When our oldest daughter Carlen was 4 or 5 years old, a friend gave us a timely book to help us teach her about cause and effect. The book was called What If Everybody Did That? The premise of the book was showing a child moving throughout a day making seemingly insignificant actions and the repeatedly asked question was “what if everybody did that?” Then on the following page, the fallout was shown of the same action performed by many people. Throwing a banana peel out the car window seems minor until the entire city begins to throw their trash willy nilly.
Picture mountains of garbage causing traffic to come to a halt. This book evoked plenty of giggles but the point was cemented in our minds, our small actions matter whether individually or collectively.
I unplugged last week for a few days. I found myself feeling overwhelmed by each email bearing the subject line of “our response to COVID-19”. Every email was well-meaning but when amassed it became daunting. So when emails begin piling up in our inboxes one by one they sidle up next to the stress already present inside us. Because when our senses are lured to a solitary topic, our emotions follow and grow.
We are beginning another week of isolation and the needs around us are most likely going to continue to increase. My suggestion is to pick one thing in the various areas of your life right now to lessen the potential of being overwhelmed.
As life would have it, I have had plenty of home alone time since Thanksgiving, thanks to leaving a job. I knew that particular time was to be about resting and healing and slowly looking for work. But a small corner of my mind started compiling a list of ALL the things I could do with this new unassigned time. I could repaint our kitchen, organize decades of photos or reorganize ___________.
But I soon realized, rest and being uber-productive aren’t very compatible companions. Now that I do have actual companions during the day and night, it becomes even more important to choose areas that breed peace to me and those who suddenly surround me.
I want to suggest that you don’t have to achieve or accomplish anything monumental during this time. Your most important assignment is to find ways to navigate this segment of time as best and right as you can. We are not the same, possess the same personalities or preferences but collectively, none of us have encountered this newfound reality before, let’s tread gently.
Since I have had a little head start, this is what picking one thing looks like for me now:
For my body, I am taking a walk outside every day. Yes, I would love to try every online exercise workout currently available for free, but for now, I am keeping it simple. Also, my personality is the pick too many good things and because of all the choices, I don’t start anything.
For my mind, I am taking five minutes before I go to bed and writing in a journal about what the day was like, what I did and how I am feeling. The other day, I might have rejoiced about beating Caleb at backgammon. I have forgotten to journal once already. It’s an intention, not perfection.
For connection, as part of my morning practice after my devotional time, I am writing a card to a loved one.
For others, I purchased a gift certificate from a business I fear will not survive. There are countless ways I can give and there will be more ways I will give or help in the weeks to come but last week, I picked this one way.
For my home, I will clear the weeds along the fence and plant nasturtium seeds.
For my people within my walls, I will love and care for them well, however, that may look on a given day.
For my people outside my walls, I will check-in frequently via all the wonderful ways technology allows.
For those I encounter outside, I will smile at them.
Yes, I said pick one and I have listed eight. I have picked one thing in the areas of my life I want to nurture during this time. However, you might pick as your one thing to:
Meditate every morning.
Listen to music while cooking dinner.
Endeavor to look for something beautiful every day and list it.
Create a bracket of picture books by reading two a day and determine the champion as a family.
Learn to say I love you in different languages and reflect on the people with this tongue.
Take a nap every day.
Read a poem at night.
Blow bubbles at sunset.
Read a psalm.
Learn a joke and tell someone.
Complete a crossword puzzle every morning.
Start bird watching.
Watch no more than an hour of news.
Limit scrolling your devices.
Watch the flames in your backyard fire pit or fireplace.
Reread a favorite book.
Paint your nails a color you normally wouldn’t. Be bold, you are not in public.
Share never told stories with those who are living in your midst.
Fill an egg carton with dirt and plant some seeds, let each day be numbered by growth.
Pick one thing which can provide an anchor during these challenging times.
What if everybody did that?
We might just create a mountain of peace, joy, and love.