Saturday, December 30, 2017

You. Can. Do. Better. Than. That.

I've sat here staring at the screen for at least 15 minutes. I wasn't sure how to begin this blog column. Should I start with, "One of the biggest lessons I've learned this year is..." Or, "I have learned quite a bit this week." Other starters came to mind as well. Finally, I thought, "Lisa, just start the damn blog column. Do it. You can always edit later." Okay. That's what I did. Here I am.

Today has been a catch-up day. Lisa ran errands and tackled grocery shopping. I was home cleaning and organizing the biscuit craft room. When Lisa got home, she organized our bathroom shelf and started laundry. I cracked open a bottle of wine. We organized the closet in the biscuit craft room together.

While Lisa was running errands and I was cleaning the biscuit room, a single sentence repeated itself in my head.

"I have learned a lot over the past few weeks..."

The entire year of 2017 has been a learning experience, as with each year prior, but the past few weeks. Even more so. It's been like a wrecking ball smashing through the walls of the home office and knocking me off my desk chair.

At this point, I probably should admit that during the first couple of days of December, I asked the Universe a lot of questions. I needed some guidance.

The Universe wasted no time in answering those questions, doing a few shimmy shakes, and shifting a bit. What made this time around different is that the answers and guidance weren't subtle. It wasn't along the lines of, "Think about it. Do what's best. Go from there."

I didn't expect such a myriad of wrecking-ball-style answers, but I was ready for 'em. Well, sort of.

This time around, the Universe wasted no time. It was as if the Universe was in my face, hands on hip, and speaking in a firm voice...

"Lisa, I've given you guidance over the past few years. You've adhered to some. The rest, you put on the back burner. You wanted to give people the benefit of the doubt. You wanted to embrace the best-case-scenarios. And, for the most part, you did. With a lot of stuff, you made it work. 

However, look at you now. Where you're at. What you're still doing or not doing despite your best efforts. Take a look at where and how you're distributing your efforts. The false hopes that have let you down time and time again. The people who have let you down. The ones who will never include you. The ones who continuously think their busy is more important than yours. 

Think, Lisa, think. You can't keep going down the same path. I've heard all of your questions. I've given you the guidance and answers you need. Okay, I'll admit, most was abrupt, but that's what you need at this point. Take that. Learn from it. Do not put it on the back burner."

What comes to mind at this point is someone I went to school with. She married her high school sweetheart. They were best friends. Soulmates. Partners in life. Parents to wonderful kids. Earlier this year, her husband lost his battle with cancer.

I've kept up with her Facebook posts. In the months to follow, her updates intrigued me. She's been blunt. She has not been hesitant to reach out and ask for help or recommendations. She has been very honest about her struggles since her husband's death. More so, she's had a certain approach to what she needs and what she doesn't need or want.

For example, when a specific date approached that weighed heavy on her heart, she clearly stated what would help her get through that day. What stood out the most was her candid approach as to what would not be helpful to her in the least bit.

I don't remember her exact words, but it was along the lines of, "Don't reply to this post or send a text extending your thoughts, prayers, or encouraging words."

She stated, "You can do better than that..."

That Facebook status has stuck with me since.

You. Can. Do. Better. Than. That.

I'll even go a step further and admit I've white-knuckled not only that one sentence but the amount of courage it took for her to say that. Publicly. And to not fear how people would respond. To put that out there. To let people know that a simple response or text wasn't good enough.

You. Can. Do. Better. Than. That. 

During the month of December, I've applied that mind frame to a lot of situations. Instead of trying to justify things or make excuses or fall into the old trap of letting it roll down my back, I simply thought, "You can do better than that..."

You know what happened?

I felt empowered. I didn't feel the need to make up excuses for everyone else in order to ease my disappointment with them. I didn't allow someone else's "busy" to be more important than ours. I didn't allow anyone else's life to be more stressful or chaotic than ours. I didn't settle for people's excuses. Instead, I dodged their excuses and kept a single sentence in mind...

You. Can. Do. Better. Than. That. 

This past week was a very trying week for both Lisa and me. You can read about that here. In short, Lisa went into work for 5 a.m. and wasn't getting home until 7 or 8 p.m. I was pulling double duty. She was exhausted. I made sure to have everything done for when she arrived home from work. On both ends, we were both still trying to recover from the hustle and bustle of the past couple of weeks including hosting 2 holiday parties, baking over 2,000 Bodacious Holiday Biscuits, getting Lisa's woodshop put together and organized, making 2 DIY Doggy gates, and spreading a ton of holiday love and cheer.

Due to chronic pain, I was barely able to stand up straight and walk. During the process of doing housework and taking all of the indoor Christmas decorations down, my back and leg gave out several times. In addition, I went through the entire biscuit and craft room to clean and organize it.

We both busted some serious ass this week. It took everything we had just to get through the week. Lisa was beyond exhausted. I could barely walk. But, we did it.

Lisa and I make a great team and we balance each other quite well.

The light at the end of the tunnel was our neighbor friends who invited us over to share their New Year's Eve and New Year's Day festivities. Their house is the next house down from us. For the first time since we moved here in July of 2012, I didn't have to worry about hosting New Year's Eve or New Year's Day festivities.

To clarify, when I say, "I didn't have to worry about hosting New Year's Eve or New Year's Day festivities," I'm not saying that in a negative way. Lisa and I have both enjoyed having festivities here at our home, but after this week, it was a relief that we didn't have to. That's how challenging the past week has been.

Our neighbor friends, who have become family to us and extended both of those invites, are obviously excluded from my current "you can do better than that" mind frame.

The rest...well. 

I expressed via Facebook what our week was like. How much work I had to do. The lengthy hours Lisa was working.

We had plenty of stuff to make dinner for our kids, but throughout the week, I ran out of stuff to make dinners for Lisa and I. Our cupboards and refrigerator were almost bare. I had to get creative for Lisa's breakfast and lunches throughout the week.

I wasn't going to ask her to stop at the store after working a 14 hour day and not getting home until 7:30 - 8:00 at night.

Throughout the week, I kept thinking...

How many times have we made dinner for others?

How many times have I made soup for people who had fallen sick? Or meals when they've been injured or unable to conquer basic tasks?

How many times have we put in the extra effort to do this or that for those who had a challenging day or week?

When we do these things, we don't expect anything in return.

We do it out of the kindness of our hearts.

We do this despite our workload or busy and chaotic life.

More so, we do it without asking.

We. Just. Do. It. 

Because more often than not, when someone says, "If you need anything, ask..." most people aren't going to come forth and say, "Hey, can you pick up a few groceries for me" or "is there any chance you could have us over for dinner or bring dinner to us?"

But, it seems as if, in this day and age, typing a quick response of, "if you need anything, ask..." is a quick and lazy alternative. Not only does it alleviate you from the possibility of having to actually do something, it's a guarantee that you're in the clear. You're off the hook. You offered. If they don't ask, or take you up on their offer, well, that's their problem, not yours, right?

To think, "if I were in their situation, what would I need or want..." and then going from there requires too much effort. Maybe you're on vacation. Maybe you have the day or weekend off. You don't want to be bothered.

You. Can. Do. Better. Than. That. 

Most people don't ask or admit when they could use a helping hand.

The same holds true for us. 

If I can barely walk by 4 p.m. and Lisa isn't getting home until close to 8 p.m., and that's happening all week, there's a good chance a little assistance would be more than welcomed.

I'm not going to ask for your help.

I'm not going to get any relief from the "hope you feel better" and "we're here if you need us" responses.

And, I'm certainly not going to get all warm and fuzzy when you're on vacation and give crappy excuses as to why you couldn't be present. Putting in a little effort. Taking a few steps back and reflecting on the times when people were there for you and how good it felt and what a relief it was that someone stepped in and just did it.

You. Can. Do. Better. Than. That. 

Going forth, I'm going to remember the ones who have been there for us, especially during this month. I'm going to remember those who were under the impression their busy was more important than ours. I'm going to remember those who couldn't take a few hours out of their week off to provide a little relief from us.

Maybe that sounds harsh or slightly vindictive. That's not my intent.

In 2018, my attitude is going to shift. Where I distribute my efforts will shift and change.

Some will like that. Some won't.


It's all in response to what happened or did not happen this month. The efforts that were extended to us and the efforts that weren't. The ones who came forth and just did it instead of taking the easy way out and replying with a 5 second, "I'm here if you need me...." response.

While that stance is a little awkward for me and the territory is a bit unknown, I'm going to stand there. Strong. Adamant.

You. Can. Do. Better. Than. That.

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