LIST MAKING & THE IMPORTANCE OF SHOWING UP
“The keeping of lists was for November an exercise kin to repeating of a rosary. She considered it neither obsessive nor compulsive, but a ritual, an essential ordering of the world into tall, thin jars containing perfect nouns. Enough nouns connected one to the other create a verb, and verbs had created everything, had skittered across the face of the void like pebbles across a frozen pond. She had not created a verb herself, but the cherry-wood cabinet in the hall contained book after book, jar after jar, vessel upon vessel, all brown as branches, and she had faith.”
~ Catherynne M. Valente, Palimpsest
I know the calendar says it's February, but no one would know it from the weather we have been having. It has been amazing: clear, crisp, cold nights, beautiful blue sky during the day, and a bit of warmth from the sun. It makes me extremely happy. It makes my sons worry about the snow pack and the rivers and the fish.
Maybe you have noticed or maybe not, but I took a bit of a writing break from this space over the last six weeks or so. I continued to post photos but not much else. I took up list making in a journal. Lots of lists: lists of gratitudes and ideas, lists of fears and oodles of celebrations. Lists of beautiful words and phases I love along with a list of words I find harsh and upsetting. I wrote lists of likes and dislikes: books and movies, fruit and vegetables, chores, booze, music and food, which of course lead to a list of things I want to cook and things I want to taste. There are some very specific lists included: pets I have owned, all I can remember about giving birth, childhood friends, the roses in my yard, and some of my most memorable students. There are lists of doubts and convictions, do-overs and perfection, what-if's and prayers. There is even a list of body parts I have lost or have had changed! (No, not what you are thinking!) Some lists are very long, some only have a few things under them. Pages and pages of lists. I needed the break, needed to regroup a bit and take a kind of inventory look at my life.
I did not start out to create all of these lists, or with any kind of set goal in mind. In fact at first it was just a gratitude list because I needed a break. But soon one list led to another and I found the whole thing a bit addicting. And because I knew I would never share these list, I was brutally honest and what happened over the six weeks surprised me. For one thing, I did not expect that this practice would be such an eyeopener for me. It brought back memories, good and bad, and helped me to organize them into compartments if you will. It helped me understand how much I have done with my life and how lucky I am to have had the opportunities, not to mention the time, money and support from those I love, to do some of those things. It helped me to realize, that for the most part, I have been allowed to live my life true to my morals and values, living a life true to myself. It also created a sort of bucket list of things I have yet to do and things I want to try. It helped me bring clearer focus to who I am, not who I thought I was or who others think I am, but who I really am. And when I set back and glance through those lists I am quite amazed at what a huge, beautiful life I have. I feel overly blessed, more confident and somehow very clear headed.
I have learned that it is important to make lists with dreams and goals that might never come true, and also list of failure and do-overs. But not to forget the lists that I have totally rocked, because there are many. I also learned that in order to make a list you have to show up. Showing up is really important. And mindfully showing up is essential for me. I have learned that even in the dark things can be crystal clear and that blurry can be done on purpose and does not mean you are lost or have failed. I have learned that often things in our lives show up on a multitude of lists, some good and some bad, because the lines of life are blurred and layered and messy, and so beautiful.
Will I continue? Not like I have been, for at least awhile any way, because to be honest I am a bit listed out. But I will refer back to these list, especially when darkness envelopes me or I need some inspiration. I will add to the gratitude list every night, as that has been so good and to others lists as I see fit. And after last nights Oscars, I now have a new list of movies I need to see (I have only seen one!).
These photos were taken in Seattle and Bellingham,
on crisp, clear February evenings.
I used my Nikon d7000 with my 35mm & 50mm lenses
All were taken with people I love.
thanks for stopping by today,
have a grand start to your week,