doing the same thing over and over



I am insane. Insane according to the quote:

Insanity: DOING the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
[most attribute this quote to Einstein, but no one really knows where it came from.]

The last few days, I have had this recurring feeling that I am acting a bit insane because it is right about this time–the end of January–when I realize that some desires for the new year are NOT coming true and wonder why. I think, “Well, I haven’t done anything differently, but I sure have thought about it a lot, so doesn’t that count for something? miracles still happen, right? can’t they happen to ME, please?” (Sort of like playing the lottery every once in a while and thinking “THIS just might be the winning ticket!” and your mind spins off into all the things you would do when you won and your dreams would all come true… thehhhhhn you realize that’s crazy, you probably won’t win, so just relax and get real, self. [SIDE NOTE: I HAVE had some fantastic uses of my new-year-minutes (see the very bottom of page), but for now, I want to focus on having to DO change.]

Usually, you actually have to DO something about the changes you’d like to take place or at least initiate the process and enlist help in various forms (people, books, supplies, pulling out your inner warrior, or selah to help you figure it out).

See, I’m starting to finally realize (and this realization must happen over and over again to engrain it into my fickle brain) that the DO part is something we all DO have power in. More power than we can imagine. Power to DO something about IT–our particular thing–whatever it is. Let’s remember we are all breathing right now, reading this post, sitting, standing, just DOING life. DO you realize that? We are DOING life right now.

What exactly do I keep DOING over and over expecting different results?


Sometimes when I’m anxious, (a lot in January just because I’m rather busy and excited and who-knows-what), I will find the nearest chocolate [dark quality preferably, of course] that is readily available and devour it. I will ravenously go to the chocolate over and over (as if it had an answer) instead of stopping and reflecting (selah). Instead of reflecting on WHY I’m DOING this frantic thing, breathing deep, praying “give me control” and making some Stress-Relief Yogi Tea. Have you heard of Stress-Relief Yogi TeaThis real thing is awesome. I can open the cupboard and see a little, beautifully designed and adorned box that proudly offers “stress-relief” and all I have to do is tap my electric kettle, grab a tea bag, dip it in and sip. One day, I said to Brad, PLEASE, CAN YOU GET ME SOME STRESS-RELIEF TEA NOW? He opened the cupboard and started laughing saying “NO WAY. You actually have tea that says “stress-relief”. Well, of course you do, Sarah. Why am I surprised?” And then, like most wives might say, I reply: “Honey. That tea has been in there for 6 months. I CAN’T BELIEVE you haven’t noticed it before!” I love accessing this perfect, instantly gratifying solution to help ease anxiety and make me pause. Somehow when I DO this tea thing instead of the chocolate thing, I slooowww down long enough to pause and reflect on what’s really going on. If you, dear friend, can eat just one piece of delicious chocolate slowly and methodically and move one with your life, then you have DONE something great. But I’m DOING change on this issue one cup of tea at a time.

Have you experienced the blustering, utterly ridiculous tornado in the mornings when you have a full day’s agenda and you are NOT prepared when you wake up? You feel like you just can’t DO everything. It is when I first WAKE the kids up and answer all the girls’ questions about the day. Then COOK breakfast (usually stove-top oatmeal, Dave’s Killer Bread or Squish Muffins (english muffins), eggs, bananas, etc (wow, we sure are blessed to have all these choices, aren’t we?). The breakfast arrangements are usually interrupted numerous times with requests, but finally I move on to FIND 2 lunch bags (sometimes they’re still in my car–usually when Brad brings them home–sorry honey), PACK 2 kids lunches (one cut up into itty bitty pieces, both needing to be balanced and healthy in some way, utensils, and water bottles), LABEL with names, FIND backpack, FILL OUT forms, CUT red pictures for red day, SCAVENGE red shirt for red day, REFILL diapers, wipes, extra clothes, DRESS each child, ARGUE with older child about what to wear, and WHERE is the glorious elephant???? (Alexandria’s gray elephant that she cannot leave home without). Then when all is complete, I realize I’m still in pajamas, need to brush teeth, find clean clothes, pack work bag, and my lunch. FINALLY, we’re ready and it takes 15 minutes to LOAD the car and transition the children from being at HOME to moving their little legs one behind the other INTO the car. (I love, love, love being a mother, but this is the most trying time for me–getting out the door on a school/daycare day. When Husband is home in the mornings it IS easier.) Now, I have friends that I GUARANTEE prep every single night before they go to bed. Friends, you know who you are. You are amazing and I envy your discipline, but I just can’t pull it together like you EVERY NIGHT. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I DO get my act together and I’m thrilled with my brilliance. I know that if I DO this more, it will make my life easier and remove a lot of yelling and stress from my mornings, but sometimes I’m just TOO tired at night. Many nights I fall asleep while reading my daughter a book and she’s like “Mommy, Mommy, WAKE UP!” Then after that, I just CAN’T. DO. ANYTHING. ELSE. But I’m DOING change on this issue one packed bag at a time.

This goes beyond what you might think–physical wellness (i.e. exercising, preparing healthy meals, general self-care). This dives into mental wellness and the idea of busy-ness and stress instead of mindfulness and proactive change. This work instead of wellness is easy for me to DO since I work for myself, so I’m always ‘at work’ so-to-say, and of course, there are always things to do. I’ve been scheduling wellness dates with myself for years, but rarely do I make them all. In my Google Calendar, I have a category called “wellness” and that includes anything that is good for me, but that I have to do myself, such as exercising, prayer, meditation, yoga, writing, art, etc. I make these dates throughout my week, but many times, I say, “I can DO this tomorrow. This isn’t time-sensitive or on a deadline, and I have other more important urgent things.” No one will penalize me if I am a no-show. No one will know if I am absent for these dates all the time. I won’t get fired, expelled, disciplined. But they are the most important, actually. The thing we control ourselves end up being the MOST important things. Things like taking care of our bodies, our minds, and sharing time with God so we can be present and most useful to others and to the world (You know–put on your own oxygen mask before helping others…). But I’m DOING change on this issue one attended wellness date at a time.

Now you may be thinking: “You really don’t understand, I’ve tried, but my thing is out of my control. I can’t DO anything about: ________ (finding a soul mate, medical condition, escaping something not serving me, addiction, having a child, getting out of debt, leaving my job, etc…). I believe that you CAN DO things differently. You can DO your life being the very best, created perfectly right now at this very minute and embrace it. You can DO your attitude differently. You can DO your relationships differently and better. You can DO your character flaws better and focus on your gifts. You can DO your gifts now, if you haven’t in a while. You can DO some new things that may open a door. If you really can’t think of anything you can DO to help your situation, then you can selah with just 2 minutes and see what happens. Then repeat and repeat again.

I created this little graphic (top of page) and I’m placing it on my kitchen window sill. (You can, too, if you want–just click on the main image above and print for FREE.) It is going to look me gently in the face and remind me that I’m the one DOING all the DOING. I’m going to DO my best. I’m going to say it’s OK to have 2 days of change and 5 days of no change. THAT is progress. I’m going to remember that great rewards (calmness, peace, freedom) come from making beneficial changes–mental and physical changes. I’m also going to remember I AM IN CONTROL and focus on the fact that NO ONE WILL DO THIS LIFE FOR ME, except for me. (unless of course, you’re being strategically brainwashed or something–which I really, really hope to high heaven you aren’t!)

“‘I have the right to DO anything,’ you say–but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to DO anything’–but not everything is constructive.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23, NIV

pray. ponder. prepare. pause and reflect. then just DO change.Selah-Sig




(This post was edited to be shorter and more concise 14 hrs after initially posting. Next time I’ll do one more re-read before hitting publish — I’m learning.)


SIDE NOTE EXPANSION: I AM using the new year’s minutes to DO these 11 things differently already and they are helping me in many ways: 

  1. I continue to SELAH some minutes every day – which was not the ‘same’ action I executed most of my life.
  2. I SPLURGED and bought the clear blue recycling bags for our recycling trash can so the can doesn’t get sticky and dirty. This was a BIG step for me because ever since I lived in Jackson Hole (uber-green focused [rightly so–who wouldn’t be inspired to be eco, while living in the most beautiful place on the planet?], and took my Sustainable Design courses at MCAD, I’ve been ruined with dwelling on every single un-sustainable practice that ends up a part of my life and feeling guilty for it, yet, passionate about the cause, yet tired and needing to be a little flexible with myself. Sorry Jackson Hole. Sorry professor.
  3. I GRIND more coffee beans when the jar is getting low, instead of waiting until it’s totally empty. Yay! I’m learning! (this also goes for gas–I try to fill up BEFORE it’s empty)
  4. I LOAD the dryer with the wash the SAME day that I wash it. Yes, I haven’t always done that.
  5. I FREEZE leftovers as soon as I realize no one is going to eat them, but before they are too old. This is much more satisfying and sustainable than throwing them away.
  6. I also try to RE-USE my ziplock bags, just buying ziplock bags is horribly guilt-ridden enough, I have to at least re-use them a couple times.
  7. I WATER my one, living, breathing plant on a regular basis. I’m sorry, dear plant, for making you nearly die of thirst for the last several years. I’m trying to feed you more.
  8. I take my dog’s collar OFF the night before, so when we wake up in the morning and he get’s up, he doesn’t wake up THE ENTIRE HOUSE with his jingly, clinking, clanking collar. Everyone STILL sleeping is SO priceless.
  9. I’m CREATING more art. I’m taking real pens, pencils, charcoal, whatever and just going for it. I’m not worried about each thing being a masterpiece. I’m just doing it. I’m getting my hands dirty and releasing some mental build-up though art.
  10. I’m RELEASING and writing my thoughts and passions and driven emotions to the world and LETTING GO. It feels SO good. But let me mention, I release it only AFTER I say the prayer: “Lord, help me. Let my words be heard with open hearts and minds and give me GRACE.”
  11. I’m saying “NO” more and learning that sometimes saying “NO, I don’t have the time to do my best and give it my everything.” is absolute, pure freedom.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Kathy says:

    So important that we be gentle to ourselves. I often forget that too. Thanks for the reminder to consider it a step in the right direction when we DO manage to look at what we ARE doing instead of what we’re NOT doing!

    1. SNelsen says:

      Thanks for reinforcing this importance! It is so hard to remember this in a world where expectations are set so high. Being gentle to ourselves is key.

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