I’m a HUGE list maker. I’m a planner. I come by it naturally – teaching forces me to know what’s going to happen (or at least have some sort of starting idea) every minute from 8:00 to 3:15. My days operate with lesson plans and bells, and I even can tell you what time I can take a bathroom break and when I can eat my lunch. Down to the minute.
Writing lists makes me happy.
It’s normal that this sort of planning would trickle over into my non-teaching life, right? Some call it a curse.
I have lists for this week, and then a specific plan for today. I write down what I need to do, what I want to do, and what I dream about doing. I have lists for the month, lists for the summer (usually full of big projects that I don’t have time to do during the school year, like painting the living room or sorting out photos on the computer), and lists for the different stores I like to shop. I have lists for cards to send, gifts to buy, and places I want to travel.
I’m sorry – does this sound overwhelming to you? Honestly, I don’t think I could function without a list.
In 2016, I’m adding one more list: a “What will make me happy today” list.
I was inspired by a meme on Facebook that read, “Make a list of things that make you happy. Make a list of things you do every day. Compare the lists. Adjust accordingly.”
Wow- so simple, right? It made me stop and think. How many ‘happy’ things do I do every day? And why didn’t I think of this?
I had no idea that ‘happy lists’ were a THING. Wow – all the images and memes and ‘happy groups’ out there! I love it when Facebook teaches me something.
I realized that in the midst of all this listing, this recording and crossing off and getting-it-done, I was forgetting a key component.
Yes, I love the feeling of checking “it” off – that swell of joy at finally completing a long-overdue task, of not forgetting an important date or bringing something somewhere that I need to be.
But despite the momentary joyfulness, I noticed was a crucial missing piece: ME. I was missing from my own ‘to-do’ list.
I’m 50 now. Not that much has changed, really. I’m still mothering and teaching and partnering. I’m still me. Some shifting has happened – one of my kids is living in another state, quite successfully. I have one more at home for three years, and then it’s just me and my husband (imagine the kind of lists I can have then!).
I’ve decided that while I’m busy teaching and mothering and being a partner, I need to remember to do more of what makes me happy, every day. So simple, isn’t it?
But I need to not just say I’m going to do it – I need to write it down.
So every day, after I’ve written my morning pages, I’m adding a “What will make me happy today” list in my journal. It’s quite easy, and often it’s the same thing every day: 1. find time to read and write 2. spend time with C 3. take a walk and notice something 4. make something delicious to eat for my family
Writing it down, though, makes a difference. It says to me REMEMBER to do this. Take the time to squeeze in a few minutes of doing what makes you happy today. It says, “You’re important.”
I can check something off my happy list now – writing a blog post is definitely at the top.
What can you write on your happy list today? I’d love to know what’s on the top (or middle or bottom) of your list.
Do it. Now. You’re important, you know.