Mindful Mondays

Mindful Monday #2

“There’s only one Way to eat a Dinosaur – One Bite at a Time”

(borrowed and adapted from Desmond Tutu)

I get overwhelmed.

Apart from being a professional photographer, I wear a lot of different hats in my work life, I run a number of personal projects, I am a wife, a mother and, I am a dog mum, too.

Life gets busy.

Initially, when I was planning this article, while drawing my second dinosaur in my mindfulness project in the second week of December, I wanted to write about the end-of-year craziness and how to get through it all without getting swept up and overwhelmed.

Then I got overwhelmed by the end-of-year craziness. Can you believe it.

2021 was just such a weird year… that I wasn’t surprised it ended in craziness. And so, I let go of my posting plans. I reset to pick up from the first Monday of the new year and, like so many others around the planet, I have great expectations for 2022 – the year that we are finally getting back on track, right?

Well, my year started with a bang. Life needed my full attention, away from social media.

Yesterday we sent our daughter on her way to take her next step in her new and exciting life as a student in the Netherlands. We watched the young woman she has become walk through airport security by herself, while my husband and I had to stay behind. That was hard.

It wasn’t good-bye, but we will not see her for the next 6 months as she prepares for an entrance exam and gets herself settled. The next time she will be back in South Africa, she will be visiting. Not returning home. Getting to grips with that reality is even harder.

This move a big step in her life and it is affecting the lives of many people around her. Most of all, her dad’s – my husband, her real mom (as we call her) and mine (the other mom). 

Emotionally, it has been a tough road to get here. And at the end of December I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope. We had so many “lasts” to get through over the past few months – last school run, last day of school, last exam – that at times it felt like a bumpy gravel road.

As the days got closer, I could not fathom that our home would soon be without her bubbly personality, her infectious laugh, her unwavering can-do attitude and all her crazy stories she would share after a long day of school.

I got very overwhelmed.

But I couldn’t let myself fall apart. There were important things that needed to be done. I had to be strong for my husband and her.

And then I remembered the post I had planned for the new year – and decided that the best chance I had to get through the tough weeks ahead was by approaching them in the same way I would approach any other big project – one bite at a time.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said “the only way you can eat an elephant is one bite at a time”. and the purple Triceratops that I drew back in December has a strong resemblance to an elephant that must have inspired me to make that connection. Sadly, “The Arch” passed away on 26 December.

And so I took his advice, made it my own and took it to heart.

I set out to focus on one thing and one thing only. I would be there and walk tall next to my husband (that tough chick that I am) and get our daughter on that plane, healthy – a challenge in itself when the Omicron variant of COVID is rampant.

What followed were hours and hours of packing, two weeks of a long-outstanding holiday with our family in eSwatini, Christmas and New Years’ celebrations, two border crossings, saying good bye to lots and lots of people and three negative COVID tests.

The next thing I knew, we were standing in the airport. One last hug. And that was that.

We did it.

That was Bite No. 1.

And now I will deal with Bite No. 2 and then Bite No. 3 and the next.

One bite at a time, I will get through the fact that our little girl has found her wings and spread them wide. And our lives will carry on. Life will still be sweet.

So, if you have something that seems too big to wrap your mind around – a project, plan or idea that seems overwhelming – or if you are unsure how to tackle the unthinkable, remember to take it one bite at a time. Because no-one can eat an elephant in one sitting.