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Destination: Adjustment

January 15, 2013


Be careful what you name your blog—it just may come true.

Not to say that three years after my first post, I’ve reached the end-all, be-all of attitude adjustment. No one can claim that, except maybe the Dalai Lama, or Jesus. But even those gurus have bad days, I’m sure. The Dalai Lama killed a fly once because it unnerved him. Jesus said to turn the other cheek, but damn if he didn’t want to kick that guy in the balls.

What I’m noticing about this years-long emphasis on “attitude adjustment” is the way that it greets me in each new stage of my life. From stay-at-home motherhood to active writer, from career woman to SuperWoman to—dare I say it? I think I’m a Christian, this blog and its main focus have stuck by my fifty shades of womanhood. I used to be a somewhat negative person, you see. I used to be afraid of being “that woman,” who does “that thing” that I was never going to do, and whom I was going to psychoanalyze to prove how easy she was to figure out.

But now I’m all grown up (kind of), and I realize that people are greater than their occasional flaws. I’ve become less critical, more forgiving. For a long time, I held onto that ability to intellectualize as though it were an addiction. It made me feel superior; it allowed me to avoid the knowledge I had of my not-so-perfect self.

Criticism has a place, surely. Things, or people, can usually be improved, and I wouldn’t have been able to get a graduate degree if I didn’t write critical papers of forgotten American novels. But only noticing what’s wrong with someone or something didn’t make me superior or better. It just made me anxious, fearful, hopeless. Looking for flaws is just a manifestation or symptom of a deeper anxiety. And that closes up your heart.

Nowadays, I try to stay away from that energy. (Key word: try.) If I can’t stay away, I at least try to guard myself from getting sucked in. I observe and honor that other person the best I can, and then I try to focus on what’s good or beautiful. That opens me up.

Other things have been changing, too, as a result of my continuing attitude adjustment. For instance, I can’t watch most prime-time television shows anymore. They’re too violent. I used to love Justified (starring Timothy Ol-la-la), but now it’s become some insecure gun-toting-man’s wet dream. I can’t handle all the guns, the fact that any second on that show, someone’s going to maim or kill somebody else, especially after the constant headlines that remind us how often this happens in real life. Even good writing can’t get me past those damaging visuals. I gave up on Boardwalk Empire a while ago, too, but still miss those early episodes where I could escape into the 1920s. Breaking Bad? Forget it. Enough with the damn blood and all the secrecy. Is the crystal meth really worth it, Walter? No. Just take that Winnebago and travel cross country, to the desert maybe, to listen to Edward Sharpe and smoke pot and find yourself. That’s a way better use of your time than killing a million people.

What’s a woman to do surrounded by all this prime time male-centric guts-and-supposed-glory? Well, I’ve resorted to watching other shows instead: Ray Romano’s Men of a Certain Age  to see how real men deal (My husband finds it boring.); Girls—beautiful, lovable Girls; and The Good Wife, which has finally hit its groove. Not to mention Homeland, with the whopping combo of Claire Danes, political commentary, Arabic and family drama in lieu of gratuitous slaughtering. (I may have spoken too soon—I haven’t gotten to the end of the second season yet. Shh.)

Yes, I suppose working for Quakers will do this to you. Focusing all day on articles about peace and the light within make me no longer immune to gory late-night television. I suppose I’m grateful, even if it does mean I’m closing up my wholesome book around 9 pm and zonking out soon after.

These are all good things, though, to help commemorate my third year of An Attitude Adjustment. To those readers who may be lamenting my more infrequent blog postings, I’m sorry. But who am I kidding? You’re probably all gone.

Oh well—I guess I don’t write for the fame. (Or the money.) (Or the page views.) I write for myself.

Adjusting your attitude—and your life, for that matter—requires a little indulgence. That’s a concession I’m happy to make.


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