What I’ve Learned Over the Past Year…

To Do List

By Dawn Onley

I have a confession to make.

I love lists! Making them. Reading them. Experiencing them.

I have beautifully bound journals of lists that I’ve jotted down over the years, that I can’t seem to throw away. I’ve managed to convince myself that they are worth saving. That I’ll want to read these lists someday when I’m old.

I’m always creating some type of list, whether it’s books to check out, movies to see, music to buy, or restaurants to try. I make the ordinary grocery store lists and ‘to do’ lists, but I don’t stop there. I create lists of places to travel, stocks to research, Web sites to visit and articles to read. I jot down quotes that move me. Wines to try. You name it. I have lists for days. I find that lists help me remember stuff. Lists also give me something to weigh my progress, or lack thereof, against. I find great satisfaction in checking stuff off my lists, and have even been known to write in an item that I initially forgot just to check it off. Don’t judge.

I also enjoy reading other people’s lists. I’m normally the one who gets sucked in by those articles with flashy headlines that promise to show me “10 Ways to Stop Procrastinating” or the “Top 10 Things Successful People Do When They First Wake Up.”

I’m such a sucker for lists. I even make lists of things I’ve learned. For example, each year I brood on the insights that I’ve gleaned over the previous year and then usually arrive at an assessment on or near my birthday.

These discoveries might not be earth shattering to most, but they are revelations (or reminders) to me. I’ve implemented some of these. Others I’m still figuring out. But I’m entrenched in the process. That’s the important thing. I’m discovering and evolving and working on me. Always.

Below are some of my epiphanies over the past year, in no particular order.

Hooray for lists!

Happy black woman


  • I’ve learned that I can get my 4-year-old son to eat all of his vegetables when I tell him veggies will make his muscles grow big.
  • I’ve learned that it’s much tougher to start exercising at the same level as before, once I’ve stopped. In the long run, it’s much easier to keep at it. Consistency really counts.biking
  • I’ve learned that I need to implement a shut off time to quit working. The downside to working from home is that I usually end up working more hours than a traditional position.
  • I’ve learned to ignore some things that annoy me or have the potential to make me stress.
  • I’ve learned that I love roasted beets with goat cheese and mixed greens (who knew?)
  • I’ve learned that I love charm bracelets.
  • I’ve learned that I can reinvent myself.
  • I’ve learned that I really do want a nose piercing and one more tattoo. No, this is not a midlife crisis.
  • I’ve learned that the only limits that exist are the ones in my own mind.
  • I’ve learned that I can ride in the first car on the Incredible Hulk roller coaster ride and live to tell about it.
  • I’ve learned that indecision is a decision.
  • I’ve learned that some people won’t call my son Spider-Man/Captain America/Incredible Hulk/Raptor/T-Rex/King Kong/Arlo/Spot/or whomever else he wishes to be on any given day, in spite of his wishes. But I tell him that if he thinks he’s a Super-Hero, a Dinosaur or a gigantic ape, who cares what other people think?
  • I’ve learned that some people will want your help but won’t be willing to help you. I’ve learned to concentrate my efforts on supporting the people who support me.
  • I’ve learned that what we believe about ourselves comes true.
  • I’ve learned that it takes energy to get things done, and that now is not the time to get tired.
  • I’ve learned that I have some of the best friends on this side of Heaven.
  • I’ve learned to really appreciate all of the joy that my family brings to my life for one day, sadly, our loved ones will be gone.
  • I’ve learned to accept people exactly where they are without trying to change them.
  • I’ve learned to reimagine my “save the world” dreams. If I can help one person, I am playing a part in benefitting the greater good.
  • I’ve learned that it’s ok to be vulnerable around people I trust.
  • I’ve learned that it’s never too late to form a healthier habit or to start a new tradition.
  • I’ve learned that some fights I will have to let my son work out for himself.
  • I’ve learned that apple cider vinegar and honey cures a lot of ills.
  • I’ve learned that a sisterhood of like-minded women can help ignite a revolution.
  • I’ve learned that I’m a daughter of Sarah, the mother of faith, and I should start acting like it.
  • I’ve learned that the more water I drink, the more water my body craves.
  • I’ve learned that I really want to sky dive, and might do so this year.
  • I’ve learned to pray for endurance, for the race is not given to the swift nor the strong, but (s)he who endures until the end.
  • I’ve learned not to fear failure or success.
  • I’ve learned that marriage is a daily commitment.
  • I’ve learned to trust myself more.
  • I’ve learned that I want it all. And that I want all of my friends and family to have it all, too.
  • I’ve learned that learning something new as often as possible feeds my mind and helps me grow.
  • I’ve learned that we’re not always forced into bravery by situations that we have no control over, like an illness or death. We can also walk into bravery by choice.
  • I’ve learned that this is what I want to do. Be brave. By choice.
  • I’ve learned that I have so much to learn. And so much to do!
  • I’ve learned. I’m learning.Productivity Planner

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jane Brewer says:

    Wow! We have so much in common you wouldn’t believe. I’ve been keeping my lists on my phone & have over 200 entries in my notes.


    1. That doesn’t surprise me, Aunt Janey. I’ve often thought that we have a lot in common. Keep that list going! It gives you things to look forward to doing.


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