Why the million little steps of a journey matter most

Why the million little steps of a journey matter most - an inspiring read on focusing on the steps of a journey rather than the end result. Photo source: bike riding along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada

Over the weekend, I got the hankering to wash the front of my house.

The house was a mess. I let it go all year which I don’t normally do. The algae could be seen from the road of all things!

However I also knew the effort it entailed. I’d have to climb a ladder to a roof overhang, and stand on slippery metal in order to do the task. Not my comfort zone at all.

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But my thoughts on the front of the house became like so many other musings… I was overthinking it to the point of exhaustion.

Half the time, I talk myself OUT of something, when I full-out know if I just put my mind to it and did it myself, I could stop thinking about it and just move on!

So I grit my teeth, and deemed that Saturday would be a house washing day. No matter what.

Hesitation did mount. I don’t like climbing up tall ladders that have potential to slide. Step ladders that open up and are stable all on their own? Not an issue! Extension ladders though? Just NO.

Why aren’t extension ladders equipped with something on their sides so you can attach them to your surface?! If some are, please offer up that url because as far as I know, it hasn’t been invented yet. Dear ladder people…

Anyway, it was a beautiful January sunny day. After I made my way up there (by getting neighbour Jake to hold the ladder) I didn’t feel the cold at all while working thank goodness. With a bucket of a little bleach and Basic H2, a long handled scrub brush and a small hand held scrub brush, I set to work.

I also discovered a slip resistant way to work… kneeling on a square sponge about the size of a seat cushion, I didn’t slip! Kneeling felt much safer than standing anyway. Lookit me go!

As the hours passed, I knew I was overdoing it. However I wasn’t anxious to get up on that roof for another year, so I slowed down and started to just take my time.

When I finally approached the end of the job, I felt SO much gratification, I can’t even explain it! I felt like this big proud home owner taking care of biz.


Gratitude #1:

I accomplished something difficult and figured out a better way to do it. And learned yet again that I’m already in over-my-head.


I had my cell phone by my hip the whole time, so once the job was complete, I messaged my friend and neighbour Janette so she could hold the ladder on the way down.

But that didn’t go so smoothly. I couldn’t reach the rung from the roof with my foot while standing. Feet don’t have eyes as far as I’m aware…

Then we tried the window. Janette ran into the house, opened one up but at nearly chin level, that was not gonna happen either! Being no cirque du soleil graduate here, back to the ladder of death I went. 

I finally figured out (after 20 million hours) that if I sat on the roof first, then wedged my foot in place first, then lifted myself off the roof, all was well! Well I’ll be… I’m just glad Janette was there.

As you can imagine, all day on a roof in January pretty much soaking wet the whole time caught up with me. I was freezing in 30 seconds. So as my frozen self edged my way to the front door…

… when Janette returned with 2 fresh-out-of-the-oven warm cinnamon buns!

A million dollars would have not done the same thing. That was SO NICE, especially right at that moment!


Gratitude #2:

Jake and Janette were nearby to help support my difficulty. AND I got treated afterwards!


Once I got in the house, I pretty much seized up. All I could manage to do was crawl into bed with extra blankets and enjoy a little TV so I didn’t have to move a muscle more. I was officially DONE.

The next day brought on the need for full throttle self care. It was a gorgeous sunny day that would normally have been filled with an exhilarating bike ride, however all I could manage was to hobble over to the garage to haul out a lawn chair and blanket and enjoy that sunshine.

And honestly… it was lovely. Despite how I felt. I don’t remember being that sore in my entire life.

At one point during the day, I spotted friend / neighbour Corinne across the road sitting on a bench in the sunshine. So I hobbled over to say hello. She got wind pretty fast of my ‘current health status’ but it was something easily laughed off.

As the day turned into night, I was really kind to myself. I made an easy dinner then continued to lay in bed watching a movie. It actually felt like a little mini vacation!

Homemade peppermint bath salts with essential oils

(would you like this recipe?)

And that’s when my phone pinged with a message… Corinne apparently dropped off some homemade  peppermint essential oil infused bath salt waiting for me by my front porch.

Seriously… no words could describe the feeling. Just warmth and gratitude all over again.


Gratitude #3:

Corinne oversaw my needs and gifted me with the perfect solution.


Not only did I feel better that evening thanks to the hot soak, boy did my home smell amazing.

As I laid that night in bed, I ultimately knew my aches would move on. However a few thoughts came up… all I did was wash the front of my house and it nearly did me in.

How could I manage more? Wasn’t I looking to move?

How would I even manage packing if I can’t wash a house?

Why haven’t I been able to find anything as good as what I already have, community, location AND home-wise?

Gratitude of my current home once again washed over me… which had me feeling I may already be home. It would just be so NICE to finally feel that and move forward with big plans!

So why was I searching again?

Why wasn’t I busy improving instead?

Hiking through the jungle on the way to the waterfall along the Pipiwai Trail through a bamboo forest in Maui, Hawaii

Pipiwai Trail hike HERE

You already know as a regular reader that last year has been a year of growth for me. I’ve been dealing with working through chaos, empty nest challenges, finding my own new way, and ever wondering if I should move or not.

While I do not have all those answers yet, I’m slowly finding it isn’t the end result of ANYTHING that gives me the most joy anyway.

It’s the steps towards an end result that are doing it. The steps are living. The village that supports you does it. The end result is quite possibly just the end of a story in which you’ll have to write a Chapter 2 anyway.

I resonate this to walking Pipiwai trail in Hawaii. I knew there’d be a beautiful waterfall at the end of the 1.5 hour long hike. But the walk there and back through the bamboo forest and my fav jungle section was the magical part. Without it, it would just have been yet another waterfall.

Some wise words…

My brother Les… “Don’t be afraid to work on your house if you want to. But don’t do it for moving purposes. Do it for you.”

My friend Dan… “If you move, you’re going to run into finishing your home as well. This will always follow you. Maybe you should start working on behalf of others instead…”

So, what’s truly next?

White ektorp Ikea sofas in a winter living room makeover

White sofa living room tour HERE

I hadn’t realized how long I’ve wanted my now current living room. It’s made such an impact with the way I feel about my entire upstairs, that it’s hugely encouraging me to do bigger, bolder things that I have been putting off for 10 years!

What will happen after I complete those steps? How will I feel then?

I think I’ve been a little afraid to find out, telling myself I’ll have lost a bigger dream if I stay put.

However, as far as I’m aware, I don’t have any set-in-stone 10 Commandments of my own life. Life has a way of dictating what’s next that isn’t even a part of my original plans most of the time anyway!

This all tells me I actually know absolutely nothing about the future like I thought I did.

But I think the biggest life rewards are coming from overcoming obstacles and learning new things. It’s in the million little things that come into play while making the climb.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “It’s the not the destination, It’s the journey.”

Indeed.

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You may not think you’re living your best life. But wouldn’t it be something if the very thing we seem to be either running away from or working towards was already sitting in our laps the entire time, just not yet fully baked?

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Time to start challenging myself more and find out…

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Can you relate? What have you been fighting?
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  1. We are about the same age…for a couple of years now my body has been aching like that every weekend that I do yard work. It does feel fantastic when we do something we thought was going to be so hard, only to find out it wasn’t too bad. It propels us on to other “difficult” things.
    Some food for thought: The step ladders – they do come in VERY LARGE & TALL sizes. My brother (an electrician who owns about a million ladders) has several that are 10 – 20 feet tall. These are the “A-frame” ladders. Of course they probably are not cheap, but they are an investment. Check out some online websites or ask someone who works in the construction trades. I think you can even rent them instead of buying.
    Also, they now sell (at Home Depot and other home improvement stores) a anti-algae liquid cleaner (and some are safe for plants and people) that you can spray on by attaching the spray bottle to a hose. I think you let it sit on the siding/roof/sidewalk for a little while and then just hose off with plain water. NO scrubbing. Check it out. These might make it easier next time.
    Glad your weather isn’t too cold like most of the U.S. I would not even think about washing the house in January!
    Take Care, Mary.

  2. Beautiful post Donna, oh how I wish we lived closer,we could do all the stupid,mundane,boring jobs together then go to antique stores for the other 23 hours of the day! 👍

    • Donna, Your home is coming along beautifully. I know the struggle that you are having with either moving or staying put- I had that same struggle in 2017& 2018. We bought our farmhouse on 100 acres in 2011, in the country of NSW Australia about 20 mins drive to town. The first couple of years the summers were hot but liveable- but the next few summers were extremely hot (40-50c) out in the open for days on end. I hate the hot weather with a passion, so we decided to sell our property and move to a cooler climate. We couldn’t get the money that we would have needed to buy another similar property and to cover moving, etc. So my hubbie (TC) and I revaluated our lives and the positives of our home and how we can cope with the weather. We started to renovate our farmhouse and turn it into our dream home. TC will build me my dream barn for my horses this year, which I really need and would love to have. We have done our kitchen, bedroom, guest room,and laundry so far and put in better air conditioning and we have decided to stay here. We are in our early 60’s and things take longer to finish than when we were younger, but we have the rest of our lives to finish them.

  3. I can so relate to doing something that I think shouldn’t be that hard, or once wasn’t that hard and then I end up hurting all over. My 89 year old Mom laughs and tells me to look into the mirror – “you’re not 20 anymore babe” is what she says. She also continues to tell me to keep moving – just take your time she says. I am learning big time how people who are in their 80s and 90s still think like a 30 year old! On the flip side, I’m jealous that you had nice enough winter weather that you could clean the outside of your house. We’re in the below zero deep freeze here and it’s driving me crazy staying inside. I should be cleaning out closets, but I find myself baking chocolate chip cookies instead!

  4. There is a thing called an extension ladder stabilizer bar that you can buy. I had to have one when I painted the outside of our house. I am 67, so I can understand your feelings. It is a stabilizer bar that clamps onto the ladder and has arms on each side that hold it stable against what you are using it for. I’m sure you can find one at Home Depot, Lowes, or maybe even Amazon. Good luck!

  5. Thank you, reading your post hit home with me. We are empty nesters with a 4 bedroom 2 story home. We have been here 22 years. I keep going back and forth about moving, buying a single level because we are getting older. We have put so much of us into this house, I love my home. I’ll worry about climbing the stairs when I’m 80. We belong here. Thanks again!

    • Hello sandy..I understood your position,it may be a way out there thought but if you have too much room,as some of our older friends have..many are converting space into Airbnb…getting income yet stating in a home and community they know. You might be able to modify for you and visitors instead of uprooting and getting into a bigger financial puddle. Just a thought. Wish we had done that instead of moving ,buying smaller for more money. We are in our 70’s and will never pay this off. And can’t expand. Just a thought!

  6. I learned in a business program the other day, when you stop looking for change and just open up to it, those things just come to you naturally. Oh…and there are things that attach the ladder to the house. I’ll ask my painter husband what it’s called…

  7. Life has a way of taking you on a twisting road one that you do not expect. I figure you might as well make the best of it because we only have one life. I too find myself out of my comfort zone all the time now. But that’s okay with me! Good luck on your journey Donna.

  8. Hey Donna
    I’d listen to your brother Les 😇 (I too had a brother named Les ) and fix, decorate, renovate, whatever, just for you. Epsom salt baths are marvellously rejuvenating!
    Maybe hire out the house washing or get a power washer for next time, some things really do get too difficult as we get older, hard to imagine, Lol but we sure notice when we go ahead and try/do them anyways. You must have much nicer weather than us here in Toronto, it’s -12º as I type this, sure not willingly going up any ladders 😀
    Have a great day.

  9. Good on you Donna. I can’t even imagine getting out and up there and washing our house down. Lordy, I would be on my ass in 2 seconds flat. And you’re so right about taking those small steps. Just like ripples turn into waves, those small things will become something extraordinary. Allow yourself to be whomever you want to be when you want to be. <3

  10. Your neighbors sound like they’re worth their weight in gold! That alone is a huge reason to stay put. But I totally get the desire for a change, too. It’s hard to be content sometimes. But new furniture always helps;) Destructing a bathroom, a new light fixture and a couple new, old windows on the walls is doing it for me!

  11. Bravo! You did it!…and then you practiced self care 🙂
    We live on the farm my hubby grew up on in South western Ontario. I work part time, with creative biz on the side, and hubby works full time as an IT guy AND farms the 100 acre farm…cash crops.
    We have always know, we would sell the farm, and build our dream retirement home, for several years now. So, I put off, making our home my style. I finally realized that I could live here and enjoy our time here if I mad it more “me”. Finally, did just tat last fall, and now I van wait patiently for the right time, to move on 🙂

  12. I love this post. It is exactly what I needed. I keep wanting a cabin in the mountains near a creek. However, I live in the mountains so close to a lake….I can see it from my kitchen in the winter. What am I thinking? Here is my mountain and water. Thanks for reminding me that I am already here. Barbara

    • Your comment made me smile, Barbara. I’ve personally been working so hard thinking I was going somewhere but perhaps I’m working hard for my own benefit… who knew? haha

      Hoping your answer comes that easy too!