Have you ever felt overwhelmed?
Overwhelming is not the word. FEAR. It was more like there was no way out. Let me tell you the story. I was home alone on a weekend that we had 15 inches of snow. All day Friday leading into Saturday it snowed and snowed and snowed. The snowplow came on Friday night at around 9:45pm. I couldn’t see how he had plowed from the window because there was a whiteout, but I knew he plowed because I heard him. I was very happy knowing that I'd be able to get out by Sunday. He only plowed the driveway and I knew I’d have to shovel the long walkway the next day. So, on my "To Do today list" I put down as a goal to shovel in 5 intervals, every two hours or so, because it is a long pathway, as I said. When I was on the 4th interval, which was about 5:00pm that day, I realized that there were no stairs. Where’d the steps go? “Oh my goodness". They were covered with over 6 feet of snow so I couldn’t get out that way even if I had to. I didn’t panic but I stopped shoveling the walkway to nowhere. I went around the back of the house through the basement door to realize that the snow was above my knees and not easy to walk through. The snow leading to the front was up to my waist and I got stuck in it. There I was trying and trying to get out. I finally got myself out and realized that I needed to shovel that part or I had no quick way out should I need it. I shoveled it to shin level and realized that I couldn’t get the car out of the driveway because there was snow in front of that too. I figured if there were any sun the next day, it would melt the snow. Then I could, at least, make a path. By mid-morning on Sunday, I realized there was no way. I started getting these feelings of being overwhelmed and I am not one to worry.
I went and stood over the snow covered stairs thinking; it will take someone hours to shovel this out and I don’t even know if the plow could handle it. It’s 6 feet of packed in snow now because it’s been that way for a day and a ½. I continued to try and figure out what to do. I was pacing, slightly worrying, and thinking about how difficult of a task this would be. I remembered once when climbing a 25 foot pole, that when I couldn't get my foot up on the last step, that I should try the other foot. I did, and I got up. This made me realize that worrying isn't helping, let's find another way. Let me break through this FEAR better known as False Evidence Appearing Real.
I decided to call the plow person back to see if there was anything that he could do. I was thinking there was nothing that he could do. But he came back and plowed some of the snow out of the way. Then he and I shoveled the rest in about 15 minutes. Think about this. Here was an obstacle that I was thinking would either take 4 hours to dig out of, or take 1 to 2 weeks to melt. I would’ve gone around the back of the house in snow up to my waist and caused more obstacles around that one. In my head, there was no way that snow would get cleared away any time soon. It was cleared away in just 15 minutes.
Here is the metaphor that I took away from that experience.
When something looks or seems so overwhelming that we don’t think we could do it, or get out of it, and it feels bigger than life; take a deep breath and tackle it one step at a time. Think about my snow-covered stairs and know if you really think about it you could find another way, an easier way. Small steps, one at a time brings freedom.
When the snow was cleared, I felt as if I was free. The same way that we feel when we complete a project, like a weight's been lifted off of our shoulders.
This helped me this week when I decided to do Spring Cleaning in my closet. I looked at it. It was packed with clothes. Sorry to admit, I had clothes that weren't folded the right way and shoes that needed to go in their boxes. I looked at it and said "Oh my! I can't do this. It's too overwhelming”. At that moment, I thought about the snow. I took out the clothes, one by one, section by section and had it cleaned up in no time. I knew that it wasn't as bad as I perceived it to be. I knew that I could do it and get it done quicker than I thought. After all, we cleared the snow away, didn't we?
The wonderful moral of this article is no matter how big or how overwhelming something seems or looks, you could still get through it, around it, or over it if you are persistent, if you don't give up. Sometimes just when you're ready to give up there's a clear path ahead. I was never as happy as I was that day of the snow. I wanted to kiss the stairs. The saying kiss the ground you walk on seemed quite appropriate on that day.