Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Calming my to-do lists...with color

As you know, I (compulsively) make to-do lists - but I've never given much thought to the type of paper I use to create my lists.

Okay - that's not entirely true. I know I prefer unlined paper to lined paper, and I like pieces of paper that are bigger than square post-it notes but smaller than 8 1/2" x 11.

But I've never thought about the color of the paper before. I typically write my all-encompassing to-do list in a little notebook that I carry in my purse. And for the daily to-do lists that get written every three days or so, I just use whatever scrap paper we have around - typically white, pale yellow or blue, because the printing company Johnny uses for his business uses yellow and blue separator sheets. So up until now - my to-do lists have only known those three colors.

But things took a turn last week - a turn in the shade of hot pink - and I'm not sure I'm a fan. I found myself out of scrap paper last week, and scrounged up a hot pink, lined post it pad (large and rectangular, not small and square), and decided to keep it in the kitchen for my daily to-do's. And ugh! It's really not working.

Every time I pass by the kitchen counter where I keep the list, I feel my to-do list screaming at me. Even when I'm working in another part of the kitchen (which granted, isn't that big), I catch a glimpse of that bright fuschia out of the corner of my eye, and it makes me anxious. (Not really anxious, but at least cognizant of the list being in the same room as I am.) I'm amazed at the presence this little pink pad has - but it's too much presence for me. My to-do lists are important - but for someone who knows what she has to do and knows when she plans to to do - I don't need a constant flash of color to remind me.

So the pink pad has been filed...not in the circular file, but in a file. I've found my pleasing-to-the-eye plain white paper again, and order has been restored.

The point? Sometimes, the slightest change can make the biggest difference. I've found that to be true time and again with lupus. Whether it's making a slight change to medication, altering the way you  wear your hair to mask hair loss, or swapping out a clunky plastic pill box for a cute little pillbag, living well doesn't always require monumental effort. It doesn't have to be some herculean task that sets you on the path to living well. It's finding the little stuff in your everyday life that can make life with lupus that much more manageable. It's empowering when you make small, incremental changes like these - I remember specifically feeling like a rock star (literally and figuratively) when my doctor and I would decide to tweak my prednisone a couple of milligrams. Sometimes I was on 2 milligrams too many, other times it was just an extra 2mg I needed to stay ahead of the pain. It wasn't a big change, but it sure made a difference.

So I encourage you to make one small change in your daily routine today to try and make life with lupus a little bit easier. Maybe you've been meaning to buy an easy-to-use utensil for the kitchen, maybe you owe your doctor a phone call about a nagging situation you should have called about weeks ago, or maybe you could stop on the way home and pick up a prepared dinner. Whatever it is, make sure you treat yourself to an emotional or physical pick me up today!

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