Time to Speak — Doing things a little at a time

“How do you keep this garden so beautiful?” I asked my neighbor and beloved friend, Maryann.

Her response was always the same: “I do a little here and a little there. I don’t do it all at once.”

We think that to make a difference in this world we need to do something huge, life changing and dramatic. We think we should join the Peace Corps or go on a mission trip. Then we decide that it is just too much for us at this point in our lives.

The thought of changing the world becomes overwhelming. We become discouraged and we say “I just can’t change the world.” Then we walk away with whatever passion that once burned completely extinguished within us.

The truth of the matter is this: we just need to do a little here and a little there. There’s no need to do everything all at once.

We are so accustomed to instant gratification that it has become a part of who we are in all ways. When we want to change the world it is no different. We want to change the world right now in a big way. What we don’t realize is that we have been changing our world in small ways since our birth.

The little here and little there are so little at times we don’t ever see their effect but indeed they have one. As a child when we smiled at a stranger, we changed their day. When we asked that lonely child to play, we changed the course of his or her life.

When we hugged a brother instead of hitting him, we formed a bond. When we said our prayers before bed, we strengthened a relationship. When we did homework and tried our best, we learned perseverance and dedication. When we fell in love for the first time, we opened our hearts and together we both learned about love.

All of our lives, in small ways, we have been making a difference and with each act of kindness we’ve added to the change. With each understanding glance, we can give hope to a stranger. With each day that we work to put food on the table and support our families, we teach our children how to live.

Not even the saints did it all at once. They did it a little here and little there over the course of their life time. Many never realized the impact their existence had on others.

So when the passion and desire sparks a flame in your heart to change the world and make a difference, do not become discouraged because you cannot move to a foreign land to do mission work for a year.

Instead, do something kind in that moment — send a sweet note to a friend, a complimentary email to a colleague. Hug your child, smile at a stranger, commit to one volunteer action for that week, such as a charity walk, or make a donation to help someone else. My friend Maryann lived her life in this way. The little bit here and there added up to a life that influenced many others and literally changed our world for the better.

Today do a little here. Tomorrow do a little there. Remember you don’t have to do it all once.

Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp is a writer, blogger and retreat speaker.

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10 replies on “Time to Speak — Doing things a little at a time”
  1. says: Johanna Wheatley

    Wonderfully written Lori. It even left a tear in my eye- words we know are true but sometimes we all need to be reminded. Looking forward to more columns! Inspiring!

  2. says: terryfenwick

    What a great reminder, Lori! “Not even the saints did it all at once. They did it a little here and little there over the course of their life time. Many never realized the impact their existence had on others.” Thanks for including that remark. Great article. A Little at Christmas, 2012 and a little on New Year’s 2013 . . . stretch it out a bit and make every day a better place for someone, somewhere, somehow.

  3. says: Lola Robards Billings

    Lori, what a beautiful letter !!! It made me really think about what you said and I think we all can do something, a little at a time. I thoroughly enjoy reading your columns.

  4. says: Laura Ford

    Dear Lori, Maryann is my mother in law. Thank you for your lovely writing and for reminding us of what Maryann lived…we are get things done.. a little here…a little there..
    Thank you, this is what I needed to hear.
    Sincerely, Laura Ford

  5. Dear Lori: This is great advice for Advent … Last year the whole season passed me by without any of the usual traditions and little customs, simply because I was overwhelmed from going back to work. This year, i’ve taken a whole new approach: Each night, a little bit. Thanks for the reminder!

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