Jan/Feb
2012

Fantasies of Self-Reform

Written by Amy Brase
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0003Never again will I approach a grocery store without a meal plan. No more aimless filling of the cart! In fact, there’s a smartphone app that’s going to compose my grocery list and transform our family dinners. At least, that’s what my friend Heather says. She’s using it so I’m going to try it, too.

    In other exciting news, we just might welcome a dog into our family this year. My friend Salina speaks affectionately about her two canine friends. They’ve been amazing with her kids, don’t shed, and even ring a little bell when they have to go potty. Other than the pee, poop, puke and dog breath, I think I could warm up to a little pup. I’ve added “research all-things-doggie” to my list for January, with a specific look into rescuing because my friend Ellie is passionately devoted to finding forever homes for dogs.

      Next week, I’m joining yoga because it will undoubtedly improve my flexibility and strength while clearing my cluttered mind. In fact, I might even go twice a week. That’s what my friend Emily does and she’s, indeed, strong and peaceful. I’ve just got to figure out what to wear, because that’s 65 percent of the battle.

     I’ve never been a runner, but I should definitely give it another whirl this year, or at least before my 40s. Betsy and Jill make it sound so exhilarating! Never mind that high school track was synonymous with torture and jogging now feels equivalent to awkwardly heaving a load of Jell-O down the street. I must forge on. This Jell-O isn’t getting any firmer on its own.

     I know what you’re thinking. “She’s absurdly optimistic about self-improvement.” Yes, it’s true. It’s why I dove into adult swim lessons a few months ago. A friend of a friend of a friend had some success at getting into water deeper than his ankles so I figured that I could overcome fear and learn to swim, too. (I did! Kind of. If you count going as far as I can before needing a breath and then standing up.)

    Fantasies of self-reform have also driven me to read the Bible in wee hours of the morning, speak tenderly to my quarreling children and arrange for a babysitter once a month in order to date my hubby. When a friend elaborates on a behavior that has produced a favorable outcome in her life, I immediately toss it into one of two mental files:

A) Crazy/Impossible/Wouldn’t Want it Anyway
OR
B) To Do

I’m just trying to be a better person. And I don’t think that I’m alone. Wherever women gather, there’s a chirpy little buzz of best practices and success stories. Mental lists are composed: Try kegels, Google crate training, Call Doctor So-and-So, Start a blog, etc.

    Rare are the women who have apparently found complete inner peace, like the friend of a friend who advised her to stop trying to change so much about herself. She asserts that the true secret to happiness is to be content and accept ourselves. Exactly the way we already are. No resolutions. No constant need to compare our lives to what everybody else is doing.

Is it just me or DOES THAT SOUND ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY HORRIBLE?

It’s FUN to imagine our future selves with organized houses, perfectly behaved children, pets who only pee outside, fit bodies and soaring careers. I may never morph into a woman who represents the highlights of everyone I know. I may never even make it past day 21 of the 30 days it takes to develop a new habit. But that’s okay. I’ve got two files for failure, as well.

A) Try Again Next Year
OR
B) Crazy/Impossible/ Wouldn’t Want It Anyway

Amy Brase is a writer who ignores New Year’s resolutions in exchange for lifelong continuous improvement. She’s not afraid to pat herself on the back for 21 days of a good, new habit. Even if she scraps it on day 22.

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