Advice From Mom….
Since we have now established that I am an expert at wasting time and doing nothing, it should come as no surprise that one of my guilty pleasures is watching beauty pageants (I’m sorry- Scholarship Competitions). Let’s get the peanut gallery comments out of the way:
Peanut Gallery: But Meryl, don’t these “scholarship competitions” support the notion that a woman’s value lies in her physical appearance, thereby pressuring women to conform to conventional standards of beauty and essentially setting the women’s movement back by sixty years?
Meryl: Yes. Yes, they do. This blog post isn’t really about beauty pageants, so let’s move on.
When I was in high school, I used to watch the Miss Teen America pageant with my mom. One year, we watched as the finalists answered the following interview question: What is the best advice you’ve gotten from your mother? For the life of me, I can’t remember what their answers were but when they were done, my own mother turned to me and asked me the same question- what was the best advice she had ever given me. I thought about it for a minute – all the advice she had given me thus far- just say no, just be yourself, speak your mind, try your best- all good advice. But I settled on this little tidbit of wisdom, which I still try to follow whenever possible.
Flush as you go.
The first time my mother offered up this suggestion, I’m sure she meant it in the “courtesy flush” sense of the phrase. After all we lived in a small house and noses can be easily offended. But even then, I saw that ‘flush as you go’ has relevance beyond the bathroom, and perhaps it is advice we can all benefit from. Take a look:
Flush As You Go: Clean up your messes as you make them- this includes both physical messes and metaphysical life messes. Letting any kind of mess or conflict just sit will allow it to grow, fester, and morph into something that is much more difficult to resolve or clean up later. So as unpleasant as it might be to take responsibility for the mistake that you made or have that difficult conversation with someone, doing it sooner rather than later will likely limit any collateral damage and prevent you from having to deal with an even worse situation down the road (perhaps we should email this advice to Congress as they seem to have trouble with this concept).
Flush As You Go: Let it go and move on. Face it, how often do you think about what you have just flushed once it is gone. In my opinion, anger is only a productive emotion in the very short term. Being mad can spur someone to take positive action to attempt to change a negative situation. But when anger is allowed to fester, it can easily become bitterness, resentment, and even hopelessness and very little good ever comes of those emotions. Reserve anger for the most egregious of offenses (murder, child abuse, cancer- you know- the big ticket items); refocus the anger and do something productive with it. Everything else, just let it go and move on. Did someone cut you off on the highway? Let it go and move on. Someone take your parking spot? Let it go and move on. Mother in law criticized your cooking? Let it go and move on. We have become a very angry country and seem to look for opportunities to make ourselves victims. If we stop looking at every tiny inconvenience or insensitive remark as a personal affront maybe we can finally get our priorities in order and start moving forward again.
I say we start a movement (pun fully intended). A variation on “Dude, Chill!” or “Curb your dog.”
Flush as you go. The best advice my mom ever gave me.