Small Solutions for Bigger Problems

I am working through a challenge right now where I am being asked to trust the process and the universe – this is not easy! Anyone who has ever sought faith or belief in a higher power has been forced to confront this terrible requirement that is both incredibly easy – once you accept it. But also insanely challenging when you fight acceptance. We fight letting go because everything in our modern life encourages us to believe that we have control. Fortunately and unfortunately we have no control over the world, our circumstances, or the situations in which we live. However, we do control ourselves, our choices, and the way we show up in the world. 

I feel it, deep within me, I am fighting this new development. I want to control the outcome and jump to the part where I chuckle over this resistance and use it as an anecdote for how enlightened and accepting I am… well, I’m not there yet! 

So while I await for enlightenment and acceptance to arrive I am going to do the things I know how to do first. When problems get big I get small. I start doing the small works I never seem to have time to accomplish. I’m going to get to mending those items in the laundry basket – they’ve sat there for ages. I will get organized, all of those paper documents that need to be filed, saved, or shredded – the ever evolving pile of paper that seems to grow on any horizontal surface will be dealt with now. I am cleaning house. Actions that I can delegate will be passed on. Anything that can be taken off of my to-do list will be eliminated or automated. My various lists and plans will be combined and shortened.

While in the midst of this process I received an incredible gift. I called our dental insurance provider over a technical glitch. I was passed from one staffer to another. Even though I was feeling feisty I opened with a genuine greeting – if there is one thing we can learn from Southern women it is that we always say ‘hello,’ and greet one another before asking for anything, it’s just good manners. But once that was done, I answered honestly. I shared that I was frustrated and I told the agent why. She offered me a real solution, and gave me the option to take it. I said, “Yes!” She gave me less work to do and more time for everything else!

What a surprise and what a thrill, to be given the gift of time by a stranger. I could have played coy or put on some fake tone that customer service representatives see right through anyway but I didn’t. I showed up authentically, I told her where I was coming from and she genuinely helped. She saw my problem but saw also the larger picture. I did not need to waste any more time creating an account because the work I was trying to do would be done by my employer and it would have been a waste of my time. So thank the universe for that first customer service agent who forwarded me to someone who could help more than they could and God bless Bernice who gave me the gift of time and less work to do.

Challenges we face may not be solved right away, like that first customer service agent we may not have all the answers but we know someone who can help. And the way we transfer the call or get to that next level is to do the first level work. We show up to do the laundry folding, the file organization, the refilling of soap dispensers. The stuff that doesn’t really change the world but can really change our day. Show up and do that little stuff and the bigger stuff comes though. It gets done or as I’m folding socks an answer occurs to me. It’s just practical advice, when the problem seems too big, get small. Do the little things you know how to do and it will all come together. And even if it takes a hot minute for the answer to come, you will have mended socks, folded laundry, organized piles, and shredded documents – all of these small tasks accumulate to make a greater impact on the day, and your mood. Eventually those small steps become a Bernice moment, they clear the way so that you have more time, more ease, and less stress. Acceptance is a lot easier from that perspective. 

What do you do when you feel a conflict of faith? Or find yourself trying to control the outcome? Where do you find balance and grace?

Doing Less to Do More

Today I had so much I wanted to accomplish. I had a full schedule and a full plate of all of the things that needed to be done. Since we are re-entering society and school is starting soon, I feel like August has become somewhat like the first lap of the long race through the school year. Birthday parties begin again, school supplies must be purchased, and add that on top of moving and needing to either find or make due with those everyday artifacts that make life nice and I am in a pretzel of movement, energy, and to do items. On top of all of this it is Monday and the regular work of the office needs to be done, dinner needs to be made, and the children need all of the daily things that children require. 

Usually all of this information puts me in a tizzy – the “Michigas,” of it all. I just learned Michigas is a Yiddish derivative of meshugana and I am enjoying wrapping my mind and my mouth around this new term. The general chaos can be overwhelming. Today instead of letting the angst and stress of these things take over my day I took a beat. That’s not true, I took several. 

The breaks included: I started the morning by looking out the window at the trees while I drank my breakfast smoothie. Then while my partner was on a call I folded laundry in the children’s rooms rather than being irritated or marching through his office – which is the only way to get to my office – I just did some small tasks to make life nicer for all of us. I put dinner in the crock pot. I meditated. I let go of control and my partner put the target order in for school supplies. I fed the kiddos and when the dog decided to make a break for it and tour the neighborhood at lunch, I not only got the chance to catch up with my neighbor but I also had the opportunity to walk outside on a gorgeous day. 

I didn’t get everything done because there is only enough time for that which truly needs to happen. There are more tasks for tomorrow but that is what tomorrow is for. I am sure tomorrow will have enough time for these things and others but not all of them and that’s ok. 

The priorities that made the short list today will also make the short list tomorrow – mediating, taking deep breaths, and just enjoying the day and it’s many splendid moments. It was not perfect but you know what, I don’t feel bad about it. In fact, I feel great. I feel like I took care of myself and I focused on my priorities. I feel like I showed up with what I had to give and I did my best. 

I will do better in some areas tomorrow but not all areas because every day is a balancing act and I don’t get better at balancing by berating myself or rushing or yelling at everyone in my life to do better or help more. I do better at balancing when I:

  • Breathe deep,
  • Focus and calm myself with meditation,
  • Eat well, 
  • Get outside, and
  • Connect with friends. 

I am grateful to myself for taking the necessary breaks so that I could move forward with comfort and ease rather than with rage and frustration. By giving myself the space to be imperfect and let others help I actually did less but got just as much, if not more, done than if I had hustled and stressed and rushed. 

I feel more contented with the quality of my work and with the progress I made today. My work is not done, and I suspect in this American capitalist society it never will be. But the work I am going to accomplish today is done and I am much pleased. I feel good about showing up in the world authentically, exactly as the person I want to be in the world. Rather than regretting things I said or ways I behaved because I was so focused on performance and results that I was rude or hurtful. And because of that I got to enjoy the journey and the small cumulative tasks and cooperation it takes to build a life to together with other people. A mutually supportive dance only works when we let others lead sometimes. And even though it is out of my comfort zone, I have to admit doing less in order to do more feels pretty good. 

Have you ever tried doing less to do more? What steps do you take? How do you conserve energy and resources in order to finish the marathon rather than drop out after the initial sprint?