My Colombian grandmother was an amazing woman. She drew people in like a magnet because of her beautiful, warm spirit, and she was always accepting of others. Even when she developed Parkinson's Disease she managed to continue to shine with her funny comments, loving smile, and sometimes just a gentle squeeze from her hand. My grandmother's wise sayings still stick with me today, and many of them can be applied to my life as a mother and wife.
My favorite saying of hers is actually a common one in English, but I grew up hearing it in Spanish:
Algo es algo, peor es nada.
Roughly translated, this means “something is better than nothing.” (I know, it sounds better in Spanish, doesn’t it?)
I’ve begun to use this dicho (saying) in my life in many different areas, especially when I start to feel I’m falling short of my goals. Developing and making progress towards goals is difficult work, and it’s easy to get discouraged when we get “off track” or behind. When I remind myself of my grandmother’s saying, I feel a little more self-compassion and motivation to keep at it.
Here are some examples of areas in which I find her saying most useful:
Exercise: Not getting to the gym or not meeting exercise goals does not mean that all hope is lost. Doing some stretches and exercises at home is better than nothing. Taking the stairs at work is better than the elevator. Even doing a ‘cat/cow’ stretch before bed is going to help unwind.
Relationships: Sending that text to a friend I haven’t talked to in a while is better than letting even more weeks go by. Putting away the laptop and phone and watching TV with my husband isn’t date night, but it’s better than spending a night at home each doing our own thing.
Organizing: Sorting through one dresser drawer while my kids play in their room before bedtime is better than never starting. Making one bag of old toys to donate is better than no bags.
Personal hobbies and goals: Putting a date on the calendar for a trip or night out with friends is better than continuing to talk about it and not doing anything. Uploading the pictures to Walgreens or Shutterfly gets me one step closer to making that photo book.
This simple saying doesn’t get me off the hook, because I still have goals I want to accomplish and things that need to get done. But it helps with combating those sneaky thoughts (“I still haven’t started that project” or “Oh well, looks like that goal isn’t going to happen”) that can sabotage our progress by making us feel discouraged and deflated. When I can tell myself I’ve done something, and that’s actually better than doing nothing, I feel motivated to keep moving.
I hope you might find this useful as well!
I'm Lisa, a mother and psychologist dedicated to supporting moms. Read more here.
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