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One step at a time

One of the most important lessons you can ever learn is this. One step at a time. It's a lesson that will bring you through almost anything.

It doesn't really matter how big or challenging a situation may seem to be. There is always a baby step you can take that will generate some momentum and that if you take it, will bring you to a place where you can see with improved perspective what the next step is, and the next.

I say all this with complete authority because I have proved this lesson in my own life and, of course, you have too. All we have to do is observe nature. Nature doesn't make a tree in a single giant bound. It starts small. It begins the process with a seed, a seed so small you might think how can that ever amount to anything?

How JoAnn and I got started

Since my wife, JoAnn, and I got married 15 years ago we have built a life together that we love and that is a true boon to each of us in our latter years. But it began, like any relationship, as a tiny seed, and has taken a ton of baby steps to arrive at the place where it is now.

At the time we first become aware of each other, JoAnn lived in Denver, and I was living like a hermit in a small room in an apartment block in Vancouver, British Columbia. I was in my 60’s and in a complete funk about what to do with my life following the collapse of the spiritual community in BC that had been my home for 36 years.

A long-distance relationship

I met JoAnn in 1995 at a retreat in Colorado and we began a long-distance relationship. It was interesting, it was challenging, it was wonderful. It was one baby step after another. We went for a holiday in Hawaii and it worked out okay, except that JoAnn tried to drink all the champagne the first night. We were more ambitious and went to UK to visit my Dad, then in his 90’s, and except when JoAnn tried to help in his kitchen it worked out okay too.

We got even more bold. After we had been corresponding for a while we decided we wanted to live together, but I didn’t want to come to the US illegally, and JoAnn couldn't move to Canada because of her allergies.

We were in a situation so many people have been in. Then JoAnn offered to “sponsor” me for a temporary visa that would allow me to move to Denver and live with her for I think it was 60 days, at the end of which time we would either be married or I would need to return to Canada.

“It sounds drastic”

We had progressed to a certain point in our relationship but what we were talking about now was a big step. It wasn’t a baby step at all. I remember talking with a friend in BC who shook his head and warned, “It sounds drastic, Chris."

I had to agree with him. It was drastic, as real change usually is. I had lost so much that was familiar and that had given me my “roots,” a sense of community, a sense of home, a marriage that had ended with sudden death and bereavement.

If I moved to America I would lose even more of my “roots” – wouldn’t I? But on the other hand, it might make it possible for me to put down new roots I couldn’t even imagine yet.

We both took one step at a time

One step at a time. I thought about it, and agonized about it, and then one day I decided, “Why not at least apply for the entry visa? There’s no harm in that. See what happens. They may not even want you in the country.”

It was a baby step but a manageable step.

At the same time, JoAnn, of course, had also wrestled with what was a very big step for her, opening up her small home to me, sharing her precious resources, satisfying the authorities that she could and would sponsor me.  But JoAnn has always been very good at taking “one step at a time.”

It’s the only way to live

One step at a time. It’s the only way to live. What other way to live is there? As I've been trumpeting for weeks now, I have a new book in the works, Aging into Bliss. I’ve been talking about this book and thinking about it and working on it for what seems a small eternity. Actually launching it into the world will be exciting but also scary.

But – I remind myself, and JoAnn reminds me -- one step at a time. Maddi, the wonderfully talented designer who has been designing the book for me will send me the finished PDF version any day now and then we’ll see what the next step is.

Actually, I think I know what the next step will be. I’d like to forget about the book for a few days. It’s been a lot of work, and a little relaxation would be fine by me.

How about you? What baby step -- or big step --are you taking in life right now? I’d love to hear from you. Your life is important to me. Best wishes and please write.

Picture credit: sean dreilinger



{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

sheila September 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Good day Christopher
One of my quotes I have posted on the fridge.
“Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience…”
As we will soon be awaiting sponsorship, immigration etc etc it’s not a bad way of thinking..still hard to be patient, wanting things now no matter what it is. But all great things in our lives do take a little time to accomplish and when they come to be it’s just that more wonderful to have….
Your words today are a glimpse of my own life…delighful to read.
good day to you and JoAnn


Christopher Foster September 29, 2012 at 9:06 am

Thank you Sheila, what a great friend you are, and of course I love the quote on your fridge. You’re right, patience isn’t easy sometimes. But as you say, the fruits of patience are very, very, VERY sweet. I do wish you all the very best in your endeavors and adventures. Things are going to work out beautifully.


Priska September 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm

One Step at a time is the only way to live. Especially when undergoing life’s huge turning points.
I have used the one step at a time technique for many years. Whenever I have been confronted by overwhelm or not known how or where to start, I always tell myself to stop, break it right down, then ask, “what is a small step that I can take?” It might be as simple as a phone call. Once the call has been made, the overwhelm melts way and a new journey has begun.
Priska recently posted..Your brain won’t retire if you give it a rewire.


Christopher Foster September 29, 2012 at 9:21 am

You express yourself so clearly Priska. Your words are very helpful and inspiring, and filled with the authority of your own experience. Thank you so much for sharing this strong personal testimony. Life doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as we sometimes think, does it.


Rick September 28, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Although I enjoyed your entire post, the part that I actually know in my own heart is speaking with authority because you have lived it. Many, including myself, have espoused the great wisdoms we have heard from others. Authors, speakers, those that have a spiritual sense about them. What I know is that they probably do really know in themselves what they are saying.

Life will challenge me when I claim to know something and if I haven’t really earned it in my own heart, I will fall on my face. Too bad because its fun to sound as if I am so very spiritual. So, much of the time, I shut up.


Christopher Foster September 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

Thank you for your touching words Rick. Yes indeed. Life can spot pretense from a mile away. It’s a trickster, in a way, don’t you think. On one hand it challenges us, just as you say, when we err or get off course in some way. Yet on the other hand, life is on our side and genuinely wants us to succeed and flourish and fulfill our destiny in this world.

Best wishes to you Rick. I honor your concern to be genuine and true to yourself no matter what it takes.


Luisa September 28, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Chris, again your words are so attuned to what our family is going through right now. We just lost our dearest and most loved brother Henry and although we take comfort in knowing that there is no pain in heaven the weight of our pain only allows for “one step at a time”. Thank you for reminding us, the pain will ease as we follow the grieving process slowly and patiently.

Wishing you all the success and looking forward to the release of your book. Best regards, Luisa


Journeyintopoetry September 29, 2012 at 3:18 am

Christopher, what a wonderful post and what a truly lovely story you have told us here!

Wow! One step at a time has never been more relevant to me than now as I come to terms on a daily basis with a chronic condition which is hurtling along rather faster than I can keep up with. Sometimes those steps have to be taken minute by minute in order to process what is going on.

But i am finally reaching a stage of accepting a”new normal” in the knowledge that my old life is what it was and now I have a new one, a very different one but at times I can honestly say more fulfilling.

I have just put a collection of my poems into a small book which is about to go to the printers. It should all be done ready to give to my family and friends as gifts. If you would be prepared to give me your address I would love to send you one.

Poetry has been my saviour since my diagnosis and I never thought it was possible that I could utter a word! I am not a poet but writing poetry has saved me from going into a depression I felt I could be heading towards.

Despite all that is going on with me and this pernicious condition I am finding a peace I am not sure I would ever have attained otherwise

Much love



Christopher Foster September 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm

What a privilege to share your brave journey Christine and also to share your love of poetry. Poetry has been the big love of my life too or one of them ever since I was young. I would be honored indeed to receive your poetry collection and I’ll send you my address directly.

My heart goes out to you Christine. You are an inspiration. Reading your words and especially your closing comment I am reminded of something I think about sometimes. There is a law of compensation at work in life, I believe, where sometimes excruciating circumstances do indeed open a door to a truth and peace we might otherwise have missed altogether.

Thank you for your comment. I do wish you very, very well and I’m with you in your journey. Blessings and keep the poetry coming.

Christopher Foster September 29, 2012 at 9:59 am

I am so sorry to hear of your loss Luisa. I send you love and heartfelt condolences in this difficult, wrenching time. I am glad you are not trying to sidestep the pain that you feel and I admire your patient, resolute approach. Life can be trusted. Healing will come. Take care and God bless.


Carmelo September 29, 2012 at 8:53 am

Hey Chris,

Mostly just a hello and a thank you for sharing your story. And I also loved the picture you chose for your post! I’ve adopted the one step at a time life-style. It’s a constant thing regardless of what is going on. It’s all we have, after all … the current step.

Have a great weekend! 🙂
Carmelo recently posted..Changing the World


Christopher Foster September 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Good to hear from you Carmelo. Thanks for your comment and you have a great weekend too.


Beth Wilson September 29, 2012 at 8:55 am

Hi Chris,

What a beautiful love story! I am so reminded of three years ago about this time when, with less than six weeks lead time, I made the drastic decision to move from Missouri to Texas to be with my love. People said I was crazy, and sometimes I think love creates that perception. But I HAD to take the step; to not take it would have meant spending the rest of my days wondering what my life could have been. And THAT is a step I wasn’t willing to take, so for better or worse–and today, life is good–I am a Texan!

Love to you and JoAnn!
Beth Wilson recently posted..Balance Point: Where Intention and Integrity Meet


Christopher Foster September 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Great story Beth. Thank you so very much for sharing it. Yep. You were true to yourself and your own integrity there’s no other way to go is there. So hey, you’re a Texan. And life is good. Honored to know you and look, where do we stand re guest post? I meant to get back to you before on this.


Nalini Dharanipragada November 19, 2012 at 5:31 am

Hi, I asked a question on Google and your site was the first to come up. My daughter is just recovering from a difficult phase in life and it will take several more months to go back to college. I though I’ll boost her morale with some sympathetic vision. Your site is awesome. The picture on your post is apt. Thankyou for posting your story. It would help millions pass through life with joy.


Christopher Foster November 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Thank you for your beautiful and touching comment Nalini. I do hope your daughter will recover soon and I send love and best wishes to both of you. You’re a loving Mom indeed. Could I ask what your daughter is studying at college and what her goals are?


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