I was stuck in Dallas traffic recently and I called my husband, who had the kids, and let him know it would be awhile before I could get home. “Why don’t you go get your nails done or something instead of sitting in traffic,” he generously suggested. I didn’t want to go get a pedicure. I wanted to go home. It had been an emotional week and my introverted self just wanted to be in my safe place with people I love. I didn’t want to small talk with a salon lady. Besides, people were hurting in this world in a real way and being pampered felt wrong and gross, but I looked at my navigation app, and it was just a sea of red traffic jam alerts. My husband was right; there was no point in just sitting on the freeway and I did need to do something to get myself out of this funk; something to nourish my spirit.
I took the first exit to get out of traffic and ended up on Greenville Avenue. My car basically self-navigated to Trader Joe’s, as it does when I’m in the vicinity of one. I pulled into a front row spot and headed into the store. Immediately I was greeted by the colorful array of flowers.
I used to buy myself flowers every week or two, but money has been tight so I haven’t bought any in months. My husband and the kids have brought some home for me on occasion, but there is something different about buying flowers for yourself. It’s a little indulgent and you have to admit to yourself in a way that can feel uncomfortable that you are worthy of flowers. There’s no blushing “Oh you shouldn’t have” involved. It’s a proclamation. I should and I will.
I examined every budget bouquet. Nothing was speaking to me. I didn’t want fall orange, blah, flowers. I wanted something that radiated confidence, something with bold unashamed beauty.
Finally, as I finished rounding the circular display, I saw the small bouquet of magenta pink daisies peeking out from an almost hidden spot down on the floor. They were asking me to take them home and display them for all to admire. I stuck them in my cart and then I slowly meandered down each aisle, picking up items I’d never seen, reading labels, smelling produce, meticulously contemplating whether it made the cut to ride along in the cart with my pink daisies. By the time I left, traffic was gone and I felt light again.
Sometimes when the world feels heavy, we need to buy ourselves flowers, we need to bring beauty into our home and our life.
We can’t take on all of the big problems, but we can do lots of little things to focus on what is good and lovely. We can go for a walk on a trail, intentionally looking for the sweetness all around us. We can treat ourselves to our favorite chocolate and slowly savor each bite. We can put our phone away, turn Facebook off, and call a friend. We can get lost in a good book or try a new recipe. We can turn up music loud and dance with our kids. We can play in the sandbox with them or make homemade playdough together. We can turn off the news and play a board game with our spouse. We can find something old and ugly and make it new and beautiful again with a good scrubbing and a fresh coat of paint.
My empathetic, deep feeling friends, please pause regularly, especially when the problems of the world feel heavy and heartbreaking, to take care of yourself. You have permission from those you want to protect to first protect yourself. You will be a stronger world changer if you are centered and have practiced nourishing self-care. Tomorrow you can rise up and with a deep confident breath take on a new day, but only if you haven’t buried yourself underneath the heaviness of it all.
Buy yourself flowers and tickle your kids and curl up with them and read them a story, a great story, an inspiring story and get lost in the fantasy with them. Hug your spouse for an awkwardly long time. Put on lipstick.
Take care of yourself mama, you beautiful soul you.