Effort and Outcomes

Happy Friday evening! The Babe and I are watching the Nebraska Rutgers game, who knows where that will take us? It was a good day, I worked on the quilt again, and made quite a bit of progress. It’s amazing how good rest and a new day make the work lighter. It’s the universe telling me to take a time out. You’d think I’d pay better attention. It’s ok, we’re still human here on earth, and we’re learning.

My effort was much better today, and so was my outcome. I would think if you could teach children (even little ones) they need to work to make progress. Work may be practicing dance, pitching, hitting, fielding, gymnastics, music, voice, acting, painting, crafting, writing, whatever. Put effort out, you will see improvement, progress, and your work will seem easier. It makes all the difference in the world.

The daily meditation book I use had a good one yesterday; I’m responsible for my effort, not the outcome. No matter how much we think the outcome is guaranteed if we try a little harder, the truth is, we don’t have that kind of control. Not fair? No one ever said life was.

Matthew McConaughey has videos on Facebook, and probably Instagram, Twitter, whatever. He speaks to life not being fair. He has some very good, sensible sounding talks. They are for graduations, his book “Greenlights,” and other topics. They are common sense, American ideals, and make me stop and think.

I love when younger people can make me think. You should, too. You should love when older people make you think. Our families are now scattered across the country, and it’s not convenient for families to travel back and forth enough to feel as close as if you lived in the same city, state, region. Even those of us in the same state as kids/grandkids don’t get to see them as often as we could before. Most of the bonding among people now happens at sports fields, practice gyms, dance studios, YMCA’s, and such. Last summer, we came to recognize other Grandmas & Grandpas at the baseball fields in town and on the road.

Back to effort and outcomes. In an ideal world, our effort would equal a great result. The outcome often can be affected by outside things we cannot control. For instance, my quilt. I was on a roll, until I discovered the manufacturer didn’t include ten squares of a certain fabric. I could not follow the directions and have a good outcome. Luckily, I had something that would work as a substitute. Crisis averted. Until the next one pops up.

Of course, the meditation book defines effort as following the programs, be it for Adult Children of Alcoholics or Al-Anon, or even AA itself. That is all on your plate. The effort is what matters. You can’t control if your child won’t give up his bad-news friends, or your husband won’t come home from work immediately, or your brother won’t stop drinking even though you are helping him manage stressful things until he gets back on track. They may all have to learn the hard way. The hardest thing is staying in your lane. You have to watch that child do bad things, your husband spend time and money on another interest, and your brother lose everything if that’s what it takes. You cannot save them.

In trying to save them, you can lose yourself. Your mental health is at risk. As you watch them decline, lose their faculties, basic living skills, and any self-respect you thought they had, it’s heartbreaking. I’ve had to learn more than once, I cannot care more about them getting better than they do. I cannot do more to help them than they do to help themselves. The work is theirs. Not mine. Watching co-dependent behavior all your life is what you mimic as an adult.

One of my son’s had a little kindergarten friend who lived across the alley from us. When they played house, the little girl, (who’s dad was a very bad alcoholic), would go into great explanations about, “you didn’t come home from work, so I’ll be mad, and go to the movies with a friend. When I get home, you’ll be mad, and we’ll fight.” I was so sad to hear those words, as what she thinks married life is like. But it’s all she’d seen. I wonder sometimes what ever became of her, and if she had a good life, one better than her family did. Most kids in that situation don’t. There is always hope, though.

It’s nearly for the second half to begin, so we’ll part for now. Make sure you check back tomorrow, we’ll see what’s going on in the universe then. Make sure you put your best effort, and you’ll get better results. Put your mind in it’s right place, and know what is your responsibility. And what isn’t. Be safe out there.

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