Our girl’s bedroom door squeaked like a hyena every time we opened it since we moved in, so that makes bedtime real fun. Their outdoor picnic bench has gotten weathered with the top looking like death and the umbrella snapped off by the Nebraska wind. Their disorganized toy room and my desk room are quite possibly two of my biggest living nightmares. Our minivan is sprinkled with chip bags, markers without caps, leftover sippy cups, books for days, and that unidentifiable stench.
But, But, But…
I honestly don’t even know where to start. Every time I thought, “I’ll tackle that house project today,” the list of but’s began…
“But, I don’t know how to refinish wood…
But, I don’t think we have WD-40 to grease up the door hinges…or is that even what you use? :-/…
But it’s too cold to deep clean the entire van…
But I don’t want to spend 50 hours on hold with customer service trying to get the umbrella and cushions replaced…
But, I ain’t got no time to go deep-sea toy diving and even start to get that mess under control…
But I JUST DON”T WANT TO…”
Admittedly, cleaning is not a strength.
I’m the girl that cannot stand an unorganized drawer but feels pretty meh about laundry and dishes piled up. When my place is brought to a point when I’m just done, you know it has to be pretty darn bad.
All of us have these roadblocks that stop us in our tracks. We cling to our “But’s” because they’re comfortable; because limiting ourselves is far easier than rolling up our sleeves and beginning.
If we look for excuses not do something, we will always find them.
When the mantra of “But, but, but” starts to fill my head, I have to remind myself that I can do things. Hard, uncomfortable, and seemingly impossible things? Yep. Courageous, necessarily awkward, and strong things? Yep. And I know you have too.
“If we literally did all the things that what we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” –Thomas Edison
I don’t say this to brag since, really, I know I’m just talking about cleaning my car lol. I say it because we all tell ourselves the lie of, “I just can’t.” We let fear, ineptitude, or exhaustion stop us from doing the things we’re capable of; stop us from even starting.
Just Keep Swimming
“Recovery is more of a marathon than a sprint.” There was a point in therapy that I thought if I heard that phrase one. more. time. I may just clock someone. Still, I know it was true. I knew it was true. Big things take time.
My approach to therapy at the most trying points can be best summed up by Nemo – just keep swimming, just keep swimming. There was such uncertainty at that point. Uncertainty on how much I would recover, on if I would return to work and be approved to drive again, on if I would be able to return to Nebraska on my own and get married.
The one thing I did know, partially because it was how I was raised and partially because my therapists beat me over the head with it, was that the harder I worked in therapy the quicker I would be able to return to life as I knew it. One day at a time. Do the mind numbing exercises. Do the vocal exercises. Use the jaw stretching device. Participate fully in the therapies. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
Everything, necessarily so, had to be done slower and more intentionally and that drove me crazy. I always thrived on getting things done quickly, efficiently, fitting as much as possible into my day, and now life seemed to crawl at a snail’s pace. I longed for the days I could multitask with ease.
Instead of falling into despair, the business major in me set small goals and tackled them, one day at a time.
When I wanted to remove the feeding tube in Atlanta, I binged on Chick-Fil-A mint milk shakes until I got back to my pre-accident weight and threw that tube in the dust.
Two months before the accident, I had run my second half marathon. In Physical Therapy, I was walking at speeds so slow it felt like I was going to trip over my own feet. When I wanted to be cleared to workout by myself again, I continued to ask to raise the speed by .1 increments until I was jogging and cleared from PT.
There was a Mind Benders ^ activity book and an online checkers program where you tried to remove all of the checker pieces by hopping over each other in therapy. I had to complete both of these activities before I graduated the program.
I took the mind benders home and used our checkerboard to practice to get ahead so I would graduate sooner.
When I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we set a new wedding date and I worked on planning it and studied for the GMAT in therapy to get my MBA.
I can do hard things.
You can do hard things.
Practice What Your Preach
Now as a parent, it’s my job to teach my girls that they can do things – that they can make choices, stand up for themselves, and get better at anything when they apply themselves.
Not to sound like one of cheesy inspirational posters scouring high school walls, but it’s so important to me that my kids know they can do hard things and tackle whatever they put their minds to without my help.
But if I’m not willing to spend a day on YouTube to learn how to refinish their picnic table, am I really practicing what I’m preaching?
Last month, just as in therapy, I set small goals, stopped making excuses. and just got started. I asked myself which project drove me the craziest and dove into the toy room.I started with books. I found every single kid’s book in the house, discarded the ones torn or written on beyond repair, had each girl fill one tote with their favorites, and donated the rest…Library Chaos √
Then I found all of the stuffed animals in the house. They must be a popular gift because we were SATURATED. I had each girl pick out two for their beds, put their three favorites for the toy room in this amazing beanbag zipper, and donated the rest…Stuffed Animal Zoo √
Next, I tackled the art supplies and projects that have accumulated from three years of kids in school : |, chucked the scribbled on coloring books and broken crayons, organized the keepers using a diaper caddy, and adopted the lovely Pinterest idea that all projects have to be three hole punched and kept in the binder…Homework Gone Cray Cray √
When the toy room was done, I WD-40’d every door hinge in the house until we were squeak free and spent a day deep cleaning the van. I’m talking removing the seats, shampooing the carpets, Lysol’ing every possible corner, the whole shebang.
Finally, I took on the most time-consuming project, the kid’s bench. I found our handheld sander and let You Tube lead the way. I found the refinishing supply list a friend used and got to work. One nap at a time. One piece at a time.
I’ve been harassing the manufacturer about replacing the umbrella for two weeks, but am 99% sure it and the cushions are in route before outdoor weather season goes full force.
One Day At A Time
What made these weeks of getting my stuff in order easier was taking one project, one day at a time.
Taking care of the whole toy room? Overwhelming. But finding all the books in the house? I can do that.
Refinishing the kid’s bench in one day with a three year old running around? Infeasible. But working around rain over naps to seal one bench a day? Doable.
Let’s not let the fear of doing all the things keep us from doing the next thing.
If you have find yourself completely overwhelmed by the to-do list, start with what bothers you the most, celebrate one step at a time, and just keep swimming.
Big things take time.
“Therefore, having so vast a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, and throwing off everything that hinders us…let us keep running with endurance the race set before us.”
Keep on running the race before you. What is stopping you from starting?