Sometimes good enough is OK

Or is it sometimes OK is good enough? Either way, that’s the best bit of wisdom I’ve ever received. I even remember approximately when and how this sanity-saving advice came under my purview. I believe it was when I had two small children, a near-absentee husband, a full time job and a large new-to-me house. It came in a rather unique format – a Beetle Bailey comic strip, and it must have been a Sunday one because, although I can’t remember the word order or the situation in which it was offered, I recall noticing the vivid colors when I would occasionally catch a reassuring glimpse of it, pinned to the bulletin board above the kitchen trash cans.

Since I so love to reveal my age, and for those of you who have never been exposed to the Sunday funnies in a printed newspaper, I can tell you that Beetle Bailey is an American comic strip created by cartoonist Mort Walker, who still writes it today, at age 92. Today, after more than six decades, Mort Walker’s creation is still one of the most popular comic strips in the world, and is among the oldest comic strips still being produced by the original creator.

2010_bb_beetle3-192x300The title character started as a college student when he debuted in 1950, before I was born, but was converted to an Army Private, as he supposedly enlisted during the Korean War. Most of the humor in Beetle Bailey revolves around the inept characters stationed at Camp Swampy, a fictional US Army military post. Private Bailey is a lazy insubordinate goof-off and straggler who usually naps and avoids work, and thus is often the subject of verbal and physical chastising from his superivisor and nemesis, Sergeant 1st Class Orville P. Snorkel. The characters never seem to see combat themselves, though Sarge is known to frequently beat up Beetle for any excuse he can think of, leaving Beetle a shapeless pulp (one of the most iconic images in the strip) . Sarge is too lovable to be a villain, however.

beetle baileySarge and Beetle seem to share an uneasy alliance that sometimes borders on genuine (albeit unequal) friendship. In this vein, in an exchange between these two comical characters, that is where I first read these memorable and valuable words, though I can’t remember which one said it. Nevertheless, in one brief shining moment, sometime in the mid-1990’s, I adopted this simple five word phrase as my mantra and guiding principle for all endeavors. What a relief that was! Clearly, while neither Beetle Bailey nor Sergeant Snorkel would have excessively high standards or expectations of themselves or others or certainly of the Army, I was struggling to live up to my own unattainable, if not clearly defined, standards as a mom, wife, career professional and neighbor as well as cook and housekeeper and quintessential California girl, which most of my new neighbors were.

Until then, as the eldest and golden child, the first in my family to have received not just one college degree but two, and the sole producer of grandchildren for my mom and dad, I had generally felt a constant striving for perfection. Then, suddenly, after therapy, yo-yo dieting, uncertain dating results and periods as a self-hating recluse, I was miraculously saved by this thought: Why? Why spend all that time and effort to achieve the perfect result when good enough was in fact enough for nearly everybody else but me. It had only taken forty years for me to accept that most of the people I cared about could and would accept what I did as the best I could do and that, therefore, I didn’t have to beat myself to do more or to accept that fact myself.

In my recent research into this topic, I came across an article titled Why It’s Healthy to Sometimes Settle for What’s Good Enough which hit the nail on the head with this statement. “People who tend to obsess over decisions, big or small, and then fret about their choices just cause themselves a lot of unnecessary grief. People who have trouble making the everyday decisions in their lives cause themselves a lot of extra stress and grief. A study from Florida State University suggests that some of their problem comes from an inability to commit. Even after making a choice, some people are never truly committed to it.” OMG, that was nearly me!

The article did cut me a little slack, though, by noting that there’s a little bit of perfectionist in all of us but some people take it to an extreme when making choices. This is what I used to do all the time, and still catch myself doing occasionally. “People who tend to obsess (or in my case stress) over decisions — big or small — and then fret about their choices afterwards are sometimes called maximizers, while those who make decisions and simply live with them are sometimes called satisficers, a portmanteau combining satisfy with suffice.” Thank God, I can now call myself a semi-satisficer. “Whether these differences are a central and stable part of personality or simply a frame of mind isn’t clear. What is clear is that indecisive people cause themselves a lot of grief that those who are more satisfied with their decisions don’t.” What a revelation!

A study of Florida State undergraduates produced results that were interpreted to show that maximizers still could not commit to their choices, even after were finalized. Their decision didn’t bring them happiness, it brought them doubt and caused them to second-guess themselves. The study also found that maximizers place a high premium on the option of being able to change their mind, even after making a decision. They want to avoid commitment.

“What this all suggests is that maximizers would be happier if they brought a little more perspective into their life and learned to accept minor decisions as final after they’ve been made.” Well, there it is. Sometimes good enough is OK, and sometimes OK is good enough for me these days.

Pingback to Discover Challenge – A Piece of Advice

Five Things This Old Fart Doesn’t Worry About Anymore

http://www.beliefnet.com/Inspiration/Galleries/5-Things-I-Cant-Worry-about-Anymore.

Restating, and commenting where necessary, on Beliefnet.com’s “5 Things I Can’t Worry about Anymore.”  Go to link above for entire presentation.

I’m putting the final slide first, because to me it’s the most important and powerful statement anyone, but especially a young baby boomer and recent retiree like me, can make, and is the first step to happiness at any point in a MATURE life.

“LET IT GO!!… (M)ake sure not to allow certain things in or give credence to toxic behaviors. Letting go of worry should start now not when you’re so hurt and bitter. Let life be enjoyed now.”

Slide 1 says “I was told when you become older that…. (s)ituations like heartbreak, obnoxious people, haters, jealousies, and insecurities will lose (their) grip… (B)y the time we’ve grown up (parts of us may be” emotionally calloused’ (their words, I just think – or at least hope, in our old age – we’ve gotten past all that wasted and unproductive emotion, each in our own ways and to our own extents), so it makes sense that we don’t need to offer an audience to thoughts, or typical assaults (though occasionally we might still have to fight them off, or at least I do.)”

“LIBERATION IS BECKONING!! Mak(e) the decision to shake it off, along with  (beginning the) practice of what will (AND WILL NOT) be tolerated.”

I skipped Slide 2 – “Don’t Let People Control You” because I haven’t allowed that for a long time.

Slide 3 is titled “Insecurities” and starts off by saying “I don’t have time for insecurities, or rejection.” Well, whoever wrote this may not have time for them but, in my own head and in the world in general, they are just a fact of life, so I allow only small increments of time for them. It goes on to say “If there is something that will slow one down fast, and keep you in mediocrity–these two enemies will.” Mediocrity, or at least good enough, is OK with me.

The last and most important point of this slide is one that I heartily endorse. “ If there needs to be healing, take the control and get your house in order, like the mind, heart, and emotions, (acceptance of physical limitations and exercising control over relationships).”

Slide 4 is entitled “Making People Happy” but in my book should be entitled “Make Yourself Happy First. It will make those who love you, care about you, or just happen to be hanging around you happy, too. And If it doesn’t, why should you care?”
I know my substitute title is a long one but it more clearly describes how I feel about my loved ones and the other people who might be around me when I feel like leaving my house. “I don’t have to worry about making people happy all the time. This can be is about relationships, work, or just people in general. I learned (at the same time I decided to embrace my calling as a happy old fart) I don’t need to justify a given situation, life is too short. ‘A lot of people are crazy, cruel and negative. They got a little too much time on their hands to discuss everybody else. I have a limited amount of energy to blow in a day. I’d rather read something that I like or watch a program I enjoy or ride my damn motorcycle or throw back a couple of shots of tequila with my friends,’ Queen Latifah (a mature woman) said.”

Slide 6 is titled “Take on Fear” and includes the same type of clap-trap advice and pablum that appears in just about anything that is written in the self-help vein. Fortunately, at least in my view, I have never, or at least not knowingly except for maybe during the time I was in therapy, seen anything in the way of a fear, named or otherwise, that kept me from doing anything. Of course, I am clearly not someone who can evaluate myself, which is why I’ve always had to hire professionals to do it, or sometimes taken the word of a friend who has not been around me in a long time so is in a similarly objective position to render judgment about all the stuff I may have dumped on him/her all at once.

The best part of this slide says “Don’t squander energy on fear, and procrastination. Use this to an advantage by replacing these with productive thoughts, affirmations, and action.” I may have unconsciously employed these messages to get past my unidentified, unanalyzed and unnamed fears but have still not succeeded in getting past my procrastination. Even though, as an old fart, I logically know that my time is limited, now that my time is really my own, I know that whatever I don’t get done today will still usually still be there to do tomorrow. If it’s not, it wasn’t that important to me in the first place, and my priorities are the only ones that count.

Slide 7 is titled “Put it Behind You” and goes on to say “(i)t’s alright that you’re not perfect, no one is. Embrace the flaws, and start some self-loving. Mistakes happen, shake it off and move on to forgive yourself, and others. This will help you enjoy tremendous freedoms.” That, my friend, is true wisdom. I didn’t know or accept this until my kids were in their teens and I was in my 50’s, but taking this advice has allowed me to be happier with my life and with myself as I am than I’d ever thought possible.

A Senior Trying To Set A Password

old computer

WINDOWS: Please enter your new password.
USER: cabbage
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.
USER: boiled cabbage
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character.
USER: 1 boiled cabbage
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces.
USER: 50bloodyboiledcabbages
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain at least one upper case character.
USER: 50BLOODYboiledcabbages
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot use more than one upper case character consecutively.
USER:50BloodyBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDon’tGiveMeAccessNow!
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.
USER:ReallyPissedOff50BloodyBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDontGiveMeAccessNow
WINDOWS: Sorry, that password is already in use.

Lies Walk the Streets and Honesty Is Not Always Brutal

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Handle With Care.”

This is a direct quote from my mother who doesn’t take her own advice.

Explanation of this quote  When you tell a lie the truth will catch up with you, some way, some how, sooner or later.

Explanation of Mom’s approach:  She thinks it’s OK to tell a “little white lie” if necessary to avoid hurting the recipient’s feelings but more importantly to prevent the recipient from having a bad opinion of her or her family.

Example of Mom’s approach:  Lie to her friend who has invited me to a (surprise) birthday party/open house for her friend’s Chabadnik second son-in-law who I have never met in my life.  Now I love my mom’s friend and appreciate her invitation in this instance and all the prior ones and all the recognition my family and I have received from her over the years.  So Mom lied in advance and told her I had other plans that day, which turned out to be true after the fact.

My preferred approach would have been to tell the truth in the first place, trusting that Mom’s friend knew me well enough to appreciate that I would rather spend the time with people I know and love than with somebody I’ve never met, have little in common with, and would probably never see again as we were both visiting in the area at the time.

I hardly handle anything with kid gloves.  I prefer an honest direct approach.

Old Fart Friday – Oops! I’m so old I published this on Thursday!! Mea culpa

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This comes from Beliefnet, one of my favorite websites and especially good fodder for this weekly feature.
 One of these days I’ll take the time and effort to figure out how to copy and revise so my plagiarism won’t be so apparent.

At  least I have given credit where credit is due.  Full disclosure – I have not yet read the Martin Luther (King) comparison but expect it will be thought provoking for my fearless readers.  The latter term was lifted from or at least suggested by Trader Joe’s flyers.

Who Said It: Martin Luther or Martin Luther King?
Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr. were both celebrated leaders of major movements that forever changed our world. Both gave voice to the voiceless, unafraid to speak up about crucial issues of…Click To View!
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“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”

Reasons vs Excuses

I agree with my friend Paula and would only add the following personal “wisdom”. The only actions/reactions one can control are one’s own. Therefore, after I make up an excuse for doing something that I shouldn’t have and/or that had adverse consequences AND that I blame on something or someone else, I now also state that, while I could not control those actions, I CAN control my reactions to them.

Commit to a Writing Practice Part B – 3 important songs!

1. Roll With It – Steve Winwood

“Just roll with it, baby!”

This is my philosophy of life. It was initially a self-defense and sanity maintenance mechanism.

The title became my theme probably about halfway through my ten year tenure at Shinmaywa (California), Ltd.. I started my full time job there as a Senior Buyer following a one year period of unemployment. SCL provides supply chain management and quality assurance services to support ShinMaywa Industries aircraft production and other special programs in Japan. I had worked on the Space Station program under contract to McDonnell Douglas for three years before that. ShinMaywa (Japan), SCL’s parent company, had a contract from McD to build some major commercial aircraft subassemblies. At that time, I think SCL was hiring just about anybody who had any tenure in any capacity at McDonnell Douglas on their resume, whether that experience was directly transferable to their requirements or not.

During my time at SCL, I bought (or tried to buy) a mind-boggling range of products. I also learned a lot about the Japanese way of doing things, and it was nothing like what I’d expected! They were inefficient and disorganized. They were also some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. Before I adopted “Roll With It” as my theme and philosophy, I had taken to calling my work at SCL “The ShinMaywa California Adventure, an E ticket ride every day!” This was an homage to Disneyland, and anyone who grew up in Southern California before 2000 or thereabouts would know the basis for these references. What I specifically meant was that I never knew what I would be working on or fixing or trying to locate on any given day when I walked into that place. It was fun and exhilarating, much like an E ticket ride at Disneyland, for quite a while. At some point, though, I just couldn’t handle that much fun and exhilaration AND STRESS on a daily basis anymore. That was the point at which I decided it would be better for me to “just roll with it, baby!”

At about the same time, my life outside of work was getting more unpredictable and stressful, too. So, amazingly, I decided that my entire philosophy and way of handling life in general, from that point forward, would be to “just roll with it, baby!” This approach has served me well ever since and I can highly recommend it.
2. Just You and I – Crystal Gayle and Eddie Rabbitt
http://youtu.be/WZ8NWiG3h4Y

This one is a rather traditional choice as it was the song to which my husband and I shared the first dance at our wedding reception. If you click the link for the video, you’ll see the lyrics. My favorite line is in the chorus.

“We’ll be all right, just you and I” is how I felt then, when I was 34 and knocked up (fortunately by my husband), how I have felt through all the trials and tribulations we have gone through (I won’t say shared because we haven’t always) for the last 25 years, and how I feel now that we are finally enjoying our retirement together.

3. Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel

A simple line that’s repeated in this song is the most important affirmation that two people in a loving relationship can give to each other.

“I love you just the way you are.”

It’s what I say to myself about my husband when he’s grumpy and doesn’t want to go out and do something fun with me that I want to do and he doesn’t. It’s what I said to myself when he was drinking too much before he checked into rehab. I imagine he may say the same thing to himself when I’m talking his ear off and probably what he said to himself when I cried all the time for a year or so before I started taking the right meds.

It applies even when one or both or you are not the same as they were when you loved them the way they were before, earlier in your relationship. We have changed, but we love each other just the way we were, just the way we are and, hopefully and maybe most importantly, just the way we will be.

I would tell my children that it’s the promise they will make when they speak the traditional marriage vows, and that it helps to remember that promise and those vows before they think about giving it up or leaving. I know it’s helped me.

Commit to a Writing Practice Part A – 3 important songs?

I have no idea how the description and title of this prompt is even remotely related to writing about the three most important songs in my life and what they mean to me. So I am going to split this into a two part post with relevant tags on each.

The prompt told me to try free writing and gave a bunch of advice intended to let all my fabulous ideas and wonderful words just flow on to the page. Unfortunately, my self-evident truths will not allow me to accept any of this advice because it all runs counter to who I am and how I write. Here’s each point of advice and how I feel about it.

• Keep your hand moving. (Don’t pause to reread the line you’ve just written. That’s stalling and trying to get control of what you’re saying.) No, that’s trying to make sure that what I’ve said might make some sense to the reader.
• Don’t cross out. (That is editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it.) If I don’t edit as I write, the post will get too long and convoluted. I wouldn’t want to read a post that was too complicated or too boring.
• Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. (Don’t even care about staying within the margins and lines on the page.) I draft in Word which does this all for me.
• Lose control. I have, but more around the number of posts I want to write, not what goes in each post.
• Don’t think. Don’t get logical. I’m a German Taurus so I have to do both under the laws of the universe.
• Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.) Gotcha! I’m good with this one. Anonymity helps.

The prompt goes on to say “Just let go” and ends with this quote from Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator

“Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.”

Borges’ first published book included a series of non-fictional essays and short stories, using fictional techniques to tell essentially true stories. Borges also wrote poetry, essays, screenplays, literary criticism, and edited numerous anthologies. His poems embrace the same wide range of interests as his fiction, along with issues that emerge in his critical works and translations, and from more personal musings.

My self-evident truth about the relation of Borges’ advice to my writing is that, since it’s more appropriate for fiction writers and I write non-fiction, it’s not related at all! The philosophical term “Borgesian conundrum” is named after him and has been defined as the ontological question of “whether the writer writes the story, or it writes him.” I can get behind that thought in some of the non-fiction stories I write. Thanks, JLB.