Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Our Land – Trying Our Best

Hi Friends!  Today, I’m pleased to welcome Anita Sullivan of Losing Austin, Finding Myself. Anita is a talented writer who shares inspiration, wisdom, occasional sadness and everyday funny moments spent with her two boys, her husband and her community. She also blogs about losing her brother Austin, who went missing in 2007. She and her family have no idea what happened to him and continue to hold hope for answers. The unknown of it all just breaks my heart. I can’t imagine the not-knowing. For more information about Austin and his missing persons case, visit the website they maintain for his search, Find Austin Davis. In the meantime, enjoy Anita’s amazingness by reading her Our Land submission (that has nothing to do with her brother Austin):

The Land of Trying Our Best

In my land, we follow this one rule above all else:  Assume that people are doing their best and have a story that you can’t know the depths of, that shapes what you see.

I try.  I really do.  To be a good person, a good friend, a good mom, a good employee, a good manager, a good church member, a good baseball mom, and the list goes on… And as a whole, I do okay.

My husband tries, he really does.  To be good at all he does, including parenting and work and coaching and volunteering.  And as a whole, he does pretty well.

My kids try too, they really do.  To be kids and enjoy life, and listen and grow and play hard and be good friends.  And they do awesome at it.

But some days you may see…

Me running out the door late with wet hair, my kids having no breakfast and not prepared for school and grouchy, my husband in bed all day, and us cancelling plans on you.  Those days, we don’t hold up to the Pinterest/HGTV/Facebook/Instagram/Parents Magazine/Pottery Barn Catalog ideal.  Heck, we never really do, even on our good days.

And we see the looks and hear the jokes, and sometimes even see the pity in your eyes.  But I tell myself that we’re still going, and that counts for a lot.

Because what you don’t see…

My husband didn’t sleep much last night and woke up very ill for the 6th day in a row, so ill that we debated hospital or no hospital (after six weeks of not knowing what days would be good and which would be bad).  And yes, we know what he “has” but there is no “fix” and we’ve have about 30 of these hospitalizations, so we’ve gotten pretty good at knowing when it’s necessary.

That I got home long after my kids’ bedtime, arriving on a late flight from a client meeting and overslept out of exhaustion.  And yes, I have considered a job that didn’t require travel, but not only do I have a job I’m good at and enjoy, our family relies on that job to meet out needs.

That my oldest was sad that his dad missed him pitching last night, but has dealt with a sick dad his whole life and understands sacrifice and helping out, and is proud to be needed, so mature for his age.  And yes, baseball isn’t everything, but having your dad there for big moments is.

That my youngest is wild and fun and full of energy, but managed to sit quietly for an hour when told his sick daddy needed him to be quiet for a bit.  He gave him a hug.  And yes, it doesn’t seem like much, but if you knew him, you’d know that it is a small miracle.

In our land, when you see us late, wet, unprepared, exhausted or absent, you’ll assume that we’re doing our best, and that our best is pretty darn goodYou wouldn’t assume that we’re lazy, uncaring, selfish or poor.

In our land, you’d understand that whatever we tell you is only the tip of the iceberg, and there is so much more to our troubling story.

Our land has quite a lot of people who know our story and step in to fill the gaps when we need help.  My mom is the hero of our world, who makes so much of it possible.  Our friends have become family, offering much more than you should ever need to ask of a friend.  They make it possible to bear the others, the ones who make judgments and cast a rolled eye or snide remark.

But I dream of a land where we don’t have to know someone’s story before we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are doing their best.  In Our Land, we offer a heartfelt smile and a kind word, knowing they may just need that small gesture to take their next steps of the day.

Their story, your story, they may not be like mine.  But we all have one.  And on any given day, many of us are struggling with something.

Join me in Our Land, and tell me your story.    And in the meantime, I’ll know you’re doing your best.

The view from our hospital room on Christmas Eve 2012, where we celebrated Christmas as a family.

CHILLS to Anita’s “we’ll know you’re doing your best,” right? Anita’s husband suffers from Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, which means that many of her posts are written from hospital rooms. I love her version of Our Land. Don’t you?  Here’s a bit more about her:

Anita’s Bio:

Anita Davis Sullivan shares her story at, working to show others that there is Hope in any darkness they face. She is the sister of a missing person (, wife to a chronically ill husband (and disabled vet), mom to two boys, God lover, baseball cheerleader, overdoer, wannabe healthy eater, juggler, software product manager, and at least 82 more things.

  • Undiagnosed but okay - Kristi, you said it best. I have CHILLS on my arms right now. But at the line of In our land, you’d understand that whatever we tell you is only the tip of the iceberg, and there is so much more to our troubling story.

    It is so true. What we share, on our blogs or to our friends or GASP to our loved ones is only the miniscule tip of our personal iceberg. And it is always what is hiding underneath the water that brings us to a shuddering halt.

    Anita, you are so correct. We have to stop asking/wanting the story and just say, Hey I know you are doing your best.

    Awesome contribution to Our Land.August 28, 2013 – 9:54 amReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - I, too, love Anita’s land and must say I think we all need to judge less and just be more understanding that others have their own issues in life to deal with. I can’t even imagine having a sick husband, nor do I want to, but still god bless Anita and all she goes through to get by. That totally counts for so much and then some in my book!August 28, 2013 – 9:54 amReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I am in awe of the grace with which you are handling the challenges in your life. I find it is so hard not to compare yourself to an impossible ideal. Daily life somehow seems to make me feel more like a messy human being instead of a picture in a catalog. But…you are right. I am doing my best. Thank you for that reminder!August 28, 2013 – 10:44 amReplyCancel

  • Ariana - Beautifully written and powerful reminder that all of us are doing the best that we can right now. There are no measuring sticks that could ever accurately display the depth of a person or family.August 28, 2013 – 10:45 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Wow – always some new take away from the Our Land series. Today it’s “we don’t have to know someone’s story before we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are doing their best.”

    Thank you Anita.August 28, 2013 – 10:54 amReplyCancel

  • GirlieOnTheEdge - Wow. Timely post for my own self. Unfortunately, it seems more and more people “have a story”. Funny thing is you never know who those people are because there is no identifying quality. They’re with us every day walking among us, working with us, neighbors passing by…

    “But I dream of a land where we don’t have to know someone’s story before we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are doing their best. In Our Land, we offer a heartfelt smile and a kind word, knowing they may just need that small gesture to take their next steps of the day.”

    I’m with you on that one Anita. All the way:)August 28, 2013 – 11:12 amReplyCancel

  • Anita @ Losing Austin - Your comments are giving me more encouragement than you can ever know and more than you can ever know I needed today.

    Thank you for being part of the Land where all this is true.

    <3August 28, 2013 – 11:29 amReplyCancel

  • K - This is so, so beautiful. I love the message that you conveyed and OMG I just wish that everyone could read this because our world would be a much better place if we all just realized that people and their situations aren’t always as they seem. Thank you.August 28, 2013 – 11:52 amReplyCancel

  • Considerer - Anita, this is lovely, and something I’m all too guilty of – I’m not good at giving the benefit of the doubt, and I should work on this. You have inspired me to remember that everyone has a story, and I really don’t know what it is most of the time.

    It’s kindest to assume that people are doing their best, and being kind is so important.

    Take good care and I hope your husband’s illness lets up soon. Awesome to see you in Our Land.August 28, 2013 – 12:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Roshni - So true, Anita! I wish people would realize that they cannot assume anything about someone in the span of 140 characters or a Facebook photo!August 28, 2013 – 1:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Tatum - Oh, wow. Really beautiful, Anita. You are doing amazing.August 28, 2013 – 1:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - Anita, this is SUCH an amazing post and Kristi, thank you so much for sharing Anita’s post and for this series which just keeps getting better and better!

    One of the things most important principles to me in life is to try not to judge and to try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, that is why I felt so connected to this wonderful post. I think that in everyday life as well as in the blogosphere or in social media we encounter so much unestablished and unjustified judgement that it is so refreshing and important to read posts like yours.August 28, 2013 – 1:32 pmReplyCancel

  • that cynking feeling - Anita definitely did her best on this post.August 28, 2013 – 1:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Jessica - This is so, so true and so beautifully written, Anita. I can’t believe you manage to do so much despite all the obstacles life has thrown your way. You are amazing! The judgement-makers would probably feel so stupid if they only knew… if only they took time to know or even to imagine. Great post.August 28, 2013 – 4:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - Definitely got goosebumps – this was something everyone should read, Anita. I love when bloggers I know contribute here; they often surprise and touch me. You did both today. I will join you in Your Land!August 28, 2013 – 7:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Joell @ Red Van Ramblings - I learned a long time ago (the hard way!), that you must look at everyone with eyes that say, “You never know where people are coming from or what they are going through.” And just love them where they are at. Very touching and beautiful post! So glad I found this series!August 28, 2013 – 8:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - There’s a saying that everyone is struggling with something and the fact is we may never know about those struggles. Some of them may be big and some may be small – we just don’t know. I try really hard to remember that before I jump to judgment and conclusion, but I don’t always succeed. Thanks so much for this beautifully written reminder!August 28, 2013 – 10:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - Chills, yes. I love your description of “our land.” I can almost see it.August 28, 2013 – 11:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah Almond - Never judge a book by its cover-that’s what I was always told as a kid! Our land would be a wonderful place, if it only existed outside of “blogland”. 🙂August 29, 2013 – 12:02 amReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - Unless you walk in someone else’s shoes, you just don’t know what they are facing. I was touched by how sweet your son was when Daddy wasn’t feeling well and he had to be quiet. I’m sorry that your family has all these struggles but I admire how you are handling it all. Glad I found you through, Kristi. Thinking of you all.August 29, 2013 – 2:34 amReplyCancel

  • JenKehl - Yes! to “But I dream of a land where we don’t have to know someone’s story before we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are doing their best.”
    I totally agree with you there. People make so many assumptions in the 5 seconds they are looking at you.
    How about just assuming you’re awesome?!
    Thank you so much!!!August 29, 2013 – 5:21 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. - I love your honesty, Anita, and you are absolutely right. None of us has any idea what is going on in another family’s life, and in Our Land we would all give each other the benefit of the doubt and support one another. You sound like an amazing, strong woman with a fantastic family.August 29, 2013 – 11:36 pmReplyCancel

  • The Pink Roller Coaster - I am loving the Our Land series, Kristi. Especially love the lesson in Anita’s story, about giving people the benefit of the doubt and assuming they’re doing the best they can. YES! Love. This. Okay, headed over to her site now.
    P.s. Thank you for leaving such a sweet, sweet comment on my last blog post. Your kind words and support mean so much to me. I am hoping that Liam is motivated after seeing his cousins next month. Shortly after we went home last time, he learned how to stand up to and climb on our furniture. I’m pretty sure seeing his cousins being able to do these things made him realize HE wanted to do them as well. Fingers crossed. But for now we’ll keep working on pulling that dang walker forward. 🙂August 30, 2013 – 1:25 amReplyCancel

  • Sarah | LeftBrainBuddha - I LOVE this line: “But I dream of a land where we don’t have to know someone’s story before we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are doing their best. In Our Land, we offer a heartfelt smile and a kind word, knowing they may just need that small gesture to take their next steps of the day.”

    There is so much more to a person than what we see…. I wish we would always just assume the best of people. It reminds me of the meaning of Namaste – the light in me honors the light in you. Would love it if we all did that. Beautiful post.August 30, 2013 – 9:00 amReplyCancel

  • just JENNIFER - This is so very awesome! It is exactly what I am trying to live and teach my kids. My husband is chronically ill too. I am visually impaired. There is SO much I don’t always want to have to explain to someone. It would be so much easier to be given the benefit of the doubt, as I try to give to others.September 2, 2013 – 5:45 pmReplyCancel

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