Wednesday, January 23, 2013


3: characterized by or appealing to self-indulgence

Last night my husband had an evening work event.  I decided to take full advantage.  I made a dinner he doesn't like (chicken soup and grilled cheese sandwiches), read my own book in a quiet house as my girls each read their latest library finds and finished reading Jason and the Golden Fleece to my girls before bed.  As the coup de grace, I put them all to bed at 8:30 (with instructions for lights out at 9 for the older two) and then... climbed into bed myself.  I often fantasize about going to bed as soon as my children are tucked in, but I never do it.

I planned well.  I grabbed my book, my bottle of water, my phone (in case J called on his way home) and the iPad (in case I finished my book and wanted to watch a Dr. Who).  About five minutes after settling in with the heating pad on and my book in hand, J got home.  He peered questioningly into our bedroom as he opened the door.

"Oh, I'm awake," I said cheerfully.  "I just decided to do what we always talk about but never do: I came to bed as soon as I said the girls' prayers.  Want to join me?"

So he did.  While he watched Alabama play Kentucky, I finished my oh-so-delightful book.  Then we talked and laughed and cuddled and went to sleep.

It felt decadent and completely self-indulgent.  There were chores I could have been doing.  (Putting away a post-grilled cheese griddle, for one.)  But for once I decided all of those chores could wait. 

Let me try that again, more honestly this time. 

I decided (once again) that all of the chores could wait and that I (for once) would not feel guilty about letting them wait.  Instead of squandering the time not spent cleaning my kitchen on Facebook or playing games on my phone or the iPad, I used the time to sink into a book that was just what my soul needed.  It didn't feel like a waste.  It felt honest and good.

A few days ago a high school friend posted as her status on Facebook, "Wonders sometimes if I should have spent a little more time being selfish........"  It's a valid question for most moms to ask.  Should I be carving out time to take care of myself?  I know that I should.  Because when I'm not intentional about making time to care for myself, my mind shuts down anyway.  I find myself unable to concentrate, choosing TV over a book, playing an inane word game online or doing any number of things to simply kill time and numb out.  As an Enneagram 9, I am more prone to this behavior than most, to be sure.  But I suspect there are others who can relate to this.  We aren't meant to take care of others to the exclusion of meeting our own needs - at least not for sustainable periods of time.

Sometimes a little decadence is in order.  Whether that translates as a massage, lighting a candle and grabbing a good book or a night out with your girl friends, I think taking time to feed our souls is important.  Please don't think I speak from a place of one who has it together.  I regularly fail to actually feed my soul the things it needs - sometimes my soul is on a starvation diet, other times it's subsisting on the soul's equivalent to beans and rice.  But every once in a while, I have a night like last night - a night where my soul feasted on the things it needed most.  I can't do it every night.  Ballet will return to its regularly scheduled programming.  The tasks to be done will scream too loudly.  Things will inevitably call me away from the warmth and comfort of my bedroom and a good book.

But here's what I cling to: at least at this point in my life I know what decadence looks like for my soul.  I know that an evening spent relishing the quiet between the covers (of both a book and my bed) is what I sometimes need.  That, at least, is progress: knowing what I need.

What's decadence for you?  What feeds your soul in the cold and gray moments?

Whatever it is, may you seek it, find it and relish it.

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