One Bite At A Time

I remember waking up one day and looking at my life thinking “How did I get here?’. I was a mom of 3 kids, I was in my second marriage, I had moved several times and I wasn’t even 30. I remember finding a list of things I had written down that I wanted to accomplish before I was 30 and I hadn’t done any of them. I realized my life was the result of me just reacting to the things that had happened to me rather than taking charge of my life.

My mind set shifted a little that day. I became more aware of my life and my choices. However, this new awareness did not make things easier, in fact, I think this made things harder. They say ignorance in bliss and in some ways, I can say that was true for me. It's like the house was on fire but I had no idea, so I just went about each day as if everything was ok. Then suddenly I am aware the house is on fire but how the heck do I put it out?! For me this is when panic really began to set in. I was now aware my life was a mess but how could I fix this while dealing with a husband who was out of the house for 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, juggling the bills, the housework and 3 kids (2 under 2 and one in pre-school), oh and did I mention postpartum depression!?

For a long time, life still just happened around me, only now I was in a panic. I could see things going badly. I just had no idea how to fix them. This is ultimately what led me to looking for a church and finding Jesus. If you read my previous blogs, you know it’s been 10 years since then and life didn’t get easier for a long time.

For years I would try to take on these huge projects. I would set big goals, but the truth is these things never worked for me because my life just did not allow for it. You can’t accomplish goals when you are only reacting to things that happen. Desmond Tutu once said, “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time”. This became my new way of thinking. I started taking life one bite at a time. If I looked at the big picture I would be overwhelmed and exhausted before I ever got started.

I told my therapist I had been cleaning my house and I found it so much more manageable to take one box, one drawer, one shelf at a time. I would go through it start to finish. I would put everything where it went and get rid of the things that were no longer needed or didn’t bring me joy. Depending on the time I had available would decide on how big of a project I would tackle, but the main goal was to finish it completely. I didn’t want another stack of things to deal with on another day. That’s when my therapist said, “incremental progress”. I didn’t realize what I was doing had a name, but I knew it was working for me.

She helped me understand that the space around us is often a reflection of our minds, not always, but often. I had actually been dealing with my emotions in this same way. I had learned to feel my emotions but also how to turn them off when needed. When I am at work in the middle of a meeting it is not the time to fall apart, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t need to still feel those emotions. That’s what started me setting time apart to process those things (You can read more about that here, in last week's blog).

Now my home stays cleaner, longer. It doesn’t take as long to clean, so we clean more often. My kids know where things go so, they can help contribute more without it being a fight. All of these things have freed up time and space for things we enjoy more. Like making memories. I have been to the beach more recently just because I can, and the best part is I don’t feel guilty thinking I should be doing other things. By clearing out the clutter physically in my life I have made room for new memories to be made.

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