“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” – Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight
Michael and I were looking at our budget and deciding which ways we could cut back. He concluded that he didn’t mind spending less on going out for coffee, and asked if I wanted to make the same cut-back. After thinking for a moment, I said no.
I had never given any serious thought to the fact that coffee makes me genuinely happy. I find immense comfort in the ritual of preparing and sipping coffee. The soothing heat and robust flavor, the warmth in the palms of my hands after I set my cup back down. Whether I am grinding my beans by hand at home or watching a barista steam milk, I feel grounded and at peace. Even if I have to swing through Starbucks, I still have a moment of serenity in this indulgence, purely for myself at that moment, when all of my meditative feelings materialize in that first sip.
I realized that there are certain things I’m comfortable splurging on for the simple sake of personal joy, and I feel liberated that these splurges don’t rack me with guilty. I file this under the category of self-care, which was a completely foreign idea to me a year ago.
Other things I feel comfortable splurging on:
Writing supplies – Naturally, I’m a writer and when it comes to my profession, expenses are allowable. But I’m talking about spending $3 on a pencil just to take notes in a meeting. There is truly no reason for that, since a ballpoint pen would get the job done. But I enjoy writing, in the sense that it brings me joy to put words on paper. Whether those words are the beginning of a novel or my to-do list for the day, I allow myself the pleasure of scritching lead across fine paper whenever the mood strikes me.
Side note: When I landed my first full-time job as a copywriter, it was the first time I had to relinquish ownership over my writing. Of course, I got credit for what I wrote and all that, but I was writing the words someone else wanted, and editing out the pieces of my voice that didn’t suit the company. This was not an easy transition for me, I admit. My writing had always been my art, my heart, the place I could go to find my identity. By using fun, expensive, enjoyable writing tools at work, even for menial tasks, I reminded myself that I do this for me, that my words are mine and I am simply choosing to let someone else use them.
Body products – I’m willing to bet that most women in America would be hesitant to tell anyone how much money they spend on bath and body and cosmetics. Luckily, I’m not really into makeup and I don’t mind getting wrinkles around my eyes, so I save quite a bit of money in that department. However, there are several products from Lush carrying a hefty price tag that I still indulge in. Using their body conditioner makes me feel like I’m at a spa retreat, if only for 42 seconds before the kids figure out how to open the shower curtain. Throughout the day, I’ll catch a hint of that lovely rose scent on my skin and feel like I have a fancy secret. Totally worth it.
I want to point out that these indulgences don’t take practicality into account; that’s what makes them different. Obviously, I am willing to spend more on quality clothing items, nutritious food, etc. because there is a practical reason for dropping an extra dollar on those. But embracing an expense that is self-indulgent and, dare I say, extravagant (which in my budget, means a $12 dollar bottle of shampoo) reminds me that random acts of self-care are absolutely essential to my well-being.