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  • Dr. Kemia

Imperfect Progress

Updated: Apr 8


Dear Everyone: I truly loved my maternal grandfather growing up.


He was a kind, capable, quiet giant of a man who was perpetually and silently busy: repairing, tidying, gardening, building, fishing, gathering, hunting or reading. The only time I remember him not actively "doing" was when he was dozing in front of an occasional baseball game... Twice a year he and my grandmother would make the long drive from their Northern California logging town to my childhood home in Idaho, and he would almost immediately get to work on all the household and yard tasks he deemed necessary. Most clear among my memories are those of him painstakingly sharpening all of my mom's knives and my dad's tools, then spending hours on his knees, trimming the edges of our yard and garden by hand. Always busy unless he was walking. The walks were my favorite, and I would wait for any opportunity to tag along. I remember them being long (or perhaps my legs were short) and largely quiet, save my chatter. Our walks grew less frequent over the years as I aged and, regrettably, found his long periods of silence more discomfiting than steadying. But it was on one of those rare treks together in high school (possibly in the middle of my teen-angst prattle) that he laid out a piece of life wisdom I have carried with me since: "When you don't know what to do, just do the work in front of you. That way at the end of the day, if nothing else, at least your chores are done." I've come back to this bit of truth time after time after time in my life. The work in front of me has both strengthened and sustained me more times than I can count. About 5 years ago my life was blessed by a remarkable woman in search of a "mentor." She has challenged and stretched and taught me in ways I never imagined possible, and together we shorthanded my grandfathers wisdom to the idea of setting #SmallAttainableGoals (aka SAG). When we're underwater, it doesn't matter if the surface is 3 or 300 feet overhead, we still are drowning. Small attainable goals are a way of shifting perspective from the depth of the water to the simple, next things we need to do to move through the day and know that, if nothing else, at least our "chores" are done. This morning, I made it through my first SAG (breakfast and farm school start time) and 30 minutes later was completely derailed by the cage-fight that erupted in the middle of class. The fact that I'd been able to accomplish *something* already allowed me to gather myself and my people, regroup and move us forward. It was imperfect, but it was progress. I think that's the key: Imperfect Progress. I challenge you to take a moment to set a SAG for yourself. When I posted this on social media, it was interesting to see how many people mentioned our desire to get outside today - a resiliency-building strategy that is just critical to our physical, emotional and mental well-being. I hope each of us get one of those long, quiet, contemplative walks my granddad used to enjoy so much. Keep being brave, generous and kind. More soon, K #ImperfectProgress #SAG #Resilience #SmallAttainableGoals #CalmInTimesofCoronavirus #TogetherSeparately






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