Friday, January 7, 2011

One. Simple. Thing

Okay, having mentioned I'm on a Grand Mission, I should mention how exactly I'm going about it!

In one word:


Or, in three words:

Little By Little.

In fact, other than the day I swapped bookcases and moved things into drawers and had a floorclutter eruption, I've literally done One. Simple. Thing. A Day.

This is because sometimes, or once upon a time, I have, or had, a tendency to try and take on the entire thing all at once. Like, I've thought, Today I'm going to rearrange the entire bottom floor of our house, plus clean it, plus…oh, paint it, and perhaps build a new room onto the side…!!!

Yeah. I took on too much, and inevitably, either wrecked my back or pooped out.

I sometimes (or once upon a time) have forgotten (or forgot) the lesson I was taught years and years ago.

And I am seeking to remember it now.

It was taught to me at a Managing Depression class. A class I was told to go to by medical people, my husband, and my family. It was part of the general all-hands-on-deck! lifesaving that went on about ten years ago, in the depths of my Post-Natal Depression.

I went to my Managing Depression class once a week for eight weeks. I sat in a room with about a dozen other people. All of whom were in the Thick of it. All of us lost, all for different reasons…but it wasn't a class to share why we were lost, or talk about our own details. Rather, it was a How-To Class.

A bit like those classes where you learn "How to build a t.v cabinet," or "How to set-up your Modem," but not. This one was bigger. It was, "How to Rescue Yourselves from the Deep."

We learned about Depression and what made it tick. We broke it down and studied its insides like a car engine. Then we broke down typical reactions we might face and studied them too, studied how to find different, more positive reactions, reactions that would help us live. We learned simple tricks to get from day to day, a bit like ice-climbers, going from ice-screw to ice-screw, slowly, slowly.

It was that slow. That steady. The fear of falling growing less and less each week I went.

I remember thinking, when I started the class: Wow. I am not alone. There are other people in the world who feel the way I do. Other people finding their way through the dark, and out.

That helped so much.

I also remember thinking, It can be as simple as this:

Focus on this moment. What is here that is good?

I started noticing. I started writing those small, good things down.

I also remember learning, Set yourself a single goal, every day. Don't make big plans, don't plan out the whole week.

Like, if you want to clean out your garage, don't think, I'm going to clean out my whole garage! Think instead, Today, I am going to clear this shelf. Just the shelf. Keep it simple.

And you don't think, I'm going to exercise! I'm going to exercise every single day this week! I am going to exercise every day this month! I am going to become a triathlete! (I swear, I once thought this. It didn't happen). Instead, think, Today I am going to go for a walk.

This was one of the best lessons I learned, and am always learning. Trying to remember and apply. All the time.

Keep it simple.

Focus on the moment.

Aim to achieve one simple thing. It might be a clean shelf. Or a walk. It might be noticing the colour of the sky as the sun sets.

It means you don't get overwhelmed and it makes living easier. It makes each day better. It makes you notice and smile.

So that's how I'm running my Mission.

I'm doing one simple thing a day. Which means, there's probably no way I'll clean my whole house in the month of January. I was kind of kidding around in my last post.

(And you all are saying: No way! Really?! Wow, Helena, that wasn't clear at all!  :)  )

I want a clean house, don't get me wrong. I've put it out there into the universe; I've said, "Oh, Universe, I am striving to declutter! So let's make it happen! At some point! Somehow! This month, hopefully! But I'm open to taking longer!"

I'm keeping it real.

I've cleared a table. I've found some awesome drawers to put our art and craft and pencils and rulers and stuff.

I've cleaned the front of all the cupboards in the kitchen. I've tidied my girl's room. I've moved bookshelves and created a great floor eruption that took three bit-by-bit days to clear.

Today…all I did was vacuum one living room floor. And that was enough.

Because I had to play boardgames with my boy. Battleship AND scrabble!

I had to walk a friend's dog.

I had to read Calvin and Hobbes on the couch and tell my boy what Lactose was while he played Dragonfable.

I had to play the board game my girl made today.

And I think we're going for a pizza picnic in the park tonight!

All simple things.

Things I try, and try, to remember to keep simple.

I do these simple things

One. At. A. Time


when I am done,

I smile.

a walk, a boy, a sunset


  1. Perhaps you could send me an email on a regular basis reminding me of this?

    I have actually given myself a stupid neck cramp out of being all stressed because I have not checked enough things off my list in the last few weeks. MY OWN LIST! Why don't I just tell myself to shut up? You are right. I shall try to remember this.

    Let me go just mark that down on my list...

  2. Sounds like a very busy and productive day to me!

    So your saying its OK that I pulled out 3 shelves of my cupboard the other day but only put back one? Oh! I feel much better! LOL! The thought of finishing that whole room? Its extremely daunting right now!

  3. You'd think at 42 I would have enough sense and experience that the "do it all" thing ain't gonna happen, but so far I am still always hopeful. sigh. I guess it works out okay, since I don't get bummed or sad - I just figure I'll finish it all tomorrow! lol

    BUT - on the other hand... my home is almost done for the new year! woohoo! :)

    (This is something that I've done for years... spring, fall, and the new year gets a good scrub. Just makes sense to me - new energies, and all that.)

  4. And see what happens when you cut into your own comment to edit it, without rewriting the whole thing? You end up with horrendous and embarrassing grammatical errors!

  5. Love the 'one simple thing a day.'

    My new favorite saying is "Festina lente"
    Make haste, S L O W L Y. ;)

    It is so cold here we are doing nothing but bundling up. 20° F and 4-7" of snow predicted. That is A LOT for my Southern bones!

  6. As so often happens when I visit here, I can relate! :-) Perhaps not to clinical depression but certainly to feeling overwhelmed and trying to do too much and feeling bitter disappointment when I can't.
    Multitasking has a lot to answer for; a turning point in my life was to learn to slow down, focus on one thing and not be doing one thing while my mind races to the next 10 things on the list. Its still hard not to revert back to the old ways.
    After hearing some motivating speakers on the weekend, I'm also determined to declutter and simplify. At first I wanted to go home and start turfing things immediately but have instead decided to do it slowly; corner by corner; shelf by shelf. Question each new acquisition; question each new commitment of my time and energy. Live purposefully and thoughtfully.
    Perhaps we can discuss our progress in person at Albury.

  7. Thanks so much for your comment, Joanne. I just loved it—I especially loved "multitasking has a lot to answer for"! And what a great resolution: to live purposefully and thoughtfully. Exactly.

    I'm always so happy when you pop by! And yes, we will try and get to Albury for that chat :)

  8. And thanks so much, everyone else for your lovely comments, too! I didn't realise I'd only responded to Joanne until just now. How rude of me! I'll try to never do that again :)

    It's always really precious, and affirming, to hear people's thoughts after writing something so personal, and close to my heart. I appreciate your comments more than I can say (well, that's clear, seeing as I didn't say anything until now!).

    What I mean to say is, THANK YOU. I am so grateful that you all stopped by and shared something of yourselves back.


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.