Step by StepWritten by Teresa Clark
“Every step towards your dream today is a step away from your regret tomorrow.”
Dr. Steve Maraboli
We moved into our home twelve years ago. We moved to give our kids a fresh start. We moved because we knew it was the right thing to do. We left behind a fully finished home we loved for a home in our desired area with an unfinished basement. I was confident in the sacrifice because I was confident we were going where we were supposed to be.
Finishing the basement felt daunting. Big projects are like that. Sometimes there is so much to do it feels terrifying to take a single step. Yet, failing to take a step means no progress, ever. That was not an option. We had to begin. We put in a bedroom for our son. We framed in a guest room. We mounted a toilet in the middle of the space we hoped would become a bathroom. (Hey! It was progress.) We hung sheets around it for privacy. While much of the space was still very unfinished it worked for my teenage son. Soon there was graffiti on the concrete floors, bikes hanging from the rafters in makeshift painting zones, and a TV cable strung across the ceiling pipes. Finishing seemed far from the realm of possibility.
Undaunted, we created a master plan that outlined every single step we needed to take to finish our basement. It was overwhelmingly huge, pages and pages, but it gave us a tick list. Item by item, we would do this! Our son graduated from High School and left home. We finished the guest room only to have a daughter move into it. We framed in the bathroom and gave it walls.
Time marched on. Our son came home and got married. Our daughter graduated from High School and went to college. We framed in a cold storage room and insulated part of the ceiling. We bought doors and hardware. We put in a shower in the bathroom and tiled the floor. Another daughter came back home and moved into the guest room. The rest of the space filled up with construction debris, storage for our kids, and boxes of stuff from deceased relatives.
The years flew by. I wish we had a time-lapse movie of the entire project. I think it would look like the tides coming in and out. We worked feverishly, when we had health and money, or help and energy. We slowed for school activities, surgeries and seasons of paying for church missions and weddings. While it may have appeared to others that we weren’t making progress, we were! Even a tiny little baby step towards a dream is still action taken in the right direction.
We kept working on the list. We insulated more of the ceiling. Our project became a project for everyone we loved. My parents helped clean construction debris whenever they came to visit. Neighbors helped get drywall downstairs. Our son and his wife hung drywall whenever they were in town. Over the years they brought first one and then another daughter with them. We framed in the family room. We framed in the plumbing and ducting. We hung the doors. We framed in a closet. Two more kids got married and moved away. They started bringing their spouses home to help too.
As the years passed our vision changed several times. In the beginning we had dreams of a teen hangout. As our family grew our intent for the space grew too. We wanted a place that was inviting for all the family. We wanted a place where laughter, memory, testifying, loving, and story sharing could easily flow between generations.
Time continued to pass like a stream, ever flowing, never stopping. You get the idea. Suffice it to say it took twelve years! Twelve years of dreaming and planning and working. Step by step, stud-by-stud, room-by-room we dreamed it, we built it, we finished it, and we decorated it. My basement is a masterpiece of comfort and satisfaction. I feel a wave of gratitude every time I round the corner from the stairs.
This summer we’ve had four generations of family and treasured friends create memories in our basement. Laughter, tears, prayers, and pure joy have consecrated our years of effort. Our basement is tangible proof that working towards the goal, one piece at a time, is valuable progress all along.
What goals do you have that seem daunting? Have you broken it down into a step-by-step list? What can you do today that will take you one step farther away from regret?
A national award-winning storyteller, historian and author, she is best known for her original works and recollections of life's experiences blended with history. Teresa has presented and performed throughout the United States. Of her, it has been said, "Charming, witty, soulful, and wise, her performances are filled with a compelling sense of wonder and an irresistable zest for life." Her story work involves performance, education, production, and advocacy. From the main stage to individual consultations in living rooms across America, she delights in the excavation and sharing of family story. Most importantly, she is a wife, mother, and grandmother to her favorite playmates and best friends.
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