The Sacramento Valley in California, the valley that I’ve called home for all of my 54 years, is known for its dense, winter fog. It’s cold, wet and generally miserable. Driving can be treacherous. This evening, in fifteen short minutes, the fog fell and became quite dense, causing our sheep to vanish from sight. It’s quite common for adults in this valley to suffer from depression during these winter months from the lack of sunlight and the seemingly never ending fog, day in and day out. I’m sure the same can be said of winter weather everywhere.
I remember being driven to school in weather like this. As the car reached the top of the freeway overpass, it would then descend into the cloudy unknown. We children-of-the-carpool would all yell out, “We’re dropping off the end of the world!”, much to the annoyance of the driver, I’m sure. It was easy for our young minds to imagine that the fog we could see was all that existed.
We do that in our homes, too, don’t we? We see the fog of the overflowing laundry hampers, the sink full of dishes, the dust adorning our tables, and the stickiness of our floors and it certainly feels like there’s nothing else but that. We can’t see the end for the fog clouding our view. Your internal focus is just out of whack! Stop trying to see past the never-ending fog, and concentrate instead on what you can see (or do) clearly. Let’s try a few tricks that will bring you sure victory and that will help banish the gloom.
- Pull out just one load of laundry from those hampers and get it running. Just one load! Leave the rest in the hampers. If you’re washing whites, add a bit of bleach to the load. Yayayaya, I know all about wanting to only use “gentle” cleaners and eco-friendly stuff, but it’s cold and flu season. Using a little bit of bleach can be a good thing. The end result will not only be germ-free clothing, but your whites will be bright, look like new and will smell cleaner than they have in a long time.
- Wash up that sink full of dishes or load up the dishwasher if you have one. Time yourself and then be surprised at just how little time the job took. Use your sponge to swish out your sink and then polish it dry. Shine up the faucet with the towel, too. Stand back and admire your shiny clean sink! The “window” over my kitchen sink looks out over my living room. A small, electric lamp and a lit, scented candle help brighten my view from the sink.
- Put on some upbeat music, something that keeps you moving and makes you smile. I’m listening to a lot of Jason Gray these days. Grab a feather duster or dust cloth and dust just one room or small area. We use our wood stove almost every day in the winter. The heat from the fire is wonderful, but the resultant ash dust that covers the mantle and hearth are not so wonderful. I find that dusting the mantle and sweeping the hearth clean make the living room look great even if nothing else is dusted. Lighting candles on the dust-free mantle make it a warm, homey focal point. Those candles are even more important on days, like today, when lighting our wood stove is forbidden by law. Now that didn’t take long, did it?
- While your music is still playing, or in my case while the canary is raising a ruckus singing heartily as unto the Lord, take advantage of the momentum you built dusting that one little area and pull out your broom and your mop. Don’t panic! Choose just one floor that’s really bugging you. It might even be a carpeted area, so you’ll need your vacuum instead. Today at my house, it was the master bathroom floor that was bugging me. It took just a few seconds to pick up the hamper, scale and waste basket, and only two minutes to sweep it really well, including into the corners. Using lots of hot water and just a wee bit of ammonia, the bathroom floor was clean and sparkling, the whole job finished in less than ten minutes, including putting the broom, dust pan and mop away. Notice I didn’t scour my bathtub, or de-calcify the shower doors. We’re going for little, doable victories to banish the gloom. Choose your battles carefully and with victory in mind. (Most days I’d use hot water, vinegar and essential oil to mop. Today I was all about the old-fashioned, conventional cleaners.)
- Remember that the reason the hampers are overflowing and the dishes get dirty and the house is dusty and the floors are sticky is that you have a family! Pray to the Lord and give thanks for each and every member of your household. Remember what we’ve already discovered about thankfulness! Let’s practice more of that high thinking!
You now have a few victories under your belt. Better, yes? You can apply this same “little victories” strategy to other areas of your life, too.
- Want to memorize long portions of Scripture? Me, too. Break it down to just a verse at a time. You can memorize one verse! With that behind you, add the next. And the next. Day by day, week by week, what seemed an almost impossible task begins to be accomplished, one verse, one small victory at a time.
- Have tons of books that you’d like to read? Me, too. Sit to read just a page at a time, or the rare chapter at a time, and soon you’ll find you’ve turned the last page of the book you’re reading and you’re ready to start another. One page, one chapter, one book at a time.
- It works for big things, too. Want to lose weight? Me, too. Last summer I had one hundred ten (110!!!!) pounds to lose. Today, I still have eighty to lose, but I’m not discouraged by that number. Discouragement would have me still looking at 110 pounds to lose and thinking it an impossible task. Instead I chose the little victories approach, lost two sizes and feel better than I have in years. One pound at a time, one less calorie at a time, one workout at a time, and I’ve lost thirty pounds and, for the most part, kept them off even during the holiday season. I plan on continuing that strategy.
The big picture can be gloomy and seem overwhelming. Little victories, compounded, win big wars! Concentrate on those little victories. They may be small, but they are victories nonetheless. Celebrate those victories and banish the gloom! What little victories have you accomplished today? This week? Leave a comment telling me about your small victories and we’ll celebrate them together!
Special thanks to Dani for the photos.