A friend of mine recently shared a really interesting link on Facebook. The link leads to an article on Huffington Post entitled 23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing and as a recovering woman’s magazine addict and lover of lists, I couldn’t resist clicking.
I clicked, I read, and then I realized that even though the list is about ways to make your life better, it’s a list of NO NO NO and it’s a list geared toward woman who are, as usual, doing it all wrong. So I reworked it in two ways:
1) This is a list based on 23 things to which you can say YES YES YES. If you want.
2) This is a list that applies to everyone– woman, man, or somewhere in between. Because good things are good things, no matter who or what you are.
So, shall I commence with the list?
Yes. Yes I shall.
23 Things That Everyone Should START (or keep or try or hate me for) Doing
1) Accept responsibility when at fault. Accepting responsibility is the first step, IMHO, to achieving forgiveness and understanding. When you are truly at fault, no matter how hard it is to admit it and apologize, it is totally worth the effort. And although I know many, including the author of the original 23 things article, would disagree, I think it’s ok to say “sorry” out of sympathy too. I hate it when someone tells me something sad/bad/unpleasant/whatever, I say sorry, and then they snap back: “what are you sorry for?! it’s not like it’s your fault!” Maybe not, but I can still be sorry that things are tough for you. No harm in saying so.
2) Say “yes” when you mean it and be willing to say “no” sometimes too. For many of us, time is the most limited and precious resource we have. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many days in our life… so let’s say a resounding “YES!” when something sounds good, necessary, and/or important, and a polite, “No, thank you” when it doesn’t.
3) Take time for your own priorities and give yourself permission to act in your own best interest. One of the things that is good, necessary, and/or important, and therefore deserves that resounding “YES!” from you is… well… you. It’s really hard to take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself. And if taking care of yourself means you miss a coffee date or your lawn doesn’t get mowed, so be it.
4) Eat the food. End of sentence. Food serves many purposes, nutritional, of course, but in our society, food also serves important social and emotional purposes and unless your emotional needs are met by lettuce and you’re BFFs with a colony of rabbits (which I have reason to believe I may be– so many babies!), then probably you’re going to eat more than just veggies on occasion. I’d really rather not get into a big debate about the value of any one way of eating, but I do know that everything tastes better without the side of guilt and tall glass of shame that tends to accompany so many delicious things.
5) Acknowledge positive body attributes, internally and externally. Perhaps you’re not in love with your body, but you have to admit: it got you out of bed this morning, didn’t it? (Dang it– are you reading this in bed?! Well then, be grateful for your eyeballs, wise guy.) It’s capable of hugging (I said capable! that doesn’t mean it has to regularly hug), smiling, laughing, thinking, being, and those are all things worthy of acknowledgement, regardless of how you look, or in many cases, think you look. So: shout out to you, thighs! Way to walk me into work this morning!
6) Recognize and celebrate personal and professional accomplishments. You know that thing you did? That was cool. Way to go. Now repeat that to yourself, it’s ok.
7) Accept a tagged photo, even an “unflattering” one, as a compliment. So, you did something with someone, they took a picture of you doing it, and now they’ve put it online and tagged you… Dang! You must be someone pretty cool and pretty loved because someone cared enough to do something with you, take the photo, upload the photo, and tag you in it! That’s a lot of steps. I call that a compliment to you!
8) Recognize that someone’s virtual story is not their whole story. Most people don’t share everything online (clearly, I am not most people) and it’s totally reasonable that our natural tendency would be to put our best face forward. Most people don’t feel the need to tell the world that they crapped their pants. I get that. But remember, just because someone didn’t post on Facebook that they crapped there pants, they may have actually crapped their pants. You can’t possibly know. So remember that the next time you are jealous of someone’s online presence– they may have crapped their pants.
9) Let go of regrets and guilt. I talked about my friend Nate recently and he lived his life by this motto, for sure. He got a tattoo when he turned 18 that said “No Regrets” and figured that even if he messed something up, he’d just do it better the next time. Simple, right? Obviously not. But perhaps you can try when reflecting on “mistakes” to put on your Emily-colored glasses and be a little kinder to yourself.
10) Wear whatever shoes you feel like wearing. Heels will kill you! Fit flops will tone your rear end! You can’t be a real doctor without Danskos! What. Evs. Just wear the shoes you want to wear, for whatever reason you want to wear them (comfort, color, cuteness…), and get on with your life. They’re just shoes.
11) Live and 12) let live– sexually. Sex… is… private. That is all. You sex-life is none of my business and mine is none of yours. I like 50 Shades of Gray (slut!) and I like Beverly Lewis books (prude!), neither of those things tell you a dang thing about me, except that I like to read fiction. A lot. So that’s it, just live and let live, and don’t worry so much about other people– what they do or what they think about you.
13) Be genuine. It’s ok to be mellow about something when you’re “supposed” to be upset. It’s also ok to be upset. But failure to be genuine about your feelings is dishonest to yourself and to others.
14) Embrace the label “crazy.” The most out-there, paradigm-shifting ideas are the ones that tend to change the world. People will always try to undermine or dismiss you, but if you are passionate about an idea, keep putting it out there, and be crazy if crazy is what it takes. Maybe even blog about crapping your pants. Crazy can be cool. (Crapping your pants cannot. I’m sorry.)
15) Use WebMD as a starting point. The internet is FULL of medical information, some good, some bad, some in between. It’s certainly not a bad place to start if you’ve got some mysterious symptoms or ongoing ailment. Of course, it’s generally a good idea to call a medical professional if you think you might have a serious problem, but sometimes the internet can be a great place to start when you want to generate questions for your provider. And a good provider will take the time to answer your questions and to make sure you are fully informed.
16) Be inspired by Pinterest… if you feel like it. I love Pinterest! Sometimes my attempts to recreate what I find turn into absolute Pinstrosities, but sometimes my Pinspiration bears fruit and I end up with something awesome. Sometimes I just like looking at the pictures. Regardless of the source, Pinterest or otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out inspiration… I’m not really sure why people get so angry about it. I don’t think the point of the site is to tell you that you should be able to recreate these things. No one used to get mad at me for my binders full of recipes and pages torn from magazines. Same thing, right?
17) Relish alone time as a chance to “Treat Yo’ Self!” I’m an introvert (I think, but it’s been a while since I’ve done the Myers-Briggs), so I recognize that this one is a little easier for me than it is for other people, but alone time can be really, really nice. (Just ask a mom, right? (No, I am not a mom.)) Being alone is the perfect time to, as the folks on Parks and Rec say, treat yo’ self! Perhaps you want to dress up as batman, paint your toe nails with pretty designs, sit and stare at a wall for half an hour, read a good book, try something you saw on Pinterest… whatever, now’s your chance! Treat yo’ self!
18) Engage in and maintain meaningful and positive romantic relationships. In the original article, the author talks about not jumping into a relationship just because you are scared of being alone. Ok, maybe. But I don’t think most of us are aware enough at the beginning of a relationship to realize that that’s why we’re doing it. (You can trust me on this, I last started a relationship when I was 18… 11 years ago, so clearly, I’m an expert on dating. That’s sarcasm.) But when you are in a relationship, maintaining something meaningful and positive is totally worth your while. (That, I can actually attest to!)
19) Take advantage of vacation days. You are given PTO for a reason. Use it. Even if you need to use it just to go get a mammogram and a colonoscopy– use it! (And get your mammogram if you’re over 40, colonscopy if you’re over 50.) Time away from the office, whether it’s a full on vacation or just a little stay-cation, can feel really, really good. (Yes, coming back can feel pretty crappy, but it was going to feel like that anyway.)
20) Engage and maintain meaningful and positive friendships. In the same church service where I heard the idea of the tapestry, the priest also said that true friends aren’t made, they’re discovered. And I couldn’t agree more. It’s true, you can try to cut people out of your life if they are “toxic,” but that seems to naturally happen when you work on cultivating and maintaining positive friendships. (If it doesn’t work, then what you have is probably not a friend, but a stalker. Seek help.) (Also, I know “frenemies” are a bad thing, but they make for a darn good movie– love Mean Girls!!)
21) Spend intentional, rather than obligatory, time with people. You will enjoy it more and so will the people you are spending time with. If they are just an obligation, they will probably know, and that’s not very nice.
22) Be proud of the things that make you you. I am not embarrassed that I really like dinosaurs and get passionate about women’s health. Those things are not necessarily “cool” (as in: they are not cool), but they are my genuine interests and I just don’t see the point in cultivating something as an interest just because it’s cool, nor being embarrassed about the things that actually do interest me.
23) Let life happen on its own timeline. Life is messy and it is long. We are where we are when we are and there’s not a lot you can do about that. I’ve seen people try to force it (myself included) and it really doesn’t work out as well that way.
So there you have it. It’s essentially the same list, it just bothers me to be told NO. It bothers me to be told I’m doing it wrong. It bothers me that someone makes a list to tell me all the different ways I’m doing it wrong. Especially 23 times in a row.
And perhaps, ultimately, all 23 of these big, fat, yeses (is that seriously a word? no red squiggly underline… must be!) boil down to the very thing I said yesterday:
If you see something nice, say something nice. And do something nice. (I didn’t say that part yesterday.) To yourself, to others. Kindness as the human condition. I like that.