Toothpaste On A Shirt
By Cheryl Hansen
Whenever the phrase “toothpaste on a shirt” is uttered in our house, it means someone is overreacting about something. It originated a few years ago when my son, then 6, totally lost it after—you guessed it—getting toothpaste on his shirt. It’s our way of saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
The other day when I picked up my kids from camp, they tearfully informed me that peanut butter was no longer allowed. It was very dramatic. Naturally, I had to break out the mom speech, sprinkled with scientific data they’d have no way of confirming, informing them exactly why this rule was in place. I may have concluded with something along the lines of, “So don’t tell me your need for PB&J is more important, K?” I was actually a little appalled at their reaction and wondered aloud to my husband later if we were raising spoiled children who irrationally needed peanut butter.
Then Reality tapped me on the shoulder and poked me in the chest. I recently gave up diet coke and sugar because, well, diet coke and sugar aren’t part of me I want to be. I tried for months to taper it all off, only to return to old habits. So I’ve officially ripped off the band-aid, and I’ve been pretty traumatized about the whole thing. I took a hot yoga class in an effort to speed up the elimination of all the crap that had been inundating my body for years, but my confused, chemical-deprived body was not happy about it and didn’t exactly cooperate. And I’ve been a little (a lot) cranky lately (I may have barked at the dog). I desperately sought both praise and empathy from my husband on day one… DAY ONE. He was kind enough not to sing “toothpaste on a shirt,” though he probably should have.
So when my Yoga Pod instructor started talking about heavy loads, I was all ears, feeling as if my load of late was so very heavy. But here’s the thing (I’m paraphrasing): the load is only heavy if you carry it. It’s no burden at all if you let it go. So the sage advice I offered my kids about peanut butter (“it’s not a big deal if you don’t make it a big deal”) was actually pretty good. But it also applies to my current struggles. Don’t get me wrong, there is a real, rather unpleasant physical response when you eliminate sugar, caffeine and aspartame from your diet (which is a good indication that I was consuming too much of it)—but if I put it into perspective, I can lose at least some of that load. And if I focus on the ultimate goal of better health and newfound balance, it makes it all a little more bearable.
The bottom line: our minds are powerful tools. We get to choose how we react to challenging situations, whether it’s misplaced toothpaste, saying adieu to peanut butter or giving up the very-foods-that-have-made-life-possible-for-at-least-a-few-glorious-decades. (As long as I’m not overacting.)