My Ship Will Float, as Long as I’m Listing

4 May

I have a love/resent relationship with lists. I love them because they keep me on track—help me prioritize. Without lists I’d fall completely apart, and I’d have to change my standard salutation to “I’m so sorry…”

The resent side I’ll explain later.

Scattered through my home are myriad notebook pages, index cards, junk mail envelopes, and napkins, all bescrawled (sure, it’s a word) with reminders. I carry some from room to room as I work; others are actually filed. Filing is on my Saturday list.

Of all my memos, the most important is my daily “Priorities” list. I start this at the beginning of every week, optimistically attaching a huge “Monday” label to the top, which I then replace with a smaller “Tuesday,” and an apologetic-looking “Wednesday” as the week progresses. By Thursday, I usually have to start over because I’ve added and crossed off too much to make sense of it any more. I’ve never crossed off everything on the list. Well, I could, technically, so let’s say instead that I’ve never actually completed every task on a list.

Aside from my daily list, I keep lists of tasks other family members have to accomplish…particularly my teenager, whose most common query response is, “Sorry, I forgot.” This paper is usually left on the kitchen table so it can be easily spotted by said teenager. Somehow though, it often disappears.

Then there’s the “Some Day” list, which consists of all my promises to myself and others that I truly intend to get to, but…well, you know. This list survives on the premise that one day I’ll get to the end of my daily list and wonder what I should do next. Research phone plans? Make an eye appointment to see whether I need glasses? Visit that web page someone told me about? Spray the couch with fabric guard before it’s—what? That thing is five years old? Well then, I can cross that off the list. The good thing about the Some Day list is it kinda self-regulates that way.

I keep my Prayer List in a prominent place on a neon yellow card. Those of you with ADD know that a neon yellow card will not be ignored. I try to look at a different name each time the card catches my eye. Most days, I get through the entire list. If you’ve asked me to pray for you, know that I’m praying for you.

My “books I want to read” list gets longer every day. I rarely update this because I like remembering those I did read, and I jot notes beside them: Unbroken—highly recommend! Brave New World—good read but disturbing; Sweet Potato Queen’s Book of Love—not for me, thank you. (Which reminds me to ask you: I’m always looking for humorous books, and I’m SO often disappointed because humor requires more than a funny title…what hilarious books have you read lately?)

And yes, of course I have a bucket list. At the top is my hope to go a week without my lists. Just below that is the experience of seeing my book on a store shelf—and not because I put it there…

I also have lists of blog ideas, short-story ideas, potential publishers and magazines I’d like to check out, birthdays (a list I always seem to look at after someone’s birthday), quotes that touched me, and dogs I’d consider adopting when I one day move to a house with a huge back yard…I don’t think you should tell my husband I’m keeping that list.

So, what’s the down side of keeping lists? For one thing, I become dependent on a piece of paper I cannot always find. For another, it’s difficult to bend when a new item wants to not only work its way onto the list, but be seated at the top. And finally, some days I wonder whether I’m using the lists or they’re using me.

This past week was particularly busy, with my husband leaving for a trip that required some administrative and logistical assistance; a neighbor who left town and asked me to feed and walk her dog; a teen staring at SOL tests for which he’s woefully unprepared; doctor’s appointments; funky car noises that must be addressed; oh, and I work.

Interestingly, to me anyway, I felt peace as I worked through the lists. I was busy, and tired at the end of each day, but at peace. It was, dare I say, a fun challenge.

List of tasks

Sometimes you just have to walk away from the list…

With obsessive focus and a lot of prayer, I made it until Thursday before my ship started listing (see what I did there?). Then a sweet friend reminded me about something that should have been on my list but wasn’t, which needed to be done that day. As she was talking to me, I remembered I hadn’t picked up my son’s completed physical form from the base clinic, and that they’d said they would hold it only 10 days. I tried to focus on her words as my brain tried to calculate whether this was day 9 or 10. ADD will not let go at times like this. Nor will that voice that tells me I’ll never get it right. I went to my car and allowed myself a brief sob.

My sobs turned to prayer, as they often do, and I prayed for the peace I’d felt at the beginning of the week. Immediately I thought of my friend and former boss, Carrie. One reason I love her is because whenever someone pointed out a mistake her editors might have made, she’d respond with, “and how many words did they get right?”

She gets it. Instead of focusing on the …wait while I add ‘em up…FORTY-SEVEN tasks, responsibilities, and promises I made good on, I let myself melt into a woe-is-me puddle of self-proclaimed inadequacy over two I’d forgotten. In reality, I’m doing pretty darned well, thank you very much.

Long story short, it was day 9, and I did get the task accomplished, but not before accepting that none of us will ever get everything done. When I shed this temple and start on my Kick the Bucket list, I will leave behind many uncompleted tasks. As long as everything I do here, I do for the King, I’m doing just fine.

Ha. The devil thought he had my number…but it’s unlisted.

~~~~~

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” 

–Colossians 3:24

__________________________________________

May’s Christmas Year-round Suggestion

Invite a neighbor or two to your home for an evening, particularly some you don’t know. An evening can be so much more relaxing when it’s not one of many seasonal engagements. I recommend you nix the eggnog, however.

11 Responses to “My Ship Will Float, as Long as I’m Listing”

  1. Christine May 4, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    I confess, my life is run by lists and they are constantly evolving creatures. I used to drown myself in post-it notes, but now I use the list app on my phone and I love it because I can set reminders with the list items. There are no more piles of post-its and each list is always easy to find. Some of the apps have a website version as well, such as wunderlist. https://www.wunderlist.com/ Might be worth adding this to one of the lists.

    • pjoy93 May 4, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

      Ha, that’s funny. I’m still not with the tech scene though. I don’t even like it when the GPS tells me what to do. Not sure I’m ready to take orders from the phone…;)

  2. lisa May 4, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    i’m keen on lists – grocery lists; things to do lists; the-most-incredible-ideas-ever lists; etc. my problem is i forget to bring the grocery list with me when shopping; things to do never get done cause i’m the world’s biggest piddler; ideas that seems so great at 3 a.m. rarely are at 3 p.m.

    • pjoy93 May 4, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

      Oh, I forgot the grocery list…then again, I always do. Pretty effective cost-saving measure, buying only what I can remember was on the list.

  3. Allyn Bamberger May 4, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    Rose, as a fellow sufferer of ADD, I completely understand this problem! I, too, keep lists, but, perhaps, not so extensive as yours. I have learned to forgive myself when I don’t complete a list, and I start over the next day. Now that I know that I don’t have to be perfect, since that’s not possible anyway, I’m under much less stress. Thank you, Jesus, for that Knowledge!

  4. Ed Speare May 4, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

    So do you ever add something to your list and cross it right off because you just did it, but it wasn’t on the original list? Blessings, Ed Speare

    • pjoy93 May 4, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

      All the time! I figure it would have gone on the list had I remembered it earlier. 🙂

  5. Rebecca Webb May 4, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    The Rosie Project was a fun book for me.

    • pjoy93 May 4, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

      Never heard of it, Rebecca, but I’ll sure give it a try. Thanks!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. State of the Portrait Writer Report | The Portrait Writer - December 31, 2015

    […] May I shared with you my love/hate relationship with lists in My Ship Will Float, and I finished out the month on an overwhelming high with the cover reveal for my first book, […]

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