Melinda Mae and Eating the Whale One Bite at a Time

Melinda Mae and Eating the Whale One Bite at a Time - Melinda Massie blog


Editor's note: I'm no longer a professional organizer, but this post is SO popular that I'm keeping it up for those who need it.

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Have you heard Shel Silverstein's poem, "Melinda Mae?" If not, here's a quick refresher:

Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would,
So she started in right at the tail.
And everyone said, "You're much too small,"
But that didn't bother Melinda at all.
She took little bites and she chewed very slow,
Just like a good girl should...

...And in eighty-nine years she ate that whale

Because she said she would!


I always had an affinity for this poem.

First reason is obvious - we're both named Melinda. And when I was a child, I too was quite small but could pack away the food.

Not to mention how stubborn I was. If you said I couldn't do something, it was happening.

Much like adult Melinda.


Secondary, my mother's name is May. Sure, it's spelled differently, but I just *knew* Mr. Silverstein wrote this for me.

So why am I taking this stroll down poetry lane?

I was reminded of this poem the other day. I've been stressing the importance of taking small, consistent steps to one of my email coaching clients, and she responded with, "You know how you eat the elephant don't you?"

In that moment, even though I hadn't thought about it in decades, this poem leapt to the front of my brain.

If you're facing a massive amount of  clutter (or any other daunting task), it's OK.

Just as with Melinda Mae eating a whale:

When you take small, consistent steps towards getting rid of your clutter, it will happen.

You will be able to make the clutter go away.

You will be able to clear space and create a welcoming home that you want to spend time in.

Start at the "tail" and systematically work your way through it.

And unlike Melinda Mae, it won't take you 89 years to accomplish.

When facing a giant heap o' clutter, take it one bite at a time. No matter whether others think you can do it or not, I, and Melinda Mae, know you can.

One bite at a time.

Do you have a hard time taking things one small step at a time, or does it come to you easily? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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