I find that the optimal time for one to muster motivation for self-improvement is right after one has polished off an entire pint of ice cream.
“Okay, that’s it!” I recently bellowed to my college-aged daughters after tossing an empty carton into the kitchen trash can. “I’m dead serious this time — In 2020, I am finally going to become my best self!” I wasn’t exactly sure what that entailed, but the pint of ice cream had triggered an all-too-familiar level of personal disgust that I had experienced many times before. The mudslide of rocky road sloshing in my stomach had brought me to rock bottom, and I was ready for something new. Not a new ice cream flavor, but a new path. A new way of doing things. A new attitude.
A new and improved me.
“I don’t care if I’m fifty-three years old!” I ranted, dropping my spoon into the sink with a clank. “I’m finally going to learn portion control, for criminy’s sake. And ... and also ... I’m going to stop staying up so late, I’m not gonna bite my nails anymore, I’m going to take my vitamins, I’m going to stay organized,” I counted dramatically on each of my sticky fingers. “I’m not going to make excuses, and I’m gonna do things right, once and for all!”
“Glow up, Mom,” my daughter Anna said from her seat at the kitchen island, nonchalantly smirking at her sister. She and Lilly were accustomed to my hormonal mood swings. They stared blankly at the countertop television as if I made such dramatic proclamations every day.
“Wait. What do you mean ‘glow up?’ ” I asked, stopping in front of Anna. She craned her neck to see her show around me, and responded without looking, “You know, Mom — you do you, be confident, don’t let anyone get you down.”
“Hmm,” I thought for a minute, “I like that ... Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to glow up in 2020!”
Mildly amused, my daughters egged me on with woots and fist pumps, their eyes only temporarily deviating from their reruns.
“Giddyup, Big Mamma!”
“Go on wit ya bad self!”
“Pop off, sis!”
I had no idea what Anna and Lilly were shouting at me, but apparently, they were offering modern colloquial phrases of support and encouragement. And I knew I would need all the help I could get.
Despite the fact that self-discipline had never been my strong suit, that afternoon in the kitchen with my daughters, I felt a true sense of determination to change. As a middle-aged woman, I knew I would need to buck the “old dog” stereotype. Could I learn new tricks at my age?
I reminded myself that I had spent 23 years as a Navy wife and mother of three — I had tackled challenges before. Deployments, loneliness, career challenges, managing the household alone, trying to make new friends, 11 moves, financial worries, military retirement, feelings of isolation, longing for the comfort of military culture. Memories of our military life seemed to woot and fist pump at me, just as my daughters had.
My determination to succeed at self-improvement seemed more real than ever before. But I was still facing at least a week of seasonal festivities, houseguests, chaos and clutter. I knew I would need to put some safeguards in place to minimize the risk that my motivation would wither and die like our Christmas tree.
First, I Googled the term to make sure my girls weren’t punking me. To them, nothing was more hilarious than to hear their middle-aged mother misuse modern phrases. To my relief, the pop culture blogs confirmed that “glow up” was generally defined as “a personal transformation” that includes “increased self confidence” and “a positive change in one’s lifestyle.”
Perfect. Next, I made a call to the base gym to book personal training sessions, listed my 2020 goals in a new organizational calendar and painted my nails.
“Glow up, Big Mamma,” I told myself, confident that in 2020, I would do whatever I set my mind to.