Monday, June 15, 2009

List Maker (Compulsive...Obsessive...)

I am a list maker. I make lists for everything. Shopping lists. Christmas gift lists. Books I want to read lists. Which scrapbooks to do first lists. Budget list. Phone list. Places I want to visit lists. Idea lists for each room of the house. Who gets the school pictures lists. To do lists. Perhaps it's a vestige of my mother's teaching ("write it down so you won't forget it!") or simply another shred of evidence that I'm OCD (I also like to label things, both seen and unseen). Either way, I find great satisfaction in checking something off one of my lists. I'll even write something down that I've already done, just to bask in the glorious check mark I get to place next to it (and I'll put it somewhere in the middle of the list, somehow that makes it more gratifying). That would be the obsessive part.

Not too long ago, I was able to check a lot of things off my list...including FINALLY catching up on my ironing and some Christmas shopping. That was a bonus, because that also meant I got to update my spreadsheet (I keep a very detailed spreadsheet of who, what, and how much), which is thrilling when you see the red colors go away (I color coded it so I know who is left). It took me a long time to create that Christmas shopping spreadsheet. I'd started with a database but the spreadsheet works better for the way I use it. What it's allowed me to do is to avoid the last minute "I have to go Christmas shopping for everyone," and frees me to be able to buy something for someone I love because I want to, not because I have to, and still stay within my means. I know so many people who have become cynical of the gift giving thing, and I didn't want to be one of them. By keeping things manageable, it helps me also keep perspective, and not lose sight of what Christmas is REALLY about. It also means I don't have to take out a second mortgage just to get through Christmas.

So back to the list. I love my lists, but I have a bad habit. I write down more than any rational mortal could accomplish in a given day, week, or in some cases a month, and yet I'm delusional enough to think I can actually accomplish it all in one fell swoop. Still having trouble with that reality thing. I'm guessing that's the compulsive part. Then I get mad and disappointed in myself. Perhaps it’s my outlet for the overly competitive and ambitious drive I once had that is winding down a bit now. Seeing the whole OCD thing now?

I have to remember makes me think of a song I once heard about lists...and the most important thing you can have on your list is to "start livin'." I realized I didn't write that on my list. I didn't write "snuggle with Alex" and "take a walk with Ryan around the lake" or "cuddle on the couch with hubby and a movie," "enjoy a cup of coffee in the courtyard," and "quietly watch a beautiful red sonoran sunset." And yet I did all those things. And as I think about them and the other REAL accomplishments of my days, the stuff I didn't get done doesn't seem so important now. I think I'll write them on my list and check them off.