When you swipe open your cell phone to kill time as you nuke last night’s leftovers, you never know what you might find.
Our phones can often serve as the gateway to wisdom we didn’t know we needed.
That was me a couple of mornings ago, sitting at the kitchen table. As I savored my coffee, I mindlessly scrolled through my news feed as if on autopilot.
And that’s when I happened upon something from a writer by the name of Elena Mikhalkova. Technically, it wasn’t from Elena. No, she was the messenger.
The sage advice actually came from Elena’s grandmother:
My grandmother once gave me a tip:
In difficult times, you move forward in small steps. Do what you have to do, but little by little. Don’t think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make a soup.
You see? You are advancing step by step. Take a step and stop.
Rest a little.
Take another step.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more. And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.
I put down my coffee and pondered Elena’s grandmother’s words, which were first revealed to the world in early May of 2020—when we were all in the throes of the first stage of COVID.
Back then, guidance that struck a balance between realistic and hopeful were both needed and rare.
But, then, doesn’t life in general always require words of encouragement and reassurance?
The loss of a parent.
The loss of a job.
Divorce happens—or some other personal earthquake—and it jump-starts a radically different way of existing.
Kids grow older, parents become empty-nesters and find it challenging to navigate the path going forward.
We’ve all been there in some form or fashion. We’ve all experienced the proverbial gut-punch of the cruelties of life. And then we’re tasked with the challenge of picking up the pieces and moving on.
But how do we do that when we can’t get out of bed? When, at times, essential tasks like showering and eating seem beyond our capability?
And even in the absence of life’s big earthquakes, the tiny ones remain—and they can be just as worrisome:
You become aware of the fact that your son or daughter is the resident outcast at school.
From the outside it appears as though you’re living a charmed life, but you just can’t shake the feeling that there has to be something more than this.
Sure, you’re making ends meet—for the time being—but you worry about retirement.
In the end, the point is the same: There is no quick fix or magic panacea to make it all better right now. In this very moment.
The outcome of so many scenarios is predicated on circumstances that are completely out of our control.
But carry on, we must.
How are we supposed to do it?
One step at a time, Elena’s grandmother says.
You take a breath, do what you can, stop there, and rest. And you don’t beat yourself up about it.
Personally, I can wash the dishes, remove the dust, and write the letter.
But the soup-making is my sticking point: I’m an abhorrent cook.
My spaghetti is tolerable, though, and my kids say they love my cookies, so there’s that.
According to Elena’s grandmother, I should not hang my head in shame for my inability to do more—or do it better.
The crux of this message is that you don’t have to attempt to carry the world on your shoulders. Nor do you have to feign an I’m-fine-you’re-fine-everything’s-fine smile.
Observe the pain. Recognize the sorrow. Then do something—anything—right now.
It’s advice that is both authentic and doable.
And this is why Elena’s grandmother’s words are being shared all over the internet and amassing pageviews like gangbusters.
No matter the year, no matter the time: If today is a day that ends in -y, someone—somewhere—could likely use a pick-me-up like this.
Do something. Rest. Praise yourself. And repeat.
Courtney Conover is a wife and mom of two who has called Wayne home since 1995. Catch up with her weekly by visiting her blog at courtneyconover.com.
Calling all moms! We’ve got a question for you: What do you want for Mother’s Day this year? Like, really. If you could design or manufacture the most ideal Mother’s Day (or Mother’s Day gift) imaginable, what would it look like? The Dispatch wants to know! Share your thoughts by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Dispatch Mother’s Day” in the subject line. You may be included in May’s Mindful Moment column.