One Day At A Time: A Tribute to My Late Mother-in-Law

Last week I said goodbye to an extraordinary woman – my mother-in-law.

Diagnosed at nineteen with a rare autoimmune condition, she experienced a slow and steady loss of her physical capabilities throughout her entire life. And she just celebrated her 59th birthday last month.

But as we greeted over two thousand people who came out to pay their respects, I couldn’t help but notice this dominant theme:

· “She was always smiling.”

· “She never complained.”

· “She was so positive.”

And I can attest to all of the above. Never before have I met someone with a healthier outlook on life.

People would have understood if she’d complained though, since on so many levels she had something to complain about. But why didn’t she?

Was it luck? Was she just born with a positive disposition? How did she defy the odds?

Anyone who spent any time with Cathy Coffin will tell you that she took it “one day at a time.” And what incredibly sound advice that is for all of us!

Imagine trying to wrap your mind around being sick for forty years? How would you possibly get through the rough patches with your positive attitude intact? And believe me, there were rough patches.

As outlined in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath argue that one of the best ways to put large obstacles into perspective is to shrink them down.

Shrink the Problem

Cathy’s “one day at a time” mantra is a classic example of shrinking the problem. She reduced a lifetime of physical pain and suffering to one single day. Why? Because she knew she could handle a single day! And the next day she’d do it all over again.

I have borrowed this powerful concept from Cathy and made it an integral component of my work teaching people how to eat real food.

One Meal at a Time

Understandably, most people get a bit overwhelmed when they think ahead to a lifetime of healthy meal choices. My advice: ”Just take it one meal at a time.”

Most people feel they can eat healthy for one meal, and usually they’re right. But if one meal becomes two, and two becomes three, before long they will build up an identity of someone who eats real food.

Just like Cathy built up an identity of someone who remained positive against all odds.

RIP Cathy Coffin