I have a mantra. It’s been used by many, advised by many, including myself – it’s called ‘One Day at a Time’.
I’ve often preached this saying to others when they’re feeling overwhelmed, as words of wisdom to help lessen their load, but I was usually guilty of not following my own advice – until this past year.
It’s easy for me to pass on words of encouragement, because I’ve always been a builder-upper of others. But when it comes to myself, I know I sometimes have a difficult time taking my own advice. But this year, I learned the meaning behind that phrase.
I’m a bit OCD when it comes to my ‘to do’ list and getting everything accomplished I set out to do in my own self-imposed time restrictions. But when life threw me some frightening curve balls for the better part of the first half of this year, with my husband’s health issues, I had to take heed to my own words or I’d have been swallowed up by the abyss of pressure I put on myself.
Duty called. There was no book writing, I had no time, nor the mental capacity to focus on writing. If I wasn’t running to doctors and hospitals on a daily basis, I was nursemaid to my husband’s needs, and couldn’t concentrate on anything while I worried every minute if he needed meds, food, his legs rubbed, some words of encouragement, or if he was too silent left unattended in another room for more than twenty minutes, or that he may have passed out yet again.
My blogs were written in midnight hours, and blog reading became my escape from the madness, reminding me that I was still part of a community, other than living in the realms of life and death. I learned quickly that I couldn’t make plans for tomorrow, next week, or even think about next year. My life was on hold, and I only had time to do what needed to be done for my husband at any given moment.
My ‘to do’ lists became everything medical – appointments to make, follow up with, chase doctors, and go back and forth from long hospital days and nights. This was when I learned to Let Go. I could no longer worry about my book waiting for me to come back to and all of my self-imposed deadlines to do the things I normally did on a daily basis. I learned to surrender to the moments and let go of letting to dos overwhelm me, and stop dwelling on the things piling up I’d have to catch up on. I learned to accept each day as it came, in gratitude that my husband was alive and that he was my only priority in those moments.
What spurred me to write this post is a coloring book I purchased that caught my eye in a grocery store one day. The pages had beautiful art to color in, but within each picture is an inspirational quote.
Now I’m going to be honest, I failed art in high school. Heck, I could never even stay within the lines in a coloring book, which coincides with my atrocious handwriting. But I was always a writer. I had a lot of creativity in my head – it’s just that my head could never translate to my hand, my creative ideas. This is similar to the way I design my book covers – in my head. Sure I have an artist who makes my covers for this very reason, my lack of art skills. But I come up with what I’d like to see for my covers, and describe them to my artist, who then creates my visions.
But getting back to the coloring book, when I pull it out, usually late at night, after the computer is shut down, and I’m looking for an hour to relax, I open it to a new page and I’m immediately overwhelmed by the amount of detail there is to fill in. At first glance, I think to myself, Omg, this page will take forever with all those tiny details.
But I developed a strategy. I start in one corner with one color, then decide where in the picture I wish to use the same color. I then move on to a new color and do the same, using color as my guide to the next place to work on. Within 2 hours I realized I’ve completed a page, and I stand back and say, “It’s just like life, one day at a time, one color at a time, and eventually I get there.”
*Coloring book photos from Posh Coloring book by Deborah Muller
©D.G. Kaye July2016