You can't achieve perfection unless you find time to floss

April 16, 1995|By SUSAN REIMER

Do you know anyone who flosses? Actually flosses. Not people who say they floss. They could be lying. Not someone who talks about how important flossing is. She could just be a dental hygienist. But someone whom you have actually seen flossing.

Of course not. And not just because you don't hang around in bathrooms. You don't know anyone who flosses because no one does, despite how important flossing is. No one flosses because, like you, they don't have time.

They don't have time to be the kind of person who flosses. Or the kind of person who rubs cuticle cream on her fingertips each night.

Like you, I have read all those helpful hints in magazines while waiting in the dentist's office to see the dental hygienist and get a lecture on flossing. I know what I should be doing to be a better person, a better parent, a better homeowner, a kinder spouse, a considerate friend, a more productive worker.

They are all worthy tasks. I just don't have time to do them.

And yet I am morbidly drawn to these admonitions in magazines and on "Regis and Kathie Lee." I listen earnestly to the suggestions of everyone from my plumber to my manicurist. The result is, I am walking around with these lists in my head of all the things I am not doing. And I am feeling bad about it.

But every day is a new day, and, just as I promise myself each morning that I will only have a light snack for supper, I vow to make time to do all these things I know I should be doing.

Such as . . .

Drink 64 ounces of water each day to moisturize my skin from the inside out. Chew each bite of food 30 times while not reading the newspaper or watching television, so that my stomach can send my brain the message that I am full.

Stretch before I exercise and again after I exercise. Exercise.

Divide my perennials in early March. Spend a few minutes in prayer or meditation each morning and each evening. Start saving for college now.

Read 100 pages of a book every night before bed. Polish my copper. Plan dinner menus for a week, make a shopping list from the menus and buy only those items at the grocery store -- which I visit only on a full stomach.

Run vinegar through the coffee maker, keep a journal, sprinkle baking soda on the carpets before I vacuum. Cook with fresh herbs. Focus on just five areas of conflict with my child and resolve those.

Wash my makeup off before bed, sort my paperbacks and give them to the library, touch my mate in a loving but non-sexual way at least once a day.

Give away any clothes that I have not worn in two years. Check my children one last time before bed to make sure they are covered.

Learn a new word, bake with my children, rent the video of a movie that won an Academy Award.

Eat five fruits a day, read at least one item on the editorial page of my newspaper and find someone to discuss it with. Watch a video of an old musical with my children.

Treat that spot now so it will come out when I do laundry later.

Practice math facts with my children every night. Practice spelling words with my children every night. Read to my children every night. Say prayers with my children every night. Moisturize my face and hands every night.

Build bone mass and prevent osteoporosis by doing weight-bearing exercise. Turn off the water while I brush my teeth.

Listen for those signals that my children want to talk. Treat myself to a candlelight bath with aroma-therapy oils.

Celebrate each holiday by doing a craft with my kids. Make sure they call or write thank-you notes for gifts. Wash the outside of the windows, too.

Flip the mattresses on all the beds and wash all the bedclothes. Plan a date with my husband every week and a weekend getaway every month. Pinch off the bleeders on my tomato plants.

Spread crab grass preventer in early March. Post affirmations on the bathroom mirror where I will see them every morning. ("I am happily and easily living without a credit card.")

Cut up the credit cards.

Subscribe to the opera/symphony/ballet/or theater. And go.

Eliminate meat, alcohol, caffeine, soda and cheese from my diet. Find a new recipe and make it.

Spend time alone with one child. Make an appointment with my gynecologist.

Floss.

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