Possumhaw: Plan, list, check it off



Shannon Bardwell



"Plans don't go according to plan. Might as well get going as if you had a plan anyways."


Richie Norton, author of "The Power of Starting Something Stupid"




Last week I received a Wall Street Journal article written by Ellen Byron from a friend. The article reported an increase in sales of calendars and personal planners, day-timers, notebooks and other means of keeping a schedule. Cell phones have calendars enabling users to rely on phones for reminders. But for some reason calendars and planners jumped in sales mid-year. Did watching the world suddenly turn upside down create angst from our loss of routines and schedules? Could the digital world evaporate before our very eyes like a store's supply of toilet paper and hand-sanitizer? Here one minute; gone the next.


I confess I am one of those people who bought calendars. My last cellphone upgrade lost my digital calendar. In an instant all birthdays, anniversaries, doctors' appointments and events scheduled on my cell phone went poof-gone. I hurried to buy a pocket calendar and a desk calendar like the olden days. The funny thing was, shortly after my purchases almost everything closed and I had nowhere to go and nothing to do. That's when I discovered the calendars would have an unexpected but important function.


As life grew more uncertain and rumors of store closings and quarantines ran rampant, I made a list of menus. First is priority-eating. I planned out 14 meals. I figured every two weeks I could rotate the menus. From the list I planned my grocery purchases. At first, I refused to rush to the grocery, not wanting to overreact. Leaving what would turn out to be my last exercise class before sheltering, I turned and headed to the grocery store. I told myself I was being wise.


Then like everyone else's life, mine changed; the days ran together. Someone or something needed to tell me what day it was, sometimes what month it was. When did I last buy groceries? Was it Wednesday -- the garbage day -- or was it Tuesday? Did the newspaper come today? Did I do laundry yesterday, or the day before? How long had it been since I had a haircut? Every day started and ended like every other day. There were no church gatherings, no work, no appointments. We were in the twilight zone.


I began marking what I did every day on the calendar and what I needed to do the next day and the next. I drew little boxes to check when my tasks were completed. Separately I made grocery lists, meal lists, to-do lists, people-to-call lists, things to Google lists, complete and illustrate column lists, and so on. I included comments about the day -- rain, temperatures, animal sightings. Daily I wrote "my outfit of the day," if I exercised or not, and how much I weighed, all noted in my journal.


Author of "Simple Abundance" Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests a "gratitude journal" as well. Note at least five things a day for which you're grateful and make a list. I started with health, family, friends, faith, flowers, and food in the fridge.




Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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