Inch by Inch

Brody came into bed last night. It was right when my mind went quiet and my eyes went closed and I had finally fallen asleep, that he appeared.

His small, warm fingertips touched my cheeks and I know that he is three and that I am lucky, so I (admittedly grumpily) let him in.

After one teeny tiny minute, his sleep sighs enveloped me, as did Louie’s and as did Jason’s. And then it was just me, awake, encircled by these sleeping boys that I love so very much.

My Mind Quiet disappeared and all of my Noise and my Mess and my INeedToGetMyActTogetherNOWs appeared in its place.

Schedules and Homework and Health and Exercise and Marriage and Money and Writing and Projects and Friendships and Laughter and so many more Heart Wants puzzle pieced on top of me until I couldn’t breathe, much less sleep, or find my Quiet again.

Somehow, I landed on Anne Lamott’s words in Bird by Bird. You don’t have to write an entire novel in one sitting. Sit down and write one scene, and one inch by inch frame at a time you’ll get there.

Oh yes, this.

Inch by inch.

And placing my pointer fingers and my thumbs into that inch by inch frame and focusing small on what I need to do BIG gave me the breaths that I needed.

Not more-weight-to-lose-than-I’d-like-to-admit, just no chocolate before breakfast.

Not three college funds in the palm of my hand, just sticking to the grocery list this morning.

Not a marathon, just the elliptical.

Inch by inch.

Start Now.

That, I can do (right?).

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  1. BEGIN.

    Is the most important word for anything.


  2. Very motivational, Galit! I’m not sure if you meant to reach out and inspire me today, but you did. So often I get overwhelmed by the ALL of it that I freeze. I need to just take a step. Lovely. As always.

  3. Getting started is the hardest part. That you have is a wonderful accomplishment. Inch by inch, yes, this.

  4. Oh, definitely. Small steps are what make the world go round. Gigantic leaps are impressive because they are rare. But the little, seemingly unimportant stuff? That’s the REAL fabric of our lives. Not the flashy appliques and embellishments…

  5. I’ve learned through my fight with mental illness that it takes living in each moment one at a time to really get you moving.
    It’s easy to get swallowed by all the thoughts of what needs to be done and so forth.
    Take it one step at a time.

  6. Caitlin MidAtlantic says:

    Inch by inch sounds a lot like the Japanese theory of Kaizen: one little step. I love these theories. Everything is so much more manageable and less overwhelming!

  7. LOOOOOVE Bird by Bird. Just another reason I love you. I had all but forgotten about this book and would like to find some inspiration again. Thanks for mentioning this to me, Galit.

    Alexandra is right. The most important part is the beginning. That takes the most courage. I am so glad that you are always aware and exploring and figuring out what works best, for you, for your family… inch by inch.

  8. Concentrating on the road gets us to the destination. Not the other way around.

  9. I think one of the most common misconceptions is that we have to jump into something head first and go crazy. We aim too high with unrealistic expectations right to begin with. I have that problem, too. When I was starting out designing and doing photography I wanted to be AS GOOD AS the pros, right from the get go. It took some time to step back and realize that everyone has a starting point. Everyone, at some point, is a beginner. Start from there and work your way up. :)

  10. Inch by Inch…..take it as it comes – and you’ll get it done/deal with it. Great advice…..

  11. Forgive me if I’ve dropped by and said this before, because I think I may have, but your pictures are stunning. My only choice right now is going inch by inch. Some days are really overwhelming. Thanks for the beautiful reminder.

  12. I love Bird by Bird, and I love that she encourages inch by inch and crappy first attempts :)
    JBird has been doing the same to me. Just as I hit the of “good sleep” she awakens me, and I pull her into our bed. She drifts off, and I end up trying to sleep, but not getting there as soon as I’d like to!

  13. If we don’t inch along, we’ll never go anywhere because it’s just too overwhelming.

  14. I think starting is the hardest thing to do. Inch by inch is such good advice :)

  15. Inch by inch.
    That is perfection.

  16. Wonderful and wise words, Galit.

  17. Love this. My friend has a sign above her desk that says, “Just start.” I just love it and can apply to so many things. So you are so wise to just start and then progress just an inch. That is hard for me as I’m typically an all or nothing person. But I’m learning that isn’t possible. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  18. Smart lady! I’ve had a few of those nights lately myself.

  19. Oh yes! Gorgeous and true! And sleepy squishy 3-year-olds? So sweet. My baby’s getting all skinny & long :-(

  20. No chocolate before bed?! I know. So many other things about this post should’ve stuck out to me, but in my deprived-of-tastiness-for-the-sake-of-the-greater-good mind frame that’s all I can focus on.

  21. Yes. This. Just progress, not perfection. Why do I keep forgetting?

  22. So hard to stay in the moment and stay: Yes, I can begin again. But it is true. Hope you caught up on your sleep!

  23. Oh yes this – “inch by inch”. Such wise advice.

  24. So inspiring, Galit. I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed lately…by everything, and this is just what I needed to hear. Thank you so much.

  25. I love this. This is how I try to approach my life when so much about it can feel overwhelming.

  26. Bird by Bird has got to be one of my favorite books EVER. It was suggested to me by one of my favorite professors back in college. She worried I wouldn’t like it because Lamott is overtly Christian and I’m rather antagonistically agnostic. (But that comes from having to develop a defensive stance about my lack of religion in my public elementary and high school. Won’t go THERE just now.) Anyway, I love everything Lomott does, including her Thoughts on Faith. (And besides, if I don’t share Lamott’s religion, I certainly agree with her philosophy, and I absolutely revel in her politics.)

  27. Keely Weiland says:

    I know you must get sick of hearing this. BUT. Once again, this is something I, too, could have written. Not so beautifully, of course. Still, these exact same thoughts swirl in my “I-can’t-turn-it-off” brain- especially at night. I also love Anne Lamott- but haven’t read her forever and don’t think I’ve ever read Bird by Bird?? Anyway, friend. So thankful for your words, your constant sanity, your kindness and your encouragement via theselittlewaves. XOXO

  28. Brilliant, simple yet brilliant. With your eloquent writing and inspiring words I feel as though I can make the most of everyday without feeling bogged down by needing to get things done. And with that I am off the couch and on the move. Thank you!

  29. As I sit here feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of Things that All Seem to Rank High on My List of Priorities, these are exactly the words that I needed to hear.

    Thank you.

  30. Yes, this. My mind races a lot like that too while trying to go to sleep.

  31. isn’t it funny, that we tell ourselves to look at the big picture sometimes … and yet it can be the big picture that overwhelms us so 😉

    love this look into those wee hours where sleep is most elusive … we all know them well!

  32. I needed to read this today, thank you Galit.

  33. Beautifully written. Sometimes getting started is the hard part, but once the routine kicks in it gets easier from there,

  34. —Lovely photos. Lovely words.

    “Bird by Bird” is one of my favorite expressions to use! Xx And of course, I adore Anne.

  35. This is truly inspiring, Galit. And your little boy is adorable!

  36. 😀 I just needed these words today, specially today…
    I wish I could have your words in the background as an ongoing message or as a flicker in my head through the day! Specially when I am feeling overwhelmed!

  37. Inch by inch. Thank you for that. The whole thing terrifies me, stuns me, punches me in the gut. But one sentence? Ok.
    I am going to get that book;)

  38. Reading this brought such calm upon me. I love your writing!

  39. Mary Fretland says:

    Love this. Thank you!

  40. Getting started is always the hardest part. By far! But you can, inch by inch. I need to bookmark this post to read again when I need some motivation, because it is very inspiring.

  41. Jessica@Team Rasler says:

    This is exactly the lesson I’m working on. I never want to begin unless I think I can finish right then. Which of course means I’m constantly putting things off until I have more time, which never, ever happens anymore. If I focus on what I can accomplish in 1 or 5 or 10 minutes, it is less instant gratification but it turns out you really can move mountains one pebble at a time (or in my case, clean the garage one box at a time)! Lovely post.

  42. I love this, and I so needed to hear it right now. Sometimes all the projects and everythings in my head can be quite overwhelming. Also, whenever my three-year-old wants to climb on my lap while I’m trying to eat dinner, I remember to appreciate that he wants to be close to me. Someday he will be sixteen, and I will long for the days when I got hugs for nothing. An additional perk to having a three-year-old on my lap during dinner is that it’s hard to overeat. It’s just hard to eat. Instant portion control!

  43. I can do inch by inch. Thanks Galit for this and thank you for dropping by my humble site. :)

  44. So true! Any progress at all IS progress!

  45. Oh my gosh, yes. I need to remember this. It’s amazing just how quickly our brains can get fired back up and out of that quiet place, and how quickly we can let ourselves get overwhelmed. “Start anywhere”=words to live by.

  46. One step at a time. That’s the best you can do. Inch by inch.

  47. It sounds like the very best place to start! It can get overwhelming to think of all we need to do.

  48. Some days I feel like I only make it an inch. But even that is progress!

  49. While the “inch by inch” approach is the right one . . . long term goals are great, but the short term, attainable this day goal is the better one . . . but how do you stick to it?

    ’cause I got nothin’

    I want the long term stuff . . . and I want it now. And I don’t want to have to work for it.

    I, also, may be having a motivation issue this morning.

  50. So true and so nicely said. I do this too – I think, I need to stretch every day, for at least 15 minutes… but it doesn’t happen. So yesterday I told myself, One stretch a day. That I can do for now!

  51. Thank you for the inspiration! I’m always saying to my 7 year old “take it one word at a time”” when she sits down to her 25 spelling words. You’re so right that we can apply this to all aspects of our lives. Makes everything seem just a little bit more manageable!

  52. One foot in front of the other. You are so good at slowing down and appreciating details that I’d hate to see you ever put too much pressure on yourself.

  53. I keep telling myself that something is better than nothing. It’s hard when the hill seems insurmountable. But just starting is the most important thing.

    Good luck, friend!

  54. Awww, a good motivational post!

  55. Inch by inch… baby steps… you are on your way… YES!! Galit, I love your writing. It’s calming and makes see things so differently. This was beautifully written and just what I needed to read today.

  56. NotJustAnotherJennifer says:

    Yes, yes, yes! Exactly what I needed to read. And “Bird by Bird” is actually on my nightstand not a foot away from me. But of course, your post has such amazing imagery, it was worth not noticing the book myself.

  57. Oh, how I know that I-just-fell-asleep-and-now-you’re-poking-me-in-the-face moment, but I’m kind of glad he woke you up because I loved your middle-of-the-night realizations. Inch by inch…yes.

    I think I really needed to hear that.

  58. I have the bit by bit, bird by bird, notion in my own words pinned to my bulletin board. It works for everything in our lives. Not that I can breathe it in every moment, mind you. I, also, was awake last night, feeling all the same things, with the same list. xoxo

  59. TheNextMartha says:

    This was just wonderful. Excuse me while I go re-roof the house. Shingle by shingle of course

  60. Thank you for this.

  61. “Inch by inch, row by row
    Gonna make this garden grow.
    All I need is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground…”

    I love that song. And you made me think of it.

    And I am very much doing inch by inch right now.

    We’ll do it together, you and I.

  62. In the words of Jiminy Cricket “inch by inch, life’s a cinch, yard by yard it is very, very hard”. The way you wrote it is much more beautiful though. :)

  63. Brilliantly said. Begin anywhere. I’m pinning it.

  64. Why do we let ourselves get caught up in the rat race so often. Life is at its best when we slow down and not only take care of the details inch by inch but enjoy them that way too. If you ever really need a reminder of that, just read your own blog…it is in all of the perfect words that you choose.

  65. Anti-Supermom says:

    It’s so easy to get gulped up by everything that we forget the important thing is doing something.

    We say ‘baby steps’ around here, but I might steal ‘inch by inch’.

    Lovely, lovely post.

  66. Isn’t that true. Picture that little frame and start there. And I would add for me — to relax and enjoy writing that inch. Enjoy going to the store — which I have come to DREAD now because a) spending money and b) the time drain.

    I just need to thank God I have three healthy children and a loving partner to take care of….Cherish that time with those quiet, deeply breathing precious bodies.

    I’ll try if you will.

  67. I really really needed to read this today.

  68. Love this more than you can imagine!