Monday, April 22, 2013

Simplifying Silliness

Simplify.  That's what all the self-help books are screaming at us from the shelves of the local Wal-mart or where ever it is that they sell books these days.  Simplify.  Streamline your life.  Get rid of the complications. Stressed?  Quit your job, give away all your stuff, eat nothing but organic vegetables and drink gallons of filtered, ionized water, and you'll never be stressed again!  At least I'm sure that's what the books say.  I really don't have time to read them all, so I just glance wistfully at the book jackets. 

I would love to be able to simplify my life. For instance, I have found that I really don't like making decisions about the little things. It is difficult enough for me to make the big decisions all day, let alone to answer impossible conundrums about "paper or plastic?"  It has long been a dream of mine to be independently wealthy enough to semi-retire and pay people to come to my house to fix my hair, make me food, and help me work out. And maybe tell me what to wear, too, because...some days it is just too stressful for me to pick out an outfit.

I am the go-to decision maker in my house. Most moms are.  I decide what food to buy.  I purchase most of the clothing worn in the house.  I decide what to feed the dog, and the cats.  I decide what time we get up in the morning for work.  I decide which flavor of coffee to purchase. I decide when someone is sick and when they are faking. 

How can all that be simplified?  If it were just me, by myself, maybe it would be feasible.  But I'm a family unit, not an individual, and as the mom I am expected to remember everything for everyone, and to make decisions for everyone.  I can be decisive, but people usually don't like what I decide. 

Simplifying is much more difficult than it looks, and it is disingenuous of the self-help books to say otherwise.  Simplifying can be more work than just leaving things complicated. Take something simple, such as the tradition of going out to lunch with your coworkers for a special occasion.  It starts out innocently enough.  A hypothetical colleague, Jill, was just promoted to the next rung on the corporate ladder, and everyone is just waiting to steal her office supplies to congratulate her.

Me: Hey, let's go to lunch!  (at this point, I am actually happy, because lunch is my favorite part of the day)

Coworker #1: Sounds good.  Where?
Coworker #2: Anyplace sounds fine.
Coworker #3: I'm in!
Coworker #4: Yay! We haven't been out in so long!

Me: Thai? (I'm starving...I'll get something with curry...or not)

Coworker #3: No. Peanut allergy.

Me: Chinese? (Okay, I'll have some garlic shrimp)

Coworker #2: MSG. Swells my feet.
Coworker #4: They closed that place down last week.

Me: Mexican? (I guess I could have a quesadilla)

Coworker #1: I don't like the way they cook their lengua.
Me: Barbecue? (maybe a turkey taco?)

Jill: Vegetarian
Coworker #1: Gives me the heartburn

Me: Cheeseburgers? (please, for the love of all that's holy, somebody PICK something!)

Coworker #4: Lactose Intolerant
Jill:  Vegetarian.

Me(sarcastically):  How about just a plain PB&J?

Coworker #3: Nope. Peanut allergy.
Coworker #4: I'm eating gluten-free.

Jill:  I'm just going to order a pizza.

Long gone are the days when people would just politely go where the guest of honor chose without mentioning their food allergies.  Now things are all complicated, because everyone's individual dietary needs must be catered to in order for everyone to be happy. Consequently, it is easier to just order a pizza than to make a decision.   If a bunch of smart, educated women can't make a decision about something so simple as lunch, I think we've figured out what is happening with Congress. 


  1. And I thought something was wrong with me when I struggled to keep something simple! INstead, I am in great company!

  2. And... if you throw pepperoni on that pizza, Jill will get it all to herself! :) I do strive to keep things simple, I find that the more organised I am the better it works. And I know how to say NO, and to say "For the love of all that is holy someone make a decision!" out loud, and in print and not just in my head.

    Communication is the key to getting things done, really... which I think is also the problem in Congress, and in life in general.

  3. One of the ways I keep it simple, is not to make appointments if I possibly can. When I don't promise I don't dread. I find I enjoy things more if I am spontaneous.
    Katie atBankerchick Scratchings

  4. Lunchtime every day drives me crazy. I just need to start bringing my own lunch!


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