My 76 year old mother and I are standing in line at Walmart. She’s holding up a magazine, looking puzzled. “Have we already read this one?” she peers over her glasses at me. On the cover is some perfectly fit and toned 20-something woman running on the beach, laughing at god knows what (probably at me and my far from toned body) and the heading across the top yells “FLATTEN YOUR BELLY!”
“Uh…maybe?” I scratch my head and shrug. How can I tell? I mean, really. At this point they’re all the same. While in line, I count four separate mags with similar demands to trim one’s waistline. Flatten Your Belly in 10 Days! New Diet that Flattens Your Belly! Bye-Bye Belly Bulge! A Flat Belly Fast! Apparently flattening your belly is the end all be all of a woman’s existence. Why, if only I could somehow make that area of my body smaller, I’d be gloriously happy! It could be me running full speed on a sandy beach in a bikini with a huge “dontcha wish you were me?” grin.
I admit, I have indulged that glimmer of hope and have actually read one or two dozen of these articles. My conclusion? Whatever new exercise or stomach crunch or grapefruit smoothie diet they recommend does not work. Every day I wake up, yawn, stretch, look down and BAM. Well, whaddaya know? There’s that belly of mine again. Not flattened in the slightest.
Which reminds me of another “face it, your life is crap” article I see time and again. If we’re not out flattening our tummies then we must straighten out our lives and all the stuff in it. Y’know the ones. Declutter that! Organize this! on just about every cover. They give you step by step, neat and tidy suggestions on how to clean up your closets, put your desk clutter in color-coordinated folders, create pretty ribbon-covered holders for your mail. Ooh! It’s a mail organizer and remote holder plus a paperclip wrangler all in one! And all you have to do to create this Martha Stewart monstrosity is spend an entire weekend running around trying to find the perfect sized lace ribbons and hot glue sticks! But, it’ll be oh so worth it to have all your stuff in one place and with a bow on it! I can feel the peace washing over me just imagining the tidyness of it all. The closet organizer articles are even more exciting. I can picture clean shelves, shoe boxes and everything in it’s place.
And if your stuff is decluttered, these articles promise, your mind will become decluttered and therefore peace and tranquility will rule your world. Sounds good to me.
I’ve tried. I really have. But, much like the belly thing, I can’t seem to get it right. (see picture of my upstairs closet at right) I have managed to dejunk my closets. But it doesn’t last. Somehow they morph into a towering heap of crap within days. So my closets are cluttered. I’ve learned to let it go. I keep the rest of the house fairly neat (for someone who has two little kids anyway) Desk stuff stays in the desk area, toys in the toy room, dirty dishes in the sink…dirty clothes in the…laundry room area scattered about… Good enough for me. But decluttering your closet? Who thought of this one? Closets are perfect for heaving stuff you just can’t be bothered with because you’re so damn tired. Isn’t that why God invented closets in the first place? Besides, what can beat that sense of danger and adventure when I dare fling the closet door open? I can only imagine what long-forgotten treasure I’ll find. Will I finally discover that tiny Strawberry Shortcake doll my daughter has been begging me to hunt down for the better part of a year? Will that mountain of toys and books and miscellaneous junk crash down on top of me? I live such a thrilling life. No worries though. I have a careful method of opening the door slowly enough so that Buzz Lightyear doesn’t tumble out and land on my feet. Then, I quickly hunt for whatever doodad or thingy my kids desperately want that very second of they “will just die!” I yank it out and slam the door closed just in time to hear a glorious thunderous crash behind it. Sometimes the avalanche of stuff pushes the door back open and I run over and push it shut with a heave. Sigh. Mess contained. Problem solved. Disorganized and cluttered. And life goes on.
So all you ladies out there with the beautiful Buddha bellies and the messy closets, rejoice. Accept yourselves. Give yourself, your body and your closets a break. Use your extra time wisely. Put down that magazine and read a good juicy book like Twilight. (Still haven’t gotten around to reading it, but it’s on my to-do list) Keep the closet door closed and your belly covered and no one will be the wiser. But you will be happier, I promise.