I recently said this to a friend in the context of redecorating her home. She had wanted to paint and do things for quite some time, but the house was older and she was realistic about the extra work that goes along with owning an old home. She knew that there would be plastering and patching, drywall and sanding, etc... and then finally would come the taping and the painting and ultimately the comfort and relaxation of a completed project. I told her to just start somewhere because she was stressing herself out thinking and planning and re-thinking and re-planning. Judging by the pictures, everything went well and now she has a relaxing and peaceful space and several rooms have been started and completed.
It didn't seem difficult when I said 'just start' and it wasn't really advice so much as we were sharing ideas. She knew the answer, but sometimes it helps to hear it from someone else. Today I needed to hear that voice, and since I'm not good at telling people that I'm stressed, no one could share that encouragement. So...I got crabby, I got to work, I started, I finished, and now I can relax. There's a lesson here about being a good communicator, but that is something we can chat about another day. For now, let's concentrate on just starting.
Today was a busy day. I prefer Sundays that aren't busy ... but seeing as how I am a church musician and Sunday School teacher, Sundays have the potential for being the busiest days of the week. This particular Sunday I had arranged for a babysitter for the children, a neighbor to feed calves, asked my husband to take care of the puppy, and I left the house at 7 (15 minutes later than I planned) to head to the local church to play the organ. I played the first service and perspired through every minute. I had meant to practice on Friday but there was a snow storm and driving into town seemed silly and the practice at home on the piano had not been sufficiently reassuring - I was as nervous as you might be at your American Idol audition. Luckily I survived the first service, sight read the music for the choir ... more perspiration ... and then played the second service.
Somewhere during the course of the morning I enjoyed a piece of bread and a cup of water because that's all I had time for. Right after church I ran to Subway to purchase a foot long that I would never be able to eat. I had left my phone off during church and turned it on while I went into Subway. I came back out to the truck to find a plethora of messages and beeping sounds coming from my phone. My mother was wondering where I was because the kids were home from church, my husband wanted to know what time he should be at his mother's for her birthday party, my friend Cathy wanted to know how many boxes of girl scout cookies I wanted and how I planned to pick them up, my friend Liysa sent me a smiley face, my friend had texted a thank you for the birthday card, and I had collected nearly 30 emails in my inbox.
I opened my chips and took a big sip of the Fanta in the wax coated disposable cup. I drove home, hoping I'd have time to take a shower ... I stunk ...
On the way home I got to thinking about how nice it was that my mom babysat for both children over night. I would have felt badly asking her to watch them another hour just so I could shower. I pulled in the driveway, kissed my husband, reminded him to get to his mothers ASAP, assured him I had already dropped the fruit tray off and that I would stop for the gift, and then I took off. I ate my sub on the drive and despite the two stains on my blouse and the crumbs in my hair, I hadn't done too badly for shoving my face while driving. I got to my mothers and collected the children and we headed out to buy a gift for their other grandmother.Oh that's right - let's pick up the cookies first. We stopped for the cookies, and then two blocks from Cathy's house Carmen announces that she hadn't gone to the bathroom like I requested and she needs to stop immediately. Grandma's house (the one with the birthday) was a few blocks away. I dropped her off told her to go inside and explain that we'd be right back.
Of course I felt like an ass - grandma wasn't supposed to know that we hadn't gotten her gift weeks in advance. It's not that we don't care ... we just really are busy ... oh well ... we stopped and bought a purse, some jewelry, and found an appropriate card. Thank you Schroeder's Department Store in Two Rivers. Alright - fruit tray, gift, son, daughter, husband ... check check check and well ... he will get there as soon as he's done with the cows. I felt like things were going well, so I started thinking about what we had to do after the party:
get tax stuff together
both kids - homework for tomorrow
do another load of laundry
vaccuum living room
clean out fridge
finish press release stuff for WIMI (this has to be ASAP)
help client with flow chart (this has to be ASAP)
read through projects for tomorrow's writing club (this has to be ASAP)
drops in Andre's ears (oh shoot - I was supposed to do that 3 hours ago)
field trip ... oh shoot - when is that field trip?
figure out how to invoice on paypal
get back to those emails for the book review
print up client contracts for tomorrow's meeting
dammit - I haven't updated my newsletter ... shoot
I actually drove right by grandma's house I was so busy thinking about all the things that had to be done. All I really wanted to do was take a nap and so many things seemed urgent. Why don't parents get snow days? Could I just cancel tomorrow and reschedule everything after I have a chance to take a nap and regroup?
My 4 year old son, Andre, hollers from the back seat: "we passed grandma Liz's house - did the party start?"
My brain processed what he said, because I turned around and found a parking spot, but my mind was also dwelling on the word he ended the sentence with:
That's what I needed - I needed to stop worrying and get my START on! It is now 9pm and several things have been permanently removed from the list, and everything urgent has been completed. My head had me convinced that it was an impossible feat. I thought I didn't have enough time, didn't have enough energy, and that it was impossible ... but guess what? It was possible - ONCE I STARTED! Had I not started, my negative thinking would have won - without starting, it would have been impossible.
So ... that's my lesson for the day!
May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and opportunities to START and accomplish great things!