Be Your Own Guest: Learning to Give to Yourself

Today is a friend's birthday. We haven't spoken in a while and I wonder how he's celebrating. I wonder if his family and friends are making the big deal about it that is the norm when you're a child. Or is he being a grown up, denying the voice that wants a fuss, a party, a parade! Denial, it seems to me, is a big part of what we're taught it means to be a grown up.

You know what I'm talking about. The guests get the best towels. The silver comes out for company. I doubt I'm the only person with soap or jam or a really nice sweater I got as a gift that I'm saving for...someday.

And then there are the plans to take care of myself. That spa night at home, complete with bubble bath and wine...but when? There is holiday shopping to do and there are presents to wrap, not to mention work, which seems to expand to devour every spare minute. I need to paint the living room, I'm baking cookies for a party tomorrow and I haven't even figured out what to wear yet. Maybe I can have that spa day on Sunday night? But Sunday there's another event, another deadline and then I'm right back into Monday. It feels like every hour is accounted for and scheduled. Perhaps if I got up earlier, went to bed later? Someday I'll find the time.

Which is probably why I found myself this morning, bursting into tears and tearing into a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips. The salty, sour, crunchy loudness of them was satisfying. No matter that there are crumbs all over my pajamas, that I am eating potato chips for breakfast, I am in heaven. Fifteen minutes later, licking the last crumbs off of my fingers, it hits me. As can easily happen, sometime in the last few weeks, I had pushed myself to the back of the line. And this was the result. Those fifteen minutes were exactly what I needed. Okay, maybe not the most nutritious choice but the idea behind it: me, doing something for me. Right now, not when I finish this project or when I save up enough money but now.

While I wouldn't recommend potato chips as a regular breakfast, there are small things I can do and small blocks of time I can manage. No, I might not have time for a spa night til January, but I can take a bath for fifteen minutes at the end of today. Yes I have big plans for redoing my bathroom but until then, I'm unwrapping that guest soap and the good towels remind me that I'm as important as anyone that might come over. Why save the good silver for company? Use it and get rid of the stuff you only sorta like but use because it's serviceable. Stop sending yourself to the back of line. It's amazing what your same old coffee in a really nice cup can do for your day, how a scented candle can make brushing your teeth feel like a morning meditation and really nice sheets make a dreaded next day of meetings that much more manageable. At the very least, you'll declutter a cabinet.

Image: Bethany Nauert from Lindsey's Modern Bohemian in Silverlake