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 THE VIEW FROM HERE: Prioritizing life’s to-do list


By Craig Ruvere / Columnist

(Oct. 28, 2010) — I often meet up with a friend of mine on Wednesday nights, for coffee and conversation at a small café in a local bookstore.

The other night, while she stood at the counter ordering something caffeinated to drink and a sweet-treat to munch on, I was busy laying claim on a table for two. With everyone searching for a comfortable place to drink their coffee and flip through a book they have no intention of buying, available tables are often hard to find.

Patiently waiting for her return, my eyes landed upon a magazine sitting atop the table in front of me. The cover was a series of yellow, green and orange gourds of varying shapes and sizes – all artistically arranged. With much of the foliage around our area still lacking the beautiful autumnal colors of the season, it’s easy to forget that fall is very much upon us - with Thanksgiving only a few short weeks away.

The magazine’s title was “Real Simple” and its intent was to make life as “simple” as possible each and every day. It featured recipes, beauty tips, ideas for the home and inspirational stories for those looking to minimize the chaos many of us find ourselves plagued with.

Flipping through the first few pages, I came across a message from Editor Kristin Van Ogtrop. She spoke at some length about to-do-lists and how our lives are often dictated by these pesky reminders. Admittedly, there’s a bakers rack in my own home which is frequently littered with yellow post it notes or torn pieces of scrap paper listing a myriad of projects. Unfortunately, as the tiny papers increase, so does my anxiety - especially after the realization that I haven’t made much progress.

She recanted a story of how she recently came across an envelope containing cards and well wishes from cherished individuals she had previously worked with. She began reading some of the heartfelt messages from people she still remembered fondly. But as life so often gets in the way, she soon realized several years had passed and the relationships she once valued had taken a back seat. It was at that moment when she came to a very interesting conclusion: “I realized that the contents of that envelope formed a different sort of to-do-list – one made up not of things but of people.”

Take a look at your own life and ask yourself, what’s on my to-do-list?

Our lives seem filled to capacity with a plethora of errands, chores and commitments which often pull us in different directions — robbing us of the more memorable moments life has to offer.

In short we prioritize our lives based upon what we believe to be important and inadvertently forget about the people we always assume will be around when our to-do-lists are finally complete.

It’s funny how our lists seem to focus so much on taking care of responsibilities, yet pay little attention to taking care of the people who provide our lives with meaning.

Imagine turning off the television and tuning out all distractions to interact with that special someone who’s been sitting right next to, yet somehow has been forgotten along life’s journey. Or to regularly afford time to a parent or grandparent as a small token of respect and honor to those who sacrificed so much so that you could have a better life. Aren’t those priorities which deserve a top spot on our to-do-lists?

Lists are a great way to remind yourself to change the oil in your car, pick up bread and milk at the grocery store or your suit at the dry cleaners. But when do we ever remind ourselves to better foster the relationships in our lives? To take time out of our precious schedules to show someone just how valuable they truly are.

David Norris once wrote that, “How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected, but time is gone forever.”

“The View from Here” runs every other week, alternating with guest columns.

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