Little happy lists

February 3, 2015 @ 8:59 pm | Filed under: , ,

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Every year or two I am reminded that I have a Listography account where, for brief spells, I have experimented with logging various kinds of daily notes. In truth, I have these ephemera all over the place—an old Typepad blog, a for-a-little-while side-blog here at WordPress, dozens and dozens of paper notebooks accumulated over the years…sometimes I wish I’d been consistent and kept everything in one place. One shelf of notebooks stretching back through all the years (not leapfrogging over so many), or one lovely Listography archive like the one Sue writes about in this post, which is what nudged me to check in on my own page. Now of course I know that this blog itself is my most consistent record, and here I have captured much of the stuff worth capturing these past ten years.

But as Sue of Mouse Notebook writes, there’s something particularly nourishing in the daily practice of noting things that made you happy.

Exactly five years ago I began the practice, at bedtime, of writing a list of five things that have made me happy that day. It has been so good for me to do this, to look for the small beauties of life as well as remember the big, wonderful things. I now have over 1700 searchable entries recording snippets from my life over the last five years, which feels like a priceless asset.

Her lists are simple and direct and quite wonderful. I don’t know how I came across her list-page (via Lesley Austin, perhaps?), back in June 2010, but I was moved to follow her example:

Inspired by Mouse’s lists of things she liked today. I’d been keeping something similar in my paper notebook, but this might be a better place (baby keeps running off with my pen).

And reading on, I see how many things I captured that I would have forgotten, had indeed forgotten until this moment.

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I see I kept with the daily notes barely a week, and then picked up again a year later for a handful of days. Interspersed with the ‘happy things’ lists are collections of links and book titles for various projects I was immersed in. Those have been fun to revisit, too—I’m laughing at the tentative summer reading list from June 2010. I’d be embarrassed to confess to the number of those books I have actually managed to read thus far—though, of course, the list of other books I did read would outstrip that one, thanks in large part to my Cybils-panel stints. (“So, huh, this is like four summers’ worth of books,” I noted at the bottom. Oh 2010 Lissa, you optimist.)

I love that I collected a list of rabbit trails inspired by my immersion in A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book, which I’ve reread twice since then! The sight of that jolly face on the jug makes me want to pick the novel up yet again (though it is anything but jolly).

Other sticky-notes there are collections of links I would probably just save to Diigo now, so they’d show in my sidebar. Or Evernote, if they were for me alone. Neither of those platforms (convenient and multifunctional as they are) can touch Listography for visual appeal, though. The look of those simple sticky notes was what drew me to Listography when I already had a perfectly good place to collect ephemera right here at Bonny Glen.

I played a lot of pennywhistle in the summer of 2010. Never got very good at it. By fall I was busy with other things and never circled back around to it (yet). Beanie has recently picked it up, though, and is already far better than I was.

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By far the best notes on that page are the lists of happy moments from a handful of June days, a year apart. Planting sunflower seeds with the littles, rolling a ball down the slide, salt water taffy sent by Scott’s brother Jay…I’m glad I captured those. And Sue is right—imagine a list like that kept consistently year after year. What a treasure.

And look! Five years ago I was wanting to memorize all the monarchs of England—and this year I did it! William, William, Henry, Stephen, Henry, Richard, John

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6 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Selvi says:

    This reminds me of the idea of a commonplace book. I think I learned about if from a link you posted. Was it you? This one:
    Especially now that my brain is more and more sieve-like, I often wish I had some system going. But there is so much to capture that it seems overwhelming. Where to even start? How to ever find anything again? Digital means searchable means you don’t really have to organize it, but paper is more appealing and convenient. So, so far I haven’t really started.
    On the other hand, even though you have your things scattered, at least you have them, right?

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Oh yes, I loved that article! His method gave me pause—the index card idea has teeth (being able to topic sort quotes and move them around = aces) but doesn’t appeal to me aesthetically. And I never keep up with writing things by hand. (Though this past year as I’ve become addicted to art journaling, I find I’m enjoying writing by hand more than I have in years. Decades, even!)

      I have tried so many different mediums and vehicles for commonplace-booking! It would have been much better to pick a method and stick with it, but I’m lousy at that. 😉

      Things that have worked pretty well over longish spans of time:

      • Tumblr, of all things—catching quotes from online reading (and later, via a scanning app, book reading as well) and assembling them there. Don’t remember why I stopped.

      • marginalia—at least there the notes are always in the books. but you don’t revisit them often unless you reread the book.

      I have a nice fat bound book with the gridded paper I enjoy, launched circa 2002 for the purpose of collecting quotes and poems. Maybe 5 pages filled? ::rueful shrug::

      And a category here on BG where I have sporadically undertaken to store striking passages from my reading.

      I have often admired Mental Multivitamin’s consistency and format—her semi-regular commonplace book posts featuring a number of quotes from a recently read book, often with commentary. She’s been at it for over ten years now.

      Someday I’ll clean up my archives here, making sure all my quote posts are properly tagged…That would be the simplest path for me—using what I already have, in an environment I love. 🙂

      Listography would work well for quote-keeping, though! And be searchable and pretty to boot.

  2. Mamalion says:

    OH MY GOODNESS, you have just made my little organizational heart go pitty-pat! I LOVE Listography! I am forever making lists in various journals- I love lists, I love crossing things off lists, I love the fact it makes me look organized (although I know differently!), but I hate the fact I can’t keep track of them all in their various journals. And if you try to put them all in one journal, then you lose where they are in the journal, and they don’t carry the potential importance they should. I can totally see Listography putting all my lists in one place for me!

  3. lesley austin says:

    Oh Lissa! What a nice little ramble I had down memory lane because of this post. I haven’t thought of listography probably since I made my last entry four and a half years ago. But it was lovely to see my page and to be reminded of all those tiny events that I would have forgotten otherwise. Very precious.

    And isn’t it appealing in its simplicity? Peaceful. I may have to think of a new way to use it, perhaps for the things that my private Pinterest boards don’t work well for?

    And the blog list there will make for another nice ramble sometime soon, especially in the light of the posts and comments lately at sarah’s about blogging and how it has changed over the years…xo