Saturday, 29 September 2012

i've got a little list

I’m not one of those people who live by lists, making them every day and obsessively ticking things off, (though I live with and admire the productivity of someone who does). But neither could I live a completely list-free life. They definitely have their uses for efficient shopping, planning for events such as Christmas and generally making sure that things get done. When I was still working I had a daily to-do list to keep me on track and more recently I have discovered the beauty of what I can only call an aspirational list.

Three or so years ago I made a list of fifty things to do before I was sixty. You can see it here. It was a mixture of things to do, things to do more of, one off special activities, regular commitments and plans for the future. It wasn’t too prescriptive. It was fun to make and it was fun to do the stuff and interesting to revisit and see how I had got on. Clearly life has moved on; I am now retired and so is Steve, so the shape of our days and weeks has changed significantly. Spending eight weeks “home alone” in the summer while S was off volunteering on Iona made it reassuringly clear to me that I enjoy my quiet domestic existence with its gentle routine of one or two regular activities, friends and family within easy reach, sewing and knitting projects to keep me busy and creative. I am generally content to take things as they come and make it up as I go along, but there is always the danger of drifting, of frittering, of getting to the end of a day, or week and thinking “what have I achieved?” or “why did I spend the day on household tasks instead of something I enjoy?”

So I thought it was time to revisit the List and make some plans. I started by going back to the 50before60 list and merrily crossing off the things that were done and dusted, or that time had told me I was never going to do. Then I added in new plans; nothing huge, nothing too difficult, but little things to make the future look inviting and to help keep me a bit more focused.

This time it seemed helpful to divide the list into general headings.

  • Cambridge
  • St Ives
  • Penzance
  • Leeds
  • Roseland Peninsula
  • Exeter
  • Cardiff
  • Rye
  • Amsterdam/Utrecht
  • Ireland
  • Venice
  • Vancouver
  • More walking – including more of what I did recently and which I would describe as a sort of prayer walk; spending the best part of a day walking in the city, stopping off from time to time to read a passage or a prayer from a book on pilgrimage.
  • Reduce weight by 5% - yep, still working on this one!
  • Singing with a community choir
  • Knit and Natter

  • Finish “jewel” quilt (more on this soon)
  • More indigo prep: (I love the dyeing, but stitching and preparing fabrics for the dye vat takes ages)
  • Finish my mother’s canvas-work rug
  • Finish my Kantha quilted scarf
  • Complete green cardigan currently on the needles
  • Chart and stitch some needlepoint cushions from a design by my daughter to go with some newly re-upholstered chairs which belonged to my grandmother
  • More theatre.
  • Regular cinema
  • Read at least two books a month
  • Exhibitions and galleries

  • Spending time with family and friends: one of the most pleasurable activities in life
  • Ithaca (our weekly get-together with friends to eat, talk, discuss a spiritual/philosophical theme)
  • Share veg garden with H+F
  • Support for local initiatives like the Bristol Pound
  • Malago WI

  • Make another sourdough bread starter. I binned the last one when we went on holiday and never got round to starting another
  • Batch cooking for freezer
  • Making more interesting meals
  • Small chunks of house clearing on a regular basis
  • Egg custard!! No, I still haven’t got this one under my belt


  1. Ooh, what a very satisfying list to read! It has that lovely Autumnal feel to it of September's new starts.

    I hope you enjoy working through it and value the perspective it brings! xxx

  2. That should keep you out of mischief! Some lovely activities and I love the balance between health, culture, creativity etc. Enjoy yourself.

  3. You're right Moira, you're not a natural list-maker. Us true list afficionados would have alphabetised that 'places to visit' list.

  4. Ah, but Tracey, it could be in order of priority or preference or whether it was visit or revisit (but you'll never know)!

  5. I keep saying I'll go where the music takes me but that does it, I'm making a list!