The big picture - a thought for caregivers and anyone else who wants a happy life

The picture on the left is the end product of a cross stitch project. It was a Christmas present and I spent uncountable hours working on it with love. When it felt like I might never get it done, it was love and determination that kept me going. It literally has part of me woven into it because some loose hairs occasionally got entangled in the threads.

The picture on the right is a teeny tiny section of the graphs I was following – each square on the graph represents a square on the canvas and the icon shows which colour thread to use. For the most part, I was concentrating on one small section or where to use the colour thread I was currently working with. I always knew which approximate section I was working on, but often didn’t know exactly which element – I was just putting the right stitch in the right place, trusting that it was part of the overall design.

Keeping an eye on the big picture

Occasionally I’d stop, hold the picture in front of me and look at how the section I was working on was turning out. Sometimes I’d pull out the picture of what the end product was going to look like to remind myself, and see how my current patch fitted in to the overall image. Other times I’d make an estimate as to what proportion I’d done, and what proportion was still left to do.

This happens in life too – we start with a big picture of what we want and start following a pattern or set of instructions. To get to a smaller size we start following a diet. To get fitter we start an exercise programme. To learn a language we begin a course. Then we embark on a routine of counting calories, doing the workouts, listening to the next lesson – the individual steps along the way.

How often do we stop and check our progress and / or remind ourselves of the big picture?

Checking our progress does two things: - allows us to see if we are on track or have veered off - and then we can get back on track / change things around if we feel we need to

- Shows us how well we’re doing and how far we’ve come – and then we can recognise our success and use this to spur us on

Reminding ourselves of the big picture does two things:

- Let’s us do a little check-in on whether it’s something we still want

- Inspires us to keep doing to little steps along the way

What about you?

What are you currently working towards? When is the last time you stood back and looked at how you’re doing / how far you have come / whether you still want to be aiming for it? Have a think about it now. What will you do differently tomorrow?

When my in-laws started to need care, I knew how to look after both them and myself – because I’d got it so wrong in the past, when my other half was signed off work with stress and my life was turned upside down too. These blog posts are mostly based on the things that helped me, the lessons I learnt the hard way and what I realise with the benefit of hindsight would have helped. I’ve collected some of the other key learning points and tips and made these available to download at

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