Choices: The Grumpy Factor

This week we’re looking at CHOICES

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” ~Samuel Johnson

This experiment in choosing  “flash-kindness” as Roxie so brilliantly labeled it, is netting unusual results (which I’ll talk about tomorrow).

But TONIGHT, I need to address a common thread running through all the comments: “the grumpy factor” as Les aptly named it.

One summer I offered to help an ailing man tend his plot in the community garden. I love the miracle of growing things and its healing abilities.

We were having a good time. I wasn’t prepared when the old guy  leased another plot and promised the caretaker he’d also take over someone’s abandoned plot.

Yikes!! He didn’t talk with me about it. I should have told him I’d only help with one garden, but he’s old. I didn’t feel I could tell him I only signed on for one plot and drive away, leaving him to hoe rows dragging his oxygen bottle. I was tilling, weeding,  and harvesting several gardens (in addition to my own).

After a hot afternoon, watering and picking his 50 (I kid you not) tomato plants (he felt it helped his cancer), I said to Scout, “Doing good deeds makes me cranky.”

“You must do a lot of good deeds,” he said.  Ahhhh…the irritability of doing everyone else’s stuff instead of my own.

So….back to our topic—CHOICE.  Sometimes our choice to help turns into more time/work/money than we expected.  Sometimes it makes us stressed.  No, I don’t think it negates the good deed we’re doing,  but it does make a perfect opportunity for US to be on the receiving end of a kindness.

What do you do when this happens to you?


About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in Appreciation, Choices, Hope, Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Choices: The Grumpy Factor

  1. SusanLS says:

    Well, having a disability does have its upside. I’ve had to learn to say NO. Even though I want to do EVERYTHING, my body will eventually throw me under a snowplow if I attempt it. I’ve had to really struggle with what’s important and what I can let go of.

    Jenny still tries to do it all and I have to weigh in often with my uninvited opinion and tell her to stop. One of my rules is that if you’re doing so much you’re whining about how busy, tired, overwhelmed you are, you either have to give up something or quitchabitchin.


  2. Barb says:

    Yeah, I think making choices is a process of weighing how much time we have to share and what we want to give, without thinking “how it will appear to others.”

    One day, I’ll learn too. Until then, maybe we can help each other?


  3. Lisa Nowak says:

    I usually get frustrated and complain to my husband, who tells me I should stop trying to do so much. :)I think it goes in cycles for me. I’ll get plowed under by obligations so I’ll finish what I’ve committed to then back off from taking more. But after awhile I’m up to my eyeballs again. One day I’ll learn.


  4. Barb says:

    Thanks for the visit Lavanna. Weren’t you shocked when you ran into the old guy’s son at the same office? I don’t know why I’m always shocked when people don’t act like I think they should. I keep thinking people are all the same, but people are different. I guess that’s why the CHOICES are sometimes hard ones.


  5. Barb says:

    I agree with you, I’m a bit wiser now—probably because of that garden incident. I’ve also learned when someone asks me to do something, to pause and search whether I really want to do it rather than just saying “OK” because the “nice” me wants to impress the “crabby” me.
    But I can’t tell you how many boring committees I served on before I got to this point. I’m kind of a slow learner.


  6. My husband and I reconsidered our selfless giving when we took an old codger to the dentist (I had already taken him to the ear doc three separate times), and ran into his son at the same office! The son and the rest of the family were so negligent.
    There are so many of our friends, family members, and neighbors that need help – I try to see that as the area of need.


  7. Roxie says:

    You live long enough, you learn what your limits are. I hate to garden, so I would never have been in your position, but I do tell people what my limits are, without anger if I can. When your friend volunteered for those extra plots, you could have said, “I won’t be able to help you with those. Are you sure you can handle all that by yourself?” And then, of course, comes the driving away and leaving him with his hoe and his oxygen tank. Some people will take advantage of you quite unconsciously because they are so caught up in their own lives that they don’t realize that other people have lives that are equally important and complicated.

    Can you somehow adjust your attitude or perspective so that a resented duty can be a gift, or a learning opportunity? If not, I’d say, give it up. Why do a kind act with a bitter heart when there are so many other opportunities for kindness that will be enjoyable? Like visiting your friend in the nursing home.

    It’s your choice.


  8. Barb says:

    Thanks Rose for your example. I’m guessing it’s a matter of CHOICE. I suppose each person has a different level of giving before it gets to be burdensome. But, you’re right. At times, and with some people, we have to draw the line. As you point out, even that may be a kindness.


  9. Doing good deeds is one thing, but you also have to learn to draw the line when someone starts to take advantage of such kindness.
    I was helping someone once a month with their small garden and then she began to call and ask for more favors. Before long I was spending 3 days a week helping her. Now, she had a son who was in his early 40’s who would sit on his ass watching TV and never even help (except for lifting his feet when I vacuumed). One day I asked her why she did not ask him to help out around the place, and she remarked that he was depressed since he lost his job and had nothing to do. My response: Tell him he could have lots to do! He can help you by doing the chores I was helping with.
    She quit calling. I felt a little bad but realized that he should be helping her, not me. Maybe he would gain more self respect that way. Maybe that was my good deed to him.
    When and where do you draw the line???


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