Wisen Up and Get Real by Michelle Parvin
Note from Meggin: This is one of the funniest sets of TTPT you are ever going to read. So please don’t be drinking a soda or a cup of coffee while you’re reading or it will be coming through your nose. Believe me…I know. 🙂
OK, ladies, we’re not in Kansas anymore (well, not most of us) and we shouldn’t still be in Oz, either. So wave “bye” to Toto, throw the Wizard a bone, and prepare to launch your balloon with practical suggestions for managing some commonplace issues in the real world. Women north of forty especially will appreciate these words of wisdom:
- Look before you leap. To conclusions, that is. I was flattered over the Holidays when my 18-year-old daughter asked to borrow one of my sweaters…until she told me it was for a party contest to see who could look the tackiest. (Note: As a rule, I no longer loan out my clothes.) Avoid embarrassment by learning to read between the lips.
- Love your fruit. Due to illness my weight once dropped below 110 pounds (I’m 5′ 5″). The model body, right? NOT!!! Because “model” is defined as a small replica of the real thing. So my body just became a smaller version of its former self, cellulite and all! This experience was actually liberating as it freed me from a decades-long but mistaken belief that I would have the body of my (husband’s) dreams if only I lost weight. Whether you’re shaped like an apple, a pear, or a banana (yikes!), harvest and preserve accordingly. And for the catty among you, yes, I have since regained all the weight.
- Maintain your perspective. I recently turned my white turtleneck pink by washing it with a pair of red socks that had been laundered separately at least five times. So I washed it again with a big shot of bleach, but without success. Then I remembered my emergency box of Ritz color remover and washed my sweater a third time. Still pale pink. Determined to prevail, I became increasingly obsessed over the problem, like a dog on the trail of a rabid squirrel. As the Grinch once did, I “puzzled and puzzled until [my] puzzler was sore.” I was researching yet another line of attack when the insignificance of the loss relative to my efforts finally dawned on me. The sweater’s in the donation box now and I found a new one on sale for under $10. Take-away: Sometimes it’s enough just to stop the bleeding (ha!) and move on.
- Shop for camo, not glamo. Ok, time to grow up and stop shopping for the latest fashions. What looks trendy and glamorous on firm, 20-somethings is often pretty unflattering and possibly even disgusting on the rest of us. Pack a deflated balloon with cottage cheese and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how my thighs look in tight leggings. (Good thing the ’80s are over and my “Flashdance” is just a hot flash.) Buy only clothing styles and colors that conceal your flaws, not accentuate them. In other words, hide but don’t seek.
- Go green. Or orange. With your carpet color, I mean. It’s been my understanding for years that dogs are color-blind, but apparently the boys at Beneful haven’t heard the news. Why else would they produce pet kibble in deep and zesty crayon colors like Amazing Avocado and Burnt Sienna (but never Whispy White or Benign Beige)? Exactly two days after the last steam cleaning, my dog hacked up in the front room a green mass the size of a grapefruit. Also eye-catching is the dynamic duo of pumpkin-colored stains tastefully positioned at the top and base of the stairs. I think those bodacious interior designers of the ’70s were on to something (besides grass) after all. Choose practical shades next time you redecorate; ask to see the Purina Palette.
- Establish your own bar. (Sorry, not that kind.) Rarely does social comparison lead to anything positive. More often than not it just drives us straight down into a deep, dark depression. So stop looking at friends, family, celebrities and community to see how you measure up. For instance, never evaluate your kitchen against the Health Department code imposed on restaurants. Be honest: have YOU ever stored raw meat above the cooked food? Run out of paper towels near the hand sink? Left the scoop handle (what scoop?) lying in the ice? Rather than fret or feel embarrassed, congratulate yourself since, without you, your family may never have built up the immunity needed to survive dining on the outside. Set standards to fit your own reality. (Bonus Tip: Always eat before you come to my house and BYOB, chilled, of course.)
- Keep hose on hand. I love the coolness and comfort of the stockings-free trend as much as the next gal, but others who have to look at me probably don’t. Without a tan, my legs resemble detailed road maps festooned with interstate highway and railroad markers. (“Is that Route 66 or a varicose vein on your calf?”) And my thighs feel like sausages that have burst from their casings. I guess I just like the sense of security that pantyhose provide. Plus I’m equipped in the event I need to commit a spontaneous robbery. Wear hose and avoid requests for directions from non-MapQuesting strangers.
- Pamper your dogs. Remember the old TV shows like “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” where the moms wore dresses and high heels even while cooking, cleaning, camping and car pooling? Well, clearly they were on powerful medication (which explains much more than just their footwear choices). I find that, like the rest of my body, my feet have gradually morphed into alien forms, preventing me from tolerating those pretty pumps for more than a few hours. If you’re as tired as I was of asking total strangers for shoulder rides, consider pitching all uncomfortable footwear immediately, no matter how expensive, how new, or how beautiful. Suck it up and buy those “sensible” shoes you snickered at as a youth. Spoil your dogs while conserving your medication for other pains (like cooking, cleaning, camping and car pooling).
- Avert the Food Police. Philosophical question: If no one ever opens the crisper to look for healthy snacks, is the produce still rotten? Buy a fresh supply every week anyway. You’ll look good if Social Services drops by for a visit and avoid that awkward call from the school counselor about your kid’s bizarre report on home eating habits. Turn your Food Sarcophagus into a Food Pyramid.
- Assume an anthropologic attitude. Have you ever walked into your house to find that your family members have wiped down the kitchen counters, scrubbed the toilets, or fluffed up the sofa cushions? Yeah, me neither. Sometimes it seems as though they are stuck in an evolutionary time warp, perhaps even representatives of the Missing Link species. Or simply savages from some back woods where they lacked exposure to modern conveniences like garbage cans, sponges and water. But you can reduce your frustration. Every so often, let the knuckle-draggers live in their own squalor and just observe. Make it a game and pay yourself $$$ for every increment of time (e.g., hours, weeks, or OMG!) that passes until they notice (if ever); then use the cash to treat yourself to coffee, shopping, or a second home they don’t know about.
To some these suggestions may seem offensive. A few of the tips are in fact quite blunt, unless you’re sharp enough to get my points. But put into practice they can be worth their weight in mold–or other precious fungi. So wisen up, implement them immediately, and enjoy rising productivity as your balloon leaves Emerald City for the real world (or Kansas, unless you’re already there). Soon you’ll be wondering why you waited so long!
© 2011 Michelle Parvin. All rights reserved.
Michelle Parvin, MBA, ARM, SPHR, is President/CEO of DataGrinder Management Consulting & Analysis, Inc., a Reno-based firm helping people problem-solve, plan, persuade and prosper using data and whatever else it takes. Contact her for help with mind-numbing tasks like data/statistics tracking and analysis, budgeting and forecasting, and performance management at email@example.com, or visit her unfinished website at The Data Grinder. De-motivational speaking also available.
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