“The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days waiting for better ones ahead. The grand and the simple. They are equally wonderful.”
– Marjorie Pay Hinckley
Did you ever have one of those philosophical moments where your mind gets inquisitive and you begin to ponder random things? “Why is the sky blue? Is it really nature, or nurture? How do you measure infinity?” Well, I had one of those moments recently and I’d like to know who coined the phase “retail therapy” because that person, my friends, was a genius.
Last weekend, my hubby turned the big 2-9. My in-laws were visiting for the holiday weekend (I’m referring to Columbus Day, not his birthday…although he’d arguably like to consider them both equally important to mankind) and it was a celebratory time for several reasons. Despite the anniversary of Eddie’s birth and Columbus discovering America, the weekend was notorious to me for another reason. You see, Sunday was the one year-mark of my drastic health decline, my sick-iversary if you will. I tried to put it out of my mind and focus on the happy things at hand (like birthday cake) but I couldn’t shake the sadness and utter disbelief I felt. It was an entire 365 difficult days earlier that I thought I was just dealing with a bad cold, a sinus infection, a life-sucking virus. I look back and see my poor, naive, sniffling self, clutching a Kleenex, zero ability to foresee that the rug was about to be pulled out from under her or how her future was about to rapidly change. How depressing.
I wasn’t feeling well (as if there seemed to be another alternative these days) so I insisted that my in-laws and hubby go to the Oktoberfest festival without me. I climbed into bed with my bowl of reheated soup, put something mindless on t.v., and cried. It had been building up for days. It was one of those ugly cry’s too, the Carrie Matheson kind; the kind where you sob and make funny faces. If there was one thing I was thankful for in that moment, it was that there were no witnesses around to see it.
Once I was done, my soup was cold and my eyes were burning. Where did the past year of my life go? Time wasn’t waiting for me to get better and I was so mad at myself. I struggle frequently with the desire to push through and make the most of each day I’m blessed to be alive and the reality of feeling so sick, the only feasible option seems to be staying in bed. I wiped my eyes, took a deep breath, and decided that I, too, was going to enjoy the day.
One of the perks to where we live is that despite the cost of living setting you back an arm, a leg, and your life savings, we are in walking distance to just about every and any store you can imagine. If I threw a rock from my window, I could hit the parking garage of the four-story mall (okay, maybe I couldn’t but my husband definitely could!) I decided that although I wasn’t able to eat bratwurst and slam beers with the best of them, I was going to do something that made me happy. Once everyone was back home and the swelling around my eyes went down (not a cute look), my mother-in-law and I took the three minute walk over to Nordstrom. I had been eyeing this cape for several weeks and when I saw that my store had it in stock, it was more than enough to get me out of bed. It took a little time and the help of an associate to locate but when I laid eyes on it, there was no doubt it was coming home with me!
This cape, a piece of plaid fabric, made. my. day. Some of you will think that sounds superficial and materialistic but let me tell you why it’s not. Everyone indulges in an activity once and a while for the sole reason being it makes them happy. A round of golf, happy hour with friends, going for a run, painting…a hobby to recharge your mental well being from the stressors of life. Don’t we all deserve that? Aside from the obvious stress-inducing factors given my health, it’s also taken a huge toll on my lifestyle and what I’m capable of doing. With each time I fill up an online cart (no purchase necessary) or head to a store and look around, I get a glimpse of my old self; the healthy girl that held her 16th birthday party in Times Square so that she could browse Fifth Avenue’s finest windows.
Shopping is a pastime that I truly enjoy and I always have. It lifts my mood. It is a normalcy in my life when many other things are not. It makes me feel excited, something I frequently miss out on given my current, sedentary lifestyle. Each “materialistic” piece I swoon over provides hope that I’ll someday be able to wear it feeling well again, self-confident and sashaying down the streets of D.C.. It is motivation for me to get up and get dressed each day, despite the fact that I’m likely not going anywhere and no one other than my husband and a few dog walkers will see me. My closet is a source of creativity and inspiration. THAT is retail therapy.
The associate wrapped up my new purchase in tissue paper. I swung that bag the entire three minute walk home with an extra pep in my step. I still felt horrible and our 20 minute excursion zapped enough energy out of me for the next two days but in that silver Nordie’s bag held my motivation. I rested when we got home and after a few hours I got up out of bed, put on my new cape, and headed to dinner to celebrate- a birthday, a three-day weekend, an accomplishment. Do what makes you happy because life’s too short to wait for the good days.