I hate to shoot for the cliche, but I couldn’t help myself but first go for a “give peace a chance” approach. After a good 15 to 20 seconds of anti-war and greed ranting… I’d ask people to stop having children. Well, not everyone. You get the green light if you’re totally dedicated to making this world a better place for them, and then teaching those children to carry out that same mission. It’s not a lot to ask. It’s a big, bad world and we can’t just give everyone a green card to just, um, sit there. Be it holding someone’s hand in need or just saying hello to strangers walking down the street, baby steps lead to bigger footprints. I’d tell everyone that each of them matter in this world, and they each have a gift to give. I’d tell them things I need to remind myself like put down the Kardashian and pick up a book. Kiss your nearest and dearest often, say you love them at least daily and walk the walk–show them your affection and gratitude in your actions. I’d say look up from the Blackberry/iPhone/laptop/TV and talk to someone. Interact. Humanly. Take the earbuds out of your ears and don’t just hear someone. Listen. Think. Appreciate. React. Think with your head and respond with all your heart. Challenge your own ideas often. Be wrong (it’s okay!). Try something new. Laugh at yourself. Indulge. Forgive yourself. Move on. Respect yourself so you can give more to others. Look beyond the borders of your comfort zone. Stop living in a bubble and care about what’s going on around you. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Sunscreen, yes. Being mean, no. And yes, it is how you play the game. There’s truth in cliche. Hear these words, people. Go forth and…lather, rinse, repeat.
“What’s the most impulsive thing you’ve ever done?” Plinky asks.
Hmmm. I can think of a few. I like to think I lead with my head and heart in sync, but sometimes, the heart is a solo performer. That said, I think it’s nice to go back to the beginning…the first time I remember throwing zero caution to the wind, letting ‘er rip, and welcoming impulse into my life.
I auditioned for Annie, The Musical when I was about 10 years old at our small town’s community theater [Editor's Note: I am NOT a singer by training nor a dancer by training. Not remotely. I was a kid that loved Annie. Period.]. Many an Annie-obsessed kid turned up for the audition, and we were instructed to know the beginning and chorus of the song “Tomorrow” (duh). Given the long line of eager Annies ready to American Idolize themselves, we were firmly told to stop before the bridge of the song. At least, my weak musical knowledge thinks it’s the bridge? You know the, “When I’m stuck with a day, that’s gray, and lonely…” Well, we weren’t supposed to go that far in the song. Just get through the chorus and then out of the way for another tween suburbanite’s turn. “NEXT.”
I was a pretty shy kid back then when it came to exposing too much of my personality. But this was ANNIE. I would sing and dance daily to the Broadway recording in our living room when I didn’t think my family was watching. This Day My Earth Stood Still was my chance to show the world (the Forge Theater in Phoenixville, PA casting volunteers) that I could wear a curly red wig with the best of ‘em. It was Showtime.
I remember the pit in my stomach leading up to my turn. I remember beginning to sing and seeing a little old lady from my church in the seats nodding along with encouragement. Whether or not there was a tinge of pity in that nod, didn’t matter. I was in a zone. A comfortable, no fear zone. I sang with passion! I sang with gumption! No holds barred, baby. Who was this kid breaking out of me? What was this inner spunk of a child I was unlocking before the eyes of 20? In that moment of self discovery and love, I promptly decided to break the rule. KEEP GOING, I told myself, suddenly out of body and loving the little diva I saw before me. I figured the more they heard, the more they’d feel my passion! I kept on belting, and I mean belting, right on to “stick out my chin, and grin, and saaaaaaaaay…”
As I recall it, they let me go a few bars, and then firmly said, “thank you, thank you…that’s all, Jennifer.” And the moment was over. I floated out of the line with a beaming smile and an inner fire I had never experienced.
It didn’t matter if I got cast as Annie (I didn’t) or Molly the youngest orphan (nope). I had overcome a fear of showing my true colors (inner orphaned red head?) for something I believed in. I walked away knowing that sometimes going for it is one of the best instincts to listen to–whether it pans out successfully or not.
It just makes you feel really freaking swell.
I’m onto you General Mills. And, I thank you.
Cheerios are a part of my life. Nearly every day of my life, in fact, since May 31, 2008. That’s when our dear Zoe came into this world with hair like Dianna Ross and a smile that could melt stone. Okay, so she was toothless for months, and to be accurate, the Cheerio connection really occured about 6 to 9 months into our parental adventure. Since then, Cheerios are a favorite food at the highchair…car…stroller. A mom’s not-so secret staple. A go-to-when your-child-won’t-pipe down in Target. A Saving Grace, if you will (and you will, parents). And since I’ve stared at Cheerios for days, weeks, months and for now nearly two years, weird theories and ponderings bubble up in the cranium as to how these little inner tubes of grain might be something MORE. I smell a life analogy coming on! I ask you to consider The Three Pillars of A Cheerio Life.
1) Flotation. It’s amazing how those oat doughnuts just keep lounging in the milk even if they’ve been sitting for awhile. And much like that Sandra Bullock movie of yore, hope floats too, my friends. I’ve been called somewhere between a realist and an optimist, I really can’t make the call. I know I have my Captain Negativo moments just like anyone else. But I am a firm believer in picking yourself up each and every time and not dwelling on the crap (at least not for too long). Sink or swim? A trick question. Float!
2) “A Good Source of…” Oh, you know the list. Those 12 vitamins and minerals magically make your breakfast experience feel somehow…Fulfilled. Enriched. Complete. Those sound like good personal goals, eh? For me, it’s also something I’d like to be for others as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, and of course, friend. A few co-workers recently called me a “voice of reason.” Sha! I don’t know what was being smoked before those words were uttered, but it made me feel nice. What I do know is that I’ll die trying to help people make sense out of emotional chaos, conquer the crazy and see the good in others–just as I strive to do that for myself. I want to strive to be “a good source of…,” well, fill in the blank with (mostly) good stuff.
3) A Fun Crunch. You can see it when Zoe first nibbled on her first Os. Instant ear to ear grinning. I just ate a bowl of Multi-Grain myself, and there is something even at this age that is satisfyingly joyful about it. Who doesn’t want to live like that all the time? Okay, maybe not all the time. I certainly have my pjs-all-day-on-the-couch-watching-bad-TV-no calls, please- moments. Ruts happen. But more often than not, bring in the noise, bring in that spunk, that total zest for life. Bring the fun and funny, and bring it hard. CRUNCH!
I could go on–you did notice “CHEER” is in the name, right?–but I’ll shush. Cheerios may no longer lay factual claim to lowering cholesterol, but there’s something to be said for pessimism.
Or the bar for crazy ass analogies?