Monday, February 6, 2017

Spend Well, Not More: A Few Tangible Things That Make Me Smile

I found it rather difficult to get up today.  At 4 a.m. I saw the clock.  A mild panic set in.  Only a few more possible sleep hours.  Please let me sleep.  At 7:00 I finally became conscious and then I didn't want to get out of my bed.  On some days it's a dreadful thing to have to face time outside the warm covers and feather pillows.

As I began my morning rituals and was washing my face, I paused to notice a few things on my bathroom counter.  Is it wrong to feel abundantly grateful for a moisturizer that I love? Is it a sign of wrong priorities to absolutely love the cleanser I remove my makeup with?  As I took a deep breath and really smelled the delicious scent of the soap and the lotion, even the toothpaste, I was just happy. I have a really cool life!  I'm very blessed.  I have the blessing of waking up in a warm house in a soft bed with a wonderful husband and I have orange juice in the refrigerator!  I love my OJ!  I have pretty clothes, lots of books, and paints and brushes and canvases just calling my name:  Get up!  Get to work!  And best of all, I have a beautiful family with children and a husband who are good and kind people.

I have so many things that are little luxuries to me, that make me smile and help me feel safe, beautiful, and smart.  It's not a coincidence that certain things elicit specific emotions and responses. The older I get, the more I realize that quality is so much more valuable and important than quantity. And what we choose to use and for what reasons, can help to heal our wounds and even help us turn difficult corners in our lives.  Just the fragrance of my facial cleanser is exactly what I needed on the day I chose it seven years ago.  It continues to care for my skin and helps soothe my heart.    

When my husband and I were first married, we bought a stereo with some of our wedding money. We bought the one we could afford, a brand called Sound Design.  The Sony was better quality, but more expensive.  It was only a few months after playing our LPs on the Sound Design that it completely died.  We had to replace it.  That time, we got the Sony and 32 years later, we still have the Sony--it still works.  It was an expensive mistake.  The Sound Design and the money we paid for it were wasted and forgotten.  We've been careful ever since to not be fooled by the price tag.  You do get what you pay for.  

We had been married a few years and I was having trouble with my hair.  It was dry and had a lot of split ends.  One day I went to the beauty supply store to get a new curling iron.  The owner asked if he could help me find what I needed.  After some discussion and looking at my hair, he told me I was being too cheap and that was why my hair looked the way it did.  He offered some suggestions, told me what to buy and what to throw away, what to stop doing and what to start doing to properly and respectfully care for what God had blessed me with.  It took some time, and lots of trims to get rid of the dry ends, and finding a hair designer that was a good match for me to get my hair into shape.  I've never looked back.

I have many things that I love and could recommend to you, but on this dreary February morning, these are the things that jump out to me today, things I am truly grateful for in my life, and that bring a smile and a sense of wonder to me every single day.  They are material things, but we do live in a material world.  As long as we have our priorities straight, it's okay to enjoy life and the things that help us get through each day.  Could I live without these little favorites?  Of course.  That's not the point.  I did live without these things most of my adult life, but our family is raised and there are no more orthodontics to pay for or violin lessons.

Clinique Moisture Surge
My favorite thing to do at the beginning of the day is to wash my face and put on this scrumptious, creamy gel.  It reminds me to be gentle with myself and to be gentle with others.  I can feel it filling in the dry patches and cracks, plumping up my tired skin, readying it for a day of work, creativity, and service.  There is no fragrance.  Nothing to make my eyes run or get in the way of the simplicity of moisturizing.  It's like my face's little cheerleader, getting it ready for a night of rest or a day out in the universe.  I love it.  It lasts a long, long time, and is worth every cent.

Iconiq Stainless Steel Bottle
I drink a lot of water.  I loathe warm water or even water at room temperature.  This bottle solves the problem.  It keeps cold water cold and hot water hot for the whole day.  Even in the summer, sitting in my hot car, it keeps my ice water nice and cold.  No need for ice!  No nasty "floaties" and no weird residue to scrub off.  This single-handedly is responsible for helping me to drink more water.  I take it with me everywhere and I gave them to everyone in my family.  A little more money than a cheap water bottle, but again, worth it if cold, ice-free water is your thing.

Fossil Watches
It's a family thing at our house, to have and wear a Fossil watch.  They last forever and can really take the beating from everyday wear.  There are countless designs to choose from to suit every style, every personality, and every scenario.  We've given them to our children and most recently our sweet daughter-in-law.  I can always trust that the time is correct and the ones I have are just so darn pretty, it's fun to check the time and be reminded that there is art everywhere around me, even in my watch.  

7 Salts of the Earth from Trader Joe's
I love salt.  I salt my food like a sailor might.  All my life people have told me to "watch the salt." Then a strange little blessing came into my life.  My cardiologist gave me the prescription of "SALT." As in, eat and drink lots and lots of salt--all you want!  Luckily for me, salt is good for me.  I need it. If I'm not getting enough, my heart does weird things.  My darling sister gave me this package of salt for Christmas.  It's divine!  I sprinkle a little in my clean hand, and eat it!  I'm being really careful with it because I want it to last, but it's my little treat.  My favorite in the collection is Blue Persian Salt.  It's funny to think they might all taste differently, but they do.  If you love salt or know someone who does, this is the perfect present.  Thank you again, Jane!

Sunbeam Heating Pad from Walgreen's
Here's a more practical item, but I really could not live without this.  Inevitably something is painful or tender and needs the gentle heat of this extra large heating pad.  I love it because it doesn't get scrunched or crushed and it keeps its shape.  It shuts off automatically after 2 hours or you can choose the setting of "constant," in which it doesn't shut off unless you turn it off.  It gets good and hot and helps relieve all my aches and pains.  I take a whole lot less Celebrex when I use this regularly.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Aside from my scriptures, if I could only choose one book to take with me on an extended trip, this would be my choice.  I don't think I can ever read it too many times.  If you haven't read it, you probably wouldn't understand, but this book teaches things that are unexpected.  It's about pride and sin, power and denial, God and redemption, the search to become benevolent and the follies of mankind.  It's beautifully written and for the serious reader, I believe, requires note taking and long pauses to ponder.  It's a classic and one of a kind.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment
When my little son had problems with severe eczema, his doctor wanted to give him a prescription that had serious side effects.  I didn't want to risk his health if there was something more conservative that we could try first.  Thankfully, that particular doctor took another job and our original pediatrician returned from a specialized fellowship.  He was the one who handed me a sample tube of Aquaphor and said, "this is all he needs."  And, he was right.  It really works its own little skin miracles.  It's been a staple in our home ever since.  It's pricey at the outset, but it lasts a very long time.  It has long since replaced Vaseline in our family bathroom cabinets.  Its healing quality comes from allowing the skin to breathe while also being protected.  Other ointments merely cover up the skin to form a barrier.  Aquaphor creates a barrier of protection, but it also allows oxygen to move in and out of its barrier, which is what I think makes it so good for your skin.  It's everywhere in my house and I really couldn't live without it.  It goes on scrapes, lips, sores, cuts, and I even put it around my eyes every single night and after 22 years of doing that, guess what?  No crow's feet.

J. Crew
Enough said.  Premium quality, consistent fit, yummy fabrics, classic styles, and generous customer service.  Just like the cheap and flimsy stereo, you get what you pay for when it comes to clothes.  I love how my normal size fits me every single time.  There's really no need to even try things on--I know it will fit.  The best part is they make things in Tall.  I can actually get pants that are long enough for my 35" inseam and dresses that aren't too short in the waist.  The quality will last a lifetime so it's probably important that you truly understand your style before investing in these pieces.  You will never wear them out.  Well, I take that back.  I have actually worn out my J. Crew jeans to the point of my husband and daughter begging me to please throw them away, after my last patching job to keep them in circulation failed miserably and they actually fell apart, literally.  If you buy J. Crew, you will have the pieces forever.  If you consider your clothing an investment like I do, it's worth the money.  One gorgeous sweater that will never stretch out, or a dozen from that terrible and nasty store with the red bull's eye logo?  It's also nice to have less things in my closet.  Less is always more, in my opinion.  Classic neutrals are what I have in my closet like black, gray, navy, and beige.  Timeless, soft, classic, and tangibly comforting.

Simply Orange, Orange Juice
It's not from concentrate.  It's simply oranges, squeezed.  I like the one with high pulp.  I drink a big, tall, ice cold glass every single morning: doctor's orders.  I start to stress when I see the bottle is getting low.  My husband eats Greek yogurt; I drink orange juice.  Mornings wouldn't be proper without it.  And I know why my doctor ordered it.  My body does need it.  This myth about juice being bad isn't true and it certainly isn't true for every person.  Just like my body requires salt, it also requires squeezed oranges.  Maybe yours doesn't, but mine does.  We drank the frozen concentrate for years and years when we had children running out to school every morning and we all sat down to a hot breakfast every morning together.  But now I'm the only one drinking it.  This tastes far more delicious than the concentrate and I don't have to mix it.  I recycle the plastic jugs every week and sometimes I use them to store water.  I'm glad they have it at my market.  It's one of my favorite things about morning time.  

I only share these things out of an honest sense of wonder and gratitude for all the sweet creature comforts in my life.  I know I am blessed, even lucky, but we have also made conscious decisions to be smart, to spend wisely, to invest in quality and to get rid of the quantity.  It's the quality of our lives that matters most.  I'd rather have fewer things and less vacations that are of real and sound quality than a bunch of clutter and countless trips to theme parks.  To each their own, but for me, I'd rather have a quarter of a grilled cheese sandwich made with Gouda and sourdough bread, than a whole one made with American cheese and Wonder bread.  

I like to think it's also a metaphor for life in the bigger picture of things.  Do we spend our days doing the quality things that are really and truly important to our eternal salvation or do we squander our time with eternally insignificant pursuits like playing to the world's standards and trying to look like the rest of society?  Shouldn't we be trying to stand out in a world so that maybe some might wonder what makes us different and then maybe even approach us to ask?  I had an interesting experience a year or so ago.  A woman contacted me through Pinterest and asked if I was Mormon.  She wanted to learn more about what Mormons believe and had wondered if I was LDS simply based on what she saw on my Pinterest boards, namely the one titled "My Style."  She said that all the images I had pinned were modest, ladylike, and elegant and she wondered if I must be Mormon.  It was a tremendous compliment and of course I told her that I am indeed a Mormon, and proud to be. We've become acquainted now, simply because of me pinning things that I find to be "virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy."

Maybe this will inspire you to look around your surroundings, to pause and realize how many sweet and wonderful personal comforts you enjoy and what it is that adds the little lift in your step that enables you to go out into the world each day and do your best.  I believe that in whatever circumstance we find ourselves, we can each find these little gems that make us smile, help us to be cheerful, and give us the righteous confidence we need to go out and make a difference in the world. After all, life is to be enjoyed, not simply endured, or at least Gordon B. Hinckley thought so.

Disclaimer:  I am NOT being paid to endorse the products mentioned above.  

No comments:

Post a Comment