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When I Want Your Advice, I'll Ask For It

All this advice we are given to make our lives better just makes me feel worse about everything I'm not doing.

I guess this makes me a hypocrite, but for someone who gives advice for a living, I'm really tired of getting advice. I know it is all well meaning....well, let me take that back. I'm not talking about advice from friends who truly care about me and have my best interests at heart. I'm talking about strangers who pretend to care about me in exchange for advertising money.

You can't check out at the supermarket without being bombarded by magazines promising to make your life better. As if these magazines exist to promote the greater good of woman-kind, and not to turn a profit. This is such a great marketing scheme, that even the 'news' magazines and tv shows have bought into it.

Most of this advice, if you read it in a vacuum, makes perfect sense. Just like lots of of scientific formulas and theories and philosophies work great on paper and have exactly zero useful application to the real world. (Hence the essential problem with the Ivory Tower. It assumes a world that works entirely under sterile, laboroatory conditions in which all actors behave as they are supposed to.  But, for a change, I digress, and I certainly don't mean to imply that the advice given in a woman's magazine is on par with theoretical physics or economic theory.)

The problem is this: while each piece of advice is great on its own, if you took each one to heart, you would need a thirty hour day to do it all, and children and husbands and neighbors and co-workers and clients who were entirely predictable and stay healthy. Riiiiiiiight.

For example:

If you want to remain healthy, you are supposed to get a minimum of eight hours of sleep each night. In order to have eight successful hours of sleep every night, you should take a warm bath, and/or have some kind of immutable bed time ritual so that your body understands it is time to shut down. Oh, and don't forget your nightly skin care regimine, lest you look like a dried up (or greasy, depending upon your skin type) hag before your time. Floss every night! Brush your teeth! Scrape your tongue! (Your kids, of course, fell blissfully asleep at 8:30, allowing you the ‘alone time’ to do this.)

Then you wake up. Since you have had a restful eight hours of sleep, you spring out of bed without hitting the snooze alarm upward of thirteen times until the last possible second you can get out of bed and still get to work on time while wearing matching shoes and not being charged as a "Super Speeder" in traffic court.  Thus having sprung out of bed, you have ample time to cook your children (and yourself) a healthful breakfast, so they don't resort to sugary cereals and no one crashes from the sugar/carb high around 10am. Steel cut oats?  Fabulous! Only 25 minutes until a healthy breakfast is done cooking! Don't forget the fresh, sliced strawberries on top which you bought from a local organic farm, because buying local is good, and you don't want pesticides in your food. Or maybe you grew the strawberries yourself, putting the raised bed together in only six easy steps, filling it with composted kitchen scraps, and carefully weeding and de-catepillaring each day so you don't have to use any weedkillers. 

It's ok - you're multitasking! 

You aren't just doing the strawberries, you are also weeding and de-bugging the lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, snow peas, cabbages, etc., that you planted to reduce your carbon footprint, and to have healthful, fresh vegetables, and to teach your children in a very real, hands on way that food doesn't originate in the grocery store.

Oops. Did I say multitasking? Because we aren't allowed to do that. No. We have to focus our entire attention on what we are doing which - we promise! - will result in a better end product and a much more emotionally satisfying experience along the way.

Oh, and don't forget to pack the kiddos a home made lunch every day, because in cafeteria land, where ketchup is a vegetable and the mealy, pesticide covered apples are something to throw away rather than eat, your children might get rickets or grow a third arm if they dare eat that rat poison.

Wait a minute! 

You haven't left for work yet, have you? Because there is the morning skin care ritual, and don't forget that it isn't enough to spend 25 minutes cooking breakfast, you also must spend 25 minutes eating that breakfast, chewing each bite carefully and slowly and mindfully. If you don't, you will instantly gain 35 pounds, and be forever doomed to wearing muumuus. Along those lines, at LEAST a half hour each day has to be spent exercising, changing into the proper clothing for exercising, and immediately washing the sweat and dirt from your body (no covering it up with Right Guard, ladies!) before changing into your work clothes. This is followed by an application of the trendiest makeup (which requires some time figuring out what that is and taking the time to clean out your drawer of last year's now hideous shade of taupe) and creating a hairstyle that "slims your face!" so that you don't look all washed up, double chinned, and unfashionable.

I could go on, but I won't. I'm exhausted just typing what I am supposed to do between 9pm and 8am. And I'm not even doing it. Truth be told, I am typing this on the weekend and it is 2:13pm. While I did make eggs for my family this morning (and clean it up!  banner day!  whoo hoo!), I'm still wearing my pajamas, because I am so tired it is all I can do to remain upright and speak in relatively coherent sentences. I don't know about you, but for me, this is all about surviving until the next day. Between my job, my two children with divergent interests, the ever increasing number of charity organizations I find myself suckered into helping (as I am incabale of saying "I won't" when "I can", but that is a blog for another day), and the basics like getting my teeth brushed and my children hugged, I simply can't add anything to the plate, even if it is Good For Me. At this point, making eye contact with my husband and speaking of anything to him more substantive than the day's schedule is something as unattainably rare as a ten carat flawless diamond. You want me to do more? Oh, heck no. Last I checked, no one ever died from having Honey Smacks for breakfast, or acne at the age of 42, or from being grateful to get six hours of uninterrupted sleep.

This Game of Life is about survival, folks. Doing what you need to do to get by.  Telling me I'm doing it inadequately, just gives me one more reason to feel badly. I'm surviving, all indications are that I will survive tomorrow, my children are wearing (relatively) clean clothes, behave in school, and no one appears to be visibly undernourished. I consider this a victory. Don't you dare tell me it isn't enough.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Good Grief Y'all January 23, 2013 at 12:31 PM
Funny and spot on - last paragraph, words to live by. Reminder to self - stay away from Better Homes & Gardens and Southern Living magazines during the holidays, any holiday! And Martha Stewart Living? Invitation to a pity party.
Lori Duff January 23, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Thanks! Seriously. I've always thought there should be a magazine called something like, "Lousier Homes and Gardens" where homeowners are praised for not killing the shrubbery and getting holiday cards out before the actual holiday.
Amy January 24, 2013 at 03:10 AM
Love it! I enjoyed reading that. And SO TRUE!
Good Grief Y'all January 24, 2013 at 11:07 AM
Lori, you should start that mag. I think you would have a respectable subscriber list.
Lori Duff January 24, 2013 at 03:58 PM
I sorta took that idea and ran with it in my next post: http://loganville.patch.com/blog_posts/womans-actual-day
Lori Duff January 24, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Thanks!
Joan January 25, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Words to live by, what a hoot. Why didn't you write this when I was raising my kids? I wouldn't have been so tired. I still don't get a good nights sleep. and forget about all that face cream. Joan

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