What's on your agenda?

I'm not making this up.

When I was a child, every day before scooting me out of the house and onto school, my mother would write a list of my chores and then turn to me, asking, What's on your agenda today?

I was 10 years old. I couldn't plan past lunch. My long range goal was watching The Brady Bunch

Plans. Action. Productivity.

There are worse ways to mar a childhood.


All these years later, I begin each morning with a To Do list.

I'm a planner. Every day is a deadline of my own making. As a writer I thrive with this sort of structure in which I look ahead, anticipating deadlines, decisions, client needs and classes. Though I grew up loathing the word, I'll now admit that without an "agenda" I feel aimless. I don't drift well. I need purpose.


The other day, as my husband finished mowing the yard, I inhaled his grassy scent and exclaimed, I smell progress!

It's a lovely smell.


Today, as I prepare to write with a group of 10 year olds, I think of yesterday's session:

We talked about the many ways we see the work of writers: in books, movies, songs, magazines, commercials, cereal boxes, and even video games. The children recited every word of every Geico commercial they knew (too many!) and I urged them to consider a career in advertising. This is the work of writers, I explained. You could write commercials!

Yes, yes, we agreed, writers are behind all the things we love.

In that moment, all of us laughing and thinking and feeling a bit giddy, I felt productive. I was wearing my black dress and leopard pumps — because part of my agenda-mind is dressing the part, and well, also because I like to wear clothing with buttons and seams. And, I was writing, reading and chatting with a band of misfitted pre-teens, feeling connected to a purpose that isn't always clear but is always present.


How about you — What's on your agenda? What makes you feel productive?