Solving Life’s Big Problems….. One Small Bag of Sand at a Time

We all have problems to solve. Sometimes they are small…. merely annoying or mindlessly time-consuming.

But sometimes you face problems that seem insurmountable….. those moments where the task ahead creates knots in our stomachs and makes us lay in bed at night—staring at the dark and playing out scenarios in our minds—none of which seem to end in success or happiness.

I am sure that every person reading this blog can relate to such a time in life …. Or perhaps it is not in the past but staring at you today….and the mountain in front of you is steep and rugged and you do not think you have the energy or strength to climb it and even if you did, you are not sure you really want to try.

So, let me share a small story…. one that you should tuck away in the corner of your mind and hopefully, it will give you a bit of encouragement when you face your next challenge.

 My Father and the Sandbox

My father was handy-man type of person and there wasn’t anything he could not do nor build—which explains the picture below—of the sandbox he built for my son Chris.

1978 07

As readers know, I have been working on turning my new “house” into a warm home that my grandchildren would enjoy. Thus, I decided to get a sandbox. I was wise enough to know I could not build one as I did not inherit my father’s talents so I purchased one.

But ……. where oh where could I go to get beach sand?

Wanna-be Sand

Various stores sell bags of “play sand” but it is not soft smooth beach sand…instead it reminded me of dull yellow scratchy pebbles that were crunched up to a very fine powder…..that would never do.

So, I contacted the Great Wizard of Oz behind the Curtain, known as Google, and found a place that sells beach sand.

But guess what—they don’t deliver small amounts of sand to your home!  They deliver dump truck size loads of sand. I did not want to build a sand mountain—I merely wanted to fill a sandbox.

However, they would let you park your car at the sand pile; scoop sand into 5 gallon buckets or whatever you have; pay for the small amount you got; and take it home.

Sand Box Math

Do you know how much sand it takes to fill a 5 x 5 Sandbox? You don’t?

No problem ….. You can Google “how much sand does it take to fill a 5 x 5 sandbox?”. There are multiple sandbox calculator links that will provide you with an answer.

Turns out it takes about 100 gallons of sand to fill a 5 x 5 sandbox.

I had a one quart container.

There are 4 quarts to a gallon.

Which meant I only needed to scoop 400 quarts of sand into various gallon size containers to fill my sandbox.

Piece of cake, eh?

So, early one morning at 8:30 AM before it got too hot, I loaded my Jeep up with two bright orange Home Depot 5-gallon “Let’s Do It” buckets; a couple of other buckets and a bunch of 1 and 2 gallon zip lock bags and drove to the sand quarry and started shoveling sand into bags… one quart at a time. I kept a running list on which I would record each time I put a gallon of sand into a container in my car.

2016-06-10 01 Medium

2016-06-10 02 Medium

I had decided I would make two trips so therefore, I needed to pack 50 gallons of sand into the car each trip. It wasn’t pretty but I made it work!

2016-06-10 03 Medium

I carefully drove home. Then I had another issue. (That should be no surprise to those that know me well.)

I could not lift the 5-gallon bright orange Home Depot “Let’s Do It” buckets out of the Jeep….. hmmm, turns out “Let’s Do It” was a bit optimistic so I had to re-scoop the sand OUT from the buckets INTO the 1 or 2 gallon zip lock bags as the most I could carry and not injure my back is 2 gallons of sand at a time.

And of course, my sandbox is in the opposite corner of my yard from the driveway.

2016-06-10 04 Medium

More Sandbox Math

So, at 50 gallons of sand in the back of the car and at 2 gallons a trip, it took me 25 trips (back and forth) to get the sand into the sandbox.

By now, sweat was starting to run profusely down my face and my neck and other un-mentionable body parts. It was also close to 10:30 AM.

I will confess at this point I wanted to be done with this project and was kicking myself for coming up with this really dumb idea. The thought of driving back to the sand quarry and then shoveling another 200 quarts of sand into bags and putting them into my car and making 25 more trips back and forth to the sandbox in 90+ degree temperature seemed really …. Well….. I can’t tell you what I was thinking but it was not very nice.

Solving Mountain Size Problems

As noted in the beginning of this story, we all have problems to solve. Sometimes they are small and sometimes not.

It is easy to stay focused on the entire problem—and in doing so, you also can create imaginary “what-if” problems which only makes your problem bigger and scarier.

But the truth is this…..sometimes when you are in the midst of a very big project or a very big problem, the only way to handle it is to put blinders on and not look at the entire problem.

You have to look at only what is in front of you. You have to break it up into small pieces.

In the midst of sweat running down my body, the thoughts of making another trip to the Sand Quarry and shoveling sand into bags and walking back and forth—well, those thoughts depressed me and put me in a horrible mood.

I realized the only way to do this would be to ignore the big challenge ahead and instead concentrate just on what I had to do that one little moment…. I had to stay focused on what I had to do right then not what I had left to do.

And when my thoughts would try to wander past that moment, I would pull the images back to where I was and remain focused on the task for THAT MOMENT ONLY…..One small bag of sand at a time.

So I drove back to the sand quarry, scooped another 200 quart buckets of sand into my 1 and 2 gallon bags ONE SMALL QUART AT A TIME. When done, I wiped the sweat from my face and other body parts and headed back.

I will confess that I was pretty worn out by the time I got home. Heat exhaustion was looming. Once again, I did not look at making 25 trips back and forth to the car but I only focused on the 1 trip that I was making at that moment.

And very slowly but surely, the sandbox was filled with sand.

And the End Result……

Several days later, as I watched my grandchildren make mud pies and sand castles and heard their laughter, I realized that the small trips taken one at a time were well worth it.

Those small trips helped me build a play area that will, in the end, create memories that will not be small in size but will be ones that will fill their hearts with big and long lasting memories.

I know that many of you have serious problems and this may seem, on surface, like a small and simple problem…… dragging gallon size containers of sand from one place to another. You may be thinking, “ah yes, Janet, such a silly little story.”

Yet, there is a universal truth here—no matter the size, it is important to cut big problems down to bite-size pieces and tackle them one small piece (or one small bag of sand) at a time……by doing so, you can solve your problem…no matter the task.

And….. as seen below…..the end result will be worth it.

2016-06-10 05 Medium




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s