This I Believe

Stephanie - Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Entered on March 27, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I make lists. Lots of them. I could even go so far as to say that I may need to join a support group. You can check my pocket right now, I can almost guarantee that you will find a neatly folded list there.

Some of my lists are downright mundane- bills, budgets, groceries, and the ever-present to-do-list. Others are more existential-college courses plotted out years in advance and a “things-to-do-before-I-die” list that is under constant revision. I even made a “pros and cons” list when my husband proposed (thank goodness the pros side was longer). But no matter how important or how insignificant they may seem, all of these lists are made with the same amount of thought and gravity.

Most people would say that I am wasting my time and possibly that I am more than just a little bit of a control-freak. But to be honest, if I never complete these lists that would be perfectly fine with me. They are simply signposts marking out a path.

I make lists because I believe that making lists is a life-affirming process. Each list made is a way of plotting and planning my future; of reassuring myself that I am making headway toward my goals and of keeping my options open in case my plans go awry. They lend reality to my dreams and help me visualize the path I plan to take in order to reach those dreams.

Because of these lists, I can feel the reins to my life resting lightly in my hands and I know that I am in charge of my future. They give me the confidence that I can lead myself forward at my own pace and in whatever direction I want to go.

These lists are not simply accomplishments or items to be checked off as they are completed. But rather they are items to be contemplated and improved upon as needed. From the lowly loaf of bread on my grocery list to the myriad of options I can choose from off of my “things-to-do-before-I-die” list, each choice not only says who I am and what is important to me now, but also states who I plan to become in the future.

And so, as I visualize myself standing in a small backroom at the local YMCA saying, “Hi, my name is Stephanie and I am a list-maker“, I cannot keep a note of pride from my voice in this little vision of mine. Because I know two things, one is that I will not be alone in that room-there will be others sitting there in little grey folding chairs nodding knowingly and murmuring their understanding. The second thing I know is that there is going to be at least one list in my pocket.