Worth it

When did we decide that we were not worth it?

When did we begin to tell ourselves the choices that bring us joy were too expensive/impractical/self-indulgent?

I remember, as a young girl, asking for a $20 calendar for my birthday. My mother told me it would be “shameful” to spend $20 on a calendar, that something so frivolous was a waste of money. She easily spent more than $20 on my present, but ignored what I wanted. This was not done in a spiteful way; she was just raised in a very stoic, Midwestern home with all the frugal values that come with that uprbringing.

My attitude at that young age was not hers. Rather, I felt nothing that brings joy could be considered a waste of money. Somewhere in between my young self and my middle-aged self, I forgot that truth.

At forty-something, I want joy. I’ve lived long enough to know it comes and goes—but I can encourage it to cross the threshold with a gorgeous welcome mat and a genuine smile.

I want the soft, gorgeous sweater that makes me feel good. I am done opting instead for something less expensive and totally uninspired.

I want the supple leather bookmark engraved with a quote that makes me smile, rather than the free, flimsy paper version from the library.

The older I get, the more I realize I do not need a lot of things. I’ve been a quest to purge things for the past few years. My divorce, the loss of my parents and a host of other life-changing events led me to remember, more so than usual, that things weigh me down. Give me less things—but make them beautiful.

I may have a closet less full, but the few items in it will be divine.

I may have just a couple of huge, gorgeous blooms in my vase, but they beat a bevy of grocery store carnations any day.

Blossom purple orchid in white vase
Rules of the house: No grocery story carnations

And I may have to pinch pennies elsewhere to drink the coffee I so love, but it is a distinctively different experience than settling for sludge.

I do not want to become attached to things, but those things I allow into my space should bring me joy. That, at least, I deserve.

So do you.

I have a friend who has a bottle of very nice champagne in her refrigerator that will probably never be opened. She has saved it for years, saying it will be for a “special occasion.” Given the years and special occasions that have passed, I am not sure she will ever find one that merits the pop of that cork.

I have another friend who takes her sweet self to a very expensive, luxurious inn once per year. She dons the fluffy white robe, partakes of a bevy of spa treatments, has a fantastic dinner and catches up on her reading. It is just one weekend out of the year, but it is a tradition for her—a promise to herself that she keeps.

My takeaway? Pop the damn cork. Now. Because it is Monday. Because your son passed driver’s education without denting your car. Because your best friend got engaged.

And for Pete’s sake, if you are going to buy a calendar, make it the $20 version. With apologies to my mother, of course.

But not to yourself.

You are more than worth it.




50 Comments Add yours

  1. While I never see myself buying 20$ calendar, I definitely see myself buying a more expensive cake or some food. That’s joy, unadulterated.

    I never understood the need for a great bookmark, I have always used a random paper for my bookmark. The book is more fun for me

    1. candidkay says:

      Isn’t it great that we all have our own ways of showing ourselves we matter? And now you’ve made me want cake:).

      1. That’s alright. You can make one, I don’t even know how to 😦

  2. pippaeliza says:

    Loved this. After worrying about money and what others will think of me for so long, I have now learnt how important it is to enjoy each moment we have. Like you said, open the champagne and dance on the tables if the mood takes you.

    Beautifully said 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      I think for many, the balance between financial responsibility and having enough is a tough one. Both extremes sport too many aficionados. But living within your means while enjoying quality–that’s a sweet spot:).

  3. Aunt Beulah says:

    These inspired words should be annual, required reading for all of us, Kay. Only with age have I realized that being surrounded by a few things that bring me joy is much more important than having a myriad of things bought on a thoughtless whim, because they were on sale, or because I was tired of shopping: mistakes all.

    1. candidkay says:

      The mistake bit is so very true. Thoughtless whims=closets full of unused, uninspired things. At least in my experience, as in yours. Glad you have found a good balance!

  4. srbottch says:

    This strikes home with our adult, single daughter. I’m afraid we, as parents, are in your mother’s camp. I may have to rethink it. But it’s hard. Damn, you’re affecting my psyche…Well done!

    1. candidkay says:

      I always say if I have made you laugh, cry or think, I’ve done my job :-). You made my day.

      1. srbottch says:

        Certainly glad to hear that. Take the rest of the day off. (I know, you’re “not supposed to use a preposition to end a sentence with” (W Churchill)

  5. Yes to all of it. I attended an antiques fair last weekend in NYC ($25 just to get in) and most things were $10,000 to $1m and of musuem quality. I loved seeing it all — and suddenly fell in love with a photographer whose work I’d never seen before. And bought an image. BOOM.

    The amount I spent is less than the cost of three months’ groceries and the beauty will sustain us for years to come. I wish more people understood and valued the tremendous power of quality and beauty in daily life.

    1. candidkay says:

      Good for you! I am sure the beauty is more than worth the price tag. What we surround ourselves with matters.

      1. As someone who studied interior design and hoped to do it for a living, I pay a lot of attention to my surroundings everywhere I go. Beauty is healing and ugliness (of which there is a great deal, esp in public spaces) wearying.

  6. I so love this. Yes! You are worth it! Beautiful. Just beautiful.

  7. I can relate so much to this. I too am going for less … but make it the luxurious kind.
    It feels surprisingly great 🙂

  8. Cindy Frank says:

    Perfectly stated. Grab every moment and enjoy it thoroughly.

  9. Yes! I recently turned 40, but about 5 years ago (not too long after my parents passed away) I made some similar decisions. I have a rule in my house that my hubby helps me stick to. I call it the “love it” rule. I do not purchase or bring anything into my home that I do not love! If I like it, or “kind of like it,” then chances are it will stay on the store shelf! SO when we are shopping, I will say “oh, I like this.” My hubby will respond with “yes, but do you love it?” That always makes the decision for me. I buy less things, but I also donate or throw out less too. I also believe you should always surround yourself with beautiful things, because dang it…we ARE worth it and life is short.

    1. candidkay says:

      What a wonderful practical application of the idea! I love that you not only ask yourself the question, but that your husband also gets into the act :-).

  10. dinnerbysusan says:

    Oh my goodness! I never knew it was impossible to keep good champagne corked! Tell your friend to pop that bottle open (and better yet … to share it with you!)

    1. candidkay says:

      I agree:)! And some Belgian chocolate with it wouldn’t hurt😉.

  11. This rings lots of bells Kay! Even as an independent grown-up I still wouldn’t tell my mother about things I’d bought because I knew she’d disapprove. I still use up the old things before I make a start on using the new ones and have some guilt about having nice things for myself. But I’m certainly not deprived and I’m getting better all the time 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      I hear you:). When I hired a cleaning service, my mother gave me so much grief! And then, as she got older, she got one:). I do believe in the waste not/want not–that rubbed off. But self deprivation as a lifestyle is a miserable way to live. Glad to know you kicked it!

  12. Yes! My favorite part: “My takeaway? Pop the damn cork. Now. Because it is Monday. Because your son passed driver’s education without denting your car. Because your best friend got engaged.”
    Pop the damn cork. Now. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Raising my glass with a big “Cheers” to you:).

  13. Amy says:

    I am so with you in this, dear friend. Take joy! xox

    1. candidkay says:

      You are a master at joy and beauty–we could all take a page out of your book! You find it in the simple and make the magic happen:).

  14. Small gestures of self-love and investment in joy; we should remind one another, too. No more celebrating martydom.

    1. candidkay says:

      My former hair stylist used to say, “Get off the cross. Someone else needs the wood.” Rather blunt, but always reminds me I am no martyr.

  15. suemclaren24 says:

    My mother told me, when I was about 40, not to wait for my golden years. I’m there now (allegedly – I think 75 is still young!) and I am so grateful for this advice. If it makes you or others smile, gives you or others pleasure, do it. Now.

    1. candidkay says:

      Your mother was a wise woman! Glad you took her advice. I’m sure it has made all the difference. And 75 is still vibrant if you are, right?!

  16. Great post! I’m working on bringing more joy into my life, downsizing and selectively inviting beautiful things in. This reminds of me the organization book I read last year, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up/KonMari Method. Her question when deciding to toss or keep is ‘does it spark joy?’ I think we all need less crap, more joy! 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      I’ve not read the book yet, despite all the buzz, but will at some point. I’ve heard it’s phenom. Did you like it?

      1. I picked up some good tips from it. My biggest takeaway was the novel idea about keeping things that spark joy and tossing items that don’t. It’s a quick read that I found well worth my time.

  17. George says:

    Well said. It reminds me of an Erma Bombeck article from years ago where she talks about living your life and not saving anything for tomorrow.

    1. candidkay says:

      My mother was a huge Erma fan:). Lovely lady.

  18. Thx for another great post Kay. I was taught to save certain clothes and only wear them ‘for best’. The best is today, right here, right now. And if that means wearing silk in the supermarket so be it!

    1. candidkay says:

      Ooh:). Silk in the supermarket is an entirely new level of decadence. Love it!

  19. hollyhinson says:

    Another amazing column! We are so worth it and you’re right – we forget that! Tonight I am going to the ballet – just about my favorite thing in the whole world. I almost didn’t buy the ticket – quite expensive but the dancing gives me immeasurable joy. What else can I say does that? Why would I deny myself that? I will find somewhere else to skimp, but I am worth the beauty of the ballet. I am also operating with less “stuff” in my life, but that means what I keep has that much more value.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, so glad that you’re going! I am sure the joy it gives you will more than make up for the ticket price. And yes, the less stuff, the lighter we all are–and the more we have to share, right?

  20. It’s called loving yourself Kay…and what a journey to get there…but oh, so worth it 🙂
    I have stripped all my rubbish, inner and outer, to move into my new home of self. The views are fantastic, the service is sublime and the comfort a peace beyond measure.
    Great post Kay, our worth IS that ability to love ourselves 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      There IS something to stripping the rubbish:). Something so satisfying.

  21. Judy says:

    Where the red dress. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      And the pumps that make you feel like a million dollars:).

  22. Such a beautiful post and an amazing reminder to live in the present and enjoy the simple things that bring joy to our lives!

  23. Why have I called you Kay all this time? Is it Kristine? This post is a wonderful reminder to us all, to know we are worth all the special things we love and not to put it off for a raining day, that may never arrive! 🙂

      1. Oh such a beautiful story. Audrey sounds like a true friend and unique soul. Lucky for us she encouraged you to write from your heart.

      2. candidkay says:

        She was! Miss her dearly:).

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