Just Put One Foot in Front of the Other
“You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Put blinders on and plow right ahead.” ~ George Lucas
This quote has really resonated with me. In times of tragedy, this is the only way to move ahead. However, it can work with everyday problems, too.
I very clearly remember the day my mother was put into hospice. We were told that she only had 7 days max left to live on this earth plane.
It was a warm, sunny April day. Not a cloud to be found in the sky. My mom’s perfect kind of day. I remember as a small child, on our Sunday drives, she would say to my father: “Al, just drive towards the sun.” As we were given this devastating news, so many thoughts zipped through my brain. What was I going to do without my mom? How would I ever climb out of my bed and my warm blanket – my safe cocoon? Who would I call at 7PM every night to tell about my day – my triumphs, my disappointments? She would never hold her great-grandchildren. She would never see her grandchildren’s celebrations. I would never be able to hug her again, or feel her warm kiss on my cheek.
The next morning, I was scrolling through Facebook, fighting the fact that I needed to get out of bed, and I saw this quote – “You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Put blinders on and plow right ahead.”
What I had to do was to get up first, then get dressed. I had to put on my jeans, then my top, then my coat and then my shoes. One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. By making this my mantra, I was able to do it. I had been thinking way ahead. It was just so overwhelming to think about how I had to go to the car, drive to the store, collect my groceries, put them in the car, come home, park the car, lug the bags up the steps and put them away. Then prepare something to eat and make my meal. And then head over to the hospice to see my mom – so small, so not my mom, in that hospice bed.
All the way to the store, I kept thinking about one task at a time. I marched through the grocery store muttering to myself, “Put one foot in front of the other.” This method worked for me as I accomplished each task.
That evening, feeling even more devastated, I went to see a Broadway show with a friend and then fell heavily into bed. I startled myself awake after three hours and thought – my mom is all alone in the hospice and here I lay in my warm, comfy bed. So – off I went, repeating my mantra – and drove to the hospice. And there I stayed until my mom passed away to the Spirit World.
I had been thinking way ahead. It was just so overwhelming to think about what I would do without my mother in my life. Once I planted myself by her side at the hospice for the next seven days – 24 hours a day – I realized that once she left the earth plane, she would be no longer be in such intense pain. I realized that she would miss being on the earth plane far more than I missed her. I could continue my everyday life, but she would have to enjoy it away from her family, in Summerland. I began to understand that she would need to go through a tremendous healing in her new world, as would I here on this plane. I sat in the hospice, day-after-day – I sang to my mom, told her stories, hugged her, and I cried. Oh, how I cried.
The day after my mom passed into Summerland, I laid in bed and forcefully reminded myself to put one foot in front of the other. For my mother. She would not want me to hide away in my bed for the rest of my life. So I got up – I went to the kitchen and put each dish away, one by one. I went to the laundry room and moved my clothes from the hamper to the washer. I poured the detergent into the washer, then the softener. I fed and walked my dog. I showered and dressed, preparing to meet my family in order to discuss THE plans. I could go on forever, but you get my point... My mom passed away, but I still had to live on by taking tiny incremental steps.
When healing from a devastating event in our lives, we don’t need to move mountains, build a house or even clean out every closet in one day. Sometimes we just need to clean one shelf at a time, put one foot in front of the other and to remind ourselves that is enough for today.
I began thinking about change and growth and healing and realized how familiar that feeling really is. How you start something moving. You start changing and the momentum picks up. And you feel yourself moving faster than you ever thought possible. And it is exhilarating, but also scary. You are new to this change, this growth, and your ‘new change legs’ feel wobbly. But you can’t stop, even as some ‘inner scared parent’ is running behind you begging you to slow down.
For me, my mother’s passing gave me the need to learn everything I could about Spiritualism, and to grow my mediumship in ways that I never thought possible. I felt the need to prove to my clients, to the church congregants – that life is continuous. It was more important to me than the need for any other food or nutrient I have ever craved. Classes and reading and learning became my new mantra – in addition to ‘Put one foot in front of the other.’
The need for routine is a very large part of the healing process. And for me studying and learning everything I could became my routine.
Routine functions as a source of organization or grounding. Meditation became a huge part of my life. But, alas, I had trouble sitting still enough to meditate. So, I began daily walking meditations. Feet connecting with the ground, with Mother Earth. Now, in times of change, or growth or healing, walking feels like a requirement for me. When I am away from home, or having a hard time connecting with myself—walking becomes my connection. There is something so reassuring about the fact that one foot follows the other. You keep putting one foot out, and the other follows. You feel the earth beneath your feet. You feel your arms swing. You feel the air in your lungs. You feel the sweet air brushing against your face.
One foot in front of the other. The rhythm and repetition are soothing. One foot in front of the other. It is the body’s perfect mantra. A way of practicing change. I can go from here to there. I only have to put one foot in front of the other. I can change where I am and how I feel. I only have to put one foot in front of the other. It’s not a matter of doing something huge. It’s just one foot in front of the other. And yet, if you keep doing it. If you keep walking, the steps add up. I know how to do this. I can speed up. I can slow down. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And you will see, you try to walk, but you may just find yourself running.
Remember, there is no pressure to change instantly; gradual change over time is sustainable. Just put one foot in front of the other. There’s plenty of grace while you are in the process. When you are missing someone, or something, what matters is that you decide to get back on track and that you don’t give up.
Be gracious with yourself, because the Infinite Intelligence, the Divine, is gracious with you. Over time you will have more good days than bad ones.
A week after my mom passed away, I ran into a wise woman who told me that we should walk through life as though our feet are kissing the earth. I laughed at her then.
But now I think of her words with wonder and gratitude – the week that a couple thousand people are washed away by walls of raging water — screaming toddlers with big eyes and wrinkled grandmothers who went without a word — maybe walking this earth like every step is a kiss of thanks is good unworldliness.
Maybe watching the news and lingering on a face and being brave enough to let a calloused heart feel the ache of humanity again makes you press your heel differently into this soft earth.
Maybe kissing the earth with your footsteps is what wakes you up enough to be gratefully passionate once again.
A hundred times a day, I figure out how to put one foot in front of the other and walk out into the world— a way to walk, to respond, to give, to do, to change the world.
I would like to tell that wise woman I ran into that I do get it —that there are invisible threads holding us all together, that there are lines that we can hold on to, that hold us together.
That the way you walk, it could kiss more than the earth — it could kiss the Divine. It could kiss the kid across the table, the woman across town, the hurting mother across the world.
That there could be this walking together that holds us together, us all walking embraced.
Put one foot in front of the other…
As Elizabeth Taylor said: “You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about the business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way.”