I’m super excited about Karen Karbo’s newest book in her Kickass Women series: Julia Child Rules: Lessons On Savoring Life, due out in October, so it was only natural that I decided to play along with her invitation to Live Like Julia. The book is comprised of ten rules that Julia lived by, including one my kids would say I’ve already mastered, “Play the Emperor”. I decided to go with Rule #9 – Make the World Your Oyster (Stew) because I had no idea what that meant beyond life being full of richness (if you’re lucky enough to find a pearl) or seizing what you want, as Shakespeare’s Pistol declares, “Why then, the world’s mine oyster which I with sword open.” Seize what I want? Like a pirate? Insert a knife between the shells and force it open for the treasure? Then it occurred to me: Julia may have worn pearls but she made masterpieces of meat. It couldn’t be about looking for treasure, hoping for treasure, dreaming of treasure, seizing opportunities and forcing myself in for my own gain, could it? FADE IN: Int. Doctor’s Office – Day I sit on the exam table devoid of bra or panties in that special washed-to-threadbare-thin gown (attire that gives physicians the assurance you will not run out before they’re done talking) that ties in the back, trying to read her face. DOCTORI’d like you to go on blood pressure medication. MEYeah, I’m not going to take any medication. DOCTORWell, yes, you need to. CUT TO: Me frothing at the mouth at home. A normal person might be pacing but pacing could be construed as exercise and god knows I don’t exercise, so… Here is where the insanity becomes clear. I know about motivating people because I spent several years engaging objects at rest (known to others as “students with below a 1.0 GPA) to become objects in motion, thereby passing their classes. I spent another couple years visiting truant elementary school students and their overwhelmed, underachieving parents in order to help the children engage in regular attendance. I even had a poster in my office at Oregon City High School that looked a lot like this:
Simple, right? Karen remembers an episode of Julia Child’s The French Chef where Julia cautioned viewers to “make sure we had everything we needed before we began.” If I’m going to reduce my blood pressure, I might need to make a list of what I’ll need. Turns out, I already have what I need. A gym membership, a yoga mat & video, yoga blocks (still in cellophane), pedometer, elastic bands, Fitbit to monitor motion and sleep, a trampoline, a nice bike, a hot tub (in which to recuperate) two arms, two legs, a body (if you can still call it that) and a head. The head is the problem.Remember that block that says, “I choose.”–The one that I used to iterate and reiterate to students was the essential step in change?–I don’t actually do that step. I’m fond of explaining to people that I don’t actually like to exercise. Or to sweat. Or to feel my heart pounding in my ears. I once told my buddy Joe Koziol, “I am content living in my head,” to which he replied, “If you don’t take care of your body, where will your head live?” See how a logical argument will ruin a perfectly good excuse? My process–I didn’t even try to share this with my doctor–looks more like this.
You might have to squint at the INTENT box because there’s a lot of internal dialogue going on there. (Click on it if you’re really desperate to read what my head traffic does.) But back to my taste test of living like Julia. I read Chapter Nine: Make the World Your Oyster (Stew) and nowhere did it say that just because you eat what you like, you get to become a slovenly pig that hides out in jeans and sweatshirts. Not at all. Instead, Karen notes, Julia wore pearls while cooking. Pearls? I could wear pearls while I exercise. That’s ludicrous, isn’t it? Like I’d be trying to look good, or something. Nobody accuses me of that now. Of course, I may keel over from a heart attack or stroke if I don’t change the INTENT box to things that generate ACTION. Which brings me to Julia’s practice of refusing to overthink things. (I bet she never knew how great it feels to think so much. Like I don’t understand pâté. Give me a slab of beef, medium-well.) I don’t think I can stop the overthinking part cold turkey. It’s radical. I need a cigarette just thinking about it and I don’t even smoke. I’ve decided that my part of the Live Like Julia, Rule #9 is going to need to skip intent all together and get straight to action. Julia was not a woman who wallowed in ambivalence. She prepped, she cooked, and she served. Action-action-action. I’m going to get my ass in gear and I’m gonna wear pearls while I’m doing it. Screw ambivalence. For seven days, I’m not gonna overthink, I’m going to overdo. I’m going to sweat, beating heart and all. If any of you bloggers living Rule #10: Every Woman Should Have a Blowtorch, see me lolly-gagging around like I’m waiting for the perfect oyster to detach itself, roll ashore at my feet to reveal a precious stone, do me a favor: Brandish a little flame low enough to get me out of my head and onto my feet.