The list

I love lists in their many forms: grocery list, lists of books read and to be read, bucket list, lists of birds seen, list of things to do, list of places to visit, list of accomplishments, ingredient list, list of possessions for home insurance coverage, list of resolutions, list of chores, list of dreams, list of places lived, list of places/times/people who/that allow me to breathe, list of goals to achieve.

There is a comfort and ritual to making a list. There is a simplicity and complexity all at once. Once you have the list the direction may follow or an entirely new path comes along. Have you ever written a grocery list, proceeded to lose it, and then shopped without buying a thing on the list? By this time in early February, many people have failed to fulfill (or even attempt) their earnest lists of resolutions (to lose weight, to exercise, to give up smoking). In honor of my past resolution failures, my list this year is a bit different. Instead of focusing on breaking bad habits or attacking an exhaustive list of oft-procrastinated chores, I’m focusing on five things. Five things, five fingers, five areas of my life  I can remember and they all begin with the letter F. Resolutions with a Sesame Street letter-of-the-day twist.

Faith, Family & Friends, Finances, Fitness, Food

Some typical resolutions that might come from this list include getting into physical shape and fiscal shape. Instead, I just want to focus on the revolving areas of my life and see how on different days and in different parts of the year I might think about them and act on them. It gives me some freedom, as well as some time for reflection. How do I define myself in relation to food? How do I regain/rebuild lost friendships or make peace with the loss? How do I define faith and what does it mean in my life and daily practice? How do the practicalities of my day (work, commute, daily chores, etc.) reflect my values in the way I spend my time, my money, my efforts? How does one move beyond the self to join the larger world in regards to these?

What do these five things mean in how I live in 2012?

1. Faith – I look forward to a spiritual retreat in March. Throughout this year, I want to have discussions with friends about this word fraught with many meanings. I have friends who are devout and friends who are atheist and agnostic. I look forward to conversations about what scares us, repels us, attracts us, and binds us together. I have a pile of books and texts to read this year that deal with faith and religion and I look forward to the examination and reflection.

2. Friends & Family – As I get older, I realize how difficult it is to make new friends and how valuable those older bonds are. I have had the luxury of getting in touch with some older friends in this past year and I hope to build on that reaching out. I’m also trying to make peace with Facebook and use it to keep up with my real friends. I want to examine how I relate to certain people and see if I can break free of some troubling, repeating patterns and behaviors. I want to break free of some past baggage, make peace with it, or at least leave it behind. I also just want the fun of making new friends and enjoying older friendships. I want there to be less distinction between friends and family.

3. Finances – Yeah, I want to pay off a couple of bills. I also want to get some files and things organized. But, in the spirit of relationships, I really want to examine my relationship with money and how it affects the things I do and the way I do them. At least at the beginning of this year, I’m dealing in cash as I pay some things off and bring my budget into alignment based on how much money is in the envelope. As I prepare for a job change or school or the Peace Corps, my movements in this area are steps to freedom to be able to move in those directions of change.

4. Fitness – This is about the body, but also the mind. Yeah, how many times have I said I wanted to run a marathon? How many times have I said I want to get in shape (just in this blog)? Why is it that the things I want to do and things I am doing do not necessarily line up? How do I break something down into smaller steps? How can passion infuse the to-do aspect? How can I look at fitness, not as the ability to wear a smaller jean size, but a way to live a life of purpose? How can my fitness become a physical prayer? How can a smaller belly be not only a cosmetic improvement, but an affirmation that I want to live instead of just watching life pass by? And dammit, I will run a marathon this year! Fitness also has to do with lightness and the ability to be ready. In addition to losing some body weight, I want to lose some weight of belongings. I hope to sort through, donate, and sell some junk so that I feel lighter in my storage and more ready for the journeys ahead with less stuff! That’s all about life fitness, I think.

5. Food – This summer, I want to grow some food on the patio instead of having the popsicle stick container garden where nothing sprouts and the popsicle sticks look like sad signs of death and drought. I want to use up the staples in my cupboard and find new recipes. I want to enjoy a year free of restaurant fast food (well, I ate some fast food in January, so let’s try for the rest of the year) and instead enjoy my own cooking and messes in the kitchen. I’ve already been making my own bread for the last six months, what else can I make and share with others? I also want to take advantage of my cookbooks and vast collection of handwritten copied recipe cards, surely there are some undiscovered pasta and dried bean treasures!


  1. Nicely written, Kary, and more important a window to your thoughts. I respect your honesty and value our friendship.

    I have been working on core fitness over the winter, and it may be having benefits on my running. I was afraid that not running 3-4 times per week was setting me back, even though I was doing other things. Then last weekend I surprised myself by doing 7 miles on that beautiful 60 degree day. Ran most of the way, and enjoyed myself immensely.

    The funny thing is that a lot of my daily core workout is (dare I say it?) related to music and dancing. So there.

    1. Thanks, Dave. I appreciate your comment and also value our friendship. Exercise, spirituality, and health are all tied up in a big beautiful knot for me (maybe part of that core work you mentioned). My problem is that when I let one of these go, they all tend to fall away. I need to remember that they will ebb and change and some will be stronger threads than others at different times.

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