Saturday, September 08, 2007

Doing the Small Things Well

I heard a devotional/reading recently that really seemed to resonate with me. The author talked about how so many of our everyday chores can seem so mundane, so ordinary. We tend to settle for doing those seemingly boring tasks half-heartedly. And I'll admit, there are many times in a day I think of doing the GREAT things well, and not so much the little things. But those great things are never done well if I let the little things slide by.

It seems like such a challenge, some days, to be present. To be awake and aware. To not only see and hear the world around me, but to remember it and listen to it. While I am a fairly detail-oriented person, my obsessive compulsive nature frequently drives me to the all-perfect-or-not-at-all state of mind. If my house is messy, its very messy. If I am lazy, I am very lazy. If I am organized, I am very organized. I have developed a bit of resentment for my all-or-nothing habits. Because, truthfully, it seems often I land on the NOTHING side. I come home, look at the work I have to do, and then let it all slide another day. I can't get it all done, so I don't want to do it at all.

That's actually a big reason I have a weekly TO DO list. I feel the need to write down every meeting, every appointment, every chore, every task with a small square box to the left. When accomplished, I check it off. I am embarrassed to tell you how satisfied that little checkmark makes me. But it happens most often, that the checkmarks happen all in one day. The other days, those boxes sit there - taunting me.

I've noticed some extreme difference between myself and my Hubby this way. While we both have a good work ethic - it is remarkable how differently we accomplish our goals. He accomplishes his duties one at a time, often spreading them out over 6 days of the week. I tend to store up energy and then explode in a flurry of activity lasting a day or two. Truthfully, at times this has really challenged our relationship - because, of course, each of us thinks we know the better way. It isn't so much that I think his way is wrong - I don't. It just doesn't work for me. I wish it did. I wish I had his motivation and his constant get-it-done attitude. I wish I didn't need that TO DO list - what's more I wish I didn't need to see the checkmarks just to feel satisfied.

How many things never make it on that list - and how much more important are those things? I get stuck in all the tactile chores I assign myself, and tend to forget to make the less tangible things just as important. Why don't I ever write down "Make Reagan laugh" or "Dance with Reagan in the kitchen" or "Tell Hubby how much I appreciate him"? I tend to think that those types of activities are just filler. Just the extras. But they aren't. Life is made of extras. Life is made of small things. Life is tickling Reagan's tummy every time I change her diaper - not just changing her diaper. Life is giving Hubby a hug when he comes home - not chastising him for being late for supper. Life is looking someone in the eye and letting them know I am listening and they have my full attention - not just making small talk. Life is not in my list of "I wish" or "I Would Love". Life is in my journey to my goals. Life is not in tomorrow - it is now. Life is finding a small simple joy in an everyday task. Life is in each and every small thing. I have been challenged recently to soak up and appreciate all these small things. Because sometimes, big things happen. And I want to be there - ready - able to appreciate them for all that they are. I want to be present.


laura said...

Jean, once again, thanks for your writing. I needed that. :)

Anonymous said...

Jean, I LOVED this entry, it could be in a devotional such as Chicken Soup for the OCD soul. I totally related to and appreciated everything you wrote, including the difference in how hubby and you do things differently. I want to be awake too! MB