My true home is on Great Barrier Island, where my ancestors lived.
I only get there a few times a year, and when I do, nature has done its best to take over.
Elephant grass up to our waists. Manuka seedlings, thistles, and rushes have their roots deep into the clay.
The job is simply too big for me. I look around and there’s so much to do that I don’t even know where to start. Left to my own devices, I just wouldn’t.
That damn elephant
And yes, I get the idea that you eat an elephant one bite at a time. In my mind, each bite of this clean up, if I do it alone, would be too small and insignificant to even be worth it. There’s no way I’ll ever get all the work done.
But as we arrived on our last trip, my dad pulled out the lawnmower and mowed a track between the house, cabin, toilet, and generator shed. That made a difference.
Carver Boy grabbed a slasher and started on the elephant grass. I did the same and cleared the track to the waterhole.
Within a couple of hours, we could see some progress, and we could function. We could get from A to B. And each cleared space, each cut manuka, each clump of rushes levelled, did two things: made the task seem achievable, and revealed the next level of clean up that could still be done.
Within 2 days, the house looked like someone lived there – with a lawn, clean drains, and nothing overgrown in sight. Far more work than I had even thought possible.
The miracle of many hands
It felt miraculous to me. Because on other trips, when it’s just me and my kids, it’s too overwhelming and we don’t even attempt it. I look around and it depresses me.
I sat on my deck with a well-earned glass of wine feeling so, so grateful for the help. Feeling so, so proud of what we’d accomplished. And feeling relieved that, because of our combined efforts, the next few weeks of this stay was going to be so much more enjoyable.
And I thought about how much more we can do in our lives when we have help.
And how we find it so, so hard to ask for help.
We are grateful when people around us ask for help, but we feel that to ask for help ourselves is a weakness.
Depression is a part of my life
It has been for decades.
One of the things depression looks like for me is a feeling that even the simplest tasks are too much. I look around me and all I can see is things that need to be done, and I can’t face them.
Have a shower? Too hard.
Get dressed? Too hard.
Answer an email? WTAF.
I want to sleep for a week.
We all need help
But when I have help, that changes.
The company of one of my daughters, or Carver Boy, or my Fairy-God-Ninja, Mandy, makes some things possible.
And each thing I accomplish lifts my spirits. I get help (for me – this usually means just some company) to sort the laundry. I get help while I write a list of things that I think need to be done, so they don’t feel so endless. I get company while I clear out some emails and work tasks so the weight is lifted.
When I first hired Mandy I literally had her sit with me once a week just to keep my motivation up – to not let the lurking depression raise its head and climb onto my shoulders. In my calendar those days said, “Mandy babysits Shelly.”
When I’m planning out a big project or a hefty document, I get help. I talk it through with someone as I brainstorm. It gets me out of my head.
What’s in your life that you look at every day and it feels too big?
What could you do with that thing if you had help?
What might help look like?
Who could you ask?
We all need help.
Is it time for you to ask for some?