Cheryl Hughes: My Career As A Woman
Note To Self - Words have always been a big deal to me. The written word has an impact on me that not even music can rival. I have a file that is labeled Pieces of Paper, because that is exactly what it is. The file holds a jumble of words scribbled on scraps of paper. The scraps hold words that have touched and inspired me. That being said, I’ve gone a bit over-the-top with notes and reminders posted in my personal space. I tell myself the reason for all of the post-its stuck to every available flat surface in my house and car is the loss of my memory as I have aged. That’s partly it, but I think at the heart of my note posting is a recognition of my not wanting to pay attention when I feel overwhelmed, and I feel overwhelmed a lot these days.
When my husband, Garey, makes a note to himself about what he needs to do, he writes it in small print on a post-it note and sticks it to the bathroom mirror. That doesn’t work for me. First of all, if the print is small, I will ignore it. Secondly, I get overwhelmed if everything I need to do is posted on one note. I have to write out a list of what I need to do in a notebook that stays on my desk or the kitchen table. I then break the list down into individual tasks that I post onto individual post-its that I stick to my bathroom mirror. I hate post-it notes stuck to my bathroom mirror!
Every time I go into the bathroom there are those annoying post-it notes reminding me what needs to be done; and here’s the rub: I can’t take the notes down until the task is completed. That is my self-imposed rule. There have been many times when I’ve gone into the bathroom to wash my hands, and I become so annoyed by a note that says something like put up the rake & hoe that I go immediately and complete the task, so I can come back in and rip the post-it off the mirror. And let me tell you, wadding that little piece of paper up and throwing it into the trash is one of the best feelings in the world.
When the kids were little, I left notes for them. I put them either on the refrigerator or taped them to the hood vent over the oven. Some of the notes were list of chores for the day, along with instructions to mark off each chore after completion. (This process eliminates the gray area of I didn’t hear you say that.) Some of the notes I left told them things like where I had gone, when I would be back, and what I had planned for dinner. (This was before the advent of affordable cell phones.) I always signed the notes, Love, Mom.
Recently, I had to be away from home for the week-end. I spent a lot of time cleaning before I left, because I did not want to come back to a house in disarray. I posted a large note on a sheet of notebook paper written with a black sharpie. It was directed at everybody living in my house, except my granddaughter. The note read: When I get back this house had better look just like I left it. Love, Mom/ Cheryl/ Aunt Cheryl. :Garey took pictures of the living room and kitchen with his iPhone so he could reference them later for anything he might have left lying around. The place looked great when I returned. I was amazed. Usually, my family just ignores my ultimatums.
The thing about my lists that is different from my notes is that my lists are very personal to me. They are my plans—what I hope to accomplish that day. I don’t like for people to read my lists. My notes, on the other hand, are out there for everybody to see. I think I’m so protective of my lists, because I feel if I don’t accomplish everything that’s listed there, I’m the only one who knows about it. I don’t have somebody looking over my shoulder saying, “I thought you were going to do blah, blah, blah today.
I’ve asked Garey a gazillion times not to read my lists, but no matter where I put them, he seems to find them and read them. One day, I decided I’d put a stop to this nonsense. I made the following list: Mail bills
Flea & Tick meds on cats
Clean sheets on guest room bed
Wash kitchen rugs
Pick tomatoes & okra
See Divorce Attorney
I put the list on the table where he was sure to see it. I pretended I didn’t see him reading it as I walked through the kitchen on my way to the living room. When I came back through, Garey asked, “What are you doing today?” I answered, “You should know. You read my list.” “Oh, that reminds me,” he said, “while you’re in the courthouse seeing the divorce attorney, could you pick me up one of those hunting and fishing guides at the clerk’s office?”
Note To Self: Never try to outsmart a smart-aleck.