To Start

Do the difficult things when they are easy and do the great things when they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

When my toddler learned to walk about a year and a half ago, he would slowly teeter his way to standing and then do what looked like a couple of deep knee bends to gain momentum before thrusting his foot forward. It was a great visual on preparing to get moving. I think of it often when I’m starting something.

Often when I get out the yoga mat, spread it on the floor, light the candles all around, I find myself just standing on the front of the mat, feeling the stiffness of my body straight out of bed and the reluctance to start.

Or I’ll have a tedious task at work, one that requires me to block out everything else to do it but I stall at the start finding five other things to do that don’t require the commitment.

And when I have an idea of what I want to write about sometimes before I can even put my fingers on the keyboard, I get lost because I get distracted by trying to map out where the thread will end.

I’ve come to think of that pause before beginning as a gathering. It’s the natural pause that allows my heart, mind and spirit to all show up. I used to have a great deal of impatience with this delay thinking it was a lack of willpower.

But now I recognize the beauty of it and see how often it is that I do daily tasks like the dishes without being all there. That’s okay for the things I do by rote but for things that require true presence, I’ve come to relish the practice of gathering my heart and soul.

If I’m too much in my head, I get distracted because the end isn’t clear. If I’m too much in my body, I feel the inertia that prevents me from beginning. But when the spirit comes to join the rest, it moves me into gear. Sometimes, I picture my toddler and do some deep knee bends, literal or metaphorical, as I gather and get ready to go.

This idea seemed perfect to post for a Monday. Do you ever have trouble starting? Or a ritual that helps move you into gear?

25 thoughts on “To Start

  1. Finding that motivation to take the first step in a thousand mile journey is indeed a challenge – especially on Monday mornings!

    The lesson learned from watching our little ones take their first steps is an apt one. 🙂

    One of the best life hacks I learned is exactly as that quotation described. I try to do the hard tasks in my day first when my mind is at its most fresh and rested state and save the tasks I can do by rote for later on in the day. Makes a huge difference in productivity and motivation too.

    Happy Monday! 😆 May the week fly by to the long weekend ahead quickly.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “I’ve come to think of that pause before beginning as a gathering. It’s the natural pause that allows my heart, mind, and spirit to all show up.” Love this! So true!

    I don’t always know what will resonate with readers, so I write about things that speak to me. Sometimes I find I hit a common nerve with some people and other times it was an opportunity for me to get something off my mind so I could move forward. Writing is as much for ourselves and our own sanity as it is for other people. I think this is part of the beauty and the power of blogging!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What you say here is so true! I don’t know where I’m going with things at time and I get to work it out as I type. And I think the best chance we have to resonate is to write what is true to us — and isn’t it wonderful when it speaks to someone else and we find we aren’t alone?

      Love all the ideas you spark, Tamara! You are on fire!! Happy Monday.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Why thank you ma’am!! Yes, I do love it when something I’ve written resonates with someone else! It’s very validating! (I’m not hanging my whole self esteem on others validating me, but it sure feels good when it happens! 😜

        The meandering thought process is really great isn’t it?! I find I delete as much as I publish, but that process is invaluable!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Love that you say “I’m not hanging my whole self esteem on others validating me.” Made me laugh – in agreement!

        Yes, the meandering IS the process, isn’t it? As Madeleine said, “Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.”

        Liked by 1 person

    2. That quote/line/sentiment struck me, too. It reminded me of Sun Tzu’s “The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

      And as much as I like Sun Tzu’s wisdom (not the chopping the heads off the concubines, but the “other” stuff 🙂 ), I like the imagery of your toddler’s deep kneed bends as a “gathering” of forces, as the “making of many calculations” better. Thank you for sharing such memorable and helpful imagery!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Okay – I can’t help but laugh about the chopping off concubine heads! But I still appreciate the wisdom of this sentiment – the gathering of forces. It does provide some imagery to what we must do to bring ourselves to the little “battles” we engage in every day! Thanks for a great comment, as always, EW!


  3. Thank you for sharing the picture of your son. It made me smile – that unsteady age is such a delight. Ritual is important and I think perhaps modern society has done away with too much of it. I like rituals. They keep me both grounded and going.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Rituals – what an insightful comment, Em. Making a cup of tea or lighting the candles – I hadn’t thought of that but you are right, they are such a great way to help us get started. Thank you for that.

      And yes – the unsteady age as you put it so well. Delightful and funny, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In psychology, there is something called “The Premack Principle.” David Premack discovered it in the course of working with monkeys.

    The idea is simple. We can take a behavior we do infrequently (given a choice) and increase its likelihood of occurring by reinforcing it with behavior we do more frequently than the other one. Parents often fail to get their child to do their homework by allowing the child to do what he chooses more frequently (say, having access to his phone), followed by his homework.

    Or, to put it differently, if you want to achieve a healthy diet, don’t eat deserts first!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a great comment, Dr. Stein – tying what parents have known forever we don’t eat dessert first to a research principle. And it makes so much sense to tie an infrequent behavior to a frequent one. I’m going to remember The Premack Principle. Thank you!


  5. I’ve read all of the comments about this lovely post, and it warms my heart to know that I am not the only one who has no end in sight at the beginning of a blog. Sometimes a passing thought turns itself into a blog and I haven’t a clue where it’s going until it gets there. For me, it is an exercise in keeping the faith, letting fingers fly, and have neither investment in the outcome nor concern about what anyone thinks. What I love about your blogs, Wynne, is that you always seem to have a pre-planned beginning, middle, and end. Me—not so much! Kind of like my life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love this “it is an exercise in keeping the faith, letting fingers fly, and have neither investment in the outcome nor concern about what anyone thinks.” That is such a gift, Julia.

      But I don’t have a pre-planned anything to my posts – I start with a story, see where it takes me and then try to wrap it up. Sometimes, like this one, I get a little lost in the middle and then I trust that generous readers like you will forgive me and help me find the point. And it always works out!!

      And for all that – I’m so grateful I started blogging – so I could find this lovely ground!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Ah, Wynne, I love this: “I’ve come to think of that pause before beginning as a gathering. It’s the natural pause that allows my heart, mind and spirit to all show up.” Brilliant. I’m going to try putting this into practice. Thank you!💜

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I get up at 5 a.m. most weekday mornings for a four-mile walk. It’s a ritual that’s just part of my daily routine. Don’t ask me how I’m able to drag my ass out of bed every day to go exercise, because I really couldn’t tell you! It’s as much stubbornness as it is commitment.

    Liked by 1 person

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