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.


Dress for Success

Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “Dress for the job you want.” Well, I am a firm believer in dressing for the help you want when shopping. If you dress like a tired mom in stained sweat pants and unwashed hair, see how many sales people come up and offer to assist you. You’ll be leper in the middle of J.Crew, all alone somewhere in the sale section. However, if you dress in a way that says you’re ready to buy, and that you have the money to do it, things are vastly different.

A few of weeks ago, I dressed for a day of shopping at the mall, in my good skinny jeans and a sweater that covers up those saddlebags that no amount of leg lifts will eliminate. I even had makeup on because, let’s face it— women dress for each other when they shop, not for the men. Sorry guys, but it’s true. At the clubs it’s a different story—we’re all about you (just keep nodding and smiling, ladies—they don’t know!).

The first stop that day was Lowes, a store I feel lost in the minute I step through the doors. The signs are hung too high, and nothing is organized the way I would do it. Who puts storage stuff behind the gardening stuff? It should go somewhere in the house section.

But I digress…so I walked in, feeling like a delicate daffodil among the burly men prowling the aisles. There were a couple of other women there, too, and I’m sure they were doing something admirable, like fixing the drywall in their kids’ playroom. But I was heading to the mall afterward, and had dressed for the Nordstroms dress section, not the Lowes drill press section.

Eventually, I found the enormous storage box I was looking for. A male employee about my age (we’ll just smile and call it 30) said he would carry the box to the checkout counter for me. Flexing his muscles, he marched the box past two lines of at least 6 irritated people, and opened a new register just for me. I could feel resentment drilling into my back from the other customers. I never did get his name to give to the manager, but maybe that was a good thing. I think he might have gotten in trouble.

A week later, I had to go to Lowes again to make a return. Again, I was looking decent—ok, maybe it’s a subconscious thing—I dress well when I know I’m going into the giant man cave. I made my return, and immediately tried to exit through the ENTER door.

I walked into it.

That’s right, I walked into the door at Lowes.

I stood there for a moment until my menopause brain eventually noticed the backwards ENTER letters. To my shame, as I turned to go out the actual EXIT, a male employee came over and said, “Here, ma’am, let me help you.” He pushed open the ENTER door for me, like I was Cleopatra, and I waltzed through as if nothing had happened. Maybe it was pity for my blatantly blonde moment, but I’m telling you, dressing for the service you want really works.

Now, if I had watched someone like me walk into the ENTER door, I would have rolled on the floor laughing.

The only store I have found where this strategy doesn’t work is Wal-Mart. No matter what you look like, what language you speak or what expression you have on your face, the employees always treat you the same—like cattle going through the chute. But in a way, that’s ok. There’s no pressure. I can go in there at 7:30 a.m., wearing my ridiculous sequined Christmas tree shirt that I break out once a year for the program at school, or I can be in a cocktail dress getting a last minute hostess gift (i.e. cheap bottle of wine), and I get the same treatment.

I’m anonymous, and I love it. Wal-Mart may be a lot of things, but it is definitely the great equalizer.

Every woman wants their Pretty Woman moment—they want to walk into a store that previously shunned them, and get fawned over when the sales people realize she’s now the real deal. If you want that moment, I suggest starting off small, like in a Lowes or Home Depot. Dress in your “I’ve-lost-all-hope-stay-at-home-mom clothes one day,” and then in your Spanx, good shirt and jeans, and supportive bra, and see what happens.

And don’t forget to say as you leave, “Big mistake. Huge. I have to go shopping now.”

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