Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Promise of New Beginnings

It's that time of year: backpacks, crayons, pencils, scissors, glue, rulers, tissue packs, and pads of paper have flown off store shelves in anticipation of new beginnings. Some kids, flush with excitement about the year to come, examine new books and supplies. Others hang back with a wary eye not sure if new equals either exciting or rewarding. Most of them are not quite sure they want to let go of the echoes of summer they must leave behind to embrace the new days ahead.

This time of year always makes me wistful. I feel the year slipping away as autumn prepares to sumo wrestle with summer until it reigns supreme. Raking leaves is my favorite hobby. (We will discuss how sick that is another day!) What a juxtaposition that I never saw a 'nekkid' tree I didn't mourn. I guess it reminds me of mortality, and every falling leaf takes me closer to mine.

Conversely, I never met a new notebook or pad of paper that didn't send chills of excitement up my spine. Somehow all those empty pages represent unexplored potential and promising possibilities. To me, it seems as if all things are possible when I have a blank notebook before me. I can plan new projects, write new epistles, organize new ideas, or journal about new subjects. The list of new beginnings is endless. A new notebook simply says, “Here is your chance to start over again!”

Aren't we all looking for just that chance? The chance to pursue new beginnings and see them thru to a better end. We have hope that we may cancel out chagrin over old plans that went awry or were left unfinished. I know I am always wishing for a brand new, better,more productive day.

My life, with all its ups and downs, has left me bereft of hope when it comes to good old fashioned 'to do' lists. Just this week, my Facebook peeps and I have been comparing notes on the care and feeding of those little mobsters. The sick ones..I mean really sick puppies...LOVE them. True confessions, I call them sick, out of an abundance of envy! As I've said before, I never met a 'to do' list that doesn't make me quake and suffer from motion sickness.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Back in the olden days when I was young and dewy with optimism, I loved a list so much that I'd swear to you I got mine from Oprah's 'favorite things' show! Now, I'm a fly by the seat of your pants girl who has learned to plan about a day ahead and be flexible with even that much planning.

To keep from becoming seriously in need of those 2 counselors I keep on retainer in addition to the one I do see, I came up with an alternate plan. I make my 'to do' list in reverse! Given how I often run around in circles like a chicken with my head cut off, I realized I would never feel effective if I made a list I could never complete. So, I refined my life to the simplicity of a note card. On my note card, I list what I complete each day. Believe me, my system is a sanity saver on days like today!

Here's an example of why a 'to do' list would drive me to intensive therapy. As it became clear that today would not lend itself to productivity because of situations outside my control, I began to count off the small things of life. My note card says: 3 laundry loads, dishwasher loaded and unloaded, school work completed with my 9th grader, workout completed (and only because it doubles as 9th grade PE for my son), supper cooked and squared away. All of it represents only the mundane details of life. Nothing bright, shiny, or exciting is recorded to claim as conquered territory. However, I had developed momentum! I ramped up into high gear after supper planning to clean and mop 3 rooms before bed.

You know what they say about 'best laid plans'? I guess you didn't know 'they' came up with that old cliché after following me around for a few days! You guessed it. My 84-year-old Dad and I were headed out the door toward my sister's. My end of day goal was in sight...till Dad tumbled out my back door and did a face plant right beside my trash cans and across a landscape timber. Instead of arriving back home in time to complete those 3 rooms, I was leaving for my sister's about the time I expected to start cleaning. THANK HEAVENS for a reverse “I did it” list on a note card!

I don't know who shook more when it was all said and done – him or me. I do know I was toast by the time I got home from getting him tucked back in safely at my sister's. Thankfully, altho my driveway looked like the scene of a knife fight, he is doing fine all things considering. Given the yard he fell in and my history here, you'll be glad to know that no ambulance was required! If I'd had a to do list, I would have been crushed by those glaring items left unchecked at the end of the day. As it is now, I sit and am thankful that, despite all the turns in the road, this fraidy cat kept on plugging.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Beside me tonight sits a brand new pack of index cards. They make me shiver almost as much as a brand new notebook. A year ago, life had nearly paralyzed me. My fraidy cats ran amok with abandon daily claiming more territory as their own. Tonight, I am aware of how much territory I've regained. Tomorrow.....tomorrow is a new day. It's a new day, and I have new cards to fill. I am writing my way back to God and taking my life back one card at a time.

What about you fraidy cat? Are you overwhelmed and too quick to chastise yourself because you can never do everything you feel compelled to do in this too busy world of ours? Come back tomorrow, and bring a card. Maybe a friend as well? Let's compare notes. I bet we will find we've sent some fraidy cats a-running. I'll be here. Will you?

Psalm 37:23 (NLT)
The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. 

Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)
The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.


  1. I really like the reverse to do list idea! I hope your dad is doing ok.

  2. It helps me on the days I look around and think, "What DID I do all day and why didn't I do all the BIG stuff I meant to do?" Daddy is very frail. No worse for wear from the fall. Their anniversary would be this next week, and he always seems to get feeble around big 'events' since mom died. He rallies as soon as that anniversary date passes. So, I think the same is happening here. But, we are taking him to the MD next week to evaluate getting PT for him. I think he needs exercises to strengthen his quads and core. We'll see. Thanks for asking. Hope you are doing well?

  3. My Dad calls that "writing an as-built"... hehee. I waffle with lists. I keep trying to use them, but I'm awful at it. I DO always remember to write "Make a List!" as the first item so I can at least check ONE thing off.

  4. I'm going to start any list I make that way too! Thanks for the idea!