More from My Desperately Optimistic Life

March 23, 2010

Letters I, F, and E are yet to come. This is the last of L:

• Consider the holiday/birthday pillowcase gift tradition, instead of big gifts, the celebratee(s) get(s) lots of little ones, collected throughout the year, then wrapped in newspaper and stuffed into a pillowcase. At holiday time, the long, slow, leisurely process of ogling everyone’s everything one gift at a time can last most of the day.

• One chicken really can make three meals for four people.

• Homemade soup is cheap and easy (it’s the final chicken meal). Leftovers from a Chinese or Thai meal eaten out, for example, can be turned into soup with some broth and seasonings added. I suggest getting the carryout containers before anyone starts eating and taking home some planned-overs to use. Do this at home too—lots of home leftovers become soup quite easily. Plan for it.

• We left our holiday tree up the whole time I was in school (yes, it’s artificial—I’m allergic). It became such a fixture that we still have a tree up. (Well, actually, we have at least eight.) We all like the colored lights. When you’re tired or stressed out, turning them on is both refreshing and soothing.

• Pretend that you can’t do whatever it is that someone might want you to do. Here are some examples: Fix homemade goodies for some event, make a special dish for a potluck, whip up a homemade Halloween costume, etc., etc., etc. There are no real Superwomen or Supermen and no one can really do it all. Trying to do so exacts a toll. Let go of expectations. Creative compromise is a key to sanity.

• There’s probably no one whose real life is as smooth as it may appear to be to outsiders. Most of us are like ducks on a pond, paddling furiously beneath the surface as we glide along.

• Don’t nag. Resolve to do less nagging even when you’re tempted to. Don’t always say what you’re thinking. When someone else does a job you could do better, let go unless there is a serious—really serious—reason not to. Example: If goop left in the sink after the kitchen is cleaned by someone else really bothers you, either ignore it or clean it up. Being grateful is important too.

• Most important of the letting go hints: look at the concepts of more and less from the viewpoint of the children/adolescents/significant others/friends/roommates in your life. The things you believe add to the quality of their lives may not be what they want or need. Check with them. Ask. Talk things over regularly. Negotiate.

Tomorrow: The I of L.I.F.E.

What could you let someone else do, even if they won’t do as good a job as you would?

Life is short; live it up.
• Nikita Khrushchev



  1. the list is endless, of what I could let someone else do! scoop cat litter, FURminate the dog, make dinner one night a week…run to the store…

    i keep perhaps too tight a grip on too many things…

    I like the visual of us paddling furiously below the water, like ducks, when all anyone else can see is…ease.

    great post

    • Ah, yes. Mine too. The best letting go I ever did was telling my family that they would starve if they didn’t start fending for themselves. My husband learned that he loved to cook (and still does), and both my sons learned to cook. The word “fend” also entered the family vocabulary and we all still use it today when no one feels like fixing anything.


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