Subourbon Mom


Stop Over-Achieving – Just Do Your Best

Do Your BestThe New Year is often touted as a time for reflection on the past, making plans for a better tomorrow, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah…

F*#* that.

My reflections on the past come at two or three o’clock in the morning after being awakened by especially searing hot flashes. And, since my hot flashes appear as often as Trump recklessly tweets on foreign policy, I think I’ve reflected a lot over the last 365 days. When I wake up like that, the world seems like a dark place and everything I ever said was wrong…I What was I thinking? That was the worst parenting decision I’ve ever made…Please God, let that email not have been Reply All…My hair does not look like Farrah Fawcett, I don’t care what they said at work…

My plans for the New Year are what they should always have been – just do your best. Note to self: be happy being a 70-percenter.  C’s get degrees, and average lives deserve high-fives.  Quit freaking out that your list isn’t done, you over-achiever – at least you have a list. In fact, at least you have a pen and paper and you were allowed to learn how to read and write.

Some days, doing your best may mean cranking out that detailed, raise-inspiring report for work, driving your child to a specialist appointment and hearing bad news but giving them a reassuring smile, or helping a friend who’s parent has passed away by organizing the wake.  Other days, doing your best may be as simple as remembering to undo the seat best BEFORE you try and get out of the car (yes, I forgot).

Doing your best is relative. One of the things the Orange Theory Fitness program has taught me (besides that I HATE riding the bike and most lunges are worse for me than burpees) is that everyone’s “best” is relative.  You probably don’t know that the man next to you on the rower had heart surgery a year ago, and he’s struggling to make his heart stronger so he can play with his grandkids; or that the woman two spots down who can’t plank for more than 10 seconds has shoulders that dislocate habitually and she’s willing them to stay in place so she doesn’t have surgery again; or that the girl on the treadmill who’s walking flat when everyone else is running on a hill is just trying to get through one class without using her inhaler (that’s usually me).

Just do your best, even if that means wearing slippers on your feet to work because you forgot to change your shoes (yep, did that too).  You got there, didn’t you?  You clearly were not meant to be there, so you’re already over-achieving, right? Way to go!

But for the record, your best better include using your freaking turn signals when you’re driving.  Seriously – the 30% that’s not my best will make an appearance if you make me guess what you’re going to do at a stoplight, or why you’re randomly slowing down for no apparent reason.

So…just do your best.

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Stagers and Build-A-Bear – A Moving Story About…Moving

There comes a time when every suburbanite needs a change, so they turn their lives upside down, become instant HGTV experts and get the overwhelming urge to purge.

Since there’s no good time to have kids and there’s no good time to move, we decided to add the challenge of doing it in the fall of Daughter #1’s senior year. I mean, really, there isn’t much going on except SAT Tests, college visits every weekend, college applications and Senioritis.

Once the decision was made, we realized we had to get our stuff out of the house (all 15 years and two children of it), and try to make it look like no one ever lived there except June Cleaver and a decorator from Crate & Barrel.

It quickly became clear that we needed a Stager. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, a Stager is someone you pay to come to your house and tell you what you need to get rid of or change so your house will sell. What no one tells you is that having a Stager come into your house is a lesson in humiliation.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – our Stager is a seriously nice lady with good decorating sense who was trying really hard not to be too critical when she was talking about my decorating.

Apparently, there are decorating rules.

I decorate by seeing a picture in Southern Living or Coastal Living, buying one piece of furniture to start the look, then covering that piece of furniture with stuff until you can’t see it anymore. Then I start the process all over again. After walking around the house with my Stager, she said in an exasperated but kind voice, “Are these also the same curtains that were here when you moved in?” When I nodded, chewed her lip and asked hesitantly, “So, do you like shopping?”

I looked around and said, “Um, does it look like I like shopping?”

She just nodded to herself, like a therapist would after hearing some whackadoo story that confirmed their theory that the client is definitely…skewed.

After realizing my serious decorating deficiency, I decided I would channel all of my pent up anxiety at having my world (voluntarily) turned upside down onto the Stager.

And Build-A-Bear.

I now despise Build-A-Bear. Not only did they raise the stuffed animal bar so high you spend half a paycheck picking out fake roller skates and a tutu for a leopard, but they did something even worse – they created memories for the children.

Oh, it was great when my sweet baby girls’ faces lit up on a Build-A-Bear day. I loved watching them pick out the outfits and “adopt” their animal at the kid-friendly computers. Fast forward 10 years when we are trying to fit everything into a pod and there are two more trash bags filled with stuffed Build-A-Bear creatures that just won’t go in. Can I give them away? Of course not – each bear is a memory. They say you can’t put a price tag on memories – well I call bulls#*&t. The price tag is $25-$35 dollars, if you’re lucky and get the basic model without the fancy clothes.

images-2So in went the Build-A-Bear bags (yes, I kept them, damn you, Build-A-Bear) and all of the syrupy memories, and out went two trailer loads of junk to the dump. In went boxes of schoolwork from kindergarten on, and out went my jean skirt from 1989. The closer we got to the show date, in went a lot of bourbon, and out went sentimentality.

Now that the Stager is no longer in our lives and the Build-A-Bears are packed away, I’ll have to find something new to channel all of this self-inflicted anxiety onto.

I’m thinking it will be the person who decided the NFL should play football on Thursdays. I’ve already missed my picks for Week 1 – maybe I’ll go get a football bear.



The “Plane” Truth on Mindful Thinking

There are too many people in this world, and most of them found ways to annoy me last weekend while I was traveling by air from Texas–especially the fake cowboy who walked through the Houston airport with his jeans tucked into his boots (the Marlborough Man would have been so ashamed). There were the usual delays and morons who couldn’t figure out how to go through security on the first try.  But one bright spot? Airport food has gotten surprisingly healthier.

On one of the longer flights, I was offered a Mediterranean tapas-style snack to purchase that cost more than I make per hour; I splurged. Added bonus: I was pretty sure no one would sit next to me on the next flight if I ate the olives and fancy, garlicky cheese.

Since I’d lately been reading about mindfulness (the act of being present in the moment, and focusing entirely on one thing at a time), and I had LOTS of time on my hands, I decided to try to bring down my stress levels by savoring each cracker smeared with garlicky cheese. I chewed slowly, letting the crumbs dissolve in my mouth, trying to identify each herb as it hit my palate (garlic was at the top of the list—the other passengers LOVED me).  I felt the way the cracker pieces gummed up between my teeth and resisted the urge to start picking at them; instead, I made those weird faces people make when they run their tongue over their teeth to dislodge an article of food.  I’m pretty sure my lips looked like there was a gerbil running around under there.

I pressed another glob of cheese onto a cracker with the teeny-tiny spoon they provided that looked like it had been stolen from a Polly Pocket set.

Then, the next cracker shattered. Not into a few pieces I could cup in my hand or pick out of my lap, but into a billion tiny specks that hurtled themselves across the cabin and behind me in a hail of Focaccia shrapnel. I didn’t look up, but I could hear people mumbling and shifting around, brushing crackers off of their laptops and phones.

In an instant, I had gone from being mindful, and feeling somewhat superior as I did it, to being mortified and wondering if the lady next to me knew she had cracker crumbs on her cheek (she didn’t—it stayed there the rest of the flight).  I didn’t have the nerve to tell her.

So, I fell back t playing my favorite flying game: Who on this flight would survive on an island if we crashed? Who would be the hero and open the emergency exits? Most of the passengers were elderly (South Texas is like Steven Spielberg’s Cocoon in the winter), so not much help there.  Maybe the ex-football player with the Baptist bible camp shirt on—at the very least, he might be able to put in a good word.  The old biker dude with the mutton chops? Not likely, but based on his tattoos he might be handy with a needle if I needed stitches.  People with kids—forget it. They’d be useless, instinctively protecting their spawn.  My best bet was the pudgy guy wearing cammo, who looked like he would be on the rescue squad, and the skinny lady who looked like a doctor or pharmaceutical rep; either way, one would have training, or one would have good drugs.

Scouting out my fellow passengers may not have exactly been “mindful thinking,” but it did give me a mind full of other things to think about.

 




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