March 8, 2009

Stars to Steer By

(click on logo to return to SOLSC main page, Day 8)

My sister and I stayed up late last night after all the relatives had gone home; we could hear her husband snoring in bed. She's my mentor and example, a woman who has successfully balanced the particulars of the professional and family, and still welcomes a houseful of company at the drop of a hat.

We discussed Aunt Jean's funeral and my sister's remarks--which made me cry with its good memories--and of course we visited about other relatives and family. But somewhere after that final round of talking about the quirks and oddities of those who we love, we talked about some of our personal goals.

These aren't the ones that are set out for us by our colleges (she's a professor and assistant dean, and I teach at the community college level), nor did we discuss those benchmarks dictated by bills, family, community obligations. It was the personal, private goals that we wrote in our journals, hating confessing to others and at which we often found ourselves failing as much as we succeeded. But goals written down can sometimes become sticks to beat ourselves with rather than stars to steer by, those scrawls on the page reminding us of our inability to do that which we hope to, wish to but can't seem to achieve.

For years I wrote nothing down--not a to To Do list, not even an easy errand list. Nothing. Because I was pulled too many directions by my schooling, housework, church work and being a parent to three teenagers and a junior-higher, I found that I felt powerless to accomplish anything of my own concern. So week after week, until I abandoned the idea of Goals Written Down, the list was like a scold.

Last year, I bought a journal on a whim. A DAILY journal. The blank pages were a challenge of sorts. I wondered if I could pull it off and so, although it began in July, I wrote nothing until Inauguration Day, figuring that was about a good of a day to being something as any day. Have I been 100%? No. But I've discovered that the small page was a good place to recount the day, take stock of my successes, even vent a little here and there. I began again to take up the reins of my life, just a little. I have even taped in a completed To Do list, a first after years of drought.

As my sister and I talked late into the night, I borrowed hope that I might craft a long-term list of personal goals and begin work on them. We promised to keep up with each other on this idea, squeezing in time for the personal, slipping in moments of (hoped for) accomplishment.


  1. I love creating lists: they're invaluable to me.

  2. I have been a list maker for years but it is only lately that I have gotten into the habit of putting these lists in a daily planner which gives me the opportunity to "see" what I am doing or not doing. I love it even though I am not 100%.