and said… and I want to feel a peace with it all. Even the laundry left undone or the email left unreturned. I want to know I tried and maybe failed and that, really, it’s all okay.


4 Replies to “Lists”

  1. These types of things go on my to do lists, also. But, I don’t consider them things to do — I consider them ways to live. That means I never check them off or scratch them out or consider them done. They are mantras or little prayers. Reminders of what’s beyond, behind, and all around the things that ARE to do.

  2. What Denise said. Lists aren’t all about things that need to get crossed off. Sometimes they are intentions. Writing is often on my list but rarely gets marked off but I’m always writing in my head. Sometimes I write in my head for weeks (months!) before something ever gets put down in words.

    Sometimes items are on lists to remind us there’s more to life than to do lists. They remind us how to live.

  3. this post really inspired me :)

    Sometimes I’m moving so fast through my week that I end up doing things less than logically. I love the “breathe” idea and the lists – not particularly the to-dos but the little reminders that tell us to live by our values each day. Very nice :)

  4. you write “be kind” and i love it. my personal opinion is that if the kind moments add up to more than the not so kind moments and yes, absolutely cross it off. i have a feeling you will always cross it off.

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