And I'm not talking about the obvious things like eating food (or feeding children), although that's a part of it.
I'm mostly thinking about the small things that aren't actually a part of a schedule (when to do laundry, when to grocery shop, when to clean toilets), aren't mandated by some inner guilt (I'm not a good mom if I don't do this!), and don't fall in line with my own perceptions of what makes myself "successful" (what will people think? Is this validating my talents and/or education?)
Examples? If you insist:
1. Folding a basket of clean towels.
It's simple enough, eh? But taking the time this morning to fold those towels represented the ability to then put them away. And then put the basket away. And then start another load of laundry (since I was already in the room) and then I ended up cleaning the laundry room and the kitchen and... The snowball effect came from a small task. A small task that I almost ignored.
2. Wiping noses and bums.
I've been changing diapers for more than 12 years. I've been wiping noses and washing small hands, clipping tiny nails and bathing squirmy bodies. But each act of service I give to a child (drying eyes, placing a band-aid, changing a soiled diaper, covering with a warm blanket) is no small thing. The satisfaction I receive when my child is wiped clean after eating a good meal is kind of difficult to describe. On the outset it really does feel small --here, let me change another diaper --but it's not. Because if I chose not to do these small things, my children would suffer. Eventually, they would suffer greatly.
3. Allowing my daughter to go with her friends.
Most days during the summer, #1 wants to be with her friends. They go swimming or just hang out and I try to say "yes" as much as I can. The reason I do this is two-fold: first, she is at the age where she wants to have some freedom. Hanging out with good friends doing good things is a great place to have some freedom! Second, I rely on her so much to babysit and help with the kids --I feel she needs some time off. In return, she is a lot more willing to help out. So, in a way, it's a win-win for both of us. I give her some freedom and fun, she gives me some service with a good attitude. If I chose to never let her leave or if I chose to never give back to her what she gives to me... well, let's just say it wouldn't be fun for either of us, eh?
4. Religious stuff.
All of it. The tiny consistent pattern of prayer and scripture reading. Doing FHE every Monday night whether we want to or not because the kids are insistent. Going to Church every single week even when it is hard to get out the door. Paying our tithing and fast offerings. Going to the Temple when we can. Doing visiting and home teaching. Working with my daughter on her Personal Progress, answering my son's questions about Christ, taking the time to pray over a meal. Choosing peaceful music to change the spirit in our home. Not being afraid to change the channel. Each of these little things have led to enormous blessings in my short life.
5. Taking my medication.
I have a regime (so I guess this is actually scheduled?). Every night, just before bed, after using the bathroom, I take my asthma meds, my vitamin D, my anti-depressants, and my pre-natal. This works best for me because I always go to bed around the same time (11PM). I always take them together (don't worry, it's safe. I checked). I never forget. But taking them has helped me enormously. I'm feeling so much better now than I did two months ago --the anger is dissipating. The depression is melting away again. I need this.
6. Going for a walk.
Changes the whole day. Completely. I get up early, I breathe fresh air. I enjoy amazing conversation with a friend. I watch the sun come up over the mountains. I sweat. I feel alive. And then I come home happy. That happiness moves into the rest of the day. It doesn't always last, it isn't a cure-all, but it helps.
And there you go. It's the small stuff. What was that quote? "Don't sweat the small stuff... and it's all small stuff." (Richard Carlson, right?) Now I'll just add, "It's the small stuff... that makes all the difference." Okay, so it's not so quotable. But it's true! Wanna know how I know besides knowing what I know that I know because I've learned how and thereby know it? From people like this amazing guy:
"Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results." —Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostlesand this one:
I've known this all my life. But I think I'm finally getting it more personally, more in practice.
So, here's to the Everyday Small Things! May I do them again, tomorrow. (You, too, dear reader. You, too.)