Thursday, July 7, 2011

Little Luxuries

After yesterday's loss of our fifteen-year-old dachshund, P.J., it was a mercy to sink myself into some comfort reading to drown out the sorrow, a few paragraphs at a time.

I turned, as I often do, to an old stand-by, Elizabeth David's An Omelette and a Glass of Wine.

This particular book of essays by Elizabeth David contains some of the finest writing about cooking and life in general that I've ever read, with just the right amount of acerbity to keep it from sinking into some cloying tome about expensive food and beautiful people that far too many other travel and food books become in the wrong hands.

For me, a good book is a necessity when life gets rough:  you can lose yourself and drown out your sorrows in some lovely prose. 

Thinking about it this morning, I realized that there are certain books that I turn to when life gets rocky.  Does everyone else do that, too?

For example, when I'm sick, I will re-read the Harry Potter series, or Julie Andrews' Mandy or Anne McCaffrey's Crystal Singer (one of my early science fiction favorites, that an uncle of mine lent me when I was about 9 or 10, and it still resonates), or any number of others.

When I'm upset? I tend to turn to Jane Austen. I have probably read her entire collected works a bazillion times during our last three years of loss after loss after loss. Ditto for most of Dickens and a whole lot of detective fiction -- I've been on an Agatha Christie kick of late, but there are so many delicious others, aren't there?

But it isn't just books.

I've stopped buying cheap tea, because I end up not wanting to drink more than a few sips and that's just a waste.  I'd rather spend more for something of better quality and savor my cuppa than pinch pennies and be miserable. 

Same with decent wine, although I've found a pinot grigio that is perfectly light and fruity for summer -- and you can buy a ginormous bottle of Bella Sera pinot grigio here for under $15, so that makes it a serious budget bargain, too.

All this to say that life is all too short. 

I have learned that lesson the very hard way the last few years of losses that we have had, and I have begun to understand that whole "live in the moment" philosophy far better than I ever thought I would:  you have to savor what you have in the here and now, because it is fleeting, so the choices of what you are doing, eating, reading?  They all matter tremendously.

You deserve to treat yourself well, which can include something as small as a cup of your favorite tea and five minutes of Mozart in the afternoon playing on the iPod while you savor the moment.  This has been a long time coming for me, and I am not very good at it, but I'm realizing that I, too, deserve things like this in my own day to day -- an oasis, if you will, amidst the chaos that life throws at you along the way.

Find your little luxury today.  A small, inexpensive treat -- put fresh polish in a color you already own but haven't used for a while on your toes so you get a flash of color in your sandals, perhaps? -- can make a world of difference on your outlook. 

And being able to face what life throws at you with even a hint of a smile?  That is well worth it.

It's finding the things that give you the smile and learning how to savor them that is the key, I think.   Including the people around you that you love dearly.  But do it now, and not once they are gone...

(Gorgeous photo via mastino 0100.)


Jane dV said...

Thanks for such a timely, meaningful post. I've again recently learned there's never "enough" time. Despite her declining health, when mother died on the 13th, it was devastating.
I realized that for the first time in my 62 years, I'm not "responsible" for taking care of someone else.(It was my twin when we were young). Your post today has helped me consider that maybe it's now "time for me". You've helped me with the where/how to start.

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Jane, I'm so sorry to hear that your mother has passed away. I know it has been a tough last few years of care for her, too. Take it from someone who has been on the back end of that in the recent past -- give yourself space to grieve and be gentle with yourself for a while, caring and nurturing your own spirit as you did your mother's these last few months.

I didn't realize how exhausted, even bone weary, I truly was until Bill's father wasn't living with us any longer. And it took me several weeks to really feel like I'd fully gotten my feet back under me. Same with that period after we lost our sister-in-law last year -- it was a gut-level blow, and took a long time to get my wind back again from there.

Hugs, hon. If we were closer, we'd grab a pot of tea and have a good, weepy afternoon together. Just know I'll be thinking of you and hoping you find some measuer of grace in something you love very soon.