Simplify with Lists

by Joy Earls

More than a decade ago, I met my siblings for a rendezvous. Since our parents are gone, we make an effort to reconnect regularly.

Las Vegas was the agreed upon destination because of its easy access and low cost. I was exhausted by day one with little sleep and lots of talk, as we all caught up with each other. At home in Missoula, I love my Sleepytime Tea at the end of a long day, but didn’t even attempt to find it in Sin City.

As I was unpacking late that first night, I reached into one of the pockets of my suitcase and there were
two sandwich bags. One contained some ground coffee and the other two teabags of my favorite Sleepytime Tea. My sister was in the room and I remember saying, “Someone is taking care of me!” and she replied, “I wish someone was doing that for me!” It was a complete accident as I am sure I didn’t unpack thoroughly from my last trip, which was who knows when.

Now, whenever I return from a trip I replenish that bag with tea and put it right back into the suitcase.
That way, it is there for the next trip. I enjoy it every time and feel like someone is really taking care of me, even if it is me.

I am finding the great part of growing older is that I have recurring themes in my life, like spring cleaning, traveling, skiing and camping. After a while, I have learned from what I forgot to do in the past. The trips, the chores and the hobbies have become easier, more relaxing. I find that I now have more fun and adventure, even if it may involve chores.

Mark and I were married for many years before our boys joined our team. We always looked forward to
camping, skiing, hiking and road trip adventures. The four of us made it even more fun, but it took a bit more energy and planning to make trips happen. Trying to take off after work on a Friday afternoon with a little one in diapers was not going to stop us.

When we camped, I made up a list of what we needed each time. One time I put the list in the top of the cook kit and revised it for the next trip. Over the years, that same list became tattered and revised. Diapers were replaced with playing cards and fishing lures. I use the same list today with a few more changes, since it’s just the two of us more often. Diapers are still off the list for a while longer, I hope.

Now if I want to run up and ski, a tattered list is handy. I think I know it by heart, but it’s fun to quiz myself. I also like to see what is added, like the Advil, and what is deleted, like the candy bars.

chores-cleanChores are just the same. Someone shared his secret with me a while ago. On the first day of each season, he has a list of reminders. You can’t forget it’s the first day of spring, summer or fall. So it makes it easy to know there is already a list of some proactive things to get done around the house. Our list includes checking batteries in the smoke detectors, flashlights and other essentials. Furnaces need filters cleaned, as well as septic system filters and coffee pots.

I recently learned that it is important to turn off and on water valves under sinks, toilets and wherever they are installed. My neighbor Michelle recently told me of a big mess she had that could have been prevented if she knew that tip. Apparently, if the valves aren’t used over time they become difficult to close when needed.

In her case, the sink valve was in an area of the home they didn’t use much and a slow leak gave way to a full-blown flood, which ruined the floor. The valves were hopelessly stuck. This is how I learned to turn water valves on and off seasonally. By writing this now, I am reminding myself to do it and I just added it to my list.

The seasons are a reminder that being proactive makes life easier and more enjoyable. If trees didn’t
prepare in the fall, spring would not be the same. If you don’t have tattered lists lying around the house, like I do, start right now. Grab four pieces of paper and label them spring, summer, fall and winter. Write “change the batteries” and “rotate the water valves” on each page and then put them aside. You’ll feel a little better already.

Then hide a little treat in your suitcase and I guarantee whoever you are traveling with next will be jealous when you pull it out. Just let them know that someone is looking out for you.

Joy Earls is a broker/owner of Joy Earls Real Estate. She can be reached at 531-9811 or