My list

In an interview about his documentary, “Playing with FIRE,” Scott Rieckens said he asked his wife to make a list of things that make her happy during the week. I haven’t had the opportunity to watch the documentary yet, so I’m not sure if they go into her list, but, according to Scott, it included time with their daughter and enjoying a glass of wine. Rieckens said he asked his wife to make the list in the hopes it would convince her to get on board with downsizing their spending.

Since I have a black belt in list writing, I immediately made my own, set it somewhere, and lost it months ago.

Then, a few days ago, Julep listened to a podcast about organizing your work and personal life, using lists for things big and small. Daily lists are already a habit of mine, but the thought of a “big” list was intriguing. The idea was that if you made a list of major goals, you’d get your priorities straight, and many of your time-wasting activities (i.e. mindless social media consumption) would take a back seat. During a rare quiet day at the farmers market, I wrote out my list of big stuff.

MAJOR GOALS (In no particular order)

Get out of personal debt

Get out of business debt

Save money

Invest money

Stay healthy

Raise a happy, healthy, thoughtful, and capable son

Live a good life with Julep

Work on the farm

Sell a script

All of these things are essentially free. Obviously, getting out of debt takes money, but careful and thoughtful use of our funds will help us get there. Same with the saving and investing. As for staying healthy, this means keeping our stress in check (yet another part of our lives greatly helped by a budget), making time for free exercise (walking, hiking, farming, and at-home weights), and eating food we cook.

Taking good care of our son is tied up in all of the matters listed above, plus making sure he has our full attention when he should. After reading articles about the detrimental impact parents’ mindless internet scrolling has on children, I wanted to make some changes.

Day to day, I have plenty of computer work to do, whether it’s working on a writing project or taking care of farm-related business, but, when I sit down to do these tasks, I get sucked into social media. It gets a hold of my brain and puts me on Useless Blob Mode. One article mentioned how parents on electronic devices tend to respond to their children’s comments or questions in a robotic voice. I’ve heard myself take this same, machine-like tone, and the thought of it gives me chills now. How horrifying to have your mother turn into a robot?

To combat this, I’ve started making a short, daily internet tasks list. Whenever I think of an email I need to send, or a social media post I need to make for our business, I write it down. That way, when it’s time, I can sit down and check off each of those tasks in about 25 minutes, and then log off. On days when I follow through with this plan, it’s been good. When I tell our son that I need to sit down and get work done, he starts playing. I do what I need to do, without interruption, and step away from the computer. And the day resumes. It avoids the frustration both of us feel when my time is not being used wisely.

(The photo at the top is our son. Holding chicky-chicky-bawk-bawk-girls, as they are known here, is definitely on our daily to-do list.)

As for a having a nice life with Julep – I’ve got that already. I’ve had it for 20 years. Eight as his girlfriend and 12 as his wife. I’d love another 50 more, and much of what’s on this list supports living life on our terms. Day to day, this means having coffee together, enjoying meals together, working together at home and on the farm, and taking time to have fun.

I included “work on the farm” on my list. I already do this, and every year we take significant action to make the farm financially and physically sustainable. I love working on the farm, and everything about it makes me hope that someday our son will work for himself in whatever capacity he chooses. There is nothing like working for yourself. It makes living modestly completely worth it.

As for my last entry, to sell a script. Since the fourth grade, writing has been my favorite thing to do. I love reading about writing, thinking about writing, and actually writing. For the last couple of years, all work has been completed with a writing partner who lives out of state. I find this to be great fun and particularly productive. We haven’t sold a script yet, but, man, we came close. Don’t get me wrong, actually selling a script would be great, but setting that goal is really just a way to make sure I keep working at not just writing, but getting better at writing. The fact of the matter is, if I wrote 1,000 scripts, and never sold a single one, I’d probably give novels a try.

So, there’s my list. All my hopes and dreams in a nutshell. When the list is entirely checked off, my time will be over, and I can be proud of how I spent it.

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