Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Next Small Step

What happens when you start imagining what you can do and not what you can't? What happens when you do the next small thing instead of focusing on saving the world? What happens when you focus on simplicity rather than complexity? When you follow your heart rather than the world's suggestions? What happens? Simply? - Things begin to change.

Do you want change? Do I want change? Am I open to possibilities beyond my wildest imagination? Am I willing to tread on the ground of an amazing God? Will I take off my shoes because I am standing on holy ground? Even in this moment as I sit and write, the themes of my life swirl around me as I respond and answer Yes, Yes Yes! I am willing to step in AND it can be terrifying.

I've been participating in a weekly exercise called "This week, I will..." The first step being to name my weekly intention. As I sat quietly and journaled, I found "focus on the next small step" to be my intention for this week. It's a harder thing to do than one might think. I find myself easily coming up with the next step, but then quickly wanting to move to the one beyond. So, I reign myself in, slow down and do the smallest step right before me. This morning my step was to clear out my office baskets and file them into my new filing cabinet. Simple, easy and satisfying. This step was followed by going to today's reading from Mark Nepo. Here are the opening words:

"Walker, there is no path, you make the path as you walk." --Antonio Machado

The reading went on to discuss how we are constantly taking first steps and how stepping too far into the future can make us stumble like a toddler who suddenly realizes she's walking on her own momentum or a child learning to ride a bike once the parent lets go. We peddle along content in the trajectory of the present moment until we jolt ourselves into the future by realizing everything that must be done or hasn't been done or should get done...

AND so I choose the only thing I can do. I return to the present. I focus on the next small thing. I take a deep breath. I slow down and step into the holy ground of my heart. As I listen to my body, it confirms my longing. It offers the next step. It opens me up to possibility. It offers me completion and satisfaction, because you know what? I can always do the next small thing - and if that seems too overwhelming, then I back off and make it a little smaller. This reminds me of the powerful knowledge I learned a few years ago when reading The Four Agreements - One of the agreements is "Always do your best." It was incredibly freeing for me to acknowledge sometimes my "best" means staying right where I am - perhaps pulling the covers back over my head and doing only the most basic thing like breathing. So...

What happens when you focus on the next small thing instead of trying to save the world - or your family - or yourself? What happens when you focus on simplicity instead of complexity? What does the next small step look like? I invite you to consider the possibilities of creating the path as you walk. Where do you dream it will go?

shilshole crow © lucy 7.10

14 comments:

Tess said...

"The holy ground of my heart", beautiful phrase.

Barbara said...

This is so good, lucy. As summer turns to fall here and life seems to begin again, I am faced with so many projects. One baby step, the next small step is an approach that I need. Is that in addition to normal maintenance or can I include normal maintenance? (hehe)

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Hi Lucy,

You know I relate to this post! My next small steps are so much fun - I keep trying not to stumble over myself. I've finally been moving on the canvas that has been staring at my all summer long - it's moving toward its place on some unknown wall space in June:)

I hope you're taking some time to review the Cousineau book - second time thru for me SO much inspiration for the adventure beginning very soon for both of us!

xoxox

Donna Sperry said...

Your words touch a place of deepest need in me tonight. I've been projecting myself into a "save the world" mentality lately related to a specific situation. I was really struggling to wrench myself out of that place tonight with no luck. A few simple words from you, my friend, reminds me of what I already know. What is the next small thing that I CAN do? "And so I choose the only thing I can do. I return to the present. I focus on the next small thing." Heading over to the covers, pulling them over my head, breathing... :) Thanks for blessing me tonight.

Kel said...

a new filing cabinet!
an excellent way to keep clutter at bay :)

creating the path with each step is something I aspire to, but by nature tend to be someone who visions something off around the corner or over the horizon and strides out in that direction

being a visionary goal setter has helped get me to where i am now, but the next part of the journey is very much one foot in front of the other while remembering to breathe

nice to have a fellow moccassin wearer :)

Karen said...

Moment to moment living--there is peace in this way...yes...as always, you write exactly what I need to read...

claire said...

I just love this post, lucy.

I think my next small step will be to stand still. I have been taking quite a few steps recently. Standing still feels wonderful.
Thank you.

Country Parson said...

From stage left a male voice enters with hesitation.

Ahem: many, perhaps most, of those who have come for counsel on how they might be better followers of Jesus or understand more clearly what God is asking of them, can only imagine that being fulfilled in some other time and place, the more exotic and farther the way the better. Here and now are so seldom recognized as holy ground and holy work.

Voice exits quickly stage right

CP

lucy said...

thanks, tess. what're your small steps looking like these days?


barbara - i think you can included (or exclude) whatever feels right and makes the most sense for YOU!


SS - i totally get "trying not to stumble over myself". that's where i have to take a deep breath and back off before i get the horse too far out in front of the wagon (oklahoma-speak, ya'll). xooxox

lucy said...

donna - your words blessed me deeply, too, my friend. i can't believe it's been almost a year since our ireland pilgrimage. i'm so grateful i was able to give a little nudge toward finding what you "already know"! your words reminded me of why i continue to write. thank you!
sending warms hugs to you and yours!!! xoxox

lucy said...

kel - don't you think it's often a balance between the vision and the next step? we really can't do one without the other and get where we dream of going, methinks. holding tight inside my moccasins here. so glad you stopped by!!


karen - you are another beautiful reminder of why i keep writing. blessings to you, my dear.


claire - sometimes standing still - the pause between the steps - is absolutely the BEST place to be!!! too bad more people don't understand that concept. peace.

lucy said...

cp - "Here and now are so seldom recognized as holy ground and holy work." my heart cries a little when i read this. as i think of the stories of our friend, Jesus, he was definitely a 'here and now' kind of guy as i see him. too bad more of his followers don't get that concept and either live in fear of not getting "there" or miss out on a whole lot of NOW (or both!)

thanks for bringing in your male voice. it's always welcome here :) xo

Julett said...

Being my usualy Scarlett self, may have to think about that tomorrow and just continue to rest in the grace of the moment. But, will attempt to sort thru the stacks sitting around my office - a real first step accomplishment. Stay tuned for further developments. . .

lucy said...

hey scarlett/julett - i've been in a wild rhythm of decluttering. sorting through those stacks - one step at a time - brings me a huge amount of delight!!! i'll stay tuned for sure :-)