Tag Archives: Thoughts

Live By The List

15 Nov

In the midst of our moving madness, I came to the realization of just how much I live my life according to what is written in list format. I have lists for everything:

  • grocery lists
  • to-do lists
  • don’t forget lists
  • household lists
  • work lists
  • call back lists
  • email lists
  • gift lists
  • weekly menu lists

I even have a list of the things to mention in this blog post about lists.

Admittedly many of these lists overlap in content, but to me, their redundancy is just extra assurance that I won’t forget about them. I get so crazy with my lists that I will often take the time to re-write and organize them.

I know that list-making is normal, David Letterman has been making it a staple of his show for years, but I kind of think that I may be addicted to them. Really. Sometimes, just because I am so task-oriented and glean much pleasure from ticking something off of a list (progress), I will put the most mundane of tasks on my lists.

  • make coffee in the morning (well that was going to happen whether I put it on a list of not)
  • take a shower (again, something that is going to happen regardless of it being penned on a piece of paper)

Looking at my abundant lists got me thinking about the similarities and idiosyncrasies of lists and list-makers.

List-Making Methods

My hubby and I vary in our list making methods. Whereas I like to compile many things onto one sheet of paper, my husband is more of an isolating fellow. He will have a separate piece of paper for each item on a list. And when I say “piece of paper” what I really mean is a napkin, a piece of cardboard ripped from the side of a box, a scrap piece of mail, a gum wrapper. Essentially our home becomes the housing for the many components of his lists and it is a scavenger hunt trying to find all the pieces. It is not uncommon for me to find a note written on a piece of toilet paper and tied around the bathroom sink faucet. Classy!

Carry-Overs

We all have them, those things that HAVE to get done but you reallllly don’t want to do them. The phone call to the insurance company, the trip to the dry cleaners, the cleaning of the junk drawer; so they get carried over from one list to another. Eventually these things will get done, but they are the things we’d rather think about at another date and time. In the meantime, at least for me, their existence on my list weighs on me and I would be better off to just attack these items first and get them over with!

Checks vs. Strikes

I am a stiker-outer. I like to cross items off my list but others like to place a tidy check mark or X next to the item. In my opinion, the sloppier my list looks by the time the last item is omitted, the tidier my mind is.

The Mental Lists

Making mental lists is probably a common practice, but I recently realized that I have been compiling an ongoing list of things that annoy me. When I stop to think about them, the list is a mish-mesh of random things that have irritated me in one way or another. So I decided to end this post with some of these mental notes. See if you agree. (My apologies for the rant that item #4 turned into…the more I wrote, the more annoyed I got!)

1) This Folgers Coffee Commercial. I’m sorry, but there is something about the brother-sister relationship that is just too…friendly. Every time I see it, I fidget in my seat with discomfort and annoyance.

Click on the image to see the commercial.

2) The packaging that sample-sized shampoos and conditioners come in. I think that dentists of the world have an “in” with the companies who manufacture these because when it comes right down to it, the only way of opening them once you are in the shower, unless you have planned ahead of time (which I usually don’t), is with your teeth. Ouch!

3) The Charmin Bears. While I appreciate what Charmin is trying to do by taking a squirmy subject such as proper toilet paper usage and turning it into something cutesy, I can really do without the discussion of it altogether. People know what toilet paper is for. We don’t need visuals such as these:

4) Self Check-Out Lines at the Grocery Store. I fall for the trap way too often. The lines with employed, living, breathing human beings is ridiculously long and there is practically no one using the self check-out lines, so I cave. New rule: don’t cave, there is a reason why those lines are short. It never fails that the damn machine doesn’t recognize that I have scanned an item and placed it in a bag, it continuously tells me that I need to rescan an item (then charges me twice), and it is incessantly telling me that my scanning technique is an epic fail and beckons the sole human cashier delegated as “Moderator of the Self Check-out Idiots” my way. Let it be said that the human moderator never comes. I look at her perched at her centrally located machine, peering out over the crowd of self-checkers, and she, too, knows that this system is crap! She is like the parent of the little boy who cried wolf. These machines are so incredibly flawed and have caused her so many unnecessary trips to a patron’s side that she now just hits a button to cancel out my machine’s unwarranted error. By the end of my scanning adventure I have sighed out loud no less than 63 times, thrown my arms in the air in angst at least 25 times, and have spewed many obscenities at the computerized voice in the machine: “What the hell do you want me to do? I scanned the damn Nutella. It’s there! In the damn bag.” By the time the computer is asking if I have coupons, I am answering her out loud, not caring what kind of crazy person I look like to others. Simply put, I. LOATHE. THESE. MACHINES! And, forget about having a successful self check-out if your kid is in tow. If your wee one even breathes upon the weight detecting areas, it causes all kinds of alarms to go off. Error! Error! Cancel order. Start over. Insert Bonus Savings Card here.

While I am on the issue of complaining, I must also ask, why do these machines look so archaic? When I look at them I am always reminded of images of the first computers. And, really, what are they thinking with the little 12-by-12 square they provide for placing un-scanned items upon? Who can fit everything there?

The End!

Just do it! And if you don’t know what “it”is, just do something!

10 Oct

It’s the journey that’s important.

While talking to a friend the other night at dinner, the topic of this blog arose.  She hadn’t had a chance to read anything that I had written yet and she asked, “What are you writing about?”  I stumbled for an answer and spewed out something like, “Motherhood…our move to Minnesota.”

But, in all honesty, the answer is, “I don’t know.”  I can’t precisely label this as a blog about one thing or another.  My mind doesn’t segregate things into neat little compartments and it is difficult when, in life, people ask me to place myself, my work, or even my preferences into categories.  It is like having someone ask me what kind of music I like.  I like an eclectic mix of melodies and admit to listening to everything from The Lumineers to Kenny Wayne Shepherd to Katy Perry.  It just depends on the day and my mood.  I hate picking favorites.  I don’t have favorites.  It’s too exclusionary of all the other possibilities.

Later, in a conversation with that same friend, who, by the way, I hold nothing against for having asked me, “What are you writing about?” (she got me thinking, after all) was talking about a book that she is writing.  This will be her fourth!  She spoke about how, when she writes, the project shifts and turns and takes unexpected paths.   “Basically,” she said, “you need to just write to figure out what you are going to write about.”  Those words really resonated with me.

I thought even more about them after speaking with another friend a few nights ago.  I spoke to her about my reflections and aspirations: reflections on the closing of a chapter of my life here in Pennsylvania and aspirations of what I hope to accomplish once we get to Minnesota.  I am the type of person who has trouble resting or relaxing.  If my hands are ever idle, my mind is not and vice versa.  I must always be doing something, creating something, thinking about something, planning something.  Therefore, it can start to feel like there is always a pursuit.  I chase ideas, hopes, and dreams always knowing that even if I accomplish my goals, I will most likely never feel a sense of contentment.  Gears constantly grind in my head and it can feel suffocating when you know that you can’t bring every little morsel to fruition.  It’s as if you must do something, everything, all at once, but the overwhelming feeling of having so much to do, makes you do nothing at all.  This friend, very wisely, told me that perhaps it is not about accomplishing every single goal or succeeding with every creative thought that I have or even having an end product to show for my work.  Maybe it is simply about the journey along the way.

It is somewhat like a person on a diet trying to lose weight.  The end goals are slimming down and improving health, but simply sitting around and fantasizing about having a smaller waist line will get her nowhere.  And, just because this person runs her ass off on a treadmill on Day 1 of the diet does not mean that she will automatically fit in those skinny jeans on Day 2.  It takes time.  With time comes growth.  Along the way, the dieter might discover that she really loves running and it becomes an enjoyable part of her routine.  Something that never seemed like a possibility becomes a daily reality.  For an inspiring example of this, check out what my friend, Jen, has been writing about for the past few years.

These  friends have helped me to realize that sometimes it is okay to not be able to recognize or define exactly where it is that we are going in life.  So many people, understandably, live life knowing exactly what each day will bring…or so they think.  It is comforting, it is safe, it is the daily grind.  I have found that I just can’t do that.  Sure, I want security in knowing that my family will have a roof over our heads and good health and happiness with family and friends, but, ultimately, we are not in control of anything.  When we lose control, we feel helpless.  I am guilty of feeling that pressure to be in control of my life.  When I don’t feel that, I scramble to regain it.  But it is those times of facing the “unknown” and the “unexpected” when we grow the most and do things that we may have never done otherwise.

There is a tendency to halt ignition on a project because of fear of failure—Things aren’t quite perfect yet.  What if I can’t do it?  What if no one else appreciates what I do?  If I allow it, I can forever be that artist paralyzed by the blank canvas or the writer stifled by the empty page, but sometimes you just have to throw yourself out there and do it, and if you haven’t yet figured out what that “it” is yet, you have to at least do something.  You’ll figure out something along the way.  I know I’m hoping that I will.

Let the Wind Blow You

5 Oct

This is my stellar representation of the wind blowing our family from Pennsylvania to Minnesota. Clearly the object in the upper right is a blue-eyed cloud with puffed cheeks blowing blue air on my home state’s abbreviation.

First things first, lets clear the air and admit to the fact that I am a sucky blogger.  I started this thing in April…wait, my Fact Checkers jut corrected me…February, I started this thing in February and I have made (gulp) ONLY TWO POSTS. How pathetic!  I apologize to no one but myself because, well, let’s be honest, there is no “one ” else out there who is reading this.  How can I have a following with only two posts?  If there is anyone out there who “follows” my blog by reading those first two and only posts over and over and over again, thank you!  You should probably get some professional help, but thank you.

Resolution:  I will post something at least once a week.  Yeah, yeah. I know that’s not a lot in the wonderful world of bloggers, but I have to be realistic with myself.  Posts once a day just will not happen.  I know and accept that, so I am starting with something that is a little bit more doable for me.  And “once a week” does NOT make me want to crawl under the covers like “once a day” does.  Oh, Fact Checker! Can you tell my Personal Assistant to make note of this resolution in my posh daily calendar planner thingy?  Oh, yes, and have her bring me a cup of tea and a scone.  Thank you, kindly.   

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about the title that I chose for this blog waaaaay back in February. Sneezing in Windy Places.  Weird? Yes, but I’m cool with that. Honestly, as mentioned in my “About” section (besides my two previous posts, I did also manage to eek out an ABOUT page), the title showcases my desire to share all of the musings that puddle in my thinker.  The title just came to me.  But, I find it funny, ironic perhaps, that I chose this title and then a few months later, my husband began following a self-proclaimed life plan of “letting the wind blow us where it may.”  Anyone else seeing the connection here?…wind blowing…windy places….Uncanny right?  Did you all just fall off of your chairs and slap yourselves in the head thinking about how kismet all of this is?

Let me explain.  My husband has a very stressful job and is burnt out.  That topic could be a blog in and of itself, but let’s just say that our house can be riddled with stress and anxiety.  He has been looking for a new job for well over a year now and this past May a perfect job opening came to his attention.  He had seen the job posting and dismissed it because it is located in Minnesota.  We, however, live in Pennsylvania.  (That’s a long way, folks.)  He never told me about said job posting until one day, a co-worker of his happened to find that same job posting and sent it along to my hubby, stating, “You would be perfect for this job.  It sounds like it was written for you.”  At that point, my husband, who was always intrigued by the job but hesitant about a move to Minnesota,  told me about it and asked for my feelings on the subject.  Seeing how stretched he is in his current job, I encouraged him to apply.   And by “encourage” I mean that I said something like, “You are an idiot if you don’t apply for this.  I don’t want to hear another damn complaint from you about your current job if you don’t apply for this one!”  So he did…even though it was in Minnesota.

Honestly, I could feel it in my bones that he was going to get the job.  I am not trying to boast about my hubby’s stellar career attributes, but when it came to this particular job description it really was as if someone had taken his resume and made job requirements out of all of his bullet points.  After a few rounds of interviews, the job was offered to him and we had a big decision to make…do we stay or do we go?  He looked at me and said, “Well, I think we should just let the wind blow us.  See what happens.”

Really?  Don’t get me wrong, I was excited about a fresh start in Minnesota.  There are worse places we could go like…anywhere hot, and this truly is a great career move for him, but I couldn’t believe that these words were coming from my otherwise very practical, always calculated and obsessively logical spouse.

He uses this phrase, or variations of it,  a lot these days.  Me: “Do you want chicken or pork for dinner?”  Him: “Whatever you think.  Just let the wind blow you.”  Me: “Should we think about getting a new dining room set?”  Him: “If that’s where the wind is blowing.”  Bag boy at the grocery store: “Paper or plastic?”  Him: “If the wind is blowing your toward paper, then paper it is.”  (Okay, so that last comment was obviously made up.  I don’t want to paint my husband as a flighty individual who wanders around aimlessly looking for rainbows and unicorns, but you get the point.)

So here we are in October.  We will be packing up and moving to Minnesota soon and our lives are all kinds of crazy as we cinch up loose ends here and work on opening new doors out there.  Why I would think about getting back on the blogging scene now is beyond me, but I often lay in bed at night thinking about the title, Sneezing in Windy Places, and I would look at my husband and think about his declarations to let the wind blow us and it has hit me like a ton of bricks. Perhaps this is THE PERFECT TIME to start writing.   The wind is obviously blowing us to Minnesota.  The breeze is taking us along and has our family in a state of emotional transition.  My thoughts are more rampant than ever with anxieties, new ideas, hopes, fears, and inspirations. (By the way, my inner voice now articulates these thoughts in the voice of  the mother from the 90’s cartoon Bobby’s World.”  Don’t see the connection?  Google it and you’ll understand what I am talking about.) So perhaps now is a good time to “sneeze into the wind” and let my thoughts sail along the current of the world wide web.  Even if it matters to not another soul, it sure does feel good to hash some of this stuff out on the keyboard.  Thanks to further encouragement from a dear friend (you know who you are), I decided to sit down and write today.  And I can honestly say, it feels good.  A portion of my brain feels a little bit clearer now.  Now I just need to find a tissue.