June 25, 2007

Self-Help

If you dig through my desk and shelves, (which I actually hope you never do), you'd find several small notepads, spiral notebooks, a few daily/weekly/monthly planners and a couple "get organized" self-help books. All of them will have some writing on them. Lists, appointments, meal plans, phone numbers. And the planners, oh the planners. The planners will be used, conscientiously, for about 2 weeks, and then there will be several blank weeks, and then one full week, and so on.

It's because I'm an optimist. I really believed when I bought those papers and lists and books that they would turn me into something I'm not. They would complete me, use the raw material of my scattered mind and make me... organized.

When I first start a new fix-me program, I'm all a-twitter. Gung-ho and over-bearing, I usually tell everyone who'll stand still for two seconds about how this new book/planner/lifestyle has CHANGED me and how it's PERFECT and also totally AMAZING. I stand taller, walk faster, feel strong and motivated and purposeful... for about 2 weeks. Sometimes three.

And then I fall off the wagon, the wagon has left, there is no wagon anywhere. Just me, in the dirt, surrounded by the dust-cloud of everything I stirred up and didn't finish.

After all these years of giving in to impulse fix-your-messy-self purchases, you'd think I'd learn. You'd think I'd catch on that this just isn't going to do it for me. I'm just an inherently non-linear, chaotic person. But I don't, I never learn. Today I came across a website for a special daily planner just for moms, and I started to drool. Just a little, but still.

My mind started to whirl with all the possibilities. With THIS planner, I'd finally get it together! My kitchen would be perpetually clean, the pantry well-stocked. I'd have our meals planned out every week, I'd have all of our social events neatly scheduled so that nothing took us by surprise. My daughters would always have clean laundry, the beds would be made. I'd lose ten pounds because I'd FINALLY get into a workout routine that I could stick with into perpetuity. Life would be neat and tidy and altogether perfect. Organized.

I clicked on the "Buy Now" button... and then stopped. Opened the desk drawer, looked at the mortal remain of some of my other failed attempts to achieve Type-A-Control-and-Contain status.

And then I closed my laptop and walked away.

Because the thing is, I kind of like my wacky come-what-may-who-knows-what-we'll-eat-tonight lifestyle. It's stressful, it bogs me down sometimes, but it's also kind of fun. It's what makes me, me. My entire identity is all tied up, literally sometimes, in my procrastination, piles of whatnot that I can't live without and panicked 5:35 P.M. freezer scrounge to find something edible for dinner.

I'm just starting to learn that there's no real point in trying to be anything that I'm not, that instead I just need to embrace and improve on the things that I already am. I'm not someone who's ever going to be neat and tidy, but I can learn to be less messy overall. I'm never going to have the willpower to sweat and strain and diet and starve myself down to a super-model size 2, but hey, curves are hot, too.

I try to eat right and keep moving, I try to stay on top of the daily minutiae, to keep in touch and return calls and remember birthdays. I try not to forgot doctor's appointments, to make sure there's at least the makings for grilled cheese sandwiches in the house, if nothing else. I try to get the laundry done. Hell, I even try to workout 3 or 4 times a week. Sometimes I get there. Sometimes I don't. Self-help can only take you so far... then you just have forget the help part and just stick with the "self" that you've got.

And yet... I just remembered this one organizer I have, I only used it for a few weeks. It's practically new and it has a pull-out list for meal-planning and grocery shopping. Maybe I should dust it off, I bet this time I could really stick to it.

The eternal optimist... or the eternal fool?

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