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Help Me Do The Very Best My Neighbor Can Do

When I create my world, chocolate will be dietetic, the seasons will be: 3 months of fall, 4 months of spring, 1 month of winter (December), and 4 months of enough money to travel around the world and hit whatever season I want. Also, there will be no PMS, men will love talking about my feelings, and gestation will last two weeks, at which time the child will walk out of my navel and graduate from college.

You are all invited.

Also in my world, there will be no women who get so much done in a single day that one begins to wonder if, in fact, they are not one person at all, but rather a consortium of people, hiding behind a front-man (woman). For example, I knew Alison Moore Smith in High School, but I don’t think she exists anymore. No. I don’t know any actual human being who can get as much done in life as she can: creating, writing for, and managing multiple blogs, running various businesses out of the home, writing books, home schooling all of her children, building a house, being in plays, inviting aging parents to live with her, having a church calling or three, and possibly running for president. I’m sure I’ve left something out.

I think the real Alison was translated years ago and has since been replaced by a consortium called A.L.I.S.O.N.S.M.I.T.H., also known as the American League of Ingenious Systems Organizers Not Stopped by Moony Idiots that Tergiversate Heavily. (Which, for those of you who don’t use words like “tergiversate” in daily conversation as I do, means: To change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to cause, subject, etc. [Dictionary.com]) A.L.I.S.O.N. is not doing all of this work by herself. Neither is my amazing neighbor, or any of the women I know whose portfolios are bursting at the seams like A.L.I.S.O.N.’s is. They’ve got help. I know they do. And they’re giving the rest of us tergiversators a bad name.

So, what to do? I propose a campaign to take down all People-Who-Are-Really-Acronymed-Consortiums. Yes, take them right down! They are influencing our children, who – may I remind you – are our future. They are influencing our government. They are influencing society. They are changing the world! And what about me? These people are messing with my life. I’ve got some lemonade to drink, and some movies to watch, and some chocolates to slam down while avoiding cooking dinner. And I know I am not alone.

Here’s the plan. It’s easy. We give all these little Super-Stepford-Women the day off. That’s it. They won’t know what to do. The droves of little worker-bees that make up the A.L.I.S.O.N. consortium—and the consortiums of those like her—buzzing around frantically with nothing to do? They’ll blitz-out. Go completely catatonic from the shock of being unable to accomplish anything. And the rest of us will finally get a rest.

Oh yeah. I got this. No more comparing myself to the perfect woman in the ward. No more self-esteem puncture when my homegrown yeast bread comes out of the oven looking like an albino slug. No more feeling guilty for being relieved when all the kids are out the door to public school for the day. I’m going to be FREE!

Who’s with me?

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Alison Moore Smith February 10, 2011, 3:11 pm

    Julie, thanks for stopping by the upgraded Mormon Momma. You are our first commenter since the reformatting. Congratulations. 🙂

    Janiel, now I deal with you. I struggled about whether to allow this post or not. Janiel is a fabulously talented writer — but she also tends toward delusional behavior. Not to mention that she has perfect hair, fabulous clothes, and a better body than she had in high school. None of which I can manage on my best days!

  • Alison Moore Smith February 10, 2011, 3:44 pm

    Clarification: We sit on the same couch. Now you see what I meant by “delusional.” And, no, I don’t look good no matter the distance or how many children I strategically place to camouflage my body.

  • Julie February 10, 2011, 2:55 pm

    ROFL!! I feel guilty way too often. I’m glad to read that someone else has these days too. 🙂 Let’s revel in this post and then get to work! 😉

  • Alison Moore Smith February 10, 2011, 4:11 pm

    Cropped carefully at shoulder height.

    And, hey, I only have on calling. Primary chorister. Which I believe, thankfully, will soon be behind me if rumors prove true.

  • Angie February 10, 2011, 4:15 pm

    I love it Janiel! And I guess that means I need to squeeze another minute into my…ahem…busy day to write my next MM article! 🙂

  • jennycherie February 10, 2011, 4:19 pm

    Finally!! A new post!! I’ve been reading the old ones, looking at the spiffy new site (only complaint: where are the emoticons?) and re-thinking a few things. This is great – but I don’t think we should take down the consortium. We need to share. I’d just like to borrow A.L.I.S.O.N for a day and I’m pretty sure I’d have my whole life in order!

  • Janiel Miller February 10, 2011, 3:26 pm

    Julie – You are kind. Thank you! Although I don’t know about that “get to work” bit in your comment. In fact it concerns me. Is your name “Julie” or “J.U.L.I.E.”?

    Alison, sweetie honey baby. You do yourself no justice and me a ridiculous amount of it. Now you know why I always sit 20 feet away from you when we hang out. ANYONE looks good from that distance, including me. I believe we have formed a Mutual Admiration Society, which means we’re both probably a bit delusional.

    (PS-I still think you’re an acronym.)

  • Janiel Miller February 10, 2011, 4:07 pm

    Oh puh-lease. People can SEE that picture of you there on the right, Mrs. Gorgeous Red-head.

  • Janiel Miller February 10, 2011, 4:07 pm

    (You all don’t mind just hanging out while A.L.I.S.O.N. and I fight, do you?)

  • Alison Moore Smith February 10, 2011, 8:38 pm

    Yessiree, Angie! I’m looking forward to it! 😀

  • Tracy February 10, 2011, 10:09 pm

    Love it! And so glad to see MM back up in all it’s glory! Great post to start with, too. I myself have wondered how A.L.I.S.O.N. does it all as well. And I’m not kidding. I’ve honestly said to myself, while looking at pics of the plays she’s been in, and occasipnally reading her posts on MM, T&S, Pix2Brix, etc, how she manages to get so much done, knowing that she’s also running several businesses and homeschooling, amongst other things as well. I used to post articles and comment at MM all the time. But when I opened my Facebook account I found I couldn’t keep up with both. I honestly don’t have time. And I really don’t spend that much time on FB anyway. Maybe 30 minutes or so– because I just don’t have much more time than that–unless I don’t get the dishes done, or don’t do the laundry, or don’t pick the boys up from track practice, or don’t pick my daughter up from play rehearsal, or don’t make dinner or run any errands… I could go on. BUT I know Allison has to do all those kinds of things too— so then, I just feel SINCERELY perplexed and a little inferior and less capable as well, to be honest.
    So Allison– spill the beans, girl. Seriously– I’d love for your next post to be one about how you manage your time and balance everything the way you do. I feel like I’m already doing as much as I can– I honestly don’t sit more than 40-45 min. a day—if that. I’m up at 5 to throw in a load, fold a load and get the boys to seminary. So I sit while I’m driving–it,s only about 6 min round trip. Then IF there isn’t some other chore that needs immediate attention because I know I won’t have time later, I exercise for about 30-40 minutes. By then it’s 7 and I’m getting Sara up and getting her ready for school and on the bus. I sit for about 10 min to feed her. Then I help my youngest w/ anything she needs, or do a little tidying up until she’s out the door at 8:30. Then I get ready for work, and get a few other household things done– empty the dishwasher, send off a couple bills, make some necessary calls (no calls just to chat with friends), put clothes away- or any other typical thing that needs to get done every day. At 10:15 I’m off to work and I sit for the 10 min drive– I’m on my feet the WHOLE TIME I’m at work– LITERALLY– the whole time– and it’s very fast-paced with no rest. It’s a short day though and I’m heading back home or off to run a few quick errands at 2pm. If I go straight home I try to get a few more things done, and maybe get a headstart on dinner. Emma and Sara get home between 3:30-3:45 and I spend sometime unpacking Sara’s things, cuddle and play with her for a few minutes while I give her a snack and talk to Emma about her day. By then it’s 4-4:15 and I get dinner going, go to pick up the boys from after school track practice– then sometime around 5 Mary gets home from play rehearsal via the actvity bus OR I have to pick her up– it depends how long practice goes– then Bill gets home from work, we eat, I either do the dishes or it might be one of the kids’ turns– if so, I’m working on some other chore– folding clothes, getting another load in, helping someone with homework, straightening something up, running an errand I didn’t have time to run earlier… Sometimes, MAYBE once a week I’ll go upstairs and watch whatever Bill is watching while he’s on tne treadmill, but it’s really just to have a few minutes with him. Then it’s back dowstairs, straightening up, checking email, looking for an answer to question I posted on FB, moving the load from the washer to the dryer… yadda, yadda, yadda– before I know it, it’s 9:30 and it’s time for family scripture study and prayer. That’s generally my first chance all day to really SIT and do nothing but relax. Then the kids go to bed– it’s usually around
    10:15-10:30 by then. ( We usually have a pretty good gospel discussion or end up talking about everyone’s day, something funny that happened at school, etc. So it always takes longer than the 30 min Bill and I originally thought it would take, and the kids get to bed later than they really should, but we all really enjoy that time). I usually end up doing a little more straightening up– put that last load in the dryer or whatever and by then I’m completely bushed. I USE to use the quiet time to get online and do all my email/MM/Internet stuff–sometimes staying up pretty late. But I just don’t have the energy anymore. I REALLY AM absolutely wiped out by then–hardly able to keep my eyes open.
    So I feel like I really couldn’t pack anymore into my day, but somehow you do all those things AND run several businesses AND Homeschool AND be in plays…. so I must be doing something wrong. Spill, girl.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 11, 2011, 12:37 pm

    Um, uh, ah…

    Really, guys. I’m normal. Well, in an abnormal sense. I honestly don’t quite get it when people say stuff like that.

    Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you if I think of a cogent response.

  • Janiel Miller February 11, 2011, 1:07 pm

    Oh Tracy! I just want to reach through the screen and hug you! You sound distressed. I can tell you this about Alison, she sleeps less than anyone I know, and that is true. That’s one way to get it all done. She’s also more remarkable than she will admit, but whatever. She’ll get it someday. 🙂

    Also, I’d like to say that, all joking aside, the danger of looking at others is that we tend to compare their best with our worst. And that never works. It’s not the truth.

    The second thing I’d like to say has to do with listing all the things people do, the way I did with Alison. I did it as part of a tongue-in-cheek post, knowing that by doing so the impressiveness of what she does was going to go up several notches. Not to take anything away from Alison, but listing things out like that, putting them in writing, automatically puts them up on a bit of a pedestal. I remember being asked to speak for a women’s group and they wanted a detailed bio and list of my accomplishments. “Um. Let’s see. Today I emptied the dishwasher, took out the trash, fixed dinner and lunch and threw cheerios at everyone for breakfast, did laundry, chauffeured, changed 102 diapers, and rototilled the garden. Did that yesterday. Will do that tomorrow.” In short, I didn’t feel very accomplished. But when I sat down and thought, and wrote it all out, I looked stinkin’ impressive. We don’t think of what we do as being as good as what others do, and that’s a trap. We need to pat ourselves on the back more. Look at the good we do each day. Seriously. Report it to Heavenly Father at the end of each day, along with the repenting we do. I think that’s important.

    And finally, I remember feeling just like you, Tracy. I still do sometimes. Our lives are incredibly busy and sometimes we feel like we can’t breathe. I finally hit a wall and realized I can’t do it all. So I prayed. Got a blessing. And the counsel I received was this (and please understand I am not at all trying to minimize the demands that are placed on you, nor am I implying that you don’t already do this. This is just what I learned and is therefore all I can say about it): If I would do things in the right order, I would get more done because God could work with me and my time better. And the order was this: My relationship with God first. Which means scripture study and prayer first thing in the morning. Exercise falls under this for me because I’m getting old and I can’t be a profitable servant if I can’t move my legs. So I do that first thing in the morning too. Except when I don’t. Working on that. It also means planning my day on paper, via the Spirit, so I know I am doing the things he wants me to do that day.

    Second is my relationship with my husband. Am I being supportive, helping where and how inspired, are we unified, are the physical aspects of our relationship in order and binding us together? And most important for me, am I listening to the Spirit before I open my mouth so my inherent solar-flare personality doesn’t bludgeon him?

    Third is my relationship with my children. I pray to find out what I need to do for each of them each day. Sometimes I forget to, and things get a bit crazy. It’s better for me to ask.

    Fourth is everything else: callings, projects, work, writing, friends, whatever the Spirit tells me to do.

    In short, if each of my days is prioritized and focused first through God, then my marriage, then my children, then everything–via the Spirit–I am calmer and I get much more done in the time I have. Sometimes it seems I have more time, because I have peace and the Spirit. And sometimes I know God just helps me get things done faster. But I have to listen in each moment for whether or not I am doing the things God wants me to do right then. Whether I am doing it in order.

    I have been Mrs. Crazy-pants-run-around-like-a-lunatic for most of my married life. I’m just being taught how to live THIS way instead. I’m not brilliant at it yet, but my life is much calmer, and I am much calmer. And there are days where some things don’t happen, but as long as the most important things happen, it doesn’t matter.

    Anyway, I have limited knowledge and ability, but those are my two-bits. Adjusted for inflation – 18-bits.

    Hope things calm down for you, Tracy. Sounds like you’re trying really hard. Go you!

  • Michelle D February 18, 2011, 1:58 pm

    Janiel, this is the perfect comment: good advice that is do-able and not guilt-inducing. Thanks from another overwhelmed, imperfect, non-acronym-ed Mama.
    Michelle D recently posted…Blizzard Mania PhotosMy Profile

  • Barney February 19, 2011, 10:25 am

    What is wrong with guilt?

  • Janiel Miller February 19, 2011, 12:22 pm

    Nothing, if you don’t mind premature baldness and ulcers.
    Janiel Miller recently posted…Food! Feats! Fridays! UGLY JUICE!My Profile

  • annonymous on purpose February 19, 2011, 2:35 pm

    Wow. Is it any wonder so many LDS women are depressed? This was funny until I realized you were actually SERIOUS!

    Did you want to put your current weight, pant size, and how many times you have sex each week? You might be able to push a few more women to the suicidal edge.

    ^5 for tooting your own horns. Now go toot the horn of the LDS, low-income, single mom. Not quite so much fun, is it? Resources make all the difference.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 19, 2011, 3:18 pm

    If you’re going to blast someone, anonymous on purpose, you might at least do the courtesy of being clear who you’re blasting so that the blastee can respond appropriately. (Or just have the kind of discussion you’d be willing to attach your name to.)

    If it’s Janiel you’re blasting, then, no, she wasn’t serious. You need to read her post more carefully and the comments add to that as well.

    If it’s me, then I have no idea what you’re talking about, since I haven’t really said anything yet. And I’m fat, so my pant size is only going to make people feel (and look!) good.

    As for depression, I’m not sure I buy that women across the globe are depressed because OTHER evil women accomplish so much! Stop! Watch soap operas! Eat bon bons! It’s the only way to save them!

    Are we really living under the erroneous notion that we are all equally accomplished? Or that we can’t learn from people who might be more efficient, effective, motivated, organized, capable, or whatever? If hearing what someone else does that you don’t makes you want to down a bottle of valium, then by all means, do not listen. On the other hand, there are much more productive ways to use such information.

    Your implication that single, low-income women can’t (1) do a lot or (2) learn a lot is just bogus. I’ve seen them do completely amazing things, not to mention get OUT of the “low-income” category by taking action, learning, taking action, learning (pretty much like the rest of us, but with a different set of problems).

    As for me, yea, I’m pretty sure if I posted my weekly sexual activity, you’d all commit suicide in jealousy. I’ll have to think about how best to yield that newly discovered power!

  • Janiel Miller February 19, 2011, 4:36 pm

    Anon – I would like to respectfully disagree with a few points you made in your comment. And I am sorry that my post caused you the pain that it seems to have.

    First, I was not at all serious in my article. It was meant purely as a tongue-in-cheek poke at how often we, as LDS women, make the mistake of comparing ourselves to each other–which I think does make our lives harder. This is a very destructive thing to do, and it is completely subjective, as we have no way of knowing what is really going on in the compared-to person’s life. Often the women we compare ourselves to don’t feel at all like they are accomplishing the things we think they are. As I said in my comment above, listing it all out makes it look more impressive than it actually is.

    Second, I disagree that something external like posting personal info–which I would not do, but for the sake of this discussion–can be responsible for pushing someone to the edge of suicide. That’s like saying air-brushed supermodels on magazine covers cause anorexia. They don’t. I don’t believe that our emotional states are determined by external factors such as this. Rather, that our responses to things like this reveal our emotional states. Which should tell us that we are in need of the atonement and should be looking that direction for healing, rather than at a piece of information, or how we measure up to other women.

    Third, and again, with respect, I don’t agree that resources make ALL the difference–either in our happiness or our success. They definitely make life easier. But a whopping pay check, marriage, and size zero jeans do not cure depression. Depression is depression. It comes from the inside, not the outside. Our responses to our situations determine how we feel and what we do. We could live in a mansion and be depressed, or live in a shack and be happy. I truly believe it all comes down to how we use our agency to respond to our circumstances.

    The only reason I feel that I can say any of this is because, like many of us, I have been there. My circumstances may not be identical to yours, but I’ve had loss of income that required a major home downsize, spent another solid year at a different time with no income at all, walked on the financial edge a lot, spent some years battling anorexia, and a number of other things. For me, I found that comparing myself to others was a dangerous trap, and something I had control over. It wasn’t what the other person was doing that caused my problems, it was what I was doing. And how I chose to look at my situation.

    None of this may apply to you, so this is just for what it’s worth. My thoughts on the thoughts you expressed here.

    Thanks, Anonymous.
    Janiel Miller recently posted…Food! Feats! Fridays! UGLY JUICE!My Profile

  • Janiel Miller February 19, 2011, 4:41 pm

    Wait! Barney, if you’re a lawyer for the prosecution, then guilt is AWESOME! I’d agree with you there. 🙂
    Janiel Miller recently posted…Food! Feats! Fridays! UGLY JUICE!My Profile

  • jennycherie February 25, 2011, 11:31 pm

    I was reading up on Time Management today and found this:

    http://moneysavingmom.com/2011/02/free-ebook-time-management-101.html

    which reminded me of the original post above. Obviously the comments took a different turn – wish Anonymous would come back and respond rather than hit and run!

  • Janiel Miller February 27, 2011, 8:24 am

    Ah, great quote, jennycherie. That’s the point, pretty much. And I think we can learn from each other without competing or comparing. Her book sounds good.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Janiel Miller recently posted…Dear Lovely ReadersMy Profile

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