In Her Shell
Friday, August 25, 2006
  Real Irritating
Someone got me a gift subscription to Real Simple. As much as I enjoy the clean layout and pithy quotations sprinkled throughout, I think it is really Martha Stewart Living in plain linen clothing.

Most of their suggestions are silly and unrealistic, but fun to read ("Use an old spring as a desktop organizer for letters and bills!") More and more, however, the concept of a magazine devoted to making life easier for the overprivileged is chafing a bit.

This month's most offensive article, "Letting Go of Your To-Do List," by personal and executive coach and motivational speaker Gail Blanke, goes beyond frivolous to ridiculous.

Here are Gail's "5 steps to living more of your life":

1. "Think "easy." Ask yourself several times a day, no matter what you're doing, no matter how overwhelmed you feel, "How easy, how simple, how absolutely delightful could I make this task?""

You're right Gail. I'm sure this Bolivian boy is thinking that right now as he herds his flock! "How absolutely delightful!"

2. "Stop measuring yourself based on how much you get done in any given day, and start celebrating yourself based on how much you discover. Let go of being the world's greatest efficiency expert and embrace the role of lover and adventurer."

So true. If only this Bolivian girl and her friends would stop counting fish and start DISCOVERING things, they could stop being "just child laborers," and start their real adventure!

3. "Look up from your to-do list at least three times a day and take in your surroundings. Look for delight in the most unexpected places."

That would definitely be a spirit-booster for this Columbian boy.

4. "Listen to the people you love best as if you've never met them before. Don't assume that you know how they feel or what they're thinking. Listen for who they are now, what they're passionate about now, what delights them now."

F* you, Gail.

5. "Look for the magical moments, those unextraordinary, brief moments when they're playing "The Way You Look Tonight" or someone has made you cry with laughter. Embrace that person and say out loud, "Right now, isn't this great? Here we are together. And we love each other. Aren't we lucky?""

6. "Sit down for just five minutes. (Just kidding.)"

Unless it will get you docked a day's pay.

According to the UN website, "More than 250 million children between the ages of five and 14 are exploited for cheap labour, according to a United Nations agency, the International Labour Organization (ILO)."

Gail's article may only be redeemed by its closing lines, in which she hopes that all her readers will be able to have tombstones inscribed (in part), "SHE WAS REALLY LUCKY."

good lord. and I thought the article about simplifying your kitchen by purchasing $6000 of new "all-purpose" stuff was a pile of crap.
(sigh) if all the world had a social conscience...
I started to laugh until you made me want to cry. What a ridiculous sounding magazine and what a great way to put part of it to good use.
No kidding. How full of shit can a magazine staff be?
Thanks for the support on this, everybody. Sometimes I think I am getting too wrapped up in my anger about things like this.
No, the anger is good. I had a roommate years ago who got Real Simple and it made me CRAZY. I never really thought about it in a global perspective, but there's absolutely nothing simple about Real Simple. And you're right, the only people who are really all that concerned with simplifying are the affluent people who can't figure out where they're gonna park their fourth car.
Ok, I really fucking hate that song The Way You Look Tonight.

There is a book called The Bitch in the House, which is essays written by women about marriage, motherhood and all that. One of the essays was written by the editor of Real Simple. She basically talked about how she got up at five in the morning to go to work and never sees her husband or kids unless she is tired and stressed and yelling. Real Fucking Simple, huh?

And finally, thank you.
Thanks Megan and Lu. You have each eloquently summarized my feelings of bitterness toward this magazine.
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