I’m doing the best that I can

“I’m doing the best that I can.” How do you respond to someone who uses this as his or her reasoning?  What is the best that anyone can do, and how do I determine whether I am really doing my best – or not?  If I use this as my “out”, is it good enough to accept?

This sounds judgmental even to me, but I have reasons to doubt this excuse. This past Sunday, in our fellowship, our speaker was discussing “a little bit more”.  He did not use the phrase in response to greed or money or material things.  It was used to connect with social action, love, forgiveness, generosity.  Have I done enough? Have I done my best?  No – do a little bit more.  How much is a little bit more?  Just a little bit.  The distance between your thumb and pointing finger when placed close together. An inch. Or a just little bit more.

Many years ago while in sales, our manager advised us to make one more stop when we were ready to quit.  And you know when you’re ready to quit.  Just pick out one more business, make one last call, and contact one more person. That was the defining point (in his opinion) between success and lack of.

Sometimes me must live to fight, love, build, support another day.  This means that we must rest, revitalize, and nourish ourselves to be able to “give a little bit more”. Some days a little bit more may be too much for you.  Sometimes any is a little bit more.  But I know I must be discerning when making this call and I’m attempting to be careful when making this decision.

You could decide that this is setting yourself up for constant disappointment in yourself.  Or you could reason that as long as you tried a little bit harder, you went a little bit further, you loved a little bit deeper, you forgave a little bit greater, you gave just a little bit more (money, time, effort) instead of stopping when you really wanted to, you will experience a far greater satisfaction.  Satisfaction instead of disappointment.  We get to decide.  Have you caught yourself saying, “I’m doing the best that I can”?  If so, I believe you are better.  I believe I am better.

I think this has become my catch-all phrase that really means I’m tired of trying.  I’m weary of the effort I’m putting forth.  That would be more honest in my case.  I’m not doing the best that I can because I’m tired of the work.  I’m tired of trying to give my best when it seems clear to me that my best still will be nowhere good enough.  So where does that take me?

It takes me deeper into me to understand why I can’t give more. Why I’m so tired of trying, why I want to give up. I think it really means that I’m lost as to what else to do – for the moment.  I may not be lost forever, and I may find my way soon, but I’m lost as to what the next step needs to be.  Perhaps if I begin to use that as the reasoning – simply right now I’m lost and seeking direction – and I add that I trust the universe/God to show me the way, I will become better at whatever it is I’m trying to do.  It really is ok to be lost.  In fact, it is likely necessary for growth.

I will trust that guidance will come.  Today I will seek to do a little bit more.  Then perhaps my best can truly shine through.



Mold and Neuropathy

I am not a fan of self-diagnosis or medical criticism that many love to espouse with little or no medical training.  This, however, is a story that resonates with me because of the lack of medical awareness.

We have a very close friend who began experiencing neuropathy in both of his legs about 2 years ago.  This made it very difficult to walk, and he has suffered a vast amount of increasing pain during this time.  He was placed on oxycontin in increasing dosages and likely has become addicted to the pain killer.  To make matters worse, he and his wife live at the coast in a home that is one level off of the ground (flooding issues with hurricanes and ocean water) so getting into and out of his home has been particularly trying.

He has been to numerous doctors in the interim seeking a diagnosis that would provide him with some relief as well as understanding.  Duke, Emory, local, distant – more doctors than I am even aware of.  He has started a new business and had to hire his son to take over his part because the travel was no longer a possibility.  For the last 3 months, he rarely left his house.

Last week, his wife purchased a new washer and dryer.  The installers did a lousy job, and there was leakage.  The floor in their laundry room buckled, and a new group of installers was called in to fix it.  When they pulled up the flooring, they found a massive and dangerous amount of mold.  Wisely, they told our friends to get out of the house, and to get out now.

They moved into an efficiency.  Within 2 days – 2 days!! – our friend was seeing hourly improvement.  Not only did he feel much better, he was out walking for exercise, something that has not happened for 2 years.  This was a tragic mishap that did not need to happen, and no doctors ever suggested that this was a possibility.

If you have friends, family, or acquaintances who have experienced neuropathy, please have them google “Mold and Neuropathy”, and see what explodes out of the information.

We have our fingers crossed that his improvement will continue.  A tragic waste of 2 years, but a phenomenal outcome.

Gratitude List

Many years ago during a tough emotional time and depression, a friend suggested that I do a gratitude list.  At that moment, it seemed such a trivial thing and frankly, a lousy answer to my problem.  After a few days, I decided to give it a try.  I found out that it wasn’t so trivial, and the suggestion helped.  Actually, it did more than help.  I caused me to change my perspective, and assisted in leading me out of a difficult depression.  I think its time again.

1)  I am grateful for a spouse who supports me and is there for me.

2) I am grateful for 2 incredible sons whose lives are going quite well, and who are working on making positive and rewarding decisions in their lives.

3) I have a three wonderful friends who I can call on at anytime, and an incredible sister who offers the same.

4) I have plenty of food each day, a warm house, and a job.

5) My immediate family is healthy, as well as my family of origin.

6) My mom is still living and her mind is strong.

7) I can drive a car anywhere I want to provided I have enough time.

8) I have plenty of money, and with better management, it supports me well.

9) I can read.  And write.  And create.

10) I live in a country that allows me to vote, to disagree with the government without censor (or worse), provides roads and schools and electricity and water for my use and consumption.

I could go on and on.  And on.  When the tough times come, my tendency is to focus too much on the tough things.  Just to pause and to remember that the good outweighs the bad so greatly is an needed adjustment in my perspective and attitude.

The Man Rules

This is hilarious.  Really.

The Man Rules
At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down

 FINALLY, the guys’ side of the story.  (I must admit, IT IS GOOD.)
We always hear “THE
rules From the female side….

  Now here are the rules from the male side.    

These are our rules!
Please note.. these are all numbered “1”  ON PURPOSE!  

 1.   Men are NOT mind readers.

 1. Learn to work the toilet seat.
YOU ARE a big girl. If it’s up, put it down.
We need it up, you need it down.
You don’t hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports, It’s like the full moon
or the changing of the tides.
Let it be.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want.  Let us be clear on this one:
Subtle hints do not work!
Strong hints do not work!
Obvious hints do not work!
Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That’s what we do.
Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.
In fact, all comments become Null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you’re fat, you probably are.  Don’t ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the   other one

1. You can either ask us to do something  Or tell us how you want it done.
Not both.  If you already know best how to do it , just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during commercials..

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings.  Peach,  for example,  is a fruit,  not A color.  Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say “nothing,” We will act like nothing’s wrong.
We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle…

1. If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to, expect an answer you don’t want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine… Really .

1. Don’t ask us what we’re thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as Football  or Hockey.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape.   Round IS a shape!


Self Destructive Behaviors

How do you notice or define your own self-destructive behaviors?  Do you suffer from those, or have you discovered a way to recognize the red flags, and grow past making such choices that bring you heartache and recriminations?

I find that I’m extremely intuitive at recognizing those behaviors of others that I think will land them in the gutter, emotionally, mentally, or financially.  Its always easier to see the forest outside instead of the piles of poo inside.  I am a complicated individual, raised in a complicated home.  Sometimes I ponder on the nurture/nature thing, and other times I think, screw it, this is the way it is.

Because I am a person who seeks personal improvement, and truly despises backwards steps, I’m aghast at the times I self destruct.  Sometimes these moments are related to family crises.  Sometimes health crises.  But I’ve come to believe that when I allow myself to get really really vulnuerable in a relationship, that is my largest red flag.  I don’t often see that flag until way past the time I should have seen its flaming red bouncing screaming self, but when I do I’m usually stunned that I just noticed.  If I could truly internalize the need on occasion for me to take a break – emotionally and physically – from an extremely close relationship, I could perhaps save myself some heartache.  Many years ago, as a member of a 12-step program, I learned the art of seeing the black hole as I jumped in.  I gradually learned to hang onto the edges, and on a rare occasion, to sidestep.  Sidestepping is my goal, if not my ability.

This is a growth of sorts.  For many years, I didn’t notice nor care when I self-destructed.  I think I’ve lived in such a way that at times, I just didn’t think the rules applied to me.  Life rules.  Relationship rules.  If I pursued my path and didn’t hurt anyone (intuit – lied about what I was doing), then it was okay to me.  Its not okay anymore.   Perhaps I’m too old to take the hit when my blood pressure shoots out of the top of my head.

Recently I’ve hurt two people at the top of my priority list.  Because I just didn’t think the rules should apply to me.  I’m not sure what I will take from this.  Someone will read it, and say just follow the rules.  At 54, I do wonder if that is possible.  The rules I break are not laws – I’m not in danger of going to jail.  But the story of The Scarlet Letter comes to me in the night.  I have the need to bake bread for my neighbors who I haven’t treated very well.  As a kind of penance, I think.  But it isn’t them who I’ve harmed.  Somehow, if I can run around making everyone else love me, I can prove to those I’ve hurt that I’m lovable.  Maybe that “A” can one day mean “ANGEL” and not A.S.O.E. 

To one of these people, I have given heartfelt apologies.  For the other, I may have lost a friend for life.  There are important lessons here that hurt like hell.  The lessons are that there are consequences to actions and decisions.  And I too must experience those consequences.  I am not, afterall, above the rules. 

I wonder just how long it takes to really grow up.