Baby Steps to Change

When I was in the midst of my hardest transformations, it was difficult to keep my house from going into chaos.  For a while I tried writing little lists so I would remember things like — start the laundry,  take out the trash,  run the dishwasher.  I know, it probably sounds weird, but when everything seems to be dissolving around you, you really need something that can be ordered, and I don’t mean “take out”, even though that would be nice . . .

I found it discouraging to do a big job, but a small job was manageable.  My ancestors probably did their “washing on Monday. . . baking on Friday” sort of scenario, building ritual into their lives so that they didn’t have to think about it, or plan it, they just did it.

Maybe it took them all day to do the washing on Monday, because they had to build a fire to heat the water, and they had to scrub the clothes on the washboard, and then they had to hang them out to dry, but maybe they didn’t have so many clothes to wash either, because they didn’t have teenagers who change their clothes several times a day.

And, just maybe, even though they built the fire and ground the wheat and let the bread rise and then baked enough loaves to last all week, maybe it was more satisfying or less time consuming than running to the grocery store several times a week to pick up something “fresh”.

The more options we have, the more decisions we have to make, and the more ritual seems like a good idea.  And when you are overwhelmed, taking little baby steps is the best way to go.

I wrote an entire novel by taking baby steps.  Half an hour at a time.  A couple pages a day.  I looked into the future and decided that if I spent a little time every day, I wouldn’t have to always wish that I had written one, but it would already be done.

Now when I find myself wishing that the laundry was done, the chicken coops were cleaned out and the floors were washed, I remind myself that baby steps worked before, and in fact, it always works for me.

Several years ago I was introduced to a fantastic web site with the baby step philosophy. Flylady (flylady.net) held my hand, so to speak, while encouraging me to take those baby steps.  One thing that she pointed out was that you feel better about yourself when there is some control in your life, when you FLY — or finally love yourself.

Now that was an odd concept, because the last thing I wanted to do when I felt miserable was to clean my house. But it was bugging me that it was a mess, and that I couldn’t find clean clothes, and that there were dishes in the sink for more than one day, that I was embarrassed when a friend stopped by and so on and so on.  Once I started taking those baby steps to bring things back to some order, I felt successful. And then I found that I had a little more time.  Imagine — spend some time, get more back!

I also found that I had a little more energy, and that taking the steps would encourage me to take more steps, and then sometimes before I knew it, the whole job was done even though I planned on doing only part.  I was proud of myself.

Check out her website if you have a chance.  The beginner baby steps tab is where to start.  I’m not the kind of person to follow blindly what someone tells me I should do. In fact, if they tell me something but I haven’t checked it out myself yet I tend to resist it, but most of what I’ve read and tried from Flylady worked well for me.  Hope it does for you too!

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