We're coming up on the close of another year -- eighteen months (seriously?) into my two year plan, if anyone is keeping track. Time again to reflect and resolve to do better next year .. nay, to BE better. Ugh. Let's instead review the Simple Girl philosphy -- you are fine just the way you are.
The lesson begins with reading Anna Quindlen's 1999 commencement speech at Mount Holyoke College. In the speech, Anna likens the quest for perfect to the feeling of "always carrying a backpack filled with bricks on my back." Okay, read it now. Really. Read it, even if you think you've seen it before. I'll wait.
While written for and delivered to women, what made me think of this speech recently was a comment from my 27 year old son, exhausted from the expectations (or lack thereof) of family and friends: "I feel like I just need to be perceived as perfect." The comment struck me to the core, and no one who knows me would be confused as to where the boy might have learned this from. Thinking back to Christmases past when 10 varieties of home-baked cookies were Martha-Stewarted in little tins and gifts opened one at a time, in turn, and laid out on neatly made twin beds like an FAO Schwartz display. Traditions were rules to be followed and dissension was met with disappointed mommy eyes.
Oh so sorry kid! If I knew then what I know now! This year, I tossed out the Christmas brick. No cookies, no tree, no expectations or disappointment. No trips to the mall (praise Jesus)!! Better still - no competition or feelings of inadequacy that my Christmas was or was not more perfect than your Christmas.
And now on to New Years and another pile of bricks. Real Simple magazine which promises "life made easier" offers "85 expert strategies to improve your life for good" in its January issue, including: reduce your debt, lose weight, clear clutter, learn to say no, cook smarter, reenergieze your style, and -- my favorite -- be happier now. All written in the imperative, the last sounding more like a command.
PUHLEEZE..... Sounds like 85 more bricks to me. So, what would Anna do?
"Begin with that most terrifying of all things, a clean slate. Then look, every day, at the choices you are making, and when you ask yourself why you are making them, find this answer: for me, for me."
Before you sign up for a gym membership or Oprah University, pay just $29.95 in 12 easy installments for that nutrition system, agree to host the class reunion, say 'yes, I'll marry you,' put your kids on a macro-biotic, organic, gluten-free, soy diet, purchase the complete works of Shakespeare or that unfortunate (but trendy!) fur vest, ask yourself ...
Might it be time to take a brick or two out of the backpack, instead of putting another one in?
Be Simple Girl.