True Beauty


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. 


LeeAnne was quite enamored with her own reflection. She found dozens of reasons  to go past any reflective surface, where she paused to admire herself and make sure everything was as it should be.

She was a pain in the neck. Those who had the misfortune of having to live with her and watch her intense love affair with herself were thoroughly fed up. Something needed to change. Her mother, who had watched LeeAnne’s growing fascination with herself, was convinced that Lee understood as a newborn infant that she was unusually pretty.  Maybe that was because so many people told her so.  It wasn’t long before she would lower her eyelids over her violet eyes and allow her dimples to wink off and on in response to some stranger’s awe of her great beauty.

Little brat. She used her appearance whenever she could to avoid doing chores she found distasteful, beneath her dignity as the reigning family beauty.  How she pulled it off was a mystery to everyone.  She never screamed or threw a temper.  She just smiled her entrancing smile and walked away, and someone else would end up doing her work.

One day, the rest of the family had a meeting without their queen. She wasn’t informed. What they decided was to remove every mirror from the house; to cover any shiny surface that could reflect Lee’s image. No window was to be left uncovered after dark. They even went through her handbag while she was in the shower, removing her mirror. They removed the visor mirror from her car. They were ruthless and thorough.

The day after the Mirror Project was completed, there was a mighty wail coming from Lee’s bedroom.
“Where is my mirror?  WHAT?? There’s no mirror in the bathroom!  Wait, who took the mirror from my purse?  I’ll call the police!   How can I get ready if I don’t have a mirror?”

While she grieved over the loss of her own reflection, the rest of the family ignored her. Mom, Dad, older brother and younger sister all went about their business as if The Queen were not there.

Her sobbing and crying having no effect, she resorted  to threats. “I’ll move out!  I’ll get a place where I can have mirrors on every wall!  In fact, the walls will BE mirrors!  How could you do this to me? What have I done to deserve this?”

Running her brush through her hair, she dressed quickly, grabbed her face kit, and ran out of the house. The drive to her job was tedious–no vanity mirror in the car.

Shoving her way through the revolving doors, she ran to the women’s bathroom to finish her beauty routine and was horrified to find—-you guessed it—NO MIRRORS!  She even dared to peek into the men’s room.  No mirrors there, either.  No mirror in her desk drawer, no co-worker who would loan her one.

Her day was ruined.  She had no idea how she looked, and it was all she could think about. At lunchtime, she raced to the nearest department store’s cosmetics department, knowing there were always mirrors there.

But not today.  The sales girls just looked at her blankly when she asked for a mirror.

“I must be dreaming,” she thought.  No one could possibly have removed mirrors in all her usual preening places.

What she didn’t know was that the people in all those places were just as sick of her narcissism as her family was, and they had happily agreed to remove mirrors.

Not one single person told her how pretty she was that day.  No one commented on her shiny hair, her beautiful eyes, her dimples, her radiant smile.  She was just like everyone else.  It was horrible.

It took about a week for her to get the point. Because she had no mirrors in which to admire herself, she began to see other people. She even started conversations with her co-workers, asking them about their boyfriends, husbands, children. There was a softening in her eyes that made her truly lovely, and not just beautiful. Even at home, she no longer spent her time on her hair and makeup. Instead, she enjoyed conversations at the dinner table with her family, who behaved as if this was normal.

She had lots of time for introspection, and she decided she wasn’t very pretty at all.  She was so full of herself and her appearance that she hadn’t bothered to acquaint herself with aspects of her character that needed some attention.

The day she went to her family and said, “I’ve been horrid, haven’t I?  How did you put up with me?  I’m so sorry!”  was the day the mirrors began to reappear. Lee was surprised to see her reflection in the bathroom mirror, but she didn’t pause to admire herself.  She brushed her teeth, washed her face, and went to bed. Less than five minutes, compared to her usual hour.

As she grew older and age began to leave traces on her face and skin,  she welcomed the changes. The only regrets she had were over the waste of her first 20 years, which had been spent in front of a mirror.

She only wished that her family had “cured” her sooner.

OCD (You probably DON’T have it)


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt



It amazes me how many people come into my office having already diagnosed themselves with something or the other. Usually, it’s Bipolar Disorder or OCD.  Then there are those who are quite positive that someone else is a narcissist at the very least, a psychopath at the worst.

Be comforted that the main reason people think every third person on earth has some sort of diagnosis is that the media, the internet, and the pharmaceutical companies have pretty much convinced us that we’re all nuts.

We’re not.

And if you really think you are, PLEASE stop researching your diagnosis of choice on the internet and go see someone who is qualified to help you.

The most common diagnosis people come to me to tell me they have is OCD–Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. They think they have it because, usually, they are very particular about neatness and organization.  It takes a little effort to persuade them that these are highly valuable characteristics until/unless they go too far. Any good quality is a problem when it goes too far.  Self-confidence can become narcissism, I suppose.  Friendliness can become Borderline Personality Disorder, a condition that sucks people dry in the name of friendship.

Anyway,  the first part of OCD is obsession, which has to do with the thought processes that lead to compulsive behavior.

Here’s how a normal, but very neat and organized person thinks:  “I have to clean the house and have all the laundry done before I leave for vacation. I hate coming home to a dirty house.”  Her husband, who tends to be a happy slob, tells her she’s being OCD, and when this pattern repeats over and over, she begins to believe he must be right.

He’s not.  He isn’t the one who is going to return from vacation and dig into a huge pile of laundry, a dirty house, and an empty pantry. He’ll happily go to bed to rest up from vacation while she tries to figure out where to start on the work that needs to be done.

That doesn’t make her OCD.  It does make him lazy and thoughtless.

Here’s how obsession works:  “If I don’t have everything in perfect order, someone is going to come visit and see what a horrible housekeeper I am. I have to make sure that never happens.  My cleaning routine can never, ever, be changed. I have to wash clothes every Monday, vacuum on Tuesday, bake on Wednesday, shop on Thursday, change all the beds on Friday, dust the furniture and clean the appliances on Saturday and get the Sunday meals started. If I miss any of these chores, the sky will fall; my children will become seriously ill with some disease carried by a less than spotless bedroom; my mother-in-law will see my lousy housekeeping and talk about me to all her snooty friends. Terrible things will happen.  Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.” This person doesn’t keep a clean house because she likes it that way.  She keeps a clean house out of a dreadful fear of some calamity or the other falling on her head. 

The obsessive thinking leads to the compulsive behaviors:  You must iron your pillowcases three times to make sure they’re perfect.  You must check three times to make sure you’ve turned off the iron.  You must turn the faucet off and on three times to make sure it isn’t dripping.  You must check each wastebasket three times or you may miss some tiny piece of trash.  You must run the vacuum under the bed three times; wash your hands three times; rinse the fruit three times; dust the furniture three times, and follow this routine endlessly in order to prevent some horrible outcome.

True OCD   consumes your entire day. You can’t keep a job because it takes you three times longer than it should to accomplish the simplest task. Your happy-go-lucky spouse becomes nervous, angry, or withdrawn. He refuses to allow you to rebutton his shirt three times.

This is true OCD.  Now, don’t you feel better?  You’re just a neatnik, and the world could use more neatniks!