Friday, March 2

Baby Steps

Michael got the spring cleaning bug early this year. I guess the last couple of days of unseasonably warm weather is fooling not only my plants, but him as well.

Trudging down from the attic Michael dropped two packing boxes onto the dining room table.

“I think this is everything,” he said.

Inside the boxes were letters, cards, concert ticket stubs, photo negatives, and loose stacks of hundreds of photographs from high school, college and beyond. Some of the photographs were sandwiched between white pieces of paper stating “Spring Break 1987” or more vaguely, “College, 1985 maybe?” The remnants from my first attempt to organize them several years ago. I quickly lost motivation and back into the boxes they went.

According to my husband Michael, now, apparently, is the time to get organized. I should note that his life in photographs is neatly laid out in dozens of photo albums. And since the advent of digital technology our family photos are also neatly organized on the computer. This is clearly my issue. One, that after two decades of tolerance, Michael has had enough of.

And yet, the boxes sat in the dining room for weeks, staring at me. Gently prodding me  Michael would ask, “So, do you want to start on the photos today?”

“No, not today,” I’d respond. “Maybe tomorrow.”

Finally, weary of my procrastination, Michael suggested a photo sorting date night. I know, it sounds like a drag, but he said the magic word … wine.

“We can have some wine, sit together and go through them,” he offered.

“Okay,” I said, finally relenting.

With a nice glass of cabernet sauvignon in hand we sat down one Saturday night and started the process. Two hours later, I’d had enough, but we’d gotten through one box.

“See that wasn’t so bad,” Michael said. “We’re half-way through.”
My photos, AFTER I finally organized them.

I procrastinated for several more weeks but finally finished the project. Now, my personal history lives in two small photo boxes and sorted by year. (I still couldn’t stomach the time it would take to put them in albums. But hey, it’s progress.)

Going through all my old photographs made me realize two things:

1) Thank God Facebook wasn’t around when I was in college! I’m ecstatic that the only record of my college years is in two small boxes in my bookcase. Whew!

2) When something seems overwhelming it’s best to break the task down into smaller components and tackle them little by little.

I had put off the project for literally decades because I couldn’t even think about starting it. “There are so many photos,” I’d tell myself. “The project’s too big.” “It’ll take forever!”

So I never started.

The same thing goes for moving toward a healthy lifestyle. We know we should do it, but the project seems so overwhelming and our goal so far away, that we never start.

Well, here’s a little secret: Few people can make all the changes—diet, exercise, stress reduction etc.—simultaneously. Most of us make life changes gradually.

In a society of instant gratification and quick results this can be a tough mindset to achieve, but it’s a good plan. Slow and steady will definitely win the race.

If you’re frustrated with your progress or are feeling overwhelmed with how much further you’ve got to go, don’t despair. Just take it slow. Break down your goals into smaller components and don’t try and change everything at once. Pick an area and focus on that.

I started with my diet. By focusing on eating healthier foods it made me appreciate my body more which led to wanting to exercise to make it stronger.

Other people find the reverse method works for them. By exercising they feel better about themselves and their body and those positive vibes flow into better eating behavior.

It’s all a matter of personal preference, but find an area that works for you and start there.

Remember, baby steps are still steps forward, moving you in the right direction. The race to a healthy life is a marathon, not a sprint!

1 comment:

  1. You made me laugh out loud...again. Love your message, metaphor. Reading your blog is delightful. My albums (50) now take up several shelves. The first 10 have disintegrated and are sitting in baskets. I'm back to square one.
    You've motivated me to pour a glass of red wine and get organized...AGAIN. Your healthy white bean soup recipe sounds like a winner. Will try it soon.