Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Small beginnings and your journey

I love getting Chinese take out and though I really don’t care for the fortune cookies, I never miss an opportunity to get a fortune. I tend to hold on to the ones that seem particularly fitting. I stick them on my monitor or anchor them between two pages of whatever book I happen to be reading. That way they are rediscovered when I least expect it and impart their magic twice. 🙂

One fortune that has been kept close at hand read, “All great things had small beginnings.” This was the fortune I received around the time I decided that I would send my writing out into the great unknown and try to get it published. It could not have rung more true. I remind myself of this whenever I am feeling overwhelmed by the sheer prospect of being published. Both the struggle -with all the query letters, rejections, dos and don’ts and mounds of advice to weed through- as well as the prospect of success frighten me. And I have to remember that I only need to focus on one small thing at a time.

I know that the human race tends to thrive on a fast pace and a barrage of successes following quickly one after another. Multitasking is the new relaxation and everyone is busy busy busy!

Well, I am thinking that I need to get off that bus!  Maybe it is the aging process, though I wouldn’t even consider myself middle-aged yet and mentally I still feel like I am 20. Maybe it is the stress of the day job. Maybe it is just that feeling that tends to hit us as we get older of time speeding up and passing fast. But I am thinking that I want to slow down and catch some of the scenery now.

I can’t stop working. I am sure most people are in the same boat as I am. Without a winning lottery ticket, I am tied to a 9 to 5 job to pay the bills. Don’t get me wrong. Most days, I do enjoy my job. But work always tends to get in the way of things we want to be doing instead. 🙂 Napping, quilting, reading, socializing, writing, so many other things a vying for my attention.

I took the day off yesterday and did nothing but work on a quilt – no TV or radio playing in the background, just me and the purr of my sewing machine. It leaves your mind wide open to think and it helps me re-focus. As I mentioned in my last blog post, quilting forces you to focus on two small pieces instead of the whole project. Each step of the process, from planning and shopping for fabric, to cutting and piecing, to putting the top together – you have to focus on just one step of the project. I realized that I have been feeling stuck in my writing lately, like I can’t move forward. And I think it is because I had lost my focus on each little step.

I spent a good part of last year feeling like my writing and publishing goals were stagnating. Not enough visible forward motion was being recorded on the average day to suit me. But with some reflection, I see now that any forward motion is good. Even if it was just getting my mind-set right to pursue it. Finding my feet and standing up on my shaking legs and announcing my dreams was a huge step, though for others it may not be a big deal.

We all have our own journeys and our own version of success. My mountain may be someone else’s easiest passage. My wild ride downhill with my hair flying behind me and legs akimbo may be someone else’s toughest step. Only we can decide for ourselves what small steps can be taken toward our goals. We are the only ones who can follow our path.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
What small steps are you taking today?


  1. I feel your pain! I ended up actually leaving my job (too many hours) for a less stressful job though I have financially suffered, I am happier

    • It is a catch-22, isn’t it? You need to make money to pay the bills and afford your hobbies or pursuit of your dreams, but the day job takes time away from your hobbies and the pursuit of your dreams! The trick, I think, is to learn to enjoy each small step in the journey and give yourself permission to take it at your own pace. 🙂

  2. MerylF

    Nice one 🙂 My steps at the moment are writing 1,500 words a day, which will lead to the next step which is a completed first draft, which will lead to the next step etc.

    Small goals are totally the way to go 🙂 Keep taking those steps!

    • I have to keep reminding myself to enjoy the whole process… we get in such a hurry to reach the end of whatever we are working on – be it the final draft, the publishing contract, the book on the shelves – that we forget to enjoy every little step of the journey!

      • MerylF

        Very true! The journey is just as important. But slowing down in this day and age, when you are trying to juggle work and family and writing and friends is tough!

  3. I really appreciate your words, Cheryl. I have been down in the dumps lately, and feeling like I’m not doing enough. You’ve helped put the process into perspective for me. Thank you.

    • So happy I could help! Especially coming from a fellow writer/blogger who has never failed to inspire me. 🙂 I am slowly learning to enjoy the ride more – bumps and all!

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