Baby Steps

Learning to take baby steps is hard.  Sometimes it takes everything I have to just move forward. Only one little step forward. Some days I blast through my to-do list and think I should have put more on it. Today, I failed to write a list until after lunch.

Looking at my to-do list and everything I should put on my list, which I know I don’t have the time to even think about, is overwhelming. It is hard to know where to start and to be truthfully, sometimes I don’t start.

Take my backyard, for instance. We had two labs who tore up the yard for around 10 years. There are trenches around the fence from their many laps around the yard. The flower beds I had once tended to now had big holes and were covered in weeds.

The large wooden swing set once in constant use by my kids now stands still. Last summer, we were able to send it off to my nephew’s home. But in its place is a 5-foot deep hole dug by the dog. The whole is filled with weeds, tree roots, and a random volleyball lost many years ago.

The only thing that seems to have survived the dog years are a few tulips and daffodils that sprout each spring.

What I feel when I head outside is a gut-wrenching embarrassment.

You know how some people head outside in the summer for dinners and invite friends over. That is not happening, and not only because of the social distancing we are doing this year, but because I would be humiliated to have people over.

With all of this in mind and a budget of around $100, what can I do? I can’t hire someone to help. I also don’t have or don’t want to think about spending the next few months making over my yard.

What I can do today is, pull some weeds. Not all the weeds, because, well, that’s too overwhelming. But I can spend 10 minutes pulling weeds during a break from work. I can do the same thing tomorrow morning and the next day.

Small baby steps.

Why the small commitment? Because I can commit to 10 minutes a day. It is a tiny amount of time, but in 10 minutes, I can clear the weeds in an area and see progress. And seeing some progress makes it easier to go out the following day and commit to 10 more minutes. So, in an hour when my watch reminds me to stand, I get up and head out and pull 10 weeds for 10 minutes.

And the strange thing about this is, after a week of 10 minutes of weeds, I don’t mind eating dinner outside. Is it perfect? Not even close. But what I also notice is that while my family is eating dinner out, my husband sees the improvement and may spend a few more minutes taking care of a few things. And after dinner, we both spend another 10 minutes apiece doing some more yard clean up.

It is slow. Very slow.

But honestly, this slow pace has taken an overwhelming task and made it manageable. I have no goal  to get the whole backyard landscaped this year. There isn’t even a goal to clean up a specific area of it it today. Only a goal to take 10 minutes to weed.  Which is way less time than I will spend scrolling on social media, and I am making headway on something which is embarrassing and needs to be done.

I’d love to say I will have the backyard ready for gatherings this year, but it probably won’t be. I also know that if we get things to a point where we can have people safely again, I will happily invite a few family members for dinner. Because in the end, it is better, and spending time with family is way more important than the weeds in my yard.

We may just have to cordon off the hole from the dogs, you know, for safety reasons if we get to have family over.

Taking my baby steps today to get overwhelming tasks done. These small steps are helping me to form better habits as well.  What could you do with a 10 minute commitment?

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