I'm a fixer. I don't like to watch people fail and I really hate to fail. I tend to be very hard on myself and I expect the same out of other people. That can be a recipe for a train wreck. It can also be the recipe for intense motivation. I am learning a really good lesson right now from a kids book. My mom read this book to me when I was little and now I am reading the same one to my son but what he doesn't know is that it is mommy's favorite book right now because I need to read it over and over and over again until the reality of what it is saying sinks in deep and some part of me really digests it and I start living this little book, guilt free. Why? Because I know it is going to make my life better. I know that I am going to be less stressed and in doing so I will be less frustrated with other people because not only will I not expect them to live up to an insanely high standard I also won't be frustrated when they end up not doing anything at all.
The Little Red Hen. In short this hen does everything around the house for a lazy dog, cat and mouse, one day she finds some wheat and asks for some help to plant and then tend and finally harvest grind and make the wheat in to a cake. The response of the other animals is "Not I!" until the little red hen gets to the part where she asks "Who will eat this cake?" of course everyone jumps up and comes running in to the kitchen wanting a piece of cake. What does the little red hen do? Well she gives her cake up of course because she is the perfect martyr and then cleans the kitchen while fuming about how the others never do anything and she goes to bed hungry and angry. OK. So that isn't what happens. She tells them to take a hike. She says that she has done everything by herself and now she is going to eat the cake by herself. And she does. All of it. She doesn't even share. That wicked.... hen. The book ends by saying that from then on she had to do everything by herself and she was selfish until she died. OK. Not really. It says that from then on she had three very eager helpers. Her one act changed the lives of all of them. How is that possible? It boggles my mind! How did something that seems "selfish" end up being the thing that brought all these animals together and made their house a happy sharing home? Here's my take on it. Of course I am going to give you my take on it, I mean you are reading my blog after all and everything in this blog is jammed full of opinions but the warning is in the title. The hen knew that she couldn't just give in and continue to live life as it was with her being all pissed off that she wasn't getting any help and on top of it depriving herself of the things that she enjoyed. Even though she didn't get any help with the work it took to plant, take care of, harvest, grind and make the wheat in to a cake she did it anyway, she did the work because she enjoyed it and knew she would enjoy the end result of her labor, you see it isn't the work that gets her undies in a bundle it's the other animals thinking that they deserve all the benefits when they do none of the work. When she bakes that cake that day she decides that things are going to be different. She has a lump of guilt in her throat that she can hardly talk around when she tells the other animals that she is going to eat the cake alone and the cake may have been one of the hardest things she had to swallow, the first few bits anyway. But then something amazing happens, she lets herself enjoy eating the cake and when she is done she happily cleans up the kitchen and goes to bed, content. The next day she wakes up to three transformed animals. She doesn't become lazy, she loves to work and cook but now she has the help that she needs and she gets to watch them enjoy their hard work by eating the next cake that she bakes that they helped plant, tend, grind... and dang-it even if she hadn't got the help that she needed she had found out that she could happily go about her business but that it wasn't her job to make sure those other animals were fed. She didn't lose anything. She gained companions. And she had her cake and ate it too.