A Journal of Lists

My journal isn't a writing journal, or even a journal journal. It's more a collection of lists, but it's helped me through so many hard times that if my house caught on fire, it's what I would save first, after sentient beings had been rescued.

For each year (I fill one 100-page 8.5 x 4.4 narrow-ruled notebook a year), I start with a list of favorite quotations that are my mantras for the year, often using the same ones over and over again because I love them so. Here are a few:

"Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming."
- Alice Walker

"Facing it - always facing it - that's the way to get through." - Joseph Conrad

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year." - Emerson

"Be intent on the perfection of the present day." - Joseph Conrad

"Thank God I am in charge of so little." - Anne Lamott

"Nobody else is going to put it right for me/ Nobody but me is going to change my story." - Matilda: The Musical 

Next comes my best list, a month-by-month list titled "Nice Things and Accomplishments." I usually have anywhere between 3-4 to 9-10 things each month that make the list. They include things like:

Copy-edited Vera Vance, Comics Star, finished and returned
Syllabus made for my online children's lit course for Hollins University
Madi (young granddaughter) wearing underpants!
Wrote Chapter 1 of Lucy Lopez, Coding Star 
Lovely time at the Denver Festival of Stories
Joyous trip to Minneapolis for my friend Rachel's wedding
Horn Book review of Nixie Ness, Cooking Star

I tend to fret about my day-to-day sloth and think I'm accomplishing absolutely nothing. But my carefully documented list proves me wrong every time.

I keep lists of books I read, books I want to read, ways to boost my income, my biggest blessings (so easy to forget these, too), plans for decluttering my house (ooh!), tips for frugality, and most of all, MY BIGGEST MOST HORRIBLE LIFE PROBLEMS AND HOW TO SOLVE ALL OF THEM. Here I list them, facing them in all their awfulness, and then actually write down this desperate plea: "Little notebook, help!" Then in the little notebook, I write my way toward putting these problems in perspective and maybe even fixing them. Once I even created a week devoted to fixing all of them in a single sweep, which I wrote about here.

Oh, how I love making lists! Yay for lists! There is so little in life that can't be fixed with the right kind of list!


  1. I keep a yearly journal and fill it with things to do each month, seasonal reads, info from books read, inspiring words, etc.
    It's fun to look back and see what I did or wanted to do each year.
    Love your ideas!

  2. Thanks, Beverley! We sound like kindred journal spirits!

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