Saturday, October 11, 2014

1000 Miles of First Steps

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -- Lao Tzu

Even the simplest journey feels like a thousand miles because I keep having to take the first step over and over again. --Jewel Leann Williams (Not as profound a saying. More of a whine).

Seriously, folks. Every time I set any sort of goal, I go a little ways, and then fall off the wagon, so to speak (no, my goal isn't to stop drinking).  I have to keep starting over.

As a kid, I wanted to read the Book of Mormon straight through. I memorized "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents..." pretty quickly with all of my false starts.

It's the same as an adult. It seems like it's the same with every goal. My family needs to eat healthier and exercise more. We need to not watch so much TV and go to bed earlier. So, for a few weeks, we eat healthy food, we go for walks every night, and we make a rule that we only want to watch TV or movies on Friday night. My husband and I both lose weight, we feel great, and we actually feel like we get enough sleep (almost. I do have a seminary kid, after all).

Then, the new series of Doctor Who kicks off (or Bones, or NCIS, or NCIS Hunky Guys with Dreamy Eyes  Los Angeles) and we can't resist. I lose my motivation on making a weekly research project out of trying to buy fresh fruits and veggies on our budget, and go back to casseroles. We stay up too late one night, so we're too tired for the nightly walk the next night, and the TV magically turns on, and boom! We're back in our rut.

I know I'm not the only person who has this happen.

Here's my (possibly temporary) triumph. I have been staying up really early in the morning to get things done. My son gets up at 4 am to get ready for seminary, and it's one of my jobs to make sure he actually GETS UP at 4. I had been going back to sleep, and then either waking up later if it was my day to carpool the kids from seminary to school, or just staying asleep.  So, I decided that I needed to just stay up, to steal some moments to do my scripture studying, morning prayers, and..... WRITING!! Oh, the rapture I felt at putting words on paper again was worth the agony of dragging my sore, tired, protesting body out of my bed.

Of course, this was Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.... and then Thursday came along. I couldn't do it. I slept in. I slept in ALOT. I also felt like crap all day after I got up--not any less tired, and like a doofus for not keeping up with a goal, AGAIN.

But you know what, on Friday, I had the battle with myself that eventually I hope I won't have to have every single morning.  I told myself that even if I slept more, I would still be tired, but that I needed to have that time to be able to study the Lord's words, to have a conversation with him, and yes, to exercise my mind. I dragged myself out of bed--okay. I'll be honest. I went back to sleep. But Heavenly Father helped me out by sending a preschooler to climb in with me, which kept me awake long enough to decide to get up. So, up I got.

The false starts are okay. I'm not a failure because I keep having to begin again. Actually, I think that's kind of what life is about. Little by little we overcome things--but sometimes it takes so long to root those things out of our lives and replace them with better things, that we feel like we aren't progressing quickly enough. It's okay. That is what the Atonement is for--as long as we keep on starting over, we will overcome, with the Savior's help. Every time we start, we get that much closer.

As a writer, I have to forgive myself as well for all the false starts. My creative soul gets really, really angry with me for not working on the art of expression. But the same thing applies. My muse comes back whenever I ask. Every time I start working on something, I get that much closer to doing it the way I really need and want to.

It's the same for all of us. So I want to encourage you--whether it be in your writing, or just in life in general. Please don't stop starting over. Even if it's the ten millionth time and you know that you'll just fall again, just start. This may be the time that you learn what you need to and you're able to overcome and move onward and upward. Or, maybe it's not. But that means that you're one more false start closer to the time that you DO overcome.

We always say that it's more important that you get up and keep trying, than it is that you fell in the first place. It sounds trite, but it's true. Sometimes, it really is the journey. Sometimes it really is the climb that makes the difference.

Keep going! Step by step, first step by first step, you'll get where you need to go. I know you can do it!


  1. I am impressed with the sacrifices you are making to do what is truly important. I can totally relate to the one step backward, two steps forward thing. Keep sharing and motivating the rest of us!

  2. This is so true! When I first started taking a Pilates class I felt discouraged because I couldn't make my body go into those beautiful positions the instructor demonstrated and I almost quit the class. But then I had a distinct thought come into my mind. The act of trying to get into the position is as much exercise as actually being in the position. This thought has carried over into the rest of my life. The act of trying to do something is just as much learning and exercise as if I'd actually accomplished my goal. Most times I learn so much more than if I'd accomplished my goal easily. So I've learned to celebrate my efforts more than my accomplishments...Most of the time! I even have to start over and over in that area as well, but is try to remember it's the process that important.

  3. I have found that my lofty goals my not last, but as long as I don’t beat myself up about it and I keep trying, usually at least a small part of it sticks. For example, this school year I set a goal to stick to my daily routines. There are several items on those routines, and while I have done it a few days, I have not succeeded in doing it regularly. However, I realized the other day that the one part of my routine that really seems to have stuck is getting the dishes done every night, and it feels really good!

    Each time I push myself to be better and do more, I accomplish something. Just looking back at who I was 5 or 10 years ago helps me to see how I’ve grown and changed and developed better habits. As long as we’re always moving forward!

  4. "Please don't stop starting over." Love that line, Leann! Reading this was a great boost for me.

  5. I could so relate to this. My life is so full of interruptions, everything I start comes with zig-zags and fits and starts. maybe we're unrealistic thinking projects will be smooth!



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