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The New Year, Dirty Dishes, and Small Steps

I’m waking up this morning to a mess in my kitchen. A huge hole in my row of lower cabinets, a sink overflowing with dirty dishes, and a new dishwasher turned on its side waiting for someone to install it into that gaping hole.

This is not the fresh start, clean slate, new beginning I was hoping for when reaching for the coffee pot as I woke. It is in a word, overwhelming.

You may be hitting the day with goal sheets, resolutions, and a plan on how you’re going to attack 2018. I’m getting there. I’m just not there yet. Because the kitchen needs to be dealt with.

I tend toward the overwhelmed, even paralyzed, when it comes to big setbacks. I’ve learned over the last few years the best way for me to tackle a problem, is to tackle a portion of it. To attack one little bit and then another. And before I know it, I’ve made more progress than if I hadn’t started at all.

The big gaping hole and the dishwasher are being outsourced. I have a plan. I’m married to him. The resident handyman comes in, well…handy, when things like dishwashers break and leak all over the kitchen floor. He has the big job covered and I trust it will be done by the end of the day. It’s the secondary problems of dirty cups and forks and champagne glasses that are paralyzing me.

I find this is how problems often go. The big items are glooming and get our attention. While we are avoiding or problem solving or budgeting our solutions, the smaller issues, the secondary problems, build up. This is when I tend to stop because I don’t know where to begin.

And so I will deal with this mountain of dishes the only way possible, one dish at a time. I will hand wash and lay on dishtowels forks and cups in small batches until they are all clean and dry and put away. I won’t look at it as cleaning ALL the dishes, but rather ten, or even two, until the tens and twos add up to done.

If 2018 feels overwhelming as you face it today, choose one thing. One very small thing that you will tackle. A walk around the block. A small bill to pay off. A corner of a room to organize. Rather than the overhaul of your health, finances, home, relationships, (whatever!) choose one thing that will be your starting place. That you will pick up, wash and put away.



If you’d like a framework for making small changes in your life, may I offer my book Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me? A jump start for considering what’s next in order to love the life you have in 2018.

Happy New Year! May it be filled with small changes that make for great reward.

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