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Girls my age raised in the South by powerful Southern mothers learned that there is no time for whining or feeling sorry for yourself. We were taught that we are always strong and a la Taylor Swift, we “Shake it off.” The advice goes something like this:
- Put on a little lipstick; you’ll be fine. The message here is that if you look good, you will feel better. Nothing does it like lipstick. If I am running out the door and have no time for any other make-up, lipstick is it. One of my daughters’ little friends used to marvel that I could put on lipstick without using a mirror. That comes from lots of practice. My mother never left the house without her lipstick and hair in place and I was not allowed to either. We could be in deep mourning, but by God, we looked good.
- Stop feeling sorry for yourself: go do something for somebody else. My mother believed that feeling sorry for yourself meant you were selfish. Even if your best friend shunned you, your boyfriend broke your heart, or your dog died, the solution was to get out of yourself and worry about someone else and their misery.
- Your problem is you need something to keep you busy. I was a dreamer. I read constantly or I lay in the living room listening to music. The other option was to hide at the top of a tree. If I were caught, the solution was busyness in the form of ironing, pulling weeds, or folding laundry. (I hated it.)
- You need a little retail therapy. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. I know women who swear by this one. I have a more modern version in that I do it online.
- You need a spa day. If things are really bad, such a day includes the works- manicure, pedicure, massage, and facial. I confess to elements of this every month. This is my therapy.
- Grace with dignity. This was one of the most powerful things I learned from my mother. And it served me well in difficult times. I learned to physically stand up straight, compose my face, and respond to adversity with tact and diplomacy. (While silently telling the other person to go to hell!)