Years ago, when I was about 13, our neighbours from down the street moved away. My interaction with the family was limited although my mom had a good relationship with the mother of the family. A day or two before they left, as they walked in and out of the house carrying boxes, the mother came over to me. I don’t remember much of the conversation other than that she told me not to be afraid to reward myself in small ways, to be sure to treat myself every once in awhile. For a long time, even into adulthood, her advice seemed strange. I was curious about the words she shared.
Fast forward roughly 5 years. I was in my first semester of University. I was seeing a counsellor at the time.One day my counsellor asked me if I ever did anything just for fun or just for myself. Do you reward yourself for your hard work, she pondered. As I searched my memory I couldn’t recall the last time I did something without purpose or intention. I couldn’t remember the last time I had done something just for myself. I was shocked that I needed to be told that it was okay to do something frivolous. Despite my shock I still asked aloud, “you mean, that’s okay?” She assured me that yes, it was okay, and encouraged me to go out and make a frivolous purchase or do something that I really enjoyed as a reward for working so hard and doing so well in school.
Not long after, I popped into the bookstore on a whim. That in itself would have been a frivolous reward but, I also found a lovely picture book called “What Every Woman Should Have.” It was beautiful and perfect for that time in my life. I remember feeling tingly with exhilaration after I made the purchase, after I did something totally frivolous. The book remains on my shelf and I love pulling it out and sharing it with girlfriends or as a reminder to be kind to myself. I can’t say I’ve become that much better at treating myself or doing the frivolous, I have a tendency to be so serious. But now, years later, I understand the words that my neighbour shared. I don’t know if she passed this wisdom along because she saw a tendency in me to work too hard and forget to enjoy life or if it was just something she had discovered in her own life that she often shared. Either way, she was right.