Monday, January 4, 2010


A new year, another list to make! I love to make lists - of things I need to do, places to go, books to read - a list on paper is a visualization of possibilites.

I also use lists as a way to get information out of my head so I can quit stressing. Why give yourself the pressure of trying to remember things when you can easily put it on paper? Mom taught me this valuable tool when I was a stressed-out teenager who couldn't sleep due to...well, whatever teens stress about. One night I lay in my bed staring at the ceiling, and when she asked me what was stressing me, I said in tears, "Everything!" So she sat on the edge of the bed with a pen and paper and made me list every single thing that bothered me: tests, rehearsals, an upcoming speech, an insensitive comment from a friend. And once everything was on paper, I saw that it wasn't so overwhelming after all. We looked at the list and determined whether or not I could do anything about any of the items. And after it all was out of my head and onto paper, I could sleep.

And boy does it feel good to mark off things as I accomplish them. When I was a kid and hated to clean my room, Mom used to write a checklist of jobs to help me complete the sometimes huge task. At the top she wrote "Shannon's To-Do List," and then drew boxes next to each item. I got immense satisfaction in putting a checkmark in each box as I put all my books on the shelf or put my stuffed animals on the bed. Lists made the job bearable.

I have about eight resolutions on my list for this year, and I predict that I will complete three of them. But that's okay. Some are difficult (finish my book, eat better) and some are easy (walk George to the park instead of driving, take my vitamins every day) but either way, when I accomplish anything I will be happy in the mere knowledge that I am bettering myself in some way. I'll find happiness in any small success.

Tonight my husband and I are going to watch the movie Patton, because we are making our way through the American Film Institute's list of the 100 best movies of all-time. When it's over, I will cross out the word "Patton" with a bright blue highlighter and bask in the satisfaction of another accomplishment.

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