Thursday, December 20, 2012

Making the List

I am a list maker. I often have multiple lists going at the same time: marketing, household errands, brilliant schemes for world-takeover.

I write my lists on used envelopes (part of my effort at recycling). I keep a block of post-it notes next to my bed for noting middle-of-the-night ideas that will have evaporated in the morning's light. For me, writing something down liberates my mind. I have captured the thought, the idea, the obligation and now I can return to regularly scheduled thinking.

I once made a list called: Things that are freaking me out. I dated it (I believe that's an important component to making an effective list), and proceeded to spew all the items (mostly unimportant) that were suffocating me. By naming my fears, I was able to confront them, and temper my stress and anxiety.

I  like making new years resolutions: positive changes that I want to create in my life, in my community. One year I made a list of 20 (!) resolutions and posted it on my fridge to be a daily reminder. Did I accomplish all of them? Not all, but many!

2012 has been a challenging year for most people I know. It is a year that brought a marvelous, miraculous being into my life, but also a year in which I said goodbye to a dear pal, a year in which so many friends lost loved ones, parents, siblings, spouses. It is a year in which people close to me are fighting against horrible diseases, depression, loneliness. The world is in rough shape, Darlings. And this is a tough time of year for too many.

I do want to talk about new years resolutions, but before we can plan for the coming twelve months, we need to bring closure to this year with The List of Lamentations. Too Biblical for you? Too heavy? Deal with it, Darlings. Sometimes we have to go through the dark, heavy stuff to get to the other side lighter and more enlightened.

What is The List of Lamentations?
It is your opportunity to put on paper the worries, concerns, grievances, fears and disappointments that have been weighing you down this year. Since this is your first LOL, you have a one-time pass to lament an event/experience from a previous year, but please don't go dredging up a slight that happened in the eighth grade.  There is no limit for your list. There is also no need to go looking for misery just for the sake of wallowing or out-lamenting your neighbor. If you have a legit lament, it will come to mind quickly. Get that crap out of your head, out of your psyche and onto a piece of paper. Your list is personal . No lament is too small, nor should it be deemed trivial. The LOL  is for your eyes only.

N.B. This is NOT a pity-party. This is an evacuation of toxic sentiments from the emotional and physical you.

I have many blessings in my life, what could there possibly be to lament? If you are reading this diary, you probably have a roof over your head, enough to eat, and plenty of basic comforts (luxuries, even) that others must do without. You are still entitled to lament.

To help you get started, I am going to share my list:

-I lament the state of my manicure or lack thereof.
-I lament that my business has not grown as I hoped it would.
-I lament the loss of my former lifestyle.
-I lament the appearance of  newly acquired flab on my upper arms.
-I lament that I sometimes have challenges of communication with my dearly beloved.
-I lament that I am out of touch with too many of my galpals.
-I lament the passing of a close friend.
-I lament the presence of  racism, homophobia, and misogyny in my beloved America.
-I lament the absence of neighborliness in too many communities.

When I look at my list, it feels overwhelming at first. Crying over your list is OK and frankly, very likely. You are owning some dark feelings. You may be remembering a loss or reliving a disappointment and it can be painful.

Perhaps you are looking at my list thinking: how is a shabby manicure a legit lament compared to the death of a loved one or staggering racism?  This is not about comparing suffering or who had the worse year, the most misery. You don't have to explain or defend your laments. I will share that my crappy cuticles affect my self-esteem and that affects many other parts of my life.

Get your list down and you are over the biggest hurdle. It takes courage to acknowledge disappointments, to face fears. I don't expect you to breeze through this in a few minutes. Give yourself a quiet place to reflect on those thoughts and emotions which are not/no longer serving you.

Now we move on, we move forward. There are three possibilities for the laments on your list. You can:


Release is another way of saying Get the F*ck Over It.  For me, the lament of my former lifestyle needs to be released. I have already spent too much energy dwelling on this "loss" and moaning about poor old me. Basta! Was my previous lifestyle better than the one I have now? Not really. And anyway, it's in the past.   So let it go for Pete's sake.  I have a friend who has been lamenting the end of a relationship for the better part of the year. A WHOLE f*cking YEAR. Gone. Please, Darlings, I am sure you have situations and emotions that should be released. Do it.

What about the flabby batwings? Two choices here. I can put my vanity aside and release it or get my ass off the couch and CHANGE IT. It's up to me.

Racism, Homophobia...what can I do about it? This is a lament that calls for CHALLENGE. If I hear someone use a racist term, I am going to call that motherf*cker out, even if it's a friend. Especially if it's a friend. I have a close pal whom I have heard make anti-semitic jokes. Usually the other listeners laugh and I shake my head or make an uncomfortable face rather than rock the boat. You know what, that's not good enough. I have a responsibility to my friends, to my community, to my son to not look the other way, to not tolerate behavior or language that is demeaning to others.

The most difficult lamentation to face is the loss of my dear friend. I have a range of emotions from anger to emptiness to denial. So this is the one that I have to EMBRACE. I will embrace his memory. I will embrace his positive impact on my life and the lives of others. As I told him shortly before he passed on, loved ones live on in us, in our thoughts, in our memories, in our good deeds and our compassion.

Darlings, I pray that you will take the time to do this for yourselves. We can truly start the new year with a clean slate if we make peace with the past.