Eating the Elephant

I am a great one to tout the wisdom of “eating the elephant one bite at a time.” And in more rational moments, I actually follow that sage advice. Unfortunately, when things hit the fan I tend to revert to my old habit of looking the proverbial pachyderm square in the eye and attempting to shove the whole thing in my mouth at once.

Our recently completed move to Cleveland, Ohio had me in that exact space. And quite frankly, still has me there on more days than I care to admit.

When we made the decision to move, I knew logically that there were a lot of wonderful things to look forward to. My husband Paul’s great new career opportunity. Living on Lake Erie. Being closer to my Midwestern and eastern friends and family. But there was still the deep sadness of leaving a life of 20 years that we built in our beloved adopted hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona.

And I allowed that – along with the overwhelm of all that had to be done to get us from the desert to the tundra in the middle of winter – to paralyze me for a good portion of every day.

Instead of using the experience for writing fodder, I would sit down at my laptop and immediately have an anxiety attack over all the things I should be doing instead. Like packing boxes. Arranging for utilities. Or making sixteen trips to the vet to discuss how to keep our three cats safely medicated so they were calm during our travels (and didn’t “serenade” our fellow cabin passengers for four hours straight during our transport flight).

But eventually, everything got done. All our stuff arrived. The lights were on. We didn’t get banned from Southwest for having the loudest felines in airline history. (Actually, the three-year old screaming about his malfunctioning iPad six rows up would have drowned out even their most robust vocal stylings.)

The bottom line is, if I had opted for the “one bite at a time” approach, I could’ve made the whole moving escapade much easier on myself. But that didn’t happen. So, all I can do now is try to apply a more sane methodology to the process of settling in.


I won’t make a bunch of new friends overnight. But I can get out of the house every day and try to make contact with at least one other human being. Even if it’s just a “hello”…it’s a start.

I won’t instantaneously know where everything is in a new city. Granted, my sense of direction is the stuff of legend (not in a good way), but damn it…I found a place to get my hair done without accidentally ending up in a neighboring state.

Our house will not be vying for the cover of Architectural Digest any time soon. We love the place; however, like any house, you’ve got to make certain adjustments so it feels like your home. For example, replacing valances that have trumpet playing monkeys on them:

You’re welcome.

Or re-doing what we have dubbed the “Little Mermaid” bathroom:

Shelves…or killer crustaceans? You decide.

I think the shelves are supposed to be seashells. But it looks more like a giant crustacean that is trying to burst through the walls and kill you while you’re bathing.

But these things are minor. And it’s okay if we chip away at the fixes, rather than doing an extreme makeover in one fell swoop.

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. But whether you choose to make them or not, it’s worth considering approaching 2019 – and all that you want to accomplish within it – with a more relaxed feel. The book you’ve always wanted to write starts with one sentence. A series of small successes at work can morph into the coveted promotion. Fitness happens (literally) one step at a time.

Be kind to yourself. Take credit for every advance, not just the major milestones. Tiny triumphs will lead to bigger blessings than you can imagine.

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  • Reply Stephanie Raffelock January 1, 2019 at 9:59 am

    I can so relate to so much in this post — and you know why! 2018 was a year of changes, exhaustion and inspiration, wasn’t it? Love you sweet one. Happy for all of your writing and moving and redecorating successes! Big hug from your friend and fan.

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes January 2, 2019 at 12:28 pm

      I absolutely know you can relate, Steph! 🙂 2018 was a truly crazy year for both of us (and lots of other folks, I suspect)…but I’m happy to see you and your hubby and pup are nicely settled into your new homeland of Austin, TX. I’m a little behind you in that process, but I will find my zen eventually…lol! Love you, too, my friend. ❤️
      Can’t wait to see where 2019 takes us!

  • Reply Susan Krause January 1, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    I miss you, Mary!! I think you’re doing great. A move like yours is overwhelming for event the most organized of us, which isn’t me! You’ve learned the secret to house remodeling: go ahead and find the humor in all before it eats up all your best quips!

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes January 2, 2019 at 12:34 pm

      Miss you, too, Susan! I’d give anything for one of our bookstore coffee dates right about now. 🙂 ❤️ Thanks for the vote of confidence…I’m doing the best I can, and some days that doesn’t feel like enough. But yeah, humor definitely helps. I’m absolutely not a designer, and I actually love monkeys…but who thought those valances were an awesome idea??

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