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

Sunday, January 11, 2009

All Clad

I had the first niggling feeling months ago. That uncomfortable sort of tingling sensation you get before a sneeze. You know something is on the way, you wait for it, but you’re not quite sure when it will arrive.

In my case it had to do with the idea of cooking. Anyone who knows me also knows that I’m generally not an accomplished cook. I’ve managed to raise two kids on a working knowledge of good Italian sauce, meats and pasta – but other than these ethnic staples I cannot braise a beef or poach a pear. The stories of my failures in the kitchen are legion and date back to my teens -- and I fully embrace these debacles. But lately I’ve had this FEELING that I wish I could enjoy cooking the way I enjoy reading or drawing or other things I do in my life.

For me, the first step was the awareness. Once I was consciously aware, things began to present themselves to me. It’s like noticing the color green on St. Patrick’s Day. You start to notice it everywhere.

So being aware of cooking, I started noticing cookbooks – and before long I came across two that were perfectly suited for me, and one in particular gave step-by-step instructions on really enjoying the materials you work with – in this case, the pots and pans. Now, THIS is a new concept to me, and I discussed it at length with my friend who happens to love cooking. Incredible. People actually love their pots and pans….can you imagine? These pans are special because they have superpowers. They DO special things – like caramelizing or evenly distributing heat.

So suddenly, I’m seeing cooking in a completely different way. I’m thinking about being “intentional” about what I am doing in this activity, rather than just throwing some stuff in a pot and tapping my toe until its done. (For those of you who love to cook, I KNOW you can’t relate but there must be someone out there like me who is shaking their head in agreement?.)

Anyway, my point today is that I’m learning to take each small thing I do and ask myself if I am doing it consciously and fully and in the best possible way I can – or if I am just marking time and getting it over with. Because to do that would be to trade away moments of one’s life for absolutely nothing at all.

I’ll let you know when my pots and pans arrive.

Weaving our Dreams

Something for my Soul Journal group.  The prompt was called Weaving our Dreams, and I referred to Christine Kane's 2007 Resolution Revolution blog for help with words that resonated with me.  So fun!  This is the first Soul Journal prompt that I actually finished on time.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Our Cats' New Year's Resolutions

I will not slurp fish food from the surface of the aquarium

I will not eat large numbers of assorted bugs, then come home and throw them up, so my humans can see that I'm getting plenty of roughage.

I will not lean way over to drink out of the toilet, fall in, and then bolt directly to my litterbox. (It took FOREVER to get the stuff out of my fur last time.)

I will not use the bathtub to store live mice for late-night snacks.

I will not play "Herd of Thundering Wildebeests Stampeding Across the Plains of the Serengeti," over my humans' bed while they're trying to sleep.

I cannot leap through closed windows to catch birds outside. If I forget this and bonk my head on the window and fall behind the couch in my attempt, I will not get up and do the same thing again.

I will not assume the glass door is open when I race into the bathtub to play with my toy.

I will not stick my paw into any container to see if there is something in it. If I do, I will not hiss and scratch when my human has to shave me to get the rubber cement out of my fur.

If I bite the cactus, it will bite back.

When it rains, it will be raining on all sides of the house. It is not necessary to check every door.

I will not play "dead cat on the stairs" while people are trying to bring in groceries or laundry, or else one of these days, it will
really come true.

When the humans play darts, I will not leap into the air and attempt to catch them.

I will not swat my human's head repeatedly while they are on the family room floor trying to do sit ups.

When my human is typing at the computer, their forearms are *not* a hammock.

Computer and TV screens do not exist to backlight my lovely tail.

I will not stand on the bathroom counter, stare down the hall, and growl at NOTHING immediately after my human has watched a horror movie.

I will not perch on my human's chest in the middle of the night and stare until they wake up.

I will not walk on the key board when my human is writing important adagfsgdjag.


(this blog post courtesy of uncle bob, who knows what all cats are thinking)