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.

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Huntington Beach and why I’m still hbsuefred

Huntington Beach (locally initialized “HB”) is a seaside city in Orange County in Southern California, known for its long 9.5-mile (15.3 km) stretch of sandy beach, mild climate, excellent surfing, and beach culture.  Our little family, Me+Husband+Two Young Daughters (approx ages 2 and 4) moved to a two story house on the end of an HB cul-de-sac in 1994.  We all reluctantly moved away from that home, on a pie shaped lot with a pool + a yard in the back + less than a mile from the beach, about twelve or thirteen years later.  Our girls gained some degree of maturity + some other “gifts” they took with them when we moved but I, their mother, believe I took many more.  The gifts I received there, that I have carried with me in my heart and in my spirit since we left, fall into two general categories.  (1)People and (2)Fitness.

With our girls approaching school age, we made the obvious decision to move from a small house, the first one that Husband and I had purchased together, in a family-friendly neighborhood which was, unfortunately, located too close for comfort to a high crime, gang-infested area.  At the time, I was working, on a temporary/contract basis, for McDonnell Douglas in HB.  While performing due diligence to locate a place for us to move to that was both geographically desirable and affordable, I came across an article in the L.A. Times touting Huntington Beach as “The Best City for Children.”  Decision made.

The house we bought had one of just 19 addresses on Dragon Circle, in one of several La Cuesta housing tracts built in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s in the very desirable neighborhoods of South Huntington Beach.  When we moved in we were warmly welcomed by our neighbors next door since, besides theirs, ours was the only home on the street then that had young children living in it.  Over the next five or so years, the number of homes where young children lived more than doubled and, since we lived at the closed end of the street, the children congregated on the street in front of our house to play while their parents congregated nearby to watch over them.  I wish I could say that all of these similar families, by income, size and just general characteristics, continued to get along with each other over the years, while all the children went to school, played, joined sports teams and Scout troops together.  Sadly, I cannot, but that is a tale for a different post.  One of those new neighbors who moved in with her family became my best friend and now, even after both of our husbands retired and we are separated by thousands of miles, we still enjoy a weekly scheduled hour long (or more) conversation.  Gina and I both look forward to those events, and have visited each others’ new homes, after we both left HB, her for Southern Oregon and me for first Middle and then East Tennessee.

Construction of any kind on the beach is prohibited without a vote of the people, allowing Huntington Beach to retain its natural connection to the ocean rather than having the view obstructed by residential and commercial developments.  Swells generated predominantly from the North Pacific in winter and from a combination of Southern Hemisphere storms and hurricanes in the summer focus on Huntington Beach, creating consistent surf all year long, hence the nickname “Surf City”. The city includes just a small industrial district in its northwest corner, while the colorful and active downtown district includes an art center, a beach-centric shopping district, and the International Surfing Museum. The HB Pier, domain of fishermen (also women and kids), strollers and people and surfer-watchers, stretches from Main Street into the Pacific Ocean. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery is based in Huntington Beach.

The HB tourism website, surfcityusa.com, advises visitors and residents alike to “Mark your calendars for all the fun-filled events Huntington Beach has to offer!  Some of the most popular annual events include the Surf City USA Marathon in February, Annual Huntington Beachcruiser Meet in March, National Professional Paintball League’s Surf City USA Open in April, US Open of Surfing in the summer.”  It goes on to say “You might notice that people in Huntington Beach don’t stay indoors for very long.  That’s because this is a fit, active town where residents and visitors not only spend their days at the beach, but also take advantage of Surf City USA’s other outdoor and natural attractions.  We’re home to Orange County’s largest city parks and… (y)ou can bicycle for miles along our coast, go horseback riding, or even try yoga on a paddle board in Huntington Harbour.

Now, contrary to the way the people in HB are described above, I did stay indoors for very long before we moved there.  Over time, though, even I came to enjoy and appreciate the variety of more healthful and physical activities that I could try just by stepping out my front door.  Actually, I found many new outdoor pursuits to attempt by perusing the free local papers I regularly picked up off my driveway.  So, after determining that I needed to do some good and possibly fun things for me and me alone, for both my mental and physical health, I decided to go ahead and try a few.  So in 2002, I believe, I started training for the Long Beach Half Marathon using its Official Training Program called, appropriately for me, A Snail’s Pace.

The group I trained with met on Saturday mornings at HB Central Park.  The program, at least as currently advertised, offered, besides fun group training, 16 Weeks of Expert Coaching/Training, structured pace groups with safe interval training and an evidence based structured training program to maximize efficiency and minimize risk.  All half marathons are 13.1 miles long. I actually completed the Long Beach Half Marathon twice, as well as a couple of Surf City Half Marathons and half of the first Orange County Marathon that ended with me calling home to be picked up out of a pouring rain!  The course time limit for those distance races, both Marathon & Half Marathon events, is usually 7.5 hours.  I did my first Long Beach Half Marathon, mostly walking with a few very slow jogging splits, in about 3 ½ or 4 hours.  I finished those other distance events plus the Music City Half Marathon in Nashville,  as well as a 5K or two, since then, but that was the fastest pace I have ever had in any timed event.

I had so much fun in that first training program that I was inspired to keep moving even after I finished that first race.  I kept training with that group for a year or two after that but veered off into less formal training with a girlfriend who moved into a La Cuesta neighborhood just a five minute walk away from mine around 2005 or so.  Kathy was a friend of a friend and we had only met each other a couple of times before she moved to HB, the first time when we co-hosted a wedding shower for our mutual friend.  She and I hit it off from that beginning, and our bond was strengthened by other shared factors besides our close geographical proximity after her move.  We both, along with our mutual friend, were purchasing agents working in the local aerospace biz.  Kathy also had two daughters who were close in age like mine, though hers were slightly older, as well as a fairly small family of parents and in-laws and a couple of sisters and nieces who lived in Southern California.  Her girls were active in school and other extracurricular activities similar to mine, and her husband worked a lot of hours in a stressful job, like my husband.

Just by a happy happenstance, when I found out that Kathy would soon become a neighbor, I asked, I think, if she would be interested in joining me for walks in the area.  She was and, looking back and totaling up the time that passed while we took our nearly weekly jaunts, I can hardly believe that they only occurred over a few, possibly three or four years.  IDK why, but the time we spent and the distance we covered on those walks, both literally and figuratively, loom monumental in my memory.  I guess, though, the time flew by because we spent it in mutually rewarding and invigorating conversation.  Even before I moved away from HB, I had begun to miss those talks with Kathy more and more, as she got busier on her job, after being promoted a few times and taking on more responsibility, and as her husband was able to back away from the stress of his job and began biking with her.

As I walked around the HB neighborhoods less and less often, I substituted bike rides along the Santa Ana River Trail, a 12-foot wide path following the Santa Ana River, a waterway that is cement-lined through much of Orange County and begins at a junction with the Huntington Beach Bicycle Trail.  The closest access point to this easy-riding trail was about a five minute ride from my backyard.   When we moved to Brentwood, Tennessee, I tried to find a similar trail or path so I could continue to exercise in the great outdoors.  Unfortunately, no part of this state is flat for any great distance, which easily discouraged me from trying to ride my beach cruiser.  On top of that, there are four seasons here, and two of them are either too cold or too hot or too wet, either in the form of snow, frozen puddles or humidity I could cut with a knife, to comfortably continue this exercise on any kind of a regular basis.  Riding the recumbent bike in the basement is just not the same!

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 Job She Love that Loves Her Back – A Rare Situation for Many of Us Old Farts!

Watch Me.

I used to have one of those, but it was a very long time ago (nearly 8 years but it started 10 years before that) in a galaxy far far away (in So Cal for a subcontractor to one of the few commercial airplane manufacturers still in existence).  You can follow the link above to my happily employed fellow blogger’s post that describes some of the reasons she still loves her job.  IDK, maybe us old farts should all work in frigid Minnesota.  Maybe that environment better preserves nice people?

My comment is based on my more recent experience where most of my older co-workers hated their jobs probably because, like me, they knew they could have done their jobs better and had much more fun if only more of the managers respected their experience and supported the ideas they generated from it.  Instead, unfortunately,  they seemed to often fear ideas that came from old farts like me. If any of our ideas were even actually considered, we seldom heard about it.

FYI my lovely old job was with a Japanese company that also still built a seaplane using a design developed in WWII.  I contend that the main reason they kept me on so long was due to my skill in translating their ESL to semi-technical business English in letters to their domestic suppliers and customers.  These wonderful people always bought whatever my kids were selling for school, soccer, Girl Scout, etc. fundraisers.  They let me use their office supplies when I wanted to be participate as a parent in my daughters’ schools, interests and extracurricular activities.  I received no flak or  hassle when, after 5 years there, I requested a part-time flexible schedule that allowed me to work around school schedules after my nanny started working part-time for a crazy neighbor who didn’t appreciate that I was already paying the nanny to work for me full-time.

I didn’t receive a watch when I left ShinMaywa after 10 years. They just let me pick the venue for my farewell lunch. and I still have the pictures my old boss took of all my Japanese friends enjoying the strange delicacies served at the best Jewish deli in Orange County.

To bring this story back to the watch pictured in the linked post, I have started wearing one again.  I’d had to remove it  on arrival at my last job since it stood between my wrist and the desktop when typing on the computers I used there and, more often than not, I’d forget to take it with me when I left the office each day.  As an Old Fart, I don’t like using a cell phone, which I don’t always have on me anyway, to find the time.  I just have to remember to put my watch on before I leave the house!

 

Trying To Be Brief While Serially Lost Part 1

And being brave – combining two prompts on one post!!

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

What a perfect prompt to describe my relationship with my doppelganger! She was my BFF in college and for quite a few years after. It happened when I told her I was pregnant with my second child. She was the first person that I told after taking the pregnancy test when I got knocked up with my first child seventeen months before. I was 35 at the time. That’s how close we were and how long we had been that close.

My two children had come way too easily when I was way too old to get knocked up while she was having way too many problems reaching the same state. She had been married for a few years and had already had a couple of miscarriages. She and her husband decided to use a surrogate but they were going to pass off this pregnancy to his coworkers like it was hers! Clearly, she was jealous of the ease with which I was popping out kids while she was going to these great lengths to do the same. She was hurt that I couldn’t understand her pain and suffering. That’s how and why we didn’t keep in touch for the best part of 20 years.

I got an email from her on my birthday this year. It was sort of a catch up personally and professionally and suggested we might try to meet in person again sometime. It took me four months to figure out how to respond. When I did, it was with a 596 word email plus a 1,020 word attached letter.

We have been promised that Daily Post will let us know when it’s time to write parts two and three. She and I have been trying to have a phone meet-up for the last 2 months. Parts two and three may be written as a result if the meet-up ever happens so stay tuned for additional brief updates!?

This post is ONLY 400 words. Success!