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Effective Wisdom

When I walked into my 13-year-old daughter’s room, the entire floor was covered — with clothes, shoes (including many, many pairs of flip-flops in assorted colors), baskets, dress-up clothes, folders, binders, pom-poms, and who knows what all else.  The sight completely freaked out my husband, who made some comment about a tornado having hit.  I, however, knew enough to know that she had finally decided to tackle her cluttered closet, which had been so jam-packed full of anything that needed a temporary place to be, that the doors would no longer close.

She was in one of those delightful moods when she wanted to share what was going on in her life.  Nothing particularly noteworthy, but appreciated by me nevertheless because, in the volatile world of a teenager, she could be completely mum all next week (of course in her appropriate desire to declare her own individuality as she makes her way down the path towards adulthood).  I took full advantage of the moment and sat down (in a small space that was not yet covered) and enjoyed listening to her relate her recent experiences with her friends at a restaurant after a gymnastics meet.

I tried not to overstay my welcome.  I realized that she was politely asking me to leave when she said that she wanted to continue to work on her room.  I went about my day and engaged in what was mine to do.

I heard the vacuum cleaner running and later walked by her room.  Wow.  What a transformation!  Every single item was not only off the floor but had been sorted — either thrown away or put in a pile to be given away, with the remaining items neatly reorganized in a closet that now had, by comparison, almost nothing in it.  Absolutely amazing.

I decided to ask her if she was aware of how she had motivated herself to tackle this project and bring it to completion, without feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of it.  Here’s what she said.

1) I start by just doing one little thing.

2) I don’t let myself get distracted by other things.

3) That one thing then turns into the next thing to do.

4) I take breaks, but I make sure that I go back to finishing whatever little thing I’m working on.

That’s it.  The wisdom of a 13-year-old.  I’m so grateful when I can be humble enough to be curious and to learn from whatever experience is right in front of me.  Otherwise I would have missed the wisdom and inspiration of this experience!

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