Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Splurge

Have you ever splurged on something and then thoroughly regretted it?

Have you ever splurged on something and then felt not one ounce of remorse?

Have you ever not splurged on something and then regretted it?

These are all common feelings surrounding a splurge (or lack thereof) and they all went through my head as potential outcomes last Saturday night.

The Setting: Girls Night Out with one of my best friends at a high-end shopping mall.

The Store: An adorable little boutique called, appropriately, "Two Friends." Think purses, jewelry, accessories, picture frames, and home decor. As girly as can be.

The Item: A pink/purple pashmina scarf/wrap. 70% genuine pashmina wool, 30% silk. So soft and silky you wouldn't believe it. A delicate, barely-there floral damask pattern woven into it, a slight sheen that allows you to see the faint outline of blossoms. Pretty much the prettiest thing ever made.

So here's the story. My friend and I have been walking around all night, going into stores and perusing the racks of sweaters and blouses that cost about 98% more than I usually spend (I'm a Goodwill outlet shopper, people). We've been fingering their fine fabrics and admiring their detailed workmanship and gasping at the outrageous price tags for over an hour now.

I have reached the point in my life where I'm not miserable doing this: I can accept the fact that my hard-earned money is better spent elsewhere. However, the diva inside me sure does appreciate fine things. And her little voice, every once in awhile, is whispering, Ohh, that would look good on you, and Oooh, this fabric is so soft. But I'm not buying. I'm just looking.

I had already decided that if I found something inexpensive, possibly useful and really nice (clearance racks, anyone?) then maybe- maybe- I could spend just a little. Less than $10 for sure.

So that was my state of mind when my friend and I entered the store. We walk around, appreciatively picking up and putting down various items, making our circuit around the store's perimeter. We're just approaching the opposite side of the front of the store where we had started when I see it: the Scarf. It had been carelessly tossed onto a display table next to its counterparts, all of which paled in comparison. I touch it and discover that yes, it really is as soft as it looks. I hold it draped over one hand and run my fingers down its length, as little cartoon hearts start shooting out of my eyes. The only tag on it reads, "Pashmina, 70% pashmina, 30% wool". No price tag. I sigh, fairly certain it is far out of my price range, and place it back onto the table, puddling it gracefully so that its beauty can be fully appreciated by other shoppers.

I move on to look at other items in the store, but my eyes keep returning to that amazing, lovely scarf. I am walking toward it one last time to bid it farewell when the saleslady calls from across the store, "The pashmina scarves are $22.95."


I have $22.95. Well, not in cash in my pocket, but in my bank account. And it's just at that threshold where it will still be at the eye-roll-and-sigh from-my-husband and not the angry-YOU-SPENT-HOW-MUCH?? from my husband. This I can live with. My mind starts racing, desperate for a good excuse for why I must buy this scarf.

Do I need a scarf? No. I have at least five scarves at home that work perfectly well.

Maybe I could give it as a gift. That idea gets thrown out quickly. I know that once it's in my hands I could never part with it.

Did I do something to earn this scarf? etsy shop is doing pretty good. After money spent on crafting materials I'd still have to sell a few more items to pay for this, though...

Is it a killer good deal? Well, it's not a bad deal, but killer good? Probably not. I could buy 5 shirts on clearance for what this scarf costs.

My brain goes through every possible scenario, leaving me with only one excuse. And it's not a good one. I just want it. Really bad. Because it's so pretty.

I know what I have to do. It feels strange, unnatural, so not me, and so good.

I buy it. Just because. I have no good reason, other than that I am in love with this scarf and I believe it loves me back. (Okay, I know scarves are inanimate objects and have no capacity for emotion, but this one is special. Really, really special. Trust me.)

As I carry it triumphantly to the register and hand over my card, my hand is shaking a little. I chat with my friend and the cashier about how much I love the scarf and they both agree that we were meant for each other. It makes my high even higher. The cashier carefully wraps my new purpley-pink pashmina prize in a lime green tissue paper and carefully places it into a bright purple bag (it all clashes terribly with my scarf, but I don't care). As I leave the store, my mind is already racing as I try to think of when I will be able to wear it for the first time.

My lovely scarf is now home with me. I took it home that night, showed it to my husband (promptly met with aforementioned eye-roll-and-sigh) and wrapped it around me as we sat on the couch watching tv. Then I took it upstairs and hung it on a hanger in my closet. It still hasn't been quite cold enough to wear it yet, but each morning when I get dressed I finger it lovingly and it just somehow makes me feel special.

So for me, this was a splurge that was definitely NOT a regret. Because sometimes a girl needs to stop pinching her pennies and for once let them make her feel beautiful and special (and purpley pink and soft and silky too).


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spiritual Sundays: A Day to Remember

This is the candlelight vigil held on the evening of September 12, 2001 at Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington) in Fredericksburg Virginia. I was there.

On this day of remembrance I felt I would be remiss if I did not write a special post in commemoration. I have struggled to know what I could write today that has not already been written, what words of wisdom I might share that have not already been spoken, what comfort I might offer that has not already been given. But I believe in situations like this, originality is not the goal; often, God works through repetition to teach us those things we just can't seem to learn on our own.

I was just watching a recorded episode of Miracle Detectives in which the "detectives" were exploring various stories of miracles from 9/11. While one detective believed in miracles, the other was very skeptical. She said that she didn't see God at all in the events that happened that day- all she saw was pain and suffering. It was her opinion that to claim that some survived because of God's plan would be to also say that so many others died according to God's plan. What kind of God would make a terrible plan like that?

I started thinking about how sometimes, as God's children, we want to scream, "It's NOT FAIR!!!!" Then I thought of the many times I have heard my own children say those same three words, and how I can seem like such an unfair and unloving parent to them.

I let my 7-year-old son ride his bike down to his friend's house, but I make my toddler stay in the driveway. It's NOT FAIR!! But if I let my toddler run down the road alone, she could be so seriously hurt.

I give the yummy medicine to my 5-year-old and my 7-year-old is told it's not for him. It's NOT FAIR!! But if I were to give him medicine he doesn't need, it could make him very sick.

I let my 7-year-old use the big scissors to cut off a tag, and tell my 5-year-old that she must wait for me to cut off her tag for her. It's NOT FAIR!! But if I were to let her use the big scissors, her uncoordinated movements might cause a serious injury.

Do any of these situations demonstrate that I love one child more than another? In my adult wisdom, I clearly see that they do not. In fact, it demonstrates just how much I love each of my children, and how mindful I am of their individual well-being. But to my children, I am being grossly unfair. They cannot see what I see. I see them in all their abilities, both advanced and still growing. I see the danger in the world around them, and I know what they can handle and what they cannot. I see the unseen: pitfalls and consequences known only through my personal knowledge acquired through years of experience. I see the bigger picture.

I once read a quotation that I believe was by G. K. Chesterton (I tried to find it but I couldn't) that said something to the effect of, "We know as much about God as the pancake we're making for breakfast knows about us." I think we could extend that to say that we also probably know just about the same amount about the universe that God created for us. I truly believe that our Heavenly Father is a loving father, and while we may see so many things in life as being awful and unfair, they are such a small part of the greater whole, and we too such a small part of that whole, that we often can't possibly hope to see the purpose behind them.

After I have to tell my children no, sometimes I am able to explain the reasoning behind my actions. Other times, especially when they're very young and I know they just won't understand, the best I can hope to do is to comfort them with a hug and guide them to another activity that might help them feel happy again. Fortunately, our Heavenly Father does the same for us. He gives us explanations when He can, though not always right away. He is more than generous with offering comfort, when we turn to Him. He guides us toward future happiness and peace, easing the pains that come along with growth and trial.

For me, it is the feeling of His love as we work through the grief that helps me to know that He is there, and that He loves me. It is the lessons that I learn from the heartbreak that help me to understand that what, at the time, seems like an all-consuming flame is really just the refiner's fire, making me stronger and better than I ever could have been without it.

Please know that it is not my intention to make light of the events of September 11th, or to downplay the grief and pain that so many suffer. That day was a nightmare, no doubt, for many, and they are entitled to mourn. Their suffering is real. We don't know why God chose to take so many home to Him that day, and why others were left. But as we turn to Him, He can not only salve the raw wounds, but He can help us to see the bigger picture. I truly believe that He loves each and every one of us, and that He wants us to be our best selves. He sees the divine within each of us and He has a purpose for us that is far greater than anything we could ever dream for ourselves. Unfortunately, sometimes that means enduring things that seem far greater than anything we could ever imagine enduring.

I'll leave you with the words to one of my favorite songs by Michael McLean:

All I've ever wanted, all I've ever dreamed of, everything I hoped, and all the things I prayed for couldn't hold a candle to what I've been given: I've been given what I need.

Even when I didn't understand, when I thought you had no heart, thank you for rejecting my demands and always giving me the better part.

All I've ever wanted, all I've ever dreamed of, everything I hoped, and all the things I prayed for couldn't hold a candle to what I've been given: I've been given what I need.

To learn more about what I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit
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