As we begin 2017, many of us are happy to be rid of 2016. It has been a rough year for so many – and that is all I’m going to say, because we are moving forward.
I, personally, have about 32 different large projects to work on this year. As 2016 was ending, I was nearly giddy with relief and possibilities, looking forward to getting started on all of these new things. As I sit here today trying to write a blog on January 1st, 2017… not so much. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol last night, but didn’t sleep well, got up late, and basically putzed all day. Great start to this New Year. Nothing accomplished. The very first day of what is supposed to be a busy productive year, and I am already a little down. Not exactly down, but uninspired and overwhelmed.
I am reminded of this old adage: if you tell a small child to go clean their room, you will find them thirty minutes later playing with toys on the floor of their room. The job is too big, and they don’t know where to start. If you go to the room with them, and give specific instructions, one step at a time, you will see results. “Pick up all of your clothes and put them in this basket.” “Put all of the garbage in the trash can.” “Make your bed.” I am reminded that every large job must be broken down into steps, and that maybe rather than thinking about where I’ll be in June, I need to focus on what I am doing tomorrow.
No one ever sat down and wrote a best seller from start to finish in one day. They sat down at the computer with an idea, and wrote the first three paragraphs. Every vacation started with a decision on where to go, and making a reservation. Every journey began with the first step. A college degree started out with an application, and then a tour, and then financial aid, and then creating a schedule of classes. Steps towards a four-year degree – 8 semesters, 40 or more classes – time dedicated with commitment. Even fifty-year relationships start out with a date.
I am NOT encouraging you to think small this year! Heavens, no! Dream as big as you can! But, before you give up, give in or lose faith, I encourage you to break that big dream down into smaller, more manageable steps.
Along those lines, I have a dear friend who also blogs. Sara Meagher Muir writes achingly beautiful pieces from a more spiritual aspect than I do, often related to her family of eight, several of whom are adopted. She shared a piece this past week that made me catch my breath.
I am paraphrasing here. She wrote that it was so very hard to keep a solid, upbeat attitude when others criticize you, or blatantly tell you that you “can’t.” She wrote that not only do others do that to us, but that we do it to ourselves…our moments of self-doubt, our moments of thinking too much about the past, our moments of worry about things that are out of our control. She wrote that these negative self-doubts and the negative comments of others are like pinholes in a balloon. Tiny little things they are, but ultimately they let the air out, and keep the balloon from flying. She encouraged people to recognize the beauty in “patching pinholes,” so that we all might fly. Her husband, a talented artist, painted her a picture of heart-shaped balloons flying in the air with tiny bandages affixed. I immediately fell in love with the painting, the written word, and the idea of patching pinholes. You can view Sarah’s blog at www.coffeeandwineincommunion.com.
Maybe you don’t see the point. When you tell a struggling child that you believe in them, or think they are wonderful, you patch a pinhole. When you reach out to someone who is depressed or sick and tell them you care, you patch a pinhole. When you hand someone twenty-five dollars because they are desperate, you patch a pinhole. It means you know darn well you can’t fix the whole problem in one fell swoop…but you do see the value of putting a bandage on a hurt.
Hopefully you see the two converging points I’m making. Number one, big dreams take a lot of time and a lot of energy. It is sometimes overwhelming. The trick is to break that big dream into small manageable steps and to take one of those steps every day. That would be patching your own pinholes. Number two is that everyone else has pinholes too, and that helping to patch their pinholes in some inexplicable way helps to patch yours.
I have written a book. It has taken me two years. Two years of off-and-on writing, putting it down, re-reading it, deleting parts, adding parts, questioning whether it was any good. It is not quite finished, but I have handed it off to an editor. It’s going to come back with a whole bunch of needed changes to be made. I’m going to need to finish that writing, and then have a few others look at it, and do more re-writing. Then I’m going to have to have meetings with publishers and try to get it published. I have a dream of getting a book published. The only reason that I am even to this point is that I broke it down into steps, with reasonable time frames.
Once the book is published, I would like to be able to sell it on our company website. Actually, we have talked about an online store for special needs parents on our website for years. This year, I would like to make that happen. It is going to require a web designer. A warehouse. A cash investment for stock. Many, many steps.
Once we get the store lined up, I’d like to have that warehouse and the order filling/shipping/inventory job handled by a person with special needs. As Next Step Therapy has now been in business for ten years, many of our “kids” are now young adults, still with special needs and difficulty gaining meaningful employment. I have a new dream of opening a new arm of NST, focusing on vocational training. I took steps to get it started last year, and am hopeful that we will make inroads this year.
So many things to do this year, so many things to manage. I forgot, for a couple of days, that I’ve done these types of things before, successfully, and I can do it again. IF I remember to do it in steps. If I remember to slap a bandage on pinholes inflicted. And, if I do it with a giving, loving heart.
So, going into 2017…you all have important, valuable things to do this year. My advice is to pick the most important one, allow yourself to visualize the end goal, but divide that huge dream into manageable steps with reasonable timeframes and then make yourself do it – but always while remembering to care for yourself (patching pinholes). In addition, if you could ask yourself every day, “Did I do anything today to make someone else’s life better?” If not, send a text, make a call, say something wonderful to a co-worker…patch a pinhole.