Knowing Better, Doing Better, and GETTING IT

As a continuation of Monday’s article, “Knowing Better and Doing Better,” Kathy posed a question.

First, to summarize, I shared that “When You Know Better, You Do Better,” or so says Maya Angelou.  And most of the time, I would hope it works like that.  But in fact, that’s not always the case.  Why is it, that in some cases we know better, but we actually choose not to do better?

After reading the article, Kathy asked:

“What if we really don’t know better?  What if we can state what we should do or how we should be and even tell others what it should look like but we still just haven’t gotten that final experience or aha moment that changes everything for us and now we actually do know better so we can do better?  In other words, we can state it out loud, we can understand it in our minds because we have learned it, but we still just haven’t gotten ‘it’.  I wonder if when we finally ‘get it’, is that when we truly are able to do better?”

Did you follow?  Here’s my response to Kathy with a couple of examples to help illustrate.

I think of a smoker.  He/she knows better.  Perhaps he quit months ago, but he really, really wants a cigarette.  He knows better, I believe he ‘gets it’, but he chooses to smoke anyway.  He weighs his options and makes a trade off – and he does it on purpose, knowingly.  That’s the thing with this FREE WILL we’ve been given.  [Perhaps not the best example, I realize, because it gets into addiction, and that’s a whole separate thing.  So I offer this next example, again as a continuation from the last article.]

I thought of my son and what motivated his actions that landed him in the principal’s office.  It was partly peer pressure (a desire to appear cool in front of a classmate), but also a need to stand up for me;  he wasn’t about to let someone in his grade say something ugly about his mother.

I considered his actions.  How I’m guessing he justified it in his head, then figured he wouldn’t get caught.  He knew what he was doing was wrong, but chose to go ahead.  I believe he probably weighed all of it, and took the risk anyway because it was worth it.

He knew better, chose not to do better, and in my opinion, no, he didn’t ‘get it’.

The part of ‘getting it’, in this example, I believe translates to something different than in the first example.  I think the turning point in ‘getting it’ occurs when he comes to the realization that it doesn’t matter.  Once my son realizes that it doesn’t matter if Little Boy A thinks he’s cool or not and it doesn’t matter what Little Boy B says about his mother having had cancer, then that’s when the shift occurs from Knowing Better to Doing Better, and that’s also when he’ll ‘get it’.

I believe this is what Kathy means by ‘getting it’ – – when one wholly understands the essence of something.  In this case, when my son ‘gets it’, he’ll Let Go, realizing it doesn’t matter and therefore he cannot be impacted by others’ words.

The thing is, for each example you come up with, there may be a myriad of contributing factors: addiction, peer pressure, justice, etc.  The common denominator remains the same though:

I believe when you ‘get it’ you Let Go of assigning your stuff to it, whatever that stuff may be.  You come to Know, on a visceral level, that you are not what others are attempting to cast upon you.

I heard it said this way last week from a woman named Rita, “I no longer think that it’s possible that other people can hurt me.  They’re just giving me their observation and I’m giving it meaning.  And so I get to choose what that meaning is.”

Yeah, I think Rita ‘gets it’.  You get to choose what that meaning is.

And by the way, I think ‘getting it’ goes hand in hand with Trust.

Thank you for the question, Kathy.  Please keep them coming!!  It’s through our sharing, that we continue to learn and grow.

Help Needed

I’ve never been one to take into consideration an action (like riding a bike, for instance) for too long.  (Ideas I can ponder for years, but actions are different.)  I like to sit back and observe, but then, after I’ve made up my mind, I’m off and running, or pedaling, usually with little or no help.

So, the whole concept of asking for help is not very intuitive to me.  As I woke up from surgery week before last, still in the recovery room, I remember trying to reach up to scratch my nose.  Not only were these cumbersome wires impeding my reach, I literally couldn’t scratch my nose.  But it itched.  It really itched.  So I thought, maybe if I try with the other hand I’ll have more luck.  Nope.  I couldn’t raise either arm one bit.

At that point I considered asking the nurse to scratch my nose.  Then I thought better, she had much more important things to do.  But I’m telling you, it really itched.  So, I opened my mouth to make my fatuous request, and nothing came out.  I couldn’t talk.

To get her attention, I decided to move my head from side to side, as if to say, “No”, and sure enough, she looked over at me.  As she stood over me, trying to understand what I was saying, I changed my mind and simply smiled at her.  In that instant I decided that there were going to be many small things I wouldn’t be able to do for myself, some of them would be tolerable and some of them wouldn’t.  This one was tolerable, so it wasn’t worth straining further.  And of course, as soon as I let go of the urgency for my nose to be scratched, wouldn’t you know, it stopped itching.

The following day I was told by a nurse that my catheter was going to be removed and I would have to walk to the bathroom.  At the time, I remember thinking I hadn’t heard her correctly.  Yesterday I couldn’t scratch my nose, and today, she wanted me to walk to the restroom.  I wasn’t annoyed or even disagreeable, I simply chuckled, thinking, “Yeah, right.  That’s NOT happening.”

The next thing I knew, she said, “Breathe out hard on three.  One, two, three.”  She had removed the catheter (on three) and said she’d be right back to help me to the restroom.  Now it set in that this really was going to happen.  But how?

Minutes later, with my husband on my left side holding me up, and the nurse of doom on my right side holding the other arm, they very slowly hoisted me out of bed and held on tightly as I shuffled my way to the bathroom – – approximately six feet away.  I believe it took just under ten minutes, but I made it.

Once in the restroom I had a sudden urge to brush my teeth.  To my surprise, I couldn’t unscrew the top off of the toothpaste.  I simply didn’t have the strength, nor the fine motor skills to do it.  It began to sink in at that point: I need help – – and a lot of it.

All of these months I’ve been writing about Letting Go and Surrendering.  This, however, was a tangible Surrender.  One that I couldn’t learn from reading a book or from listening to another person’s story, but one I had to experience on my own.

So I Surrendered.  I allowed everyone around me to help in any way possible.  And through it, I realized that when you’re experiencing a physical aliment, most often times others don’t know what to do, but if you allow them to help, they become part of the healing process and that’s where the beauty occurs.

Allow someone to help you.  My guess is that your bond will grow, and through that growth, your human connection with another will strengthen.

A Lesson in Trusting by NOT Trusting (Huh?)

The following is a story that was told to me by my friend Kathleen:

Kathleen landed a great job with Bank of America;  she felt truly blessed.  She was in a job that provided good opportunities for her and paid well.  What a great combination.  Except for the fact that she didn’t really like it.  No matter, after eight months, the program she was in was cancelled and my friend was laid off.

Kathleen had always worked to help support and provide for her family;  it really wasn’t an option not to work.  The next 18 months of job searching would prove to be 18 long, difficult, trying months.  She found herself in a downward trending economy, where no one was hiring, and she was feeling more and more overwhelmed as the days/months dragged on.

During this period, Kathleen interviewed with a company she believed to be a “perfect fit.”  She was asked back for a second interview, after which she went home and told her husband that there was NO WAY the interview could have gone better!  She just knew the job was hers.  Until they called and said she didn’t get it.  They decided to go with someone internally, despite the fact that she was the better candidate.

Depression set in.  After months and months had passed, and still no job, Kathleen decided to reach out to an acquaintance she had known years ago, but hadn’t been in recent contact with.  She was greeted on the other end of the phone with, “I can’t believe you’re calling;  I was just talking about you.”  Long story short, she got the job and is very happy there.

So, there you have the story part of this article, the more factual account.  But next, Kathleen shared with me the lessons she learned through this experience….

During those 18 months that Kathleen was without a job, she was able to spend good, quality time with her kids.  She described the time as “crucial.”  Unfortunately, she said that she wasn’t doing it with a joyful heart.

She went on to say, “Some days you trust, but other days you ask, ‘Why me, why is this happening to me?’  It feels like such a roller coaster as it’s happening to you.  Why couldn’t I have just made it a daily habit to trust?”

“The moral for me was if I had trusted, I would have gotten so much more joy out of those 18 months.  I would have been at peace, instead of stress and tears.  I could have chosen to make it a much more uplifting time in my life.”

In conclusion, Kathleen shared, “I wish I would have trusted life.  I wish I could have given it all to Him – – to trust life and let go of it all. I only hope that next time I’m faced with something similar, I will trust.”

At this point, I could say, “Hindsight is 20/20,” or “Everything happens for a reason.”  Both of which are true, but those and anything of the sort would sound much too banal.  So I’ll end with a sincere, “Go, Sister!  You told your story with humility and grace and learned many, many valuable lessons.  Thank you for helping us to learn and grow by sharing your experience with us.”


“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” ~ Lao Tzu

But Wait, I had a PLAN!

The following is a story from my friend Terry:

My husband Joe and I tried for years to have a baby.  I had always dreamed of having a big family, being a stay at home mom, and raising happy, healthy children.  I told people I was only going to college to find a nice boy, get married, and start a family.  My friends thought I was crazy to go to college to find a husband, especially since I was a good student with a high GPA.

Two years after college I met Joe while working at NationsBank.  So much for that part of my plan.

Anyway, back to the ‘trying to have a baby’ story.  First, we did the normal way of trying…just having lots of sex.  Although nice, after a year, still no baby.  I then went to my OBGYN and was told to track my periods, take my temperature to determine the best time to conceive, and to have a lot of sex during those days.  Three months later, still no baby.  The doctor then started me on fertility drugs and had me use an ovulation kit, which is another way to track when you’re ovulating based on your urine.  Again, no baby.

At this point, several of our friends were having babies, which was hard, but not nearly as hard as the couple of folks we knew having babies who didn’t plan on it, or in some instances, didn’t even want a baby!  It was very frustrating.

Joe then went to a fertility specialist; they couldn’t find anything wrong with him.  Then I went through an exploratory surgery to see if anything was wrong with me…nada.  So why weren’t we having a baby?!!?

We then decided to try artificial insemination where they took Joe’s sperm and injected it into me in the “perfect” spot to conceive.  We did that three separate times and no baby.

It had been five years of frustration, concern, anger, and all of the other emotions that come with this sort of experience.  But never had we considered “letting go.”  We just kept searching, knowing that the next ‘thing’ would surely be it.  My plan was not working out.

We were now up to the decision of doing in vitro fertilization, where they take the sperm and egg and put them together.  We thought long and hard, prayed about it, and decided to NOT do the IVF.  Instead, we decided to, as you say, TRUST LIFE.  We decided that since no one could find anything wrong with either of us and there was no medical reason why we shouldn’t be conceiving a child, then it was time to trust in God’s plan, whatever that might be.

At this point, although sad, I REALLY did accept it.  I let go.  Joe let go.

Two years later, after we had stopped everything (with the exception of having sex – – although we didn’t plan it around any ovulation timeframe), I felt “funny.”  I thought it was a female issue, but certainly not that I was pregnant.  My OBGYN, knowing my history, didn’t even consider it either.  I had some stomach pain and just didn’t feel right.  She thought I had irritable bowel syndrome and treated me for a urinary tract infection.

A week later nothing was better.  My primary care doctor asked if we could do a pregnancy test.  I told him my history and assured him that that wasn’t the cause.  When he came back and said the test was positive, I thought he was joking.

He wasn’t joking, and he had an alarming look on his face.  He thought I had a tubal pregnancy which was causing my pain.  He called my OBGYN and I immediately went to her office so they could do an ultrasound.  The drive over was the longest ever.  I was crying because I was so surprised and happy to be pregnant, but terrified that it was again, not going to lead to a baby.  I was so nervous that I didn’t even call Joe, I wanted to know what was going on first.

After arriving at the OBGYN’s office, I immediately was seen, and low and behold I saw my baby and heard the heartbeat.  EVERYTHING was fine and I was eight weeks pregnant!!!

We didn’t want to know the sex of the baby, mostly to add to the wonder of this amazing miracle.  Now here I am, a stay at home mom of a beautiful 6 year old girl in KINDERGARTEN!

Trust Life blog readers, I’d like to introduce you to Kaitlyn: