La La How The Life Goes On

100% or Nothing

Posted on: May 19, 2011

Finally had time to read a book this week. A book containing neither illustrations of fuzzy animals learning to potty nor anthropomorphic creatures counting to ten. I know. Wondrous.

It was something like “Success Principles” or the like, by Jack Canfield of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” fame. Anyone who knows me knows that I find all of those self-help books to be irritating at best, positively stabby at worst. I despise any book that has little stories of Jenny from Kansas City who loved balloons and found a way to translate her love of balloons into global love for all mankind. Or Edgar, the man in accounting, who was so unhappy with his life until he found his soul mate Deirdre simply by learning honesty. Please. The stories are predictable, the messages hackneyed, the entire concept annoying. These books remind me of those emails sent by senior citizen family members wherein you are told the story of some sick child collecting stamps or Bill Gates giving a dollar to charity for every forward and you are then urged, exhorted, strenuously requested to forward/send a stamp/learn a lesson from the story. No thank you, sheeple of the world.

But I did read the book because a good friend I admire recommended it. She is a fabulous woman, pretty, successful, funny as all hell; so I figured I’d flip a page or two before declaring it Not Worth My Time. No need. Page One: “Take 100% responsibility for everything in your life.” What? Of course I take 100% responsibility for my life! This book sucks! Who IS this guy?! {silence} Um. Okay, so sometimes I blame my circumstances for why I can’t do something. And sometimes I blame the fact that I’m a mom for why I can’t do things. And sometimes I blame the BabyDaddy for why I can’t sleep like I used to. Actually, that one is valid. My whole life I’ve gone to sleep with Magic 106.7 in the quiet background. Totally easy listening nonsense, like Gloria Estefan (all the ballads, not the others containing the words “the beat” or “the rhythm”), DeBarge, the theme from St. Elmo’s Fire. You know what I’m sayin’, 80’s children. Music to put you to sleep. Since my marriage to the BBDD I have had to relinquish this lifelong habit because he can stand neither light nor noise at bedtime. I regret nothing about marrying this man except for my loss of David Allan Boucher’s somnolent voice at 11pm.

Anyway. Where was I? Right. I was in the middle of taking responsibility for everything in my life. So two pages into this obviously stupid book, and I have an epiphany: I take about 50% responsibility for everything in my life. Which conveniently allows me to make excuses, offer complaints and laments, and generally avoid personal accountability. When you take 100% responsibility, you can no longer rely on excuses or reasons or circumstances to explain your life situation; you must simply place the burning little package of dog shit at your own front door and stomp out the flames with your own damn feet. Personal accountability? How tiresome. And how revolutionary.

Let’s take one example: my weight. The fact is that I am on a medication that makes me fat. End of story. No amount of 100%ing it will make me skinny, right? But let’s acknowledge, friends, that perhaps 3 of my extra 15 pounds belong to the random M&Ms, the over-mayo’d sandwich I ordered because I was in a rush to an appointment, the fact that I can’t (= don’t) exercise. So if I am living the 100% principle, I am responsible for those three pounds. Sure, being 12 pounds overweight is no picnic at a beauty pageant, but it sure will feel better than 15, right? So what am I waiting for? Obviously, my true exercising days are over, what with my crumbling skeletal system, and any notion of swimming in a pool being immediately vetoed on the grounds of rampant disgusting bacteria therein. But what CAN I do to exercise however I can? Well, I can lift 5 pound weights on my arms. I can do old school leg lifts like I’m in a Jane Fonda video. I can do SOMETHING so I can take responsibility for exercising.

If this sounds self-punishing, I will balance it with the other important conclusion I’ve reached regarding the 100%. Taking responsibility for me and my feelings and situations means that I really no longer have to take responsibility for YOURS. I’ll stick with the weight issue since we’re on the topic. I decided yesterday that I will no longer wear clothes I hate just so I can hide my fat. Friends (or whomever). you are going to have to take responsibility for any issues you have with seeing fat people. Can’t stand the thought of me with my no-beer belly hanging over my pants? Sorry! I simply can no longer wear giant muumuu shirts to preserve your gentle sensibilities. I like my t-shirts and I want to wear them. They make me happy; unlike the giant tents I’ve been purchasing at Old Navy to “camouflage” my prednisone baby for your benefit. Pursuant to reading this book, I’ve realized that the world will survive a Fat Mama. People who love me (and maybe some who don’t) will live through the tragedy and carnage of seeing my potbelly and big old double chin. The earth will continue to spin on its axis, Donald Trump will continue to be a deluded self-aggrandizing joke, my children will continue to selectively listen to me from minute to minute–and yes–the planet and its inhabitants will valiantly survive the travesty of seeing me as a chubba.

So whether the rest of the book is hooey, I can’t say. But that first page knocked me on my ass, 100%.

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