I’ve been busier than usual lately, and the cleanliness level of my house was beginning to reflect that fact. We care for 12 animals; although 5 of them live in outdoor shelters, we have enough animals in the house and porch to make keeping up with housework a must. I occasionally have some help for hard cleaning days; but being the control freak that I am, I usually like to do the rest myself.
I had planned to roll up my sleeves and do a thorough house cleaning last Saturday morning. Due to the fact that I have OCPD, I was already in freak out mode by Friday afternoon. As I ran the list of things I’d have to do the next morning (vacuum, mop and dust the entire house; sweep the garage; spray natural flea control in the house, including the garage; wash all pet beds and blankets; etc), I started feeling overwhelmed, which soon caused me to be overcome by a feeling of anxiety. Anxiety came laced with self-pity (“I’ve been working so hard, and now I ‘have to’ spend my whole Saturday morning cleaning…”, conveniently ignoring the fact that I didn’t really have to do it all, and by myself, at that; I chose to); that eventually led to depression, as it often does when I’m not vigilant and allow these feelings to remain unchecked and escalate. At that point, I had lost perspective of my goal, as well as how to break it down and move forward to accomplish it. I just felt confused, depressed, miserable. Then I felt bad for allowing myself to spiral down and feel that way just over house cleaning; so I added guilt and shame to the pot. End result: Total paralysis. I continued feeling like that until Saturday morning, when I was supposed to get started.
As I’m familiar with my patterns, I usually prevent things from hitting bottom; sooner or later, I manage to catch myself, stop and reverse the process. This time I had to count on higher guidance to snap out of it. As I helplessly stood in my kitchen, trying to decide what to do, how to get started and how to feel better about the whole thing, a voice popped in my head: “Forget about the list, just clean the bathrooms.” I’m used to asking for and receiving guidance, but I was surprised at the fact that they had jumped in without invitation this time, and in relation to something as mundane as house cleaning. “There’s a lesson here,” I thought; “I’m in need of a reminder.”
So I proceeded by staying in the moment as best as I could and focused only on cleaning the bathrooms. When I was done, I checked with myself and felt energized and ready for more. So I decided to proceed with the house cleaning and load the washer at the same time. I cleaned the bathrooms, the living room area, the kitchen. At that point, I checked in with myself again; I was starting to feel tired and hungry. I realized it was almost lunch time and my husband would be coming home soon, bringing groceries. So I decided that I was going to finish the second part of the cleaning (garage and flea treatment) on Monday, and start focusing on lunch.
I’m glad to confirm that I did finish the job on Monday; no further schedule adjustments were necessary. I felt satisfaction and a sense of peace and calm for what I had accomplished on both days, not to mention relief... Mostly because I had gained clarity in relation to what I needed to do, and how; my world was in order and I was in the flow again, and it had taken only one step to get things rolling.
I took this experience as a microcosmic reminder of the power of taking one small step, no matter what it is that you need to get done or how big and overwhelming the project seems to be. Although it’s tempting to try to make it more complicated than it really is, it’s actually a fairly simple process, as follows:
The Power of Taking One Step Process:
- Check in with yourself and take inspired action by choosing one small step. Sometimes it will come to you, as it happened in my case; sometimes you have to ask the question and create the space to allow your inner or higher guidance to come through by taking a quiet moment, doing breath work, meditating, praying, etc. Also, accept the fact that you might not see a clear path yet or know the next step when you take the first one. Trust and take the first step, anyway.
- Check in with yourself; take more steps. Tune in to know when to put that energy flow to good use and roll with it, to keep moving forward.
- Check in with yourself; adjust your plans as needed. While it’s important to plan a schedule that works with your circumstances (which often involve others), it’s just as important to know when to mix it up to change the routine a bit, or stop and pay attention to self-care, as well as other needs or priorities.
- Check in with yourself; follow up and follow through. Sometimes it’s easy to allow things to interfere with your intention to continue moving forward. Unless a course adjustment is really called for, as mentioned above, stick to your plans and continue taking action steps towards your goals.
- Check in with yourself; reach out for help and support, as needed. In my case, I received guidance at the right time and I chose to take care of business myself. However, it’s important to remember that delegating and asking to help often is the best next step.
- Repeat. This simple process can be applied to every situation in life!
FINAL THOUGHT: There’s no journey without steps…
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 03/31/21
Photo by Christian Chen on Unsplash
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