life curation

Embodying Gratitude

Happy Monday, friends! I’m making this brief, because this novel won’t write itself! I filmed a video about what I’m thankful for, and I hope that you take some time this week to count your blessings, too.

health

Fibro Fridays – Is It Possible to be “Cured”?

Happy Fibro Friday, friends! My apologies for the premature earlier posting: I was still typing when it posted LOL!

We made it through another week. Here in Virginia, we’ve enjoyed some warmer temperatures this week, and for that, I’m thankful! I hope you all are doing well and feeling great.

As I’ve been watching various fibromyalgia-related videos, I keep coming back to the question of whether this condition can be “cured”. It has been my goal, since I was first diagnosed, to be “cured” and completely free of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. As I understand it, a “cure” is not about managing the symptoms, but actually being completely rid of them.

Many of the experts I’ve watched have indicated that this is a lifelong, chronic condition. But I’ve also seen a handful of experts that believe fibromyalgia can be reversed, or cured. Here are some of the factors that contribute to whether an individual experincing fibro can reverse his or her symptoms?

  • The unshakable belief that fibro is a reversible condition.
  • A willingness to do a deep-dive into teh factors that created a fibromyalgia condition.
  • An openness to try a variety of treatments that go beyond simply using prescription medication.
  • The decision to live a life that supports continued wellness (no more self-sabotage)
  • An understanding that there may be a significant time investment involved

Anyone attempting to get close to a “cure” for this condition cannot delude themselves into thinking this will be easy or quick. Just as this condition can be rooted in a myriad of different factors, the solution can come from any number of adjustments or re-directions. If the solution was easy to figure out and implement, more people would do it, and there would be no need for me to analyze all these different protocols weekly, just to see if I can piece together a workable plan.

And even once you get a “cure”, there are often things that need to occur in order to maintain a state of wellness. So even the notion of a “cure” isn’t quite accurate: it’s a fix for a problem that can reappear if you aren’t careful. But, even a temporary “cure” is preferable to living with this condition daily.

In conclusion, “cure” is a bit of a misnomer, but the effects of a possible “cure” are worth the effort. It isn’t an easy path, but I’m committed to seeing it through.

That’s all for today, friends! I hope you all have a safe and comfortable weekend. I’ll talk to you all on Monday!

health

Fibro Friday – Parenting When Chronically Ill

Happy Fibro Friday! I hope that you all had a healthy, restful and restorative week. As I briefly mentioned in a previous post, this time of year can be difficult for fibro warriors because of the temperature changes. For that reason, as well as others, I hope you all are continuing to take good care of yourselves.

Recently, I was asked a question that I’d been asked before, but this time, I thought more carefully about my response. The question referred to how I manage being a parent as a chronically ill person. When I’d been asked this question in the past, I simply mentioned that I do the best I can, and I rely heavily on my support team. This is still true, but it’s not a full explanation of what it’s like to be a parent (and, in my case, a divorced mother that is not supported in any way by my former spouse) when your health is less than stellar on a daily basis.

To put it bluntly, my parenting experience has been tremendously frustrating and, on many days, heartbreaking. I feel frustrated with myself because I want to have more energy to do all of the things that my child enjoys. I also get angry with myself because I can’t always remember everything that needs to be done, so I end up having to scramble to take care of the things that I need to do for her. I’ve cried countless times over how overwhelming this entire experience has been, and how I could be a much better mother if I simply wasn’t so sleepy, or achy, or forgetful, or overwhelmed. There are a lot of moments that leave me feeling like a failure.

I have to constantly remind myself that I’m doing the best that I can, and I don’t believe myself 75% of the time, because my “best” isn’t as good as it could be if my health was better. Many days, I check in with my support system (family and friends) who assure me that I’m doing a good job. But, I still don’t believe it. It’s hard to believe these things when comparing yourself to others who have demanding schedules yet still seem to always have the time and energy that their children require.

It’s key to remember that comparison is the thief of joy. So when the comparisons come to mind, I try to remember what I’m doing right. On many days, the list is disappointingly brief. Sometimes, the only thing I may have done right during a day is give a hug in the morning. But even that is worth noting. I communicate with my child and ask plainly what I should improve to become a better mom, but “nothing” is always the answer I receive.

I’m already a better mom, even when I don’t feel like I am.

I took some time to recall how my own mother suffered from chronic migraines while I was growing up, and even when I couldn’t talk to her (during those moments when she needed to lay down in a quiet, dark, cool room until she felt better), I never thought that she was failing at being a parent. I always knew that she loved me, regardless of how unavailable she was when she was unwell. So during those times when I can’t believe myself, I choose to believe my child, and I also choose to believe my younger self, who never felt that her mom was a failure simply because she was sick.

So to answer the question, parenting as a chronically ill person is the worst thing I could ever have experienced. It’s also one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had, and it forced me to appreciate those moments when I get it right. It’s a difficult path but it’s been amazing for me to learn that the role of parent isn’t about metrics or checking off all of the tasks on a to-do list. Sometimes, it’s just a hug, or texting a funny GIF, or putting on a song and dancing together (before the exhaustion takes over). It’s showing your child how to do a chore for themselves, or allowing your child to help you with the things that you have to do around the home so that you have help and good company. It’s not about doing all of the things, but how you do the things.

It’s complicated, but it’s my life. And my only choice is to work with it as best as I can, just as I’ve done with everything else I’ve experienced this life.

That’s it for today. If this post wasn’t as informative or cheery as my Fibro Friday posts usually are, just be assured that I’ll be back to the normal scheduled topics next week. But this was on my mind, and I felt like I needed to share it. Also, I hope that this post can offer a little encouragement to the other fibro parents out there, that are trying to convince themselves that they are doing a good job. You are, even when you don’t feel like it.

Take care, and have a great weekend.

style

Let’s Talk Kibbe Again . . .

Happy Monday, friends! I trust that your weekend was beautiful, relaxing, and enjoyable.

I wanted to start this week off with a topic that I’ve discussed before, that is sorely needs updating. I mentioned in a post a couple of years ago that I’m a Soft Classic in David Kibbe’s style ID system. While Mr. Kibbe has evolved in his approach to style ID-ing (he has created some new exercises to help aspiring style stars to learn their best lines), the fact remains that his previous style ID system works well for me and has led me on a path to having better understanding of what works for me and what doesn’t.

Here’s what I realize about Kibbe typing: the more you work with it, the more intuitive it becomes. Your intuition won’t always scream at you, “Buy it!” or “Don’t you dare buy it!” Something, the intuition comes as simple suggestions, like, “Hmm, this looks a little . . . off”, or “This would be perfect if . . . “. Repeat after me: life is too short to buy and wear clothes that only make you 80% happy. Yes, there may be some ordinary items (like that t-shirt you use when dyeing your hair or the skirt you wear when you’re practicing with your oil pastels) that don’t make you feel over the moon. But the vast (I mean, 90% of our wardrobe) should delight us. Kibbe’s system allows us to train our eyes for what truly works for us. Even if there isn’t much money for fashion in your budget, you can still spend some time training your eye, so when the perfect piece shows up at the perfect price, you’ll be ready. You’ll also save money by not buying any old thing, just so that you’ll feel like you have a “proper” wardrobe.

Another thing I realize about the Kibbe system is how much money and time I save by implementing this philosophy. Instead of mindlessly shopping because I don’t know what my wardrobe is “missing”, I’m very clear on what gaps exist in my wardrobe and which retailers can fill said gaps. Among the clothes I’ve kept, I have an adequate wardrobe that allows me to easily assemble a stylish ensembles that suits me perfectly. No more endless hours hunting for something that looks “just right’ on me; almost everything I own looks “perfect” on me. That could also be credited to the fact that I still, on a lesser level, embrace the Madame Chic capsule wardrobe approach, but it’s important to note that Kibbe’s philosophy and capsule dressing work well together.

I feel that most of the frustration over the Kibbe system comes from people not having an accurate view of themselves their bodies. A lot of people conflate their personality with their style ID, and that’s an approach that can lead you down the wrong style path. It can be hard to accept that your carefree personality doesn’t necessarily translate into being one of the Naturals, or your larger-than-life persona doesn’t automatically make you one of the Dramatics. But, by being honest about your bone structure and facial (and other) features, you can figure out a way to allow your style to be a perfect enhancement for your personality.

And don’t get me started on the “Classic” types: being any of the other types doesn’t mean that you possess less-than-classic beauty. In fact, some of the greatest beauties throughout the ages were Dramatics (Lena Horne), Soft Dramatics (Diahann Carroll), Theatrical Romantics (Dorothy Dandridge) and Romantics (Beyonce), Soft Gamine (Halle Berry AND Eartha Kitt), Flamboyant Gamines (Tina Turner) . . . You get the picture. But, in case the Naturals are feeling left out of the discussion, let me assure you: the vast majority of high-fashion models are Flamboyant Naturals. Janet Jackson, a woman that is objectively beautiful, is a Soft Natural. And these are only a few of the Black entertainers that have been classified by Kibbe: there are TONS of women, of all ethnicities, that are clearly beautiful and have a timelessness to their beauty that can be considered “classic”. However, just remember there is a difference between “classic” (anything that has remained high quality and outstanding over a period of time) and “Classic” (a term assigned to any person that has a moderate frame, fairly symmetrical features and a blend of curves and angles). There are classic (little “c”) beauties in all of the style IDs.

I have some tips for figuring out your Kibbe type without making things too complicated. I’ll share those in a future post, but until then, I hope you found some value in my random Kibbe-related thoughts. Talk to you all tomorrow!

life curation · style

Welcoming Autumn

Well friends, it’s the first day of autumn. Some of you may be quite happy with this, while others among us (namely, me) are sad to see summer end.

Yes, I know that unbearably hot temperatures are challenging for most people, especially those that live in my region (Mid-Atlantic USA). But I love the hot days and steamy nights. I love having sunshine until nearly 9 PM every night, leaving my home with no need for a jacket, and seeing the plants around me bloom and hit their annual peaks. Summer is undoubtedly my favorite season, and that won’t be changing anytime soon.

Meanwhile at my house …

However, since my ability to bend time, space and nature hasn’t fully developed yet, I will have to contend with the seasonal changes that come from living in this region. And, instead of being resistant to the point of obstinance, I felt that my best approach would be to embrace the change and make it feel festive. After this past year or so, who doesn’t need to feel more festive?

In honor of this seasonal change, I filmed a YouTube video featuring the autumn wreath I made for a family member. Also, I included a picture of my own autumn wreaths above (I had to make two since I have double doors). The video is a very easy and inexpensive DIY that can add a darling touch of autumn to your doorways, signaling the change from hot days to cool breezes, and lush green foliage to brilliant displays of gold, copper and cranberry. I hope you enjoy and, if you decide to make a wreath of your own, please let me know! I’d love to know how it turns out for you.

Have a great day, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

life curation

Becoming Thomas Hobson, Or How to Accept ONLY That Which You Want

This post feels like it should be a reblog, but, oddly enough, I never wrote about this topic on my now defunct blog. However, this topic was too important to ignore, so I had to share it over here, and I invite conversation about how you all have either seen this or applied it in your own lives.

Back in a previous life, I worked as a paralegal (fabulous work, by the way). I remember sitting through a hearing and a few of the opposing attorneys mentioned the term “Hobson’s choice”. As soon as we had a recess, I looked it up, because I didn’t want to be confused over what it meant. I felt some relief when I realized that the attorneys I worked with had also not heard of “Hobson’s choice”.

In short, a Hobson’s choice (named after stable owner Thomas Hobson) is a “take it or leave it” scenario. It often presents itself as two options, but in reality, only one option is feasible, and this option is always in favor of the person presenting the offer. Most of us present Hobson’s choices to our families regularly: in the case of dinner, instead of saying “take it or leave it”, we’ll say, “You can either eat the dinner I prepared, or you can cook your own meal, and clean up afterward.” See how the option creates a win-win scenario for the offeror?

One of the challenges of stepping into my personal power is interacting with people that intentionally or inadvertently attempt to undermine my boundaries. It’s natural for humans to advocate for their own preferences or to try to sway others to their points of view. However, it is never okay for someone to overstep the boundaries of others, or to treat other’s preferences dismissively.

The question is, then, how can we become Thomas Hobson? It starts with listening to our gut, and learning to trust our visceral reactions. Instead of ignoring how we feel, we have to learn to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge when we hear something (or are offered something) that we don’t like. Becoming Thomas Hobson requires that we realize when our heart and gut say, “No” to an offer, and opt to NOT judge ourselves for saying “No”. It’s hard to not judge ourselves, especially since we live in a culture that thrives on people’s inclination to second-guess themselves. But learning to silence our inner critics is key to embracing our inner Thomas Hobson.

After we recognize that we feel an authentic “No”, we can start experimenting with how to offer solutions that give us a subtle win-win situation. The key to this is subtlety: no one wants to accept a “hard bargain”. We have to become skillful at offering solutions that have the appearance of being somewhat fair, while still offering us what we prefer, regardless of the solution being chosen. The best solutions make the offeree feel empowered, respected, and acknowledged: the moment we can offer ourselves win-win scenarios that generate these sort of feelings in the offeree, we have mastered the Hobson’s choice.

I’m still learning how to do this, but on the few occasions when I’ve gotten it right, it felt AMAZING! I encourage everyone to start experimenting with this concept and see how it works in your lives.

That’s it for today. I hope you all are doing well! I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

life curation · words of wisdom · writing

Reblog: A Guide to Severing Ties and Moving On

Today, I’m doing a reblog of a post that I released 9 (!) years ago, almost to the day (originally posted August 11, 2012). I remember writing it, but I honestly couldn’t remember what I wrote! So it was fun to read through my old musings. I didn’t bother to edit it, since the typos and grammar errors I noted were minimal. So here you go: my guide to severing ties and moving on. Enjoy!

“Last July, I wrote a post about inconsiderate people, and different tactics for dealing with them. After giving people some time to correct course, you may find it necessary to cut the person loose. I don’t particularly enjoy severing ties with people, but SELF-PRESERVATION comes above all else. In my case, “self” extends to those that I love and want to protect from inconsiderate individuals. There is NO ONE that I will allow to mistreat me. Please do not misunderstand me: there are people that are supposed to love you, that can, and will, mistreat you, ignore your concerns, and regard you with little respect.

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What does it take to cut someone loose? You must first decide to do it. You can’t simply talk about it: in fact, I recommend you stop talking about it. At the point where severing ties becomes necessary, you’re probably tired of talking. I don’t recommend that you talk until you are weary, but if the relationship means enough to you, you’ve probably tried to talk and mend/correct things until you are blue in the face. Save your energy, and decide to just let the person go.

Eliminate contact with the individual. No more texting, phone calls, emails, letters, or homing pigeons LOL! Don’t announce to the person that you are ceasing contact with them: simply do it. If you feel compelled to tell someone “I’m cutting you off” then you probably haven’t made a firm decision to get rid of the individual. Giving an inconsiderate person a goodbye speech only opens the door for more dialogue, delay in correcting action, and more time to HURT YOU. So close the door, do it quietly, and deadbolt it.

I know that *someone* will want to do the “cutting you off” speech. If it gives you a feeling of closure, then go for it. I personally feel that true closure comes from making a decision and sticking to it, and having the satisfaction of knowing that the other person didn’t see it coming, nor do they know all the details behind your decision. But if finale speeches are your thing, then go ahead and do you. The best way to do it is to lower the boom, while ensuring that the other person CANNOT RESPOND TO YOU. If that means blocking a few phone numbers, sending emails to the junk folder automatically, and blocking them on all forms of social media, so be it. The last thing that you want is an open door; open doors only lead to more suffering.

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Now that the door is closed and a particular person is cut off, what do you do? MOVE AHEAD. Don’t dwell on your decision: when you find yourself regretting your actions, take time to remember all of the things that preceded your decision. Hopefully, you did not cut someone off hastily. More than likely, however, you have given the person adequate time and warning to correct course, yet they insist on staying the same. When you start regretting the decision to move on, you must not doubt yourself! If your life and routine feel weird after removing certain people, it’s probably because you’ve become accustomed to the dysfunctional relationship. You probably aren’t missing that person, you are just feeling awkward because you are readjusting to normal living.

Removing inconsiderate people from your life is a lot like having sea legs. After spending some time on a boat, you may feel weird when you start walking on dry land again. But the problem isn’t the ground that you stand on: it’s the abnormal condition (walking on a sea vessel) to which your body got adjusted. You’ve had to learn to keep your balance in a naturally unbalanced environment; likewise, dealing with inconsiderate people can cause you to adapt to their off-kilter ways. But, just like sea legs, you will adjust to normal living again- in time. The key is to keep moving on dry land, or, in the case of someone post-cutoff, immerse yourself in normal living.

Immersion into a normal lifestyle is the key to moving on after severing ties. But how is this done? For a time, avoid the places, people, and activities that remind you of that individual. Did you two enjoy a particular restaurant, entertainment venue or activity? Now is the time to stop going, at least until you can go without reminiscing over the relationship. Did you two have mutual friends? You may even want to avoid them for a spell. Of course, you may want to stay in touch with any of your mutual friends that are mature enough to neither take sides nor do anything that will distract you from your goal of eliminating the toxic person.

Get involved in any activity that will keep you from thinking too much about the person that you cut off. This *could* mean throwing yourself into your work, if you find that you are just as or more productive than before. But don’t get absorbed in work if you find it draining or depressing. Now is the time to meet new people, do new things, and get caught up in a whirlwind of enjoyable activity. Make plans to do all the things that you couldn’t enjoy with the inconsiderate person, or that you didn’t have time to do, because Mr. or Ms. Inconsiderate tied up your time, zapped your energy, criticized your dream, etc.,. Have you always wanted to travel out of the country? Start setting aside money for your trip (preferably in a bank account that you find it difficult to access.) Want to finish school? Sign up for a class and move heaven and earth to attend it regularly. Always been interested in painting? Buy some watercolors and a canvas and have at it.

One of my favorite recommendations for satisfying distraction is retail therapy (also known as shop ’til you drop LOL!) Retail therapy can be great and very satisfying (as well as distracting!) But if you indulge, keep all of your receipts and make sure that you know the store’s return policies. Last thing that you want to do is buy something far too expensive, something that you’ll NEVER enjoy, or a ‘spite” gift (i.e., buying red lipstick because the inconsiderate person hated it and thought that red lipstick looks cheap) just because you needed a pretty distraction. Buyer’s remorse is bad enough, but being able to undo the madness is golden. Done responsibly, retail therapy can be effective at helping you move ahead.

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That’s just a few of my tips for severing ties and moving on.  I hope you all enjoyed it. Please look out for more posts soon: my maternity leave will be over in a few weeks, so I got to get as much writing done as possible, before I’m thrown back into the working world LOL! Until next time …”

goals · life curation · words of wisdom

The Three Hardest Lessons I Had to Learn

There’s nothing quite like reflecting and seeing how much you’ve grown over time. The older I get, the more I recognize the changes that have occurred in me, and how those changes have impacted my overall quality of life. I feel inspired to share some of those lessons that have come to me when I sit in silence and allow the highs – and lows – to show me what I need to master. Here are three of the hardest lessons that I’ve had to learn, and how I’ve approached and incorporated each of these lessons in my life.

The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is the art of being gentle with myself. I often behave as if I have inexhaustible energy (despite having fibromyalgia for the past several years), so when I fall short of the goals that I’ve set for myself, I tend to beat myself up over it. My fibromyalgia diagnosis was a turning point for me, since I found myself physically unable to complete activities that I once enjoyed. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt over the fact that I had to rest more and stop feeling bad for it. For me, resting and being gentle with myself felt like laziness.

,This is something that I still struggle with, though mindfully practicing gentleness every day (slowing down and grounding myself daily, yoga, and gratitude practices help) has made it a little easier to accept that this is the path I have to walk, and there is no shame in it. I continue to indulge these practices, as well as listen to YouTube videos of people advocating for gentleness with ourselves, like Alina Alive, Sarah Armide and Ella Ringrose.

Another difficult lesson I am still working on is setting boundaries based on love, not anger. I think it’s normal to react to a hurtful or angering incident with the immediate establishment of a boundary. But I’ve been playing around with proactively setting boundaries based on loving myself and having love for others. This sounds a little contradictory, because in American culture, we’re taught that love is supposed to be without boundaries, all-absorbing and unconditional. However, I’ve found that the most loving that that we can do is have boundaries that maintain our dignity and sense of self.

Again, I struggle with this because I was previously more reactionary as a default. But, with time, I realized I feel more relieved by setting boundaries before offenses happen, as well as standing resolutely with my boundaries when others – even well-intended loved ones – attempt to encroach them. I have to practice this daily as part of my self care, since I have a few of my family members living with me. Some powerful tools that I’ve utilized on my journey have been the book Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, as well as YouTube videos published by Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Dr. Tracey Marks, and Irene Lyon.

The third hardest lesson for me to learn was learning to play, particularly, how to do so without guilt. Going back to the art of being gentle with myself, I had to learn ways to care for myself that would help me to heal my body and mind. For me, that involved recreating periods of joy in my life, and that meant I had to reflect back on the times when I was unabashedly, overwhelmingly happy. I found most of those times occurred during my childhood, so I had to start indulging myself and doing the things that made me happy again, which, for me, was playing games and creative expression.

The same guilt behind being gentle with myself crops up when I’m indulging in play. I have to continually remind myself that playing *is* productive, and more play = more creativity, which I can channel into other, more “adult” tasks. It has become easier for me to participate in play, because I have several younger children in my circle of family and friends, but I also have to indulge in play by myself, usually in the form of painting, making jewelry, working on a puzzle, or playing in makeup. I also find it helpful to connect with personalities that are light and playful, which is why I often go to YouTube for inspiration. I really enjoy play and fun from various perspectives, so I love videos by Mintfaery, Darling Desi and The Unexpected Gypsy.

Are there any difficult lessons that you’ve had to learn? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Also, if there’s any way that I can support you all, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. This journey through life isn’t an easy one: the most important thing we can do is share resources with each other, so that we can make our journeys a little smoother.

Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

life curation

The Latest . . .

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all are doing well and making a smooth transition into the work week.

I have been spending some time reflecting on the things I need to prioritize. I’ve already classified my goals (per the six month preparation post). One of the things I put on my list was working more consistently on my business. Just like clockwork, I was advised by one of my business mentors that I need to promote my businesses more, since I’m always so busy promoting everyone else. She made some great points on how to continue showing up consistently in my business, in a way that isn’t spammy/scammy (which I HATE) and that is also comfortable for me.

Her advice was so timely. She didn’t know what exactly was happening with my business, but she quickly reminded me how important it is to continue putting myself out there, so that I can create the life and income that I want. So, I’ve been putting more time into the marketing and promotion aspects of my business, which is easy but occasionally time-consuming. I’m gonna get it done, just gotta focus and buckle down a bit.

Along with that, I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a few books that I’d like to publish before the beginning of August. I have some great ideas for additional books and I would like to get a lot of those done before the end of the year, so that requires me to get some of my current projects done first.

However, I have so many GREAT blog posts coming soon! Seriously: the inspiration has been flowing nonstop! So look out for some really good stuff in the near future. I’m bringing ALL of the strategies, wisdom and case studies I’ve used to improve my life, so that you all can benefit from what I’ve learned. I can’t wait to spill all those details!

Talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

health · life curation · luxury · relaxation

Luxury Is Your Birthright

After spending some time listening to those amazing audiobooks last month (you can see my June book list here), I felt like I was buzzing. It’s been quite some time since I felt limitless and excited about the possibilities that lay before me. Perhaps it’s the thrill of the pandemic easing up and life getting back to some semblance of normal. Or, maybe it’s because my fibromyalgia hasn’t been giving me any major issues recently (yay for being flare-free!). On the other hand, it could be the fact that it’s starting to consistently feel like summertime here in Virginia, and the sunny days and warm temps do wonders for my mood.

Whatever the reason, I was already feeling pretty good. But these books absolutely upleveled my mood from good to great. In addition to general mood-lifting, the audiobooks I enjoyed reminded me of the power of my conscious and subconscious mind, as well as the fact that I am entitled to live a beautiful life, and that can include luxuries that enhance my experience here on earth.

However, listening to these books also made me think about an incident that occurred earlier this year, which I will regale you with in a moment. To preface, a few months ago, I was thinking about living luxuriously and how to create a more opulent home environment, but I was plagued with a lot of guilt. I love nice things, but in the middle of a global health crisis, it felt silly to desire my normal luxury purchases. And, when I did shop, my purchased amounted to nothing more than retail therapy, because I was under a lot of stress and needed pretty, shiny distractions.

The source of my stress was directly connected to my home environment. Two of my elderly relatives started living in my home during the pandemic, and, despite having adequate space, an abundance of food, and all of the electronics needed to keep us occupied, the environment still felt tense and unhappy. The spirit of discontent was heavy in my home, and it was weighing on me.

My relatives were ready to go back to their home. And they were being unpleasant in my home, in order to communicate their desire to leave. However, their home needed several repairs, as well as fumigation and deep cleaning, before they could moved. I was unsure how long it would take until all of those tasks could be accomplished, so I couldn’t provide them with a definite return date. That uncertainty stressed me out even more than the unpleasant behavior that I was witnessing daily.

Now, on to the incident that the books brought to mind: in the midst of this extremely stressful home situation, my good friend Kalifia mentioned to me that I should get away for a couple of days. But, on short notice, I figured that I couldn’t go very far. This part was true – going far wasn’t really an option – but it was only one side of what she proposed. She emphasized to me that, even if I couldn’t go very far away from home, I could still take a few days to get away.

I couldn’t argue with her logic. I needed a break, and it was within my budget. But I felt bad about taking a mini-break: I could have used the money for something else, I could have stayed at home in order to help take care of my elderly family members, I could have used the time to clean up a bit more and catch up on chores, etc.,. The reasons to say “no” were numerous. But there was only one reason to say “yes”, and, fortunately for me, it was louder than all of the “no”s combined. The “yes” simply said,

You need this.

Despite my guilt and hesitance, I decided to book a room at a lovely hotel about 20 minutes from my home. I checked in a few days later, and I laid around in the room and enjoyed the silence. The following day, I shopped at an upscale mall near the hotel, then I returned back to my room. I ordered food delivery each day, and I ate whatever I wanted. It felt ridiculous, self-indulgent, and positively unnecessary. Except, I needed every moment of it. Those days away from home restored me. It was a luxury, but it was crucial to helping me feel like myself again.

Do you ever feel that you don’t deserve the best that life has to offer? Does it ever feel like you need to EARN the luxurious parts of life? Do you feel foolish whenever you reach out for luxury? If you have, then let me assure you: luxury is your right. Actually, it’s your birthright: when you were born, you came entitled to the best that life has to offer. You are entitled to live a life that feels good to you, leaving you with beautiful, satisfying memories to comfort you as you age and eventually expire.

It took me reaching the end of my rope before I reconnected to my entitlement to happiness, peace, joy, and, yes, luxury. The beautiful thing about luxury is that we get to define it for ourselves. My definition doesn’t have to fit anyone else’s, and that’s fine. What isn’t fine is forgetting that I’m always entitled to feeling luxurious based on my definition.

I’m thankful for remembering who I am and what I deserve. I’m even more thankful that I can use my birthright to inform the decisions that I make, and I am determined to consistently make choices that honor this.

How do you define luxury? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!