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Madeleine Eames

- Psychotherapist
- Mindfulness Teacher

What Packaged Scallop Potatoes Taught Me

I love scalloped potatoes but without my sister here to make them, they’re not happening.  Too much work. 

So I was grateful to my friend for pointing me in the direction of Betty Crocker’s instant scalloped potatoes for our family Easter dinner. 

Yup… just add water and milk. Delicious.

Notice if any judgement arose in you just now because it sure did in me. I could hear my mother scoffing (but was that her, or me?) and I felt compelled to explain myself to the grocery store cashier as I checked out with four boxes. Why??

I have lived with an ever-changing, highly stringent set of rules that is slowly becoming unraveled over time. My husband once said “I can’t keep track of the rules you live by.” That was no surprise because they are always changing.

I spent so much time figuring out what I stand for, who I stand for, what I am here to do, and the truth is that it changed on a weekly if not daily basis, as does life.

In my 20’s I dedicated myself to the poor and homeless because it was the “right” thing to do. I became a social worker, a socialist, an activist and wasn’t happy because the world wasn’t happy. 

Every day for years I woke up with a different “from now on…” rule.

From now on I’m not eating meat.

From now on I’m meditating for an hour every morning.

From now on it’s a 10km run.

From now on I’m doing this new self-improvement habit. 

From now on…. and on and on.

Here’s the truth, all of these things are great, and none of these things are real or even true. None of them will make anyone a “better” person. 

Rules are made to be broken because not one is the absolute truth of how things “should” be. 

I see so much how we are judging others so harshly right now.. this is right, this is wrong, you are bad, I am good.  

The truth is you can never know the battle someone else is fighting today that might make them say something mean, forget their mask or their dog leash (happened to me and someone was angry!!) or even why they have the beliefs that they have. 

I’ve even put this on my kids..

From now on 2 hours of screen time a day.

From now on only screen time after dinner.

From now on no screen time, except when…

Well which one is it?

From now on fruits and veg at every lunchtime.

Except today, it’s ok.

Alright today we are eating out.

From now on… and on and on. 

It never lasts (even more reason for self-loathing) and it NEVER made anyone happier. 

Every single rule has an equal opposite somewhere in the world. Some things are worshipped that others revile. And there is no “from now on”, there is only “now”, like right now.

If today I didn’t eat meat (doesn’t make me vegetarian)

If today I stayed in bed all day (doesn’t make me lazy).

If today I had a couple glasses of wine (doesn’t make me alcoholic).

Because tomorrow will be different. I might crave a big juicy steak and go to the gym. 

Once you start noticing, you might be shocked at the rules that have been made up that we live by without even realizing them. Somewhere in the world there is a culture that has completely different rules. 

It doesn’t make anyone better or worse, more worthy or less worthy. It’s when we label ourselves as this or that or label others that it gets tricky.

Do you see how rules set us up, and anyway…. who made them?

This has been the absolute downfall of many systems, religious, educational, patriarchal, governmental: when the rules are not questioned. 

And this is exactly where new ideas, creations, inventions and advances come from… not from the old rules but from breaking the rules, saying “this has never been done before.”

Apply this to anything: who says? Who really says?

I know we can’t have chaos and disorder but as I have let go of rules and conditioning, guess what… I almost always choose what is right for everyone, for the planet and for myself.  

Don’t make announcements, don’t make rules, just live each day and make choices in the moment you find yourself in.

Because guess what…

Everything is temporary. Everything.

Singer-songwriter Alicia Keyes once mentioned in an interview that she had quit smoking. At her next concert, she slipped outside in between sets and went out the back door where some fans found her having a smoke break. She was non-plussed, took a drag and said “It’s my life. I do what the f#$% I want.” End of story. 

No apology, no defensiveness, no explanation needed. 

Does this mean the world goes wild? In fact, the opposite seems to happen because what we resists, persists. 

Set yourself free from any stringent rules that are “have-tos” and change them into “I want to today.”  Take your meds, go for a walk, eat McDonalds, eat lentils because you want to today. With less rules we tend to do what’s right and be happier. 

It has changed my life, the life of my kids and the people around me. The more I seem to accept everything as a possibility, life opens up.

There is no one way you should be. There are a million ways depending on the day, the time, the moment. Enjoy them all. 

But above all, embrace yourself, who you truly are, not what someone else says you should be.

Walk your own path. Trust yourself to know. Don’t even believe me or anything I say. 

Now I am going to thoroughly enjoy my packaged scalloped potatoes without judgement.

11 thoughts on “What Packaged Scallop Potatoes Taught Me”

  1. Oh Madeleine, this is SO true. Isn’t it so that if we just trust ourselves we usually center back to the right choices. Trying to set absolute boundaries just makes things worse!

  2. Wow Madeleine, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. It’s so true and very freeing, here I thought what great scalloped potatoes we had for Easter dinner, couldn’t tell them apart from the made from scratch either. Just like so many of the rules we make, are they really better?


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