self-improvement
Illustrations: Peter Arkle


There are people who search and delve and pioneer, and we are all the richer for it. But there's something to be said for the occasional road not taken. Sometimes the quest to restore creativity and courage begins with a single, mascara-free Saturday filled with fettuccine and flannel and more than a few episodes of Downton Abbey (and, of course, by Downton Abbey, I mean reruns of CSI: Miami). Here, a little encouragement for anybody who's looking to sit this one out.


1. Raise your hand if you're planning to attend your high school reunion. Allow me to spare you four solid months of carbohydrate deprivation and explain how that story ends: The cute boys are now balding men, but for reasons we will never fully comprehend, they're still capable of persuading us to let them copy our Madame Bovary notes. And the mean girls are as cliquey as ever, only thanks to Botox, they've lost their ability to form a sneer. Show up if you must, have fun if you do, but if tenth grade was just one long daisy chain of ugly for you, like it was for me—it's okay to take a pass.


2. And speaking of Botox, we're all hoping that Mother Nature or Father Time or whoever's running the show will cut us the same deal that Christie Brinkley got. But I say err on the side of the saggy, because the road to youth is paved with women pulled tighter than the Lycra in JWoww's tube tops.


3. Show me somebody who's filled with regret over not having backpacked through Kathmandu and I'll show you somebody who's never spent a summer eating yak. Yes, spiritual enlightenment and sandals are good. But so are air-conditioning and indoor plumbing. You can experience another culture in Nepal and commune with nature to boot, but you can find spiritual enlightenment wherever you are, whenever you're ready.


4. Ever dream of sailing the seven seas? Martha Beck provides you with the tools necessary to chart your course—7 Steps to Creating the Life You Really Want. But who are you going to listen to, a life coach with three degrees from Harvard or me? You want to talk about sailing? I've got two words: Somali pirates.


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