I've heard that living life as a check list is dangerous, because sometimes, check lists just don't help. I believe this. I do. I can see how things don't always line up, others' agency is involved, and faith (along with a good dose of patience) is better than any exemplary goal or schedule. I know life should not be a series of check lists!
Except when it should be.
The truth is, I am a fan of the check list. I'm a fan of seeing how things affect each other, of eliminating possibilities in order to narrow things down to solutions. I'm fairly visual, and I can see how things work together (and against each other).
[Irony: I hate to-do lists. I refuse to write things down unless I have to because I'll forget. I learned a long time ago not to write them down because I would be writing for centuries and never get anything finished.]
Okay, what is my point... where was I? Oh, right, check lists. So, I like them.
If I want to have the Holy Ghost to guide me throughout my day, there are a series of things I need to do. Not always the same, sometimes abstract, but things, nonetheless. I need to pray, I need to make choices that will bring the Spirit, I need to get rid of anger and contention, I need to keep my heart open to promptings, etc.
If I want to be an effective teacher, I need to learn how to speak in front of a crowd, how to ask questions and draw answers, I need to know how to keep the tone and discussion on topic, I need to adequately prepare the information ahead of time.
If I want to be a good mother to my children, I need to give them attention, time, and discipline. I need to remember to change diapers, fix meals, supervise their activities, teach them new things, give affection, and pray for them.
If I want to attend the Temple, I need to go to my church meetings, keep the covenants I've made in the Temple, obey commandments and adhere to principles that will allow me the chance to not only go to the Temple (i.e. receive a recommend) but to feel it is a place where I belong --where my spirit won't feel hypocritical.
And... if I want to be healthy, I need to work on another kind of checklist. (This is my real point!)
Health for Cheryl, eh? The check list for this would be:
Of course, that's just the beginning. In depth, working backwards:
Relationships are important --how is my relationship with God? With Jesus Christ? With my husband? My children? My family? My friends? My neighbors? My community? Contention and envy, pride and grudges --are these things present in my association with the people I love?
Spirituality --am I feeling the presence of the Holy Ghost? What am I doing in my life that drives away the Spirit? How can I keep myself centered? I need to be doing the things that I've been taught (and have experienced for myself) that will help my soul and give me hope and strengthen my faith.
Body. This one is tough, but the check list is simple: am I exercising on a regular basis? Am I eating a healthy amount of calories and are those calories derived from foods that are helping or hurting my body's ability to be healthy? And then there's the simple things we take for granted: showering, brushing hair/teeth, clean clothing, getting sunshine, breathing fresh air, etc.
I just got back from my psychiatry appointment. It went really well, and I'm grateful I've found a psychiatrist! She listened and understood, and although she wasn't a huge fan about a possible pregnancy in my future (I didn't think she would be; I don't think many psychiatrists would be), she was very kind. She prescribed me the best medication we feel will meet my needs; she got me an appointment with a therapist (I start next week).
This check list is especially important for me because it affects the rest of my check lists. When my mind is broken, so is my body. When my body and mind are broken, so is my spirit. When my body, mind, and spirit are broken, so are my relationships. It could very easily go the other way, too. They all affect each other, cyclically, as well as linearly.
So, check list: Fix this, this, this, and this... and than this will be better. Not always, but usually. Not every time, but mostly.
It's the best chance I have, anyway. To assume my check lists won't work (and experience has shown me that they actually tend to work) assumes failure. It's not an option for me right now.
[SIDE NOTE: I have to give a shout out to my incredible husband. Brandon has been so patient and kind with me during this tough transition; with the move, the brain problems, everything. He pushes me to get out of bed and not let my depression win, and I'm really grateful for his support. It's not easy for a significant other to watch their partner fall into self-destructive behaviors --especially when they rely on that partner for so many things (like raising their children, for one! Ha!). But he's been really great. I think it says a lot when someone can push their spouse to be better and at the same time have the patience to allow them to heal at the right pace. He hasn't always done it perfectly in the past, but he's had years to practice! (Yay?) And I truly appreciate and love him. I'm a blessed woman.]
Do you have check lists that work for you? Do you think all check lists are crazy? Have you seen how your brain and your body and your spirit are all connected? Any stories of how one affected the other? Which focus brought you the most balance?