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So, this is it? This is the best life has to offer me? This is what I’m supposed to cherish. This? I mean, shouldn’t there be more? Wasn’t it supposed to resemble one of those fairytales? Wasn’t I supposed to have been born beautiful, to parents who adored me, as well as one another? What about growing up with plenty of guidance and emotional support and sitting down at 6:00 to healthy family dinners? What happened to the life that was supposed to be grand? What about the handsome prince and living happily ever after? Where did it all go wrong?

No wonder we are all stressed, depressed, out of shape, and overweight! Our lives are often hard, and to be honest, a lot of the time life sort of stinks, doesn’t it? When will we see an end to overly demanding work, and endlessly long days? When will we be free from the emotionally draining worries over kids and calories, husbands and health, poisons and plastics, happiness and hormones? We turn on the T.V. and it’s scary, really scary. Terrorists are blowing things up in our own cities, countries are waging wars around the world and stocks keep crashing. Sell! Don’t sell! Hang tough, and lose it all!

We can’t breathe the air in some places, and we hardly notice people wearing facemasks to filter out deadly contaminants. We bump fists so we don’t get someone else’s cooties. We’ve become such germaphobes that Purell stock is the investment of choice. Our water is contaminated, and the bottles that hold the safe stuff are an environmental disaster, and by the way, the stuff inside? Well, sorry, but that’s not safe either. And then there is the fear about our very existence. When you get right down to it, there isn’t a damn thing we can eat that won’t kill us! And if it won’t kill us, it will sure as hell kill the environment. We’re suffocating the universe, and it’ll be our own damn fault when the planet and all of us are blown to smithereens in the end! And if that weren’t bad enough, they’re telling us exactly when that end will come, and we had better get ready because we’re all going to hell, as well….Unless we’re already there. And if all this isn’t bad enough, I’m still FAT!

It’s all just too much, and I’m just not happy anymore. I don’t even actually remember a time when I was happy. Work and sleep and work and sleep-but don’t sleep too much because there’s too much to do. Plan this and attend to that; check the schedule; make the appointment for him and cancel one for her. Finish the expense report and paint the garage. The bills are overdue, the dog is sick and there’s nothing in the house to eat. Why do I always feel so lousy? Well, why wouldn’t you, silly, you haven’t had a healthy thing to eat or drink in nearly about the last decade. Desperate to numb yourself to stress, you turn on the television, the radio, or the computer only to be harangued by advertisers telling you that you’re not good enough. You need to do more, be more, buy more; build it bigger, make it better, or at least super-size it! Unfortunately, you’ve listened and now you’re bigger, but you certainly aren’t better. When will this madness stop? Frankly, I don’t see that happening.

How can we feel happy when we’re bombarded daily with new studies indicating the health threat posed by yet another food or object? To be honest, even when I’m feeling healthy, I’m scared. I know there will be some new “finding” telling me that I’m “at risk” if I don’t spend a month’s pay on some new blood test, body scan or rectal probe that will undoubtedly uncover something quite horrid. And, oh, the sleepless nights dreading the probe! So we live in a perpetual state of wonderment: Alice had nothing on us as we try to make sense of a crazy world, driven by fear. If we’re not terrified by predictions of end times, we’re paranoid about our own mortality. Just listen to the dire statistics on the evening news: younger and younger men and women collapsing from coronaries at work; health-conscious athletes going to sleep at night, never to wake again, victims of unsuspected silent killers! So, we submit to more probes: squeeze those breasts harder! Prod that belly and cough, darn it! They’re looking for something, and they won’t stop until they find it! Maybe I’m next, we think, as we search for the tumor we’re now convinced is lurking deep within, just waiting to jump out and scream, “Gotcha sucka!” When does this roller coaster stop? Where do you get off? When, for goodness’ sake, will you stop Googling your symptoms, looking for a do-it-yourself diagnosis?

I, for one, am done. I am done with fear and done with my weaknesses and done with my excuses for not having what I want. I am tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop; tired of being a statistic; tired of being fed lies about what I should eat, drink, and think; tired of the fearful masses predicting the hour and minute I will draw my last breath on this Earth. I mean, seriously! UNCLE!

I am choosing life, right now, right here. How about you? Care to join me and make the commitment to take your life into your own hands? Care to make some changes in the way you choose your words, your food, your friends, your day, and your life? If you want to accept my challenge, do this for me now: go to a mirror. That’s correct, right now! Look at yourself in the mirror. It doesn’t have to be a full-length mirror, any size will do. What do you see? I will tell you what I see. At first, I see a tired face. I see lines and droopy skin and gray roots. I see my mother’s sad face in mine. Then, when I look at my eyes, I see more sadness and exhaustion. I also see hints of the young girl I used to be. Why does the vision of my own face make me feel sad? What does your face say to you, and how does it make you feel? Next, if you are really bold, go to a full-length mirror. Don’t be scared; just go with it. What do you see? Do you recognize the woman in that mirror? Is she the woman you have always dreamed you would be? How do you feel looking at yourself? Stay there, please; don’t walk away yet. This shouldn’t be so hard. Remember how much you loved to look at yourself in the mirror when you were a little girl and how you loved to play dress-up and make-believe? What do you believe today?

Okay, this next step is only for the brave of heart! Take off your clothes. Put on a bathing suit, if you must, or just stand there in your underwear, or better yet, stand there completely naked. I dare you. Uncomfortable? Why? You are the only one in the room, I hope! Go ahead and look at yourself. Even take it one step further: take off any makeup you might be wearing. No? Have I just heard an overwhelming crying out of NOOO? Come on; it’s only you. Don’t you like what you see? What don’t you like about yourself? Since you are there anyway, why don’t you just do one turnaround; do it slowly.

If you don’t like what you’re looking at, and you’re uncomfortable being alone with yourself, and it makes you sad, or angry, or anxious, then why won’t you do something about it? Why won’t you stop all the madness around you and inside of you? Aren’t you tired of not being in control of even the simplest decisions that, honestly, only you can control: the decisions about what to put in your mouth? It’s up to you to stop all the craziness. It’s up to you to put down whatever it is you most crave. No matter what you say to yourself, the honest truth, the naked truth if you will, is that what you really crave beyond any potato chip or double chocolate sundae, is to love being the woman you see staring back at you in that mirror. Isn’t that true? So, what are you waiting for? Just stop all the craziness; take control of your life, of your happiness, of your food, and of your health. Make yourself want to look in that mirror and want to be that woman. I’ve put in a lot of years up to this point, and I am tired of being tired. I am tired of being scared. I am tired of not wanting to be the woman looking back at me. How about you?


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