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One Bite at a Time

At the time it felt unachievable.


I had three young kids and was struggling a lot with maintaining my mental health.

Six weeks after my youngest was born we had an earthquake that threw our old brick chimney through the wall of one of the bedrooms, reducing us down to two rooms. Sleep was in short supply and a lot of DIY had to be done to get the third bedroom back up and running. I was exhausted and hubby and the kids were too.

Everything felt hard.


To add to the fun, the council sent us a letter to say that the thorny green hedge surrounding the property was enroaching upon council land and needed to be cut back.


It was true.

The hedge was a monstrosity. It was as wide as a small car and nearly twice as tall, with its wide tush parked a meter or more over the boundary line, comfortably resting on the public footpath and forcing pedestrians to cross to the other side of the road to pass.


It needed to go.


So, we mustered all our strength and with some help from some friends and a ute, we got rid of that dastardly thing. But that wasn't the end.


With three young kids and a busy road we needed a barrier and we needed it quick. Hubby and his builder mate got on to it and built a beautiful big fence. The kids were safely contained. And as exhausted as I was, I felt great. Until I looked at the fence...


Well that fence, it stood out on the corner like a sore thumb. I knew to make it last longer and look better, I'd need to slap on some stain. So, I headed to the hardware store and picked a good dark shade. All was going well until I got that bucket home and I was hit by a sudden rush of complete overwhelm.


How on earth was I going to stain the fence and take care of my three young kids? I was barely holding things together as it was.


I could have got a sprayer and done the whole thing in a weekend if I was by myself. But, I couldn't put that kind of time aside while managing to do everything else my family needed me to do - especially while the littlest one was at such a high needs stage. In my exhausted, sleep deprived, stressed out state, the task felt completely unachievable and I promptly burst into tears.

It was then that my hubby put his arm around me and spoke some of the wisest words I have ever heard, words that would change my life forever.


"Honey," he spoke softly while holding me close, "How do you eat an Elephant?" he inquired.

He then paused for a minute before answering himself, "one bite at a time."

It was then I realised - I was looking at the big daunting picture instead of breaking it down into small achievable pieces. In the few minutes after he spoke I became bloody determined to eat that elephant.


And so I did.


Everyday for a year I traipsed outside with my brush and my pail and painted two boards of that fence. Some days I did more than two and other days it rained and I did none. Some days my kids joined in and other days I worked alone.


It was a long and arduous task... but I did it.


And now, years later, every time I look at that fence I smile.


I smile because I know that I can do hard things. Things that seem unachievable and overwhelming, and impossible... I can do them. I just need to break them down into bite sized pieces.


I can eat an elephant, and you can too...


One bite at a time.

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