The first blades of green pushing through the earth. It’s a beautiful thing, after months of frozen, snow-covered ground. But in my garden, those lovely blades of grass were threatening to suffocate our hostas. Again. If we didn’t do something soon, they’d quickly multiply into the jungle that overtook them last summer. So we made an appointment with the garden, my husband and I, determined to be the boss of that strip along the front of the house this year.
Down on my knees, the April sun beating on my shoulders, I dug underneath each tuft, loosening it deep to the roots, followed by that satisfying pull of root-and-all from the earth’s hold. In about an hour, we’d extracted them all. All except for those stubborn blades growing in between, their roots entangled like one with the hostas’.
“They’ve already grown two inches,” my husband said the next morning. And sure enough, those happy hostas had spread out their leaves, like prisoners freed from their cells.
I love little reminders like this. Because some tasks seem so overwhelming that just the thought is paralyzing. (You know, like cleaning that messy closet or shelf, writing that next chapter, or starting that blog that’s been on your to-do list forever.) I know the old adage “a little goes a long way,” yet I’m still really good at convincing myself that certain tasks seem insurmountable. So I procrastinate. Months. Sometimes years. Or, I don’t do it at all.
Until I remind myself of the power of taking small steps.
I think back to when my kids were in school, struggling in a certain class. I’d make an appointment with their teacher, the three of us would talk, and voila, their grade would automatically go up a whole letter. Feeling overwhelmed I wasn’t doing enough as a parent, I’d remind myself of the power of my tiny efforts. Teaching them the meaning of a single word when they had 20 to learn, or reading them just one page, when they were chapters behind. Each “weed I picked” made a difference.
As they grew into teens, the challenge became more like the grass growing in the middle of the hostas, the blades I couldn’t get out by the roots. The ones I couldn’t touch without damaging the hostas themselves. But I could dig like mad in the dirt around them.
And so I dig. Dig hard for what’s important. Still for my children, and now for my grandchildren. But also to reach my own personal goals. The next word, the next chapter, the next idea. The next connection with someone who’s digging for the same thing. And no matter how many weeds or unwanted blades of grass keep popping up, and despite those stubborn ones I can’t touch, I never give up. Because I know every little action I take bears fruit. For others. And for myself.