Monday, 28 January 2013

Free At Last

Day 172
193 Days Remaining

Getting closer and closer to that halfway point!

You may be wondering how I'm feeling about HB these days.  It's funny, but I don't even feel the need to write about him at all; it's only because I've had a couple of people ask what's up - Has he called?  Did you send him the letter?  Are you having a hard time with letting him go completely? - that I even thought of writing anything about it.

The truth is, although I needed to write that letter in order to get it all out on the open and really purge HB from my system, I felt no need to send it to him.  As it turns out, all I really needed to do to get him out of my life was to ignore him: it`s been over a month since he came to town, and he has contacted me exactly once since then.  A quick text message ("Hey beautiful! How's it going?"), a succinct and closed reply ("Hello! I'm fine.") and that has been it.  Apparently sending him a long-drawn-out and (hopefully) eloquent reason for why I am no longer going to communicate with him would have been completely unnecessary.

I'm fairly sure that HB knows that I'm not interested in communicating any further, as in the past I have always immediately and hungrily responded to any and every tiny speck of communication (or potential communication) from him.  I have wondered on occasion (when I do think of him and realize that he has not attempted any sort of communication at all) whether he has found or been sent to this blog (which I doubt, and even if someone had pointed out to him that I had started a blog about my dating hiatus - which he constantly conveniently forgets about anyway - it would not hold enough interest for him to actually search it out and attempt to read it), whether this is something that he just feels from my rather elusive reply to his (single) text message, or whether he is just happy that I haven`t attempted to get in touch at all.  I have recognized that most of our communication since he moved to Vancouver has been initiated by me.  Perhaps, if I had not been the one sending messages all along, this would have happened long ago, and he would have just heaved a sigh of relief that he no longer had to contend with my overwhelming emotions.

Well, it`s not worth dwelling on the whys and the what-ifs.  I definitely wasted a lot of time (three years!) on someone who obviously wasn`t interested in making any sort of real, solid commitment to me or to our relationship.  It`s been interesting to read back on my previous blog entries about HB (and for those who may want to revisit the story, I`ll post all the links to the hopeless tale at the end of this entry) and see how desperately I was trying to make everyone else feel about him the way that I did - that he was truly something special and that all my blustering and pushing and trying to make it work was worth something and would work out in the end.  It`s painfully clear that I was trying too hard, both in the relationship and in writing about it.
A while back, I got an email from Black Luke, who has followed my blog, and what he said to me made very clear to me something that I had been avoiding admitting: "I find you to be very generous in your assessment of people, and if even you can manage to make [HB] sound dubious, then he probably is."  And I recognize that in my re-reading.  Once again, it was a case of "Methinks thou dost protest too much"...rather than just lay out who he was and let his character speak for itself, I was constantly making excuses for why he wouldn't commit and trying to forcefully show what kind of person he was.  I needed my readers (and my family and friends) to understand why I hung in there for so long.  However, I overlooked some very plain facts: even though there is a lot about HB to love, and so many positive characteristics, many of the ones that I really want in a man simply were not there...the main one being that he actually wants to be with me.

Finally letting go of HB marks the turning point in my year without dating.  Letting go of him and the futile hopes I had for our future have set me free in a way I had tried to find long ago, and now I'm able to focus on me and what I want.  A long time ago, at the beginning of this blog, a good friend of mine told me to stop posting blogs about myself in the context of "the girlfriend" or "the mother" or "the student" or any one of a number of roles that I have played in my life, and just WRITE ABOUT ME.  I couldn't.  At the time, I had no idea how to do it, or how to step outside all those pieces of myself and just write from my own point of view.  Now, I find that I am learning who I am aside from all those roles, and I feel like I am accomplishing The Evolution of Lisa more and more every day.

Six months to go.  Six more months of learning who I am, what I want, what I don't want, and how to recognize them all.  

The Story of HB:

The Story of HB: Part I
Starbucks & Sushi: The Story of HB (Part II)
Beginning the End: The Story of HB (Part III)
You Say That You Love Rain: The Story of HB (Part IV)
The Story of Stu (Part I), (Part II), Part III) - overlaps with The Story of HB
Goodbye, HB: The End


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

An Invincible Summer

Day 166
199 Days Remaining

I figured I had better try to squeeze one or two more blog posts out of me before the end of the month - I`ve been slacking!

Well, maybe slacking in the blog posting department, but life`s been very busy, and I couldn`t be happier.  My lists are pretty much all crossed off, although of course (as per usual) I`ve been writing new ones as I go. Even old lists are getting worked on: I can cross something else off my 28 Things list!  I started dance lessons on Sunday, and I`m so happy that I am finally taking the time to do some things for just me.  I`m attending the classes with my friend PC, who I`ve known for a while, and has mentioned wanting to try dance a few times.  Since ballroom dance requires a partner (that`s what I`m taking: Social Ballroom!), it`s great that he and I can go together.  He`s really tall, too, which is very nice for me (I`m on the tall side for a woman).
Our first lesson was fairly straightforward: we learned the foxtrot and it was extremely basic.  As we moved awkwardly around the floor (PC needs to learn the steps and the rhythm, and I need to learn to follow instead of pulling him backward in anticipation of where we are supposed to go next!) I tried really hard not to look in the mirror, because aside from wanting to focus on what we were doing and encourage PC - and attempt to look graceful, of course! - I also really wanted to avoid seeing the way that funky funhouse glass warped my reflection and made me look about twice the size that I actually am, or at least as I think I am.  Double the thickness in my arms and thighs is not a good look for me, especially in combination with the odd simultaneous effect the wavy glass had of shrinking my head a few sizes.  I tried to rein in my panic and was reassured when I lamented on Facebook that this is in fact a common problem with studio "glass" enough of that.  Even if it is what I look like, I am not to obsess on it.

Nonetheless, it did encourage me to work toward another item on my list, and that is to get back in good shape.  I am not a large person, but I have been very lax in my workout regimen for about a year now, and I have been thinking a lot recently that it was time to get back on the wagon and start regular exercise again.  The Funhouse Dancing Glass has kick-started me back into gear: I immediately began working with the WiiFit program again and watching what I eat (although I still get Cheese Pleesers on occasion - that`s one of the perks of being single!), and a few of us Nursing students have started working out regularly in the fitness studio at school.  It`s there; it`s free (well, included in tuition, anyway); and my classmate loves designing the workouts.  Why not?  We had a great workout today and, despite my arms being very sore from the WiiFit boxing (I`m fast and furious), I managed to easily do fifty triceps dips.  It surprised me how easily the muscle memory boings back into shape.  I`m looking forward to continuing our new routine.
I've continued bi-weekly Prayer Counseling sessions with Stoney and LouLou and it has been wonderful for all three of us, so I really think this will be something we'll work toward doing often.  We've started the tradition of sushi together before heading to the meeting room, and I love that I get to see my friends so often.  They are really important people to me, and, even though LouLou and I have known each other for more than 16 years, we often get so busy that we end up not seeing each other for long periods of time.  Knowing that we have a standing date every second week, and that we're going to have good, productive and spiritual time together, is something I look forward to tremendously.  It's also given me a good opportunity to stand outside myself and the situation I am now in - which is by no means difficult, and within which I find so much joy - and really see how far I have come from where I was seven years, or five years, or even one year, ago.  The journey from pain and struggle to endurance and learning to truly trust in and lean on God has given me so much more insight into my own condition than I ever could have expected.  And the greatest thing is, in seeing how much I have changed and grown and matured thus far, I expect that one or five or seven years from now, I will be a much stronger and wiser version of me.  I look forward to the road ahead with anticipation and excitement for what new things God will show me.

I really think that the Prayer Counseling, as well as the myriad self-help books I've been reading (I think I may be addicted), are giving me a really good foundation for when I'm ready to dive back in to the dating scene...if in fact I ever do "dive" back in.  I'm currently simultaneously reading Deal Breakers by Dr. Bethany Marshall and If Love Could Think: Using Your Mind to Guide Your Heart by Alon Gratch, and gleaning little bits of wisdom here and there.  I`m not putting all my eggs in one basket by any means, but there definitely is a lot there that makes me realize what patterns and mistakes I consistently get trapped in.  I don`t want to go through this year without dating only to step right into another three-year Ferris Wheel ride like the one I stayed on with HB for too, too long.

And speaking of my dating hiatus (not like this entire blog isn`t already speaking of my dating hiatus), you may have noticed something significant about the "Days Remaining" counter at the top of my post.  Yep, that's right; I've finally made it to the point where my numbers remaining are in the 100s rather than the 200s: less than 200 days to go.  I'm almost at the halfway point!  Part of me actually panicked a little at the thought of where I'll  be in six months: not that I don't think I'll be ready to date again, but I'm so used to thinking that I'm "not allowed to", or trying to ensure that I remember my guidelines all the time, that I'm really not sure how I'll feel when suddenly I'm on the market again.  Most likely nothing much will happen - I don't get asked out a lot now, and I doubt that being once again available will make that any different - but I am beginning to see that I am making real change in myself, so by the end of this year I hope that I will have made some really good choices and positive habits that I can fall back on and continue to work with, no matter who may or may not come into my life.  I'm even more excited now that I am taking actual physical steps toward this change.

And now I have to get to bed.  I'm kind of looking forward to the soreness I know I`ll feel tomorrow, motivates me to work out even harder the next day.  Through pain and perseverance, I will meet my goals!

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer."
-- Albert Camus

Monday, 14 January 2013

Pushover No More! (if that`s okay with you...)

Day 158
207 Days Remaining

I took some self-help books out of the library and read - devoured would perhaps be a better word - Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood.  This has probably been the first time in my life that I have taken a self-help book out of the library and actually sat down and read the entire thing, and found it relevant and useful.

I've often taken books out with every intention of reading them and utilizing them to overcome whatever problem I was dealing with at the time, but more often than not they just sit unread and (though it pains me to admit it) forgotten even to the point that I haven't returned them on time and ended up paying overdue fines for them.  This book, however, was entirely relatable for me, and I really enjoyed it.  I agreed with many of the points that the author made, including the fact that I - as a "woman who loves too much" - too often make the man the focus of my attention and care, and don't do it as much for myself as I need to.  I realized that I have even done this with Fig, despite the fact that he is not my boyfriend, and with my children.  No wonder he called me a pushover - I will often do everything I can to help other people, even when it's detrimental to myself!  I decided that it was time to change my habits and I've been trying to work toward that end.

I recognized this tendency in myself when I finished up work at 9:30 in the evening one day last week.  I knew that Fig was over at a friend's house and would probably be heading home soon, and - since he doesn't have a car - my instinct was to send him a text message and ask if he wanted me to swing by and pick him up "on my way home".  It wasn't "on my way".  It wasn't even remotely near where I was going.

I had picked up my phone and began composing the text when I stopped myself.  There was no reason for me to do this, I realized - sure, it was a nice offer, but was it necessary?  I was tired, and Fig hadn't asked for a ride.  Why should I always put myself out, making myself uncomfortable and perhaps unhappy to make other people comfortable and happy?  He's a grown man, I told myself; he can find his own way home and you don't need to do it for him.  And I put my phone in my purse and headed home.  It was a small thing, and certainly not something I always have to do - after all, I still want to be nice to people! - but was a step toward reinforcing new behavior for myself.

I continued the pattern with the kids and didn't do everything for them that they wanted me to do.  If it wasn't something they needed, I wasn't doing them any favors by giving in to them.  I enlisted them in helping around the house, and things were much more enjoyable when I wasn't breaking my back trying to do everything while they sat and watched TV over endless bowls of microwave popcorn.  Before the Christmas holidays were over, I informed the children that there would be chore lists of what would be expected of them for every day that they are at my house.  Once the New Year began, I implemented the chore lists, and they have accepted them without complaint.  In fact, they seem much more content and happy now that they have clearly defined roles within our family relationship!  And my house is clean, the boys are doing what needs to be done, and we sit down together for every meal (well, the evening meal, at least - lunch, too, most of the time, but I expect a family dinner) and knowing that they will be the ones to set and clear the table as well as load and unload the dishwasher sure makes me happy.  I`ve also given myself a break from the guilt I often feel if they don`t eat a good meal - I`m providing it, but if they don`t eat it, that`s their choice!  (Oh...and they also do not get to partake in the delicious snack we have planned for Games Night...)

Anyway, I digress.  I suppose the new order of things in my household has me so excited that I went off on a tangent.

I took another self-help book out yesterday - The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags - but I haven`t cracked it open yet.  I think between the first self-help book, my new prayer counseling sessions, and the support of my wonderful friends, I'm on a pretty good road, and I want to take some more time to absorb and reflect on the Norwood book.  I'll probably be talking about it over the next few weeks, because I know that just reading it isn't enough for me to really make big changes.  It's time to really examine some of these tendencies.

I'll leave you with a list excerpted from the book; not everything fits for me, but there is a lot that resonates and helps me to see what can be worked on.  Maybe you'll recognize some of things in yourself, or see something in there you want to hear more about.  Drop me a line and let me know, if you do.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

On Visions and Bad Habits

Day 156
209 Days Remaining

What are your thoughts on visions?  As in, someone "seeing" something that is interpreted as a message from God, through them, for you?  I had an experience this week that made me realize that God is not only speaking to me when I'm asking Him to, but He is also using other people to reinforce things that I already know.

One of the things I said I was going to do with this time off from dating had to do with redirecting my focus to myself and the things I have long wanted to do.  I also wanted to work on changing my habits so that I will not eventually find myself once again all wrapped up in a man - that is, not basing my identity and my self-esteem on what other people think of me.  I mentioned, back when I posted about The Contentment Project, that I would like to get rid of the whole idea of "MEN" in my life, and in making that decision, I also made the decision that I was going to take the step of seeking out counseling.  And that is what I have done.

The thing is, it can be more difficult to find a counselor than one might imagine.  I did a Google search for therapists who deal with relationship addiction and co-dependencies, but any therapist I contacted was way out of my price range and quite politely dismissed me when I asked if services were covered by my school benefits plan.  I had thought that I had counseling or therapy included as part of my extended benefits through the college, but it turns out that the only counseling services they offer are by specific people employed at the school...and there is a long wait list.  I didn't give up hope, though; I still wanted to find some way to fix bad habits and understand why exactly I lose myself in relationships with men.

So, it looked as though I wouldn't be able to find a counselor.  As an alternative, aside from reading self-help books - which are a whole other subject I will address in another post - I've been spending time with my two really close friends Stoney and LouLou and praying through things.  I find it greatly helps me to focus on the direction that I want to go and grounds me - keeps me steadfast in the decisions I made.  And in that vein, while I was trolling the Internet in yet another fruitless search for a therapist, I came across something that caught my eye: Prayer Counseling for Women.

It was one of those Meetup groups; free groups where like-minded people get together to enjoy chat and coffee and share similar experiences and ideas.  I looked into it and, although I was slightly skeptical (after all, this could be anyone!) I decided to give it a try, and asked LouLou if she wanted to join me.  So, on Monday after I finished school, I met LouLou as she was finishing up work, we went for sushi, and then we headed to the apartment building where the meeting was held.

It turned out to be one of the most amazing times we have had together.  The leader of the group is a young Christian woman - younger than either myself or LouLou - who has a Masters in Social Work and wanted to combine her degree with her love for people and God.  It's a small group, and  has been meeting for a couple of months, but due to others having other obligations this week, LouLou and I were the only ones there, which I think was the best possible way for us to be introduced to the Meetup.  Our hostess led us into the meeting room and set us up with coffee and treats, and as we settled in she invited us to tell her about ourselves.
We talked.  And talked.  And talked.  I have never found it difficult to talk to strangers about myself (in fact, it's often easier than talking to people who do know me, or at least know only a part of me - I worry about disappointing them or letting them down if I tell them things they may not want to know!) and her open and accepting attitude made it so easy for both LouLou and I to confess many of the things we've been struggling with and the unhealthy patterns we keep finding ourselves in.  She listened without judgment, asked clarifying questions that helped us to focus, and encouraged us to talk - or not talk - about whatever we felt we needed to.  And then LouLou and I joined hands and she prayed for us.

It is hard to explain the feeling that sometimes comes over me when someone prays for me.  It's amazing to think that someone cares enough about what I am going through to petition for God to help and heal me; that someone wants the best for me, and most of all, I feel in those moments the most definite assurance of the potential I have for change.  Her prayers were so thoughtful, and well-constructed without being contrived and feeling fake (think televangelists; she was the complete opposite in her earnestness).  She then shared with each of us a vision that she believed that God was giving to her for our particular spiritual needs at this time.  LouLou's is hers to keep or share as she wishes, but I would like to share mine here.

She told me that she could see me in a grove of trees that kept growing up around me.  I would swing at the trees and knock them down, and they would fall, but one by one they would rise up and grow around me again.  After time and time again of knocking down these incessantly rebounding trees, I reached into my pocket and pulled out something that had been there all along, and sprinkled it on the ground.  And that was where the vision ended.

As I thought through the vision, at once it became clear to me what it meant.  The trees are my old habits, the bad ones that keep cropping up again and again despite my efforts to block them from my life.  They keep recurring because the roots are still there, and because although I keep trying to use my own brute force to get them out of my life, they are still fed by the attention that I have given them, and the roots are nourished enough to send the tangled and grasping branches curling back around me again.  As long as I keep trying to do it on my own strength, and remain focused on getting them out of my life, they will continue to thrive.

It's the new habits that I need to focus on

But in my pocket I have held all along the seeds of new habits.  I need to plant them and cultivate them, and as I pay attention to the new - healthy - good habits, the roots of the trees that I am now ignoring will finally shrivel up and die.  All along I`ve been trying to browbeat down those old habits, but I am refocusing on making new ones now, such as the need for boundaries that I mentioned in my last post.

So there you go: my experience with a vision.  LouLou and I both got a lot out of the Prayer Counselling, and we plan to go back every second Monday, and it looks like Stoney may be joining us as well.  I'm thinking this just may be one of those new healthy habits that I'm cultivating.  I feel refreshed and ready to take on the world!


Friday, 4 January 2013

Do Not Cross

Day 148
217 Days Remaining

It's hard to believe it's 2013, but here we are, ready to start another year.  Obviously, it's a logical time to start thinking about changes we want to make in our lives - a new, fresh start for a new year.

Even though January 1st is the time most people make resolutions and try to begin afresh with all the things they've known they need to do, and procrastinated on, any day is a good day to start making better choices.  Every day brings with it new opportunities to do something you've never done before - or stop doing something that you've been doing for too long.

For myself, I've been thinking a lot over the past week or so about setting boundaries.

The other day, Fig called me "a pushover".  This hit home for me and actually hurt my feelings quite a bit, although I know he was saying it lightly, and did not mean to upset me.  The thing is, it's true - especially with my kids - and it wouldn't hurt if it wasn't.  I tend to do a lot for my children when they are with me, and I need to stop doing so much for them and just be with them.  Otherwise they come to take me for granted and expect me to keep doing everything for them.  It's tough, though, especially with teenagers; if I don't make proper snacks for them, they'll eat junk.  If I don't take them to the mall (or the grocery store, or youth group, or wherever, even though they have bus passes), they hang around and complain and make our time together so much less enjoyable than it could be.  That's half the problem right there: sometimes it's just easier to give in.  And it's easier to do things myself (such as clean up after their mess) than to have to spend so much time and energy hounding them about it.  (Plus, it will get done much better...I tend to be a bit compulsive when it comes to cleaning...)

As well as with my kids, and - obviously - in relationships with other people, I also need to set boundaries for myself in what I share and don't share.  As I talked about earlier, I do tend to share too much, whether it be information, physical touch, or emotions.  I feel in a lot of ways, I've been applying boundaries to my blog, but I want to continue analyzing what is appropriate and inappropriate to share.  For example, I try not to talk about my children too much, so even the above paragraph has been scrutinized and edited to ensure that I am not bringing up things that would be either embarrassing for, or disrespectful to, them.

As I mentioned, I'm planning on seeking counseling, but as I have not yet found a counselor, I'm reading some self-help books and researching online.  At the moment, the challenge I am taking upon myself is learning how to set some appropriate boundaries.

I did some online research and found this great and insightful counselor, Karen Wells, who is based quite nearby, in Prince Rupert ("close" is relative when you're in the online world!).  She had a helpful and hard-hitting list as to why it's hard to set boundaries. (You can click the hyperlinked title below to reach her article and full list, but I'm just summing up her points here.)

6 Reasons Why It Is Hard To Set Boundaries

1.  We do not believe in ourselves. Karen says that "we do not believe we have a right to a healthy boundary".  This statement, tied very closely in with self-esteem, really hit home for me, as somewhere deep inside me, I still don't feel that I am good enough or that I have the right to make strong decisions and determinations simply for myself.  I know in my head that I'm good enough, beloved in the sight of God, and that I deserve everything that everyone else deserves, but at times, my heart has yet to fully understand it.

2.  We do not know what we want.  The whole idea is that many people don`t set concrete goals, and are not sure what they want in life, but just meander through it with the hope that it will somehow turn out all right.  The part that really resonated with me was that often I "have trouble distinguishing between self-care and selfishness, making it impossible to act upon legitimate needs".  For many years I was told that I was selfish and that I only acted in my own benefit.  Although in some ways it was true for quite a time, it isn`t any longer, but I have a lot of difficulty doing anything just for me, because I am still so afraid that it will be seen as selfishness (or that I will fall back into old patterns).  I'm learning this distinction, but I really struggle with it.

3.  We are afraid of what we might lose.  Too many times in the past, I have hung on to a relationship that was not worth saving because "the risk of losing the relationship [seemed] more overwhelming than the present situation".  I have fought like crazy to keep people in my life who I wasn't even really certain that I wanted in my life!  I have got to focus on my Dealbreakers, focus on my list of what I want (in a man, and from my life), and learn to distinguish which things are worth keeping, and which things don't matter as much as I give them credit for.

4.  It is hard work.  "New boundaries do not change over night."  Like I mentioned above, sometimes it feels easier to just give in than to stand up for myself.  This needs to change.
5.  Afraid that others will get mad at you.  My kids will be upset if I don't do everything for them (potentially true, but not tragic).  My significant other will be hurt or upset or angry if I don't give in to what he wants rather than what I want (then it is not a real relationship).  My friends will feel I am a liar if I don't tell them everything about me (no, they won`t - and trust me, they don`t need or want to know everything).  This nice man won't like me if I don't allow him to kiss me or go on another date with him (so what?  If you don't want to go on another date with him, why do you care if he doesn't like you?).  Sound silly?  Maybe, but unfortunately, I have gone way too long operating in this line of thinking.

6.  You do not want to make a mistake.  There have been times when I have been so paralyzed at the thought of making a mistake that I have made much bigger ones than the one I was trying to avoid.  Karen's words are reassuring: "Nobody gets it right all the time.  Yet, if you determine to problem solve and search out wise advice, the potential for making mistakes is greatly lessened."  This is why I have decided to seek counsel, to read, to learn about myself, and to spend time in a monthly prayer group with two of my amazing girlfriends who can work with me to get out of these unhealthy patterns.

I identify so strongly with these points and know that they need to be addressed.  The good things is that there is so much literature out there that can give me tips and pointers on how to fortify these boundaries, so that I don't end up where I have been so many times before.  I'm aware, I'm stronger every day, and I am determined.  You'll see; I will become a fortress.  It may take some time, and will definitely have its moments of weakness, but I know where I want to go, and I'm learning - slowly! - how to get there.


Thursday, 3 January 2013

Listing Slightly to the Right

Day 147
218 Days Remaining

Through the hustle and bustle of life, whenever I am feeling overwhelmed and in need of comfort, control and a sense of sanity, there is one thing that always makes me feel better and brings me joy and relief.

That one thing is: THE LIST.

Lists of what to purchase at the grocery store.  Lists of chores to do around the house.  Lists of which books need to be returned to the library.  Lists of problems with the car that eventually need to be addressed.  Lists of what the kids need to do before they settle in with video games for the weekend.  Lists of reasons why I`m on a dating hiatus.  Lists of things I want to do with my life.  Lists of which meals we`re having on which day.  Lists of things to be done before I can head back to school on Monday.  Lists of friends I haven`t called and need to.  Lists of the things I keep putting off.  Lists of the things I have accomplished.  List of the wonderful things that have happened in my life.  Lists of the bad things that have happened.  Lists of what lists I need to make.  Lists of lists that I`ve already made (case in point...this one).

These are some of the lists I made yesterday.

I love lists.  I love feeling productive and in control of at least one thing in my life, and making a list allows me to do that.  And if you read The Contentment Project posts, you've seen how I like to use lists to move forward in life, and to positively impact myself and others.

I spent a lot of time yesterday making lists before I headed to work, and I didn`t want to stop.  Once I was at work, I spent whatever spare time I had making further lists from the lists I had started at home. Oh, how organized I felt!  Nothing could stop me from having my life wrapped around my little finger. 

It does feel good to have things written down and mapped out.  At one point, it would have been enough for me to simply have it written - my sense of accomplishment would be fulfilled and I would be so exhausted from my list-making that it would be all I could manage to do.  The list would then sit, likely unread and un-crossed-off, in a drawer or shoved deep down in the bottom of my purse (underneath the agenda that never got opened and the change purse that had no change in it).  Now, however, the best part of the list for me is that it gives me something to follow, a guideline for what I am actually going to do.  Of course, a list is useless if you don't actually cross anything off!

So, yesterday, having made so many lists designed to completely overhaul and organize my life, and in combination with Fig's sudden spurt of energy when he decided to vacuum the whole house and mop all the floors, I was inspired to cross a few things off at least one of my lists.  I began organizing my closet.  I am blessed to have a very large walk-in closet, which unfortunately has become a gathering place for everything including cardboard boxes filled with miscellaneous electrical cords, installation CDs, burned Mad Men DVD-Rs, and old paystubs; many, many dust bunnies; old VHS videos that never get watched and old board games that never get played; and - in fact - actual clothing.  (See what I did there?  See how I made another list? Yes!)  The closet purged, I began moving quickly through the list, planning a weekly menu, making daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly task charts, and plotting everything into Outlook so that all my lists can pop up on the computer when I log in (technology is brilliant, really).  So, with six things crossed off my "master list" of thirteen items, I felt pretty good when I went to sleep last night.
This morning, I am again excited to tackle the next few weeks, armed with my many lists and a positive attitude.  It's made me think about a few other lists I made that ended up - figuratively, at least - crumpled into a ball at the bottom of my handbag.  I know that I've made several lists during the writing of the blog, some of which have never been referred to again.  Time to make a list of lists I need to revisit!:

- Word to the Whys: my list of reasons for doing a yearlong dating hiatus in the first place.
- The Guidelines: to remind myself what I intend to do in order to pull this off, and to strengthen my resolve on how I am actually going to get through the next eight months.
- What to Do, What to Do: my list of the things I want to accomplish during the year off from dating.  (Note: one of these things, "Learn to dance" is in the works!  A good friend and I are planning on taking Social Ballroom lessons together - here's hoping it actually happens.)
- Dealbreakers: My list of what I don't want in a man - a helpful reference!

And when I am feeling down, or lonely, or unattractive, I can refer to some other lists that I've made:

- What I Am is What I Am: to remind myself of the things about myself that make me me; things that I identify with.
- The Best Work of Art: the blog post I wrote about how I am coming to love my body, and appreciate it.  This one is always a good one to read when I am feeling like less than I should.
- Ten Great Things About Being Single:  These rock!  Who needs a man, anyway?
- And of course, List #1 in The Contentment Project, which reminds me of what I have now that I need to be grateful for.

I'm going to stop writing lists for a little while now, and start re-reading the ones I've already made.  Hopefully soon, I'll be able to cross a few more things off, and maybe make another list...of more things I've accomplished..?