Five Things

A very wise and extremely lovely mermaid recently told me about a trick she sometimes uses when she is feeling down: every night, before going to bed, write down Five Things you love about your life.

I immediately peppered her with questions. Can I cheat and just write down my kids and husband?

Answer: Yes, but the answers should be specific. Instead of writing my son’s name, for example, I should say I love how my son nicknamed himself “Jackhammer” and bounces all over the house impersonating a jackhammer (true story).

Can I repeat the answers from the day before?

Answer: If I want to. I’m not going to be judged or graded; this exercise is for me. I should do whatever works best for ME.

Then it hit me. Like so much of the writing process and life in general, there are no rules. There are just guidelines and structures that I can and should bend to accommodate my own particular circumstances. This might be obvious to most of you, but to me, it was a bit of an eye-opener. And it made me think of another Five Things I learned about, a long time ago.

In this list, a woman achieved balance and happiness in her life by doing the same Five Things, every day:

1) something physical
2) something mental
3) something that needs to be done
4) something for herself
5) something for someone else

I’d always admired the simplicity and practicality of this list, but I never felt like it applied well to my life. I was “cheating,” I thought, because I could cross off #3 and #5 immediately every day, by virtue of having kids. I don’t think a day goes by without #2 automatically happening, with all the demands of life. I always try to exercise every day, with or without a list, so that left #4 — doing something for myself. A worthy pursuit, to be sure, but now I don’t have much of a list, do I?

With my eye-opening realization, I decided to revise the list in order to challenge myself a little more.

Here’s what I came up. Pintip’s Five Things to do every day:
1) something outside
2) something productive with my writing
(writing itself, revising, editing, brainstorming, etc.)
3) something that needs to be done that I don’t want to do
This qualification takes out the routine things I have to do for my kids (feed them, bathe them, take them to school, etc.). Instead, it challenges me to do household stuff on which I continually procrastinate, such as pay bills, make doctor’s appointments, sift through my mail, etc.
4) something for myself
5) something enriching with my children
Again, this qualification eliminates all the routine things I would do anyways. It challenges me to carve out time to work on math with my daughter or writing with my son.

So this is my new list! Five Things I challenge myself to do every single day. #4 remains the same, while I have revised the other items to better accommodate my life.

What are your Five Things?

24 thoughts on “Five Things

  1. Pintip,
    I like the idea of the lists. I’m a list person, too. πŸ™‚ I’m constantly making lists because it is so much fun to see what I can get done. At times I do detailed lists (like when I’m cleaning: instead of clean kitchen it’s; wash dishes, clean counters, sweep and mop floors, clean microwave and stove top, etc.) until I have each item crossed off.

    My recent lists are kind of like what you had listed:
    Exercise, write, do a daily chore that needs to be done (other than basics), like cleaning out a pantry or organizing the junk drawer in the hutch, prep a meal so it’s easy to prepare after a day of writing. Again they are much more detailed but I don’t think I could function without a list.

    Raising my cup of Vanilla Bean latte to you this morning (and lists)!

    1. Thanks, Loni! Wow – you sound way more organized than me. I’m not usually into lists (unless I’m packing — ugh) but I thought I would give this one a try. Enjoy the latte and I hope you have a great day!

  2. I hate lists. For me anyway. The reason I hate them is because when I used to write them, I had lists for everything, and I felt like NOTHING got accomplished in the end. πŸ™‚ Once I even had ‘making a list’ on the master list. I haven’t written one out in more than twelve years now. I feel like an alcoholic at an AA meeting.
    “Hi, I’m Kim. I used to make lists.”
    However, I think if I could make a list that only had five master things on it each day, and I could fulfill them however I wanted to, well….
    Thanks, Pintip! I think I just got sucked back in.
    I will say this about #5. This was part of my New Year’s Resolution. But I had to be nice every day to a complete stranger. And I’ve loved this! Some days it might be something really simple like returning someone’s cart for them in the parking lot. Or giving someone a smile and making eye contact with someone who looks like they could use it.
    A couple of weeks ago, my daughter Megan was studying at Starbucks with a friend. I’d given her a $5 gift card for her drink, but when I picked her up, she still had it. She was so excited that she could barely talk. There was a woman sitting next to the girls who kept glancing in their direction while she was clearly working. I thought she might be annoyed with two sixth graders “studying” at Starbucks.
    Megan went up to the counter and asked if she had enough money for an apple fritter with her drink. The woman ran over, pushed her card aside and handed the boy behind the counter a $10 bill. She told my daughter that she was a teacher and very impressed with the girls’ work habits and the subject they were working on. She said for her to buy whatever she wanted, and to give the rest as a tip.
    So, my daughter ended up buying $6 worth, and then gave the boy a $4 tip. Everyone was a winner. πŸ™‚
    I love that story!

    1. Holy Cow! I didn’t realize that was so long! Sorry. I submitted before editing. LOL.

      1. Not too long at all. I LOVE your story about Megan and I love your resolution to be kind to strangers. In fact, since hearing your resolution, I’ve been trying to do the same thing. I once read somewhere this quote that I love. I’m paraphrasing but it goes something like: Always be kinder than you need to be, because you don’t know what kind of day the other person is having. Or something like that.
        Thanks for sharing and stopping by, Kim!

        1. What a great post Pintip! And thank you so much for sharing your story Kim. I love that! In my household we call it “Random Acts of Kindness” when you go out of your way to do something nice for someone else.

          I’m personally a “List Person.” I’m not sure anything would ever get done without me making a list reminding me to do it. I have even been known to put things on the list, just so I can cross them off, like “empty dishwasher” or “pick up kids.” Looking down and seeing all of those things crossed off at the end of the day gives me a sense of accomplishment and lets me organize things into what I need to get done vs. what I want to get done. But after hearing Pintip’s list I believe I have found a few more things to add…

          Thank you for that! πŸ™‚

          1. Dana, I love crossing things off, too! Our Princess Mermaid says she sometimes even write things down that she already did so she can cross them off as soon as she finishes writing them!
            Thanks for stopping by Dana! And have a wonderful day!

  3. What a wonderful blog! And a great idea. I am going to challenge myself to come up with my five things to do every day. May I have your permission to share this post with my Health Seminar for Seniors? It would definitely enrich their lives.

    1. Hi Alethea’s mom! I loved your post yesterday, but I apologize I wasn’t able to stop by as family things kept me busy all day. Happy Belated Mother’s Day! Of course you have my permission to share this post! I would be honored! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. I love how your list evolved into something that works for you, Pintip. Sometimes we just have to shuffle things around until it clicks for us. I love number one, going outside. Being a military spouse, I’ve lived in lots of different places and Virginia is by far one of the most beautiful. I feel like I’m treated each day by nature out here. At our retreat two years ago, I got to ask my favorite writer what she did for writer’s block and she mentioned taking a walk outside to stimulate your mind in a different way, one that can only really be achieved when you’re out and about rather than seated at your computer.

  5. I agree, Carlene. I absolutely love being outside. There’s something about the sun, the wind, and the trees that makes me feel more grounded and reminds me of the important things in my life. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a great day!

  6. I am a total list person. They make me feel like I actually have control of the chaos – bwahahahahahahahaha. Yeah, right. I like the outside part of your list. I am not an outdoor girl and would happily spend an entire day in my pajamas, if I could get away with it. However, I have noticed that the days when I walk to my kids’ school and we walk home that my brain feels so much better.

    1. Yeah, I’d guess you were a list person, Avery. Imagine that. πŸ™‚ thanks for stopping by.

  7. I LOVEEEEEEEEEE me some lists. Currently, I have about 6 going strong. Sub-lists, you know.

    Your list sounds great! It’s hard to remember to do things for yourself sometimes, even when you don’t have children or a spouse. But it’s sooo important. You already know this, but here are some of my favorite things to do for myself: mani, pedi, bubble bath, large glass of wine while watching Real Housewives, buying a new book, massage, cupcake – any cupcake. πŸ˜‰

    1. I love your self-indulgence list, Kerri. It sounds a lot like mine, lol. Have you tried Georgetown Cupcake yet?

  8. I’m a list slut. My lists have lists so that when I first read this post I had to have a private moment with myself . . . yep.

    So, my five things:

    1. Read for pleasure – something sexy and yummy
    2.Have a Diet Coke – the elixir of the Gods.
    3. Exercise – I hate it but I have to do it.
    4. Text my baby sister, Dr. Boo Boo – yep she’s 39, a mom and a wife and a periodontist but I need to make sure that she’s okay everyday. She’s still my responsibility and I love her to pieces.
    5. Tell my kids and hubby that I love them.

    1. Oh what a wonderful list, Robin! I love it! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. #4 and #5 are so important. I tell my kids I love them every time the feeling comes to me. My daughter’s response? “I already know that, Mom!” with an eye roll. Lol!

  9. Okay, two lists to accomplish daily: 5 Things I Love and Five Things To Do. Got it! (who is that wise and beautiful mermaid, anyway???)

  10. I’m with Avery – the “outside” to-do is a hit or miss for me, but I always feel enriched when I take a walk or hang by the pool.

    I learned to do a “six most important things” list when I was a Mary Kay consultant. Each night, I think about the next day and what needs to be done. I put down the top priorities. If something doesn’t get accomplished that day, it goes to the top of the list for the next day.

    LOL! That’s the way it’s supposed to work, anyway! Some seasons I’m better at it than others, for sure. Great list(s), Pintip!

    1. That’s a great idea, Keely! Not that I need any more lists, but I will definitely keep that one in mind. Thanks for sharing! Have a terrific day!

  11. I don’t know if I like lists or not, but I do know I like the kind of lists you are talking about here, because at least the way I read it – I found it more as a way to keep a reminder of how to stay balanced. That is something I need desperately – especially lately with all of the work I have and the book I’m writing, and writing, and writing…

    Okay, I’m going to start bugging here soon. Great post.

    1. You read that exactly right, Denny. It’s all about balance. I think balance really is the key to happiness. Here’s hoping you find and maintain that balance! You can do it!!

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