Thursday, September 10, 2009

Start Somewhere

(Note: I promised to share what I came up with from the writing exercise, so here you have it?)

I’d been sick for several days, and we were expecting out-of-town company in a couple of days. I was now way behind in my preparations and cleaning. Not to mention, that I was lacking in energy and short of time. There was so much I had intended to do before my friends arrived. Now I felt overwhelmed.

These weren’t the kind of friends who would judge me for a bit of clutter and dust. We’ve been friends for over three decades. Nevertheless, I wanted my home to be clean and welcoming. The tasks that I wanted to accomplish would make me feel like a better hostess.

I started to fret. Then I had a chat with myself. Stop wasting your energy fretting and just START SOMEWHERE! (Am I the only one who gives advice to myself?!)

So that is what I did. I started with the guest bedroom, dusting and tidying. Then I moved into the bathroom next to the bedroom. When those two rooms were company-ready, my spirits lifted and my perspective improved. I was able to prioritize other tasks and decide what mattered most. Before I knew my home was adequately prepared. Our friends arrived, and we shared several wonderful days.

Since then I have continued to think about the experience and apply it to other areas of my life—projects or chores that needed to be tackled and other areas such as health and personal goals. Instead of waiting until I have huge increments of time—that of course rarely ever happens, I remind myself, “Start somewhere.” If I begin and make a little progress, it gives me the impetus to continue later when I have a little more time.

Whether it is the weeds in my garden beds, the paperwork on my desk, or dirty windows, the process is the same. “Get started.” I started washing windows when I was preparing for my guests. I washed a couple of windows that were really bothering me. Later I washed a couple more. Bit by bit I’m making the rounds. Today I washed another three. Completion now seems possible. The end is now in sight.

The same is true with writing. I’ve intended to write about this experience for over a month. I finally said, “Just start!” Writing for about 20 minutes led to more thinking and more writing. Now I have a string of words on paper.
Most of us have heard it said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So true. Without beginning, nothing will be accomplished, and we will not reach the desired destination.

So first we start. Then we break things into smaller increments and things begin to seem possible. When my kids were younger and overwhelmed by something that loomed large for them like a school project, I would often tell them, “It’s a cinch by the inch and hard by the yard.”

I don’t recall where I first heard that saying, but I liked it and knew it was applicable to challenges both large and small. I wanted to help them see the value in starting and then breaking things down in to smaller manageable segments. Then when they put those segments together in succession, they ended up getting to the final goal. The same is true for the rest of us.

I have noticed that some things never seem to get completely finished, like the piles of paper on my office desk. Nevertheless, I keep starting. I make good headway. Then life calls me in other directions and things pile up again, so I begin again—and then again. Can you imagine how my office would look if I didn’t keep starting over and over again.

We will probably never have everything accomplished to our satisfaction in this journey of life. We will always have projects demanding our time and a variety of challenges to face. Yet if we constantly take the first step and begin again and again, we will move forward toward those things we deem important. And we won’t waste our energy thinking about what we must do.

What is it that looms large for you? What is it that you never seem to find the time to tackle?

*A college degree? It is possible one class at a time. So get started.
*Weight loss? That comes one pound at a time, but you first have to start.
*A relational issue? Start somewhere.
*Spiritual growth? Begin with one thing that seems doable.
*Health? Take a step in the right direction.
*Ironing? Turn on the iron and pick up the first piece.

Our personalities may be different and our challenges and dreams may not be the same. Yet we are still all on a similar journey. And we all need to regularly be reminded to START SOMEWHERE. So that means you---and me! Let's get going!

(c) 2009 Marlene Depler

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NanaNor's said...

Hi there, Loved this post except for the part about your being sick. I honestly can't imagine that your house was neglected-you keep a wonderful organized home!
I too know the saying you mentioned-but it was a bit different "inch by inch lifes a cinch, mile by mile, lifes a trial." We are in and settling-still lots to do but got to start somewhere. In the next couple of weeks I will call and maybe we can meet with Pam for lunch.
Hugs to you today, glad you're feeling better.

grammy said...

Great words. I have a saying I heard some where. J.O.L.T. or Jolt. It stands for Just One Little Thing. It really helps me with things that are just over whelming. I have something going on right now that seems just to much to even think about.... but if I do just a little it usually leads me to one more thing....then one more.
Sorry to hear you were not feeling well.

Alice said...

I hope you're fully recovered from your illness now, Marlene.

Your words have certainly given me a lift, and a little more determination to START on many things.

Please may I print your post? It's one that I need to read often.

grammy said...

I seem to have lost the email address, so I will comment again. Loved the story of Jacob playing soccer. Toss was very competitive and good at sports (even at a young age) then 7 years later comes Tyson.... not so much (o:
Thanks for asking about how I was doing 9o: My latest blog will explain why I have been tired and frustrated lately. Always enjoy your visits. Noreen said maybe later in Oct. for a get together. I only have Fridays, so we will see.

Kerri said...

Marlene, this is such great advice.
No, you're not alone in giving yourself little pep talks :)
When that "overwhelmed" feeling hits it's hard to know where to start, but it's amazing how much better I feel once I accomplish just one or two jobs. And the goal seems so much more reachable :)
There's nothing like expecting company for a week (as we were this summer) to motivate a bit of house cleaning and sorting.
Thanks for writing down these wise thoughts and sharing them with us :)
I hope you're in good health again and enjoying life each and every day.

Tanya T. Warrington said...

This encouraged me today. "Start Somewhere" is a refrain I will be repeating to myself.

Thank you!