I was out raking leaves the other day—a nice break from chaining my butt to my chair during deadlines—and while I breathed in the chilly fall air and cleaned up the gardens a phrase popped into my head: Nip it in the bud.
Maybe it was the appearance of roses still on one of the bushes that got me thinking about buds. More likely it was my subconscious working overtime, always trying to figure out ways to improve myself. When it comes to my brain and the things it conjures up, I have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy; but I’m glad it tossed out the “nip it” idea regardless.
I’m already thinking of the ways nipping it can alleviate a lot of the stress I cause myself. Like when it comes to small injustices that inspire me to fight instead of back down. My grandfather was of the mind that “if it’s only money, it’s not worth it.” My husband feels the same. But I’m dogged when it comes to unfair situations, like companies that have been incompetent or unethical. I’ve cried writing three-page letters detailing work gone wrong or unfounded overcharges. I spent countless hours on the phone dealing with my medical insurance and bills not covered when I went through breast cancer treatment. Have you dealt with the health care industry these days? It’s a lot like running in circles, and it made me exhausted and upset during a time when I needed to heal. Wish I’d been smart enough then to just to nip it in the bud by settling things quickly.
Another stress-inducer: my looooong memory. My husband remarked the other morning, “You don’t forget anything, do you?” Okay, not much, which is one of my problems and a big reason I need to practice more nipping. I can recall conversations verbatim from decades before. I remember the good and the bad, people I’ve loved and who’ve done me wrong, those who’ve lent me a hand and those who’ve torn me up with lies. I’d like to blame my hyper-retentiveness on being a writer. We’re a sensitive lot with skin not near as thick as we’d like. We seem to want to swim through our emotions instead of taking the bridge across them.
That’s why this whole “nip it in the bud” idea rocks and I’m applying it as we speak to a friendship that’s recently gone in the crapper. It’s sad, because I’ve known this pal for years, but we’ve been drifting apart for awhile now. I kept thinking I could build some kind of tunnel to re-connect us, but it just ain’t happening. Some people appear in our lives when we need them most and eventually they travel on their merry way. That’s actually a wonderful thing when you think about it. So I’m nipping this one in the bud, too. I’m not dwelling on it any longer. I’m accepting the situation for what it is, and I’m packing away my fond memories so I can proceed with a peaceful heart and a smile. Ah, it’s like breathing in that chilly fall air again: liberating and refreshing.
I truly admire folks who don’t wallow in emotion, who don’t rehash ill-fated relationships or frustrating conversations nightly in their dreams. My husband has a very healthy “live and let live” attitude. He doesn’t hold grudges. He doesn’t sweat the small stuff. I wish I could be more like that, but I probably never will, not entirely.
I tend to let more people into my circle than he does, and I give folks a chance, even when I’ve heard whispers, like, “don’t trust him” or “she’s a self-absorbed twit.” I’m inclined to form my own opinions. The trouble ends up being that the warning whispers were right on target. It’s then that I usually step in a mess trying to back my way out; but, Lord, how those messes can linger, like dog poop on a shoe tracked all over a houseful of wall-to-wall carpet.
But, from this point on, I’m gonna nip it in the bud. I will see that untrustworthy self-absorbed twit for who he/she is, realize I cannot change him/her like a misguided Mother Teresa, and I will gracefully walk away. Doesn’t that sound good?
Now if I could just nip this latest deadline in the bud, I’d be in great shape.
Susan McBride's YA series debut with Random House, THE DEBS, features four prep school seniors in Houston clawing their way through their debutante season. A Fall 2008 Kid’s Indie Next Pick, THE DEBS has been called “Gossip Girl on mint juleps.” The second DEBS book, LOVE, LIES, AND TEXAS DIPS, will be out in June of 2009, and Susan's busy writing GLOVES OFF. Susan has also penned five Debutante Dropout Mysteries for Avon, including TOO PRETTY TO DIE and BLUE BLOOD. She’s recently signed with HarperCollins to write a trade paperback women’s beach book called THE COUGAR CLUB, about three forty-something women who date younger men. Visit her web site at http://susanmcbride.com/ for more scoop.