Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO / Lessons from Grandma Ann

Marjorie Spitz Rento5 Comments

My Grandma Ann always used to say “I do the best that I can.”  I had no idea what she meant.  If you’re doing your best, doesn’t that mean that you’re winning?  Achieving the highest level of success?   Have everything under control and tied up in a nice neat bow?

I’ve grown up to discover exactly what she meant.  Your best is YOUR best, at that particular time.  Not your partner’s best; that friend who seems to do everything perfectly best; or your co-worker’s best, but your best.

Now many people don’t agree with me – they see it as a cop out to not do enough.  Certainly if you’re the type of person who never pushes yourself and does the minimal amount to get by,  do not mistake what I’m saying as giving you permission to slack off.   I encourage everyone to reach for the stars, and my wish for you is to feel the beauty and satisfaction of getting there, whatever it is you’re striving for.  I want that for all of you -- the distinction is important. 

In my case,  I am spending 2-3 hours per day on rehabilitation of my knee;  starting my business, including the launch of two new products (saliva testing and essential oils);  writing this blog weekly;  doing a consulting gig - which was supposed to be 15 hours per week but is really at least double that;  trying to make time for my wonderful husband (we’re married three years today!);  plus sleep, eat, practice my deep breathing and working to maintain good health.   I know not everyone understands.  I’m unable to make dinner or weekend plans with confidence, or even talk on the phone at length with people I cherish and miss.  I haven’t visited my brothers and their families in months.   There are thank you notes I still plan to write (you know who you are!).  The apartment could be categorized as a disaster area – no I have not yet made the winter to summer transition. 

The good news is I haven’t killed the two plants I’ve been given as gifts (I have a black thumb!), my knee is improving daily and those close to me accept me regardless of my imperfections.

I’m doing the best that I can and I am comfortable with that,  even if not everyone agrees.  My husband doesn't understand why I can't empty a shelf that’s annoying him in the bathroom.  It’s not that I don’t want to, I will get there, but there are 100 other things that in my humble opinion take priority.   So I’m afraid he’ll just have to live with a few extra lotions on the shelf for now.   He doesn’t think I’m doing the best that I can, but I know I am and accept that. 

My Grandma Ann was born in Russia (or Poland – we don’t know where exactly with all the border changes).    Her mother was a baker and they survived on little food and their own gumption.  She arrived in the US at around 10 years old and worked hard.  She married my Grandfather, Herman, who was a wonderful character with a propensity to gamble – horses were his favorite.  My parents tell the story of the family sending him to Vegas as a gift – and getting a call before he even checked in to the hotel to pick him up at the airport (he lost it all that fast)!  I remember him as warm and loving – he always encouraged me to be happy and told me I was “the greatest.”  I’m lucky to have grown up with that kind of support. 

They built a bakery business called Phil’s, which to this day people tell me had the best Russian cakes.  My Dad, Aunt and Uncle worked the counter and made deliveries.  Grandma worked day and night, made the best chopped liver, hid the money so my grandfather couldn’t gamble it away, and sent all three children to college, including my aunt – in those days it was more likely the woman got married and became a homemaker.  You’ve got to admire that.

Grandma wasn’t quite a hoarder, but she saved every piece of wrapping paper, plastic bag, sweet and low (from the diner) and even Grandpa’s clothes so she could give away them to us well after he passed.  She couldn’t stand waste, and I get that from her.  

If I asked her about current events , she would say she didn’t have time for that “she did the best that she could” and the family was all she could focus on. 

Winston Churchill once said, "Sometimes doing your best is not good enough.  Sometimes you must do what is required." 

I suggest they could be one in the same.  Doing what is required to get by just might be the best you can do (emotionally and/or physically) at that particular time.  As long as you get back in there and step up your game when you have the bandwidth. 

In the meantime, stop beating yourself up!

Trying your best, and accepting what you can give at a moment in time marks a healthy attitude.  Today, I ask that you do the best that you can, whatever that may be.  You know your limits – go for it! 

And in honor of my anniversary, I will clean off that shelf.  You’re welcome, honey.

With best intentions,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™