Like many people I know, I have occasional bouts of self-deprecation when I tend to overlook all the goodness in my life and focus instead on all the things I don’t have and all the things I can’t do. The negativity takes hold, and I find myself once again diving head-first into that ever-deepening pool of self-pity.
I don’t have enough money in the bank, certainly not enough to do what I want to do or go where I want to go. I can’t see the tiny print in the recipe directions–is that 1/3 or 2/3? (No, my son tells me, that is actually 3/4). I don’t have anything to wear. I can’t lose 15 pounds (of course, I haven’t actually tried–and if I did, then maybe I would have something to wear).
Poor, poor, pitiful me.
It’s time to stop all that negative nonsense. In addition to all the good things I do have in my life–home, health, family, food, etc., etc., etc.–there are also a great many things I can do and can actually do quite well. It’s just a matter of perspective.
These are just a few of my greatest strengths:
- I’m very good at memorizing license plates. Because of my job, I spend a lot of time on the road, so to amuse myself (and to keep myself awake) I use mnemonic devices to memorize the plates on the vehicle in front of me. I also memorize the vehicle’s color, its make and model, and any distinguishing marks (such as a dent on the back fender or a McCain/Palin bumper sticker in the back window). I try to determine the number of people in the vehicle, their gender, hair length and color and any other characteristics that might help law enforcement officials. I assume the vehicle and its inhabitants will at some point be involved in a horrific crime in front of my very eyes, and when I call 911, it will be my detailed witness statement that will put the unsuspecting criminals behind bars for the rest of their natural lives.
- I’m also very good at thinking of witty comebacks. Unfortunately, my response time is rather slow, and my witticisms usually are voiced about five minutes after the intended receiver has walked away.
- I’m a master at loading the dishwasher to maximum capacity. That dishwasher won’t run until every square inch is skillfully packed and every silverware slot is completely filled–not in my house.
- I’m a professional at eating without thinking. I can get to the bottom of the potato chip bag or to the last kernel in the popcorn bowl without realizing how I got there, and I can eat half a dozen chocolate chip cookies before my brain registers that I probably should have stopped at five.
- I’m an expert at tuning out background noise. When I’m reading or writing or involved in anything else that intrigues me, the rest of the world doesn’t exist. This is a skill I learned when my three sons were younger and frequently had friends over–a basement full of wrestling, yelling, bouncing-off-the-ceiling young boys hyped up on Kool-Aid and cookies could be a little overwhelming to the senses; learning to ignore such distractions became a defense mechanism that continues to serve me well.
- I’m a champion at cooking in large quantities. And this is funny because I’m not crazy about cooking in small quantities. It’s hard to motivate myself to cook for only two people, especially when we would be just as satisfied with a sandwich, a plate of leftovers, or a bowl of popcorn. I like the challenge of cooking for large groups and creating several courses that will not only be satisfying but also tasty and attractive and memorable. (Additionally, it’s nice to have others recognize and appreciate my efforts!)
- I’m very talented at ignoring “gross stuff.” This may also be a result of mothering three sons. Dripping blood doesn’t faze me; neither do dead animals in the driveway, disgusting stories at the dinner table, or funky smells emanating from the back seat. (I recently stepped on a dead mouse that the cats had left in front of my kitchen door–it was surprising how loudly its little bones crunched beneath my foot. Years ago I would have wept at the indignity and given the poor thing a proper shoebox burial; this time I gingerly picked up its lifeless body and threw it into the woods.)
- I’m also very good at ignoring clutter. I enjoy having a clean, clutter-free house; I despise the amount of time it takes to achieve such fleeting perfection. To me, housework is a necessary evil reserved for when I have nothing better to do (and I almost always have something better to do).
- I’m a wizard at worrying. In fact, I’m especially good at worrying about things that will probably never happen. I “what if” all kinds of terrible scenarios of gloom and doom, preparing myself for the inevitable worst. Eventually I’m relieved when the worst doesn’t happen, but in the meantime I’ve eaten my way to the bottom of another potato chip bag, I’ve lost precious sleep, and I’ve spiked my blood pressure again. My husband repeatedly tells me to stop worrying; he has yet to tell me how.
- I’m quite adept at painting my toes. Most women confine their polishing techniques to their nails only–not me. No matter how carefully I attempt to apply my Madly Mocha Nail Enamel by Maybelline, I invariably end up with drips and dabbles all over my toes (and feet and floor). And when I try to swab away the excess with a little cotton ball and polish remover, I manage to swab away most of the intended as well. Having pretty toes (that will seldom be seen) is usually not worth the time or effort of painting and re-painting.
There are many more things I can do quite well (like sending my children on guilt trips, pretending to be calm, hiding my true feelings, and falling asleep in the car before crossing the county line), but I think I’ve done enough bragging for one day.