Photo courtesy of Leigh Newman
1. The Dream of Stopping Traffic
Most of us have the same little fantasy in our minds that's been playing there since the sixth grade. We walk into the party or the formal or the jazz club...and an awed hush spreads through the room. The music stops. Men in tuxes turn away from their stunning, curvaceous dates to stare. The curvaceous dates stare too, plus the waiters. Because we have entered the room. As life progresses, we sometimes think that this dream only comes to life for the very prettiest or most powerful in the world. That, my friend, is ridiculous. A flirty red hat or a handful of helium balloons will accomplish the task in about two and a half minutes. But if you really want people to turn their heads in your direction, if you want those folks to gaze at you with wonder, if you want cars to come to a screeching halt in the middle of rush hour—a feat that is a hundred percent achievable regardless of your age or the tightness of your so-called booty—you have to break out the chicken mask (yes, this is really me).
2. The Dream of Pulling Off a "Judith"
There are a lot of ways to be an everyday hero. You can donate bone marrow or build a well in Africa, both of which will change complete strangers' lives. You can also help people whom you know well enough to know exactly what they need (bottle of rosé, a coupon for a 15-minute-long rant about a boyfriend). But what about the people you know...but don't know?
I recently met a woman at a wedding. Let's call her Judith. A few weeks after the wedding, the bride threw a cocktail party, and Judith and I chatted a bit more. We were now officially...not friends...but acquaintances. During our conversation, I mentioned that I was struggling on a work project and wasn't handling it the way I would have liked to and...okay, I told her that I had cried at my cubicle. The next morning, without my knowing, she got my number from a friend and randomly sent me this text message at 10 a.m. when she knew I would arrive at the office: "Hello, Leigh. It's Judith. You bring me much joy...and by the way, you will ROCK your project." I was stunned—and moved. She was not my mother, my bestie, my husband or my co-worker. She was a lady at a party. She had to put her name on the text because she knew it would not be in my address book. She had no real reason to offer me support. And yet, she did. Because it is entirely possible to pull off a valiant act of thoughtfulness—not just for friends or strangers but also for those who fall in between.
3. The Dream of Saying No Once a Day
Uttering the big word "no" can be terrifying. We're afraid that we'll never be asked again to do what we can't do right now. We're afraid the asker won't like us. We're afraid that a whole chorus of cackling green demons will pop out from the nearest bush and make a ring around us, singing, "You're a selfish bitch!" Because saying no means we're not going to give somebody what they want.
' 'And yet, we have to use this word in order to make space in our lives for our actual lives. It would be overwhelming to simply tell yourself to say no more often, but ordering yourself to say no once a day is absolutely doable. You only have to do it once a day. When the barista suggests you try the grapefruit soda instead of the orange one, break out a polite no. When the pigeon is about to poop on your bicycle seat, hiss "no"—and swat. This may seem meaningless or even silly, but it will get you in the habit for when those more socially complex situations come up—for example, when your neighbor asks, "Can you make 72 chicken wings for my barbecue on Saturday?" Having conditioned yourself, you not only will be able to say no but also will be able to say no only once instead of yelling it 32 times and running upstairs to hide under the bed.
4. The Dream of Being on a Magazine Cover
Name it and it shall be done (and I'm not kidding).
Next: A simple way to achieve organization