Thursday, January 15, 2009

Are you a Listmaker?

Are you a listmaker?

I read recently someone’s blog opinion (can we call that a blogpinion? an opinog?) that making lists doesn’t work. Much too late for me, as I’ve been working off  lists for most of my life.   My addiction (for that is what it has become) began was when I was packing for sleep-away Girl Scout camp and mom said, “Make a list.” So with pencil stub and paper in hand I began: official green vinyl Girl Scout swim cap. Equally official green Girl Scout bathing suit (not allowed to swim in civilian suits). Non-mandatory but definitely desirable Girl Scout button-down sweater. Day-of-the-week underpants - helpful to keep track of which day is which. Knee socks (with the removable green Girl Scout band and tassel at the top). Home made sit-upon for the obvious reasons. Mess kit for cookouts. And so it went. My first list, neatly printed and later checked off as I packed. The process was comforting and reassuring and thus…I was hooked.

There was a predictable progression to my lists as I grew older.  From that first Girl Scout trip, I moved on to bigger and better lists:  planning the perfect guests and decor for my first boy-girl party, enumerating the names of every cute boy in 9th grade (and how my first name would sound with their last name), brainstorming topics for my college thesis, obsessing over who to sit with whom at the wedding, the girl and boy list for baby names -- and my personal ultimate list -- the daily list I made each morning in my teaching career. Even though I had my lessons planned for the week and really the entire month in advance, I never really decided until that day how it would really go -- based on what had happened the day before, the weather, my mood, just so many things.  My list-making ritual each morning was my one-minute meditation and organizer.  And I don't think I'm alone in this.  I think that blogpinioner might just be wrong, in certain cases at least.  

I find kindred spirits in the List World everywhere I go. Here is one little soul whom I love dearly, and maybe you do too...

One morning Toad sat in bed.
"I have many things to do," he said. "I will write them all down on a list so that I can remember them."
Toad wrote on a piece of paper: A List of things to do today.
Then he wrote: Wake up.
"I have done that," said Toad, and he crossed out: Wake up.
Then Toad wrote other things on the paper.
Eat breakfast | Get dressed | Go to Frog’s house | Take walk with frog | Eat lunch | Take nap | Play games with Frog | Eat supper | Go to sleep
"There," said Toad. "Now my day is all written down."
He got out of bed and had something to eat. Then Toad crossed out: Eat breakfast.
Toad took his clothes out of the closet and put them on.
Then he crossed out: Get dressed.
Toad put the list in his pocket. He opened the door and walked out into the morning. Soon Toad was at Frog’s front door. He took the list from his pocket and crossed out: Go to Frog’s house.
Toad knocked at the door.
"Hello," said Frog.
"Look at my list of things to do," said Toad.
"Oh," said Frog, "that is very nice."
Toad said, "My list tells me that we will go for a walk."
"All right," said Frog. "I am ready."
Frog and Toad went on a long walk. Then Toad took the list from his pocket again. He crossed out: Take walk with Frog.
Just then there was a strong wind. It blew the list out of Frog’s hand. The list blew high up into the air.
"Help!" cried Toad. "My list is blowing away. What will I do without my list?"
"Hurry!" said Frog. "We will run and catch it."
"No!" shouted Toad. "I cannot do that."
"Why not?"asked Frog.
"Because," wailed Toad, "running after my list is not one of the things that I wrote on my list of things to do!"

I can SO relate to Toad’s zen-like dilemma! Toad and Teri. BFFs. Sigh. Never you worry, though. Toad eventually remembers the very last thing on his list.  And there is the lesson in lists -- they are ours to make, and we can always end them and start again.  (And having a friend like Frog around isn't so bad either.)

"Go to sleep!" shouted Toad. "That was the last thing on my list!"
Toad wrote on the ground with a stick: Go to sleep. The he crossed out: Go to sleep.
"There," said Toad. "Now my day is all crossed out!"
"I am glad," said Frog.
Then Frog and Toad went right to sleep.

From "The List" from Arnold Lobel's [Frog And Toad] Together ISBN:0064440214


GardeningJo said...

One can never go wrong with Toad & Frog!

I believe I go from one extreme to the other. I'm either a compulsive list maker (ala Toad) or I'm not (and when I'm not, I don't even make a grocery list). Right now, I'm not. But when I get through this minor funk, I expect to be at it again.

However, my forever on-going lists are not affected by my curious habbits above. By on-going I mean my lists of my story idea's, my all time favorite books, my all time favorite movies, places I want to see before I'm no longer physically able to or I die (which ever may happen first!), things I would love to do with my life before I'm physically unable to or I die, people who inspire me... I was able to cross off a number of things from my places & things list in 2008, which felt wonderful!

Linda said...

Hi Teri...I have only just discovered your blog - and I love it.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your recent posts whilst eating my lunch over the past half hour.
I must admit I love making lists. I don't read them again after they've been written...but I find the initial stage very satisfying...
Linda x

paperqueen said...

Ah, something else we have in common. I am a list maker. Like Toad, being able to cross something off a list gives me great satisfaction. I often put a few easy things on my list just to get me motivated.
I have two lists saved on my computer...a packing list for when I travel, and a grocery list. I print them out and use them all the time. One friend said that made me quite the nerd. I don't care. I love my lists!

Lizzi said...

I love your list story about going to Girl Scout camp! That's how I was taught to be a listmaker by my GS of a mom and grandma. Now, I always have some form of a list with me. Granted, not everything gets crossed off my list, and many items spur new lists, but that's what I love about being the boss of my own lists! I even have the book of lists I guess that makes me a list nerd.

Holli said...

HUGE list maker here...HUGE. I've been known to make lists that say things like "eat breakfast, shower, shave legs, etc." I list it all. I don't know when I started or who got me started doing it. I've always made lists and no one else in my family does. No one. At least not obsessively like I do!!

Christy said...

I am a list maker. Just not so much a list follower. Sometimes I can't remember what I did with the list in order to follow it. But I definitely make them.

Cindy said...

I am also a list maker and really enjoyed your post! After losing them one too many times, I now carry around a little notebook in my purse for my 'lists' and other really important stuff! :)

trosekay said...

OMG, I'm cracking up! I love both your story of getting hooked on lists and Toad's story.

Personally, I need to create more lists...I tend to only create to-do lists when I'm very overwhelmed and need to figure out how to start eating the elephant. I agree with your statement that we get to start and finish them as we choose which is very rewarding. Great post!

teri said...

I don't know who comes back to read comments on comments, but I have to comment that I loved these comments. Hilarious!

dragyonfly said...

Obsessive Lister here...My lists include such things as, getup, get coffee (duh)take shower(LOL)eat, exercise(gag)pick up grandchild at school(once I forgot her, bad granny!)cook dinner...etc.
If I don't I fall apart during the day and forget all I need to do. I also take things off today's list ( such as fill out FAFSA for incoming college kid) and put them on tommorrow's list. I have lists for nearly every day of the week. You should see me at Christmas...Im in list overdrive.

Great topic....
Signed.........the Toad.

Leann said...

Hey Teri, thanks for the post.
It's nice to know that we are all embracing the changes life throws our way.
I am also a list maker, but always forget them somewhere!
oh where, oh where, can that darn list be, or where oh where could it be?
I also have purchased that new book about art taking flight. I can't remember the title word for word, but love her drawings. She's very inspirational.