My neighbor recently stopped by to see how my apartment is evolving. I’m still settling in slowly, but it’s starting to feel like the place that I live, rather than the place where I work and go to sleep.
She asked me whether or not I’d want to put a vase of flowers in one spot that currently looks quite unadorned.
“Oh, no,” I replied. “I’m not really a flowers person.”
Last week, this same neighbor and I cohosted a little gathering. It was at her place, which is roomier than mine. In honor of the occasion, she put together some small flower arrangements.
They looked lovely.
After everyone left, she asked whether I’d like to have one. I said yes, of course. I put the flowers in that same bare spot that she and I had examined only a week or two earlier.
As the week went by, I was so happy to have those flowers. Every time I looked up from my work and spotted them, I smiled.
It was a gray week, and it became a very cold week. The color of those flowers was an antidote to the dreariness outside, and they made my space, which is spare by choice but probably a bit too austere right now, feel warmer.
I got to thinking about my claim that I’m “not a flowers person.”
Really? Am I not? Would I say no if someone regularly gave me flowers?
Obviously the answer is no. Whenever I get flowers, I’m delighted by them and grateful to the giver, as I was to my neighbor. I love looking at them.
I’m just not very good at taking the time to give flowers to myself, thereby adorning my little home with some natural beauty. I tell myself that they’re a needless expense, forgetting that value is both subjective and situational. There’s a lot of value in one’s spirits being lifted.
I often catch my nutrition clients making big, bold statements about their likes, dislikes, and identities.
“I’m not the sort of person who ______.”
“I’ve never really been a ______ person.”
“I don’t do ______.”
“I’m not really into ______.”
“I don’t think I’d like ______.”
The reason that I notice these comments is because I make many similar ones myself. I wonder if they’re connected to the tendency of people who’ve had eating disorders to think in binaries, absolutes, and fixed patterns.
I always try to challenge my clients to think beyond what they’re sure is a permanent preference, position, or way of being.
Is it really true that they’d never enjoy X, Y, or Z? That they couldn’t possibly do this or that?
Or are they simply clinging to a sense of identity that feels, for whatever reason, safe and familiar?
Yes, of course there’s a danger in spending too much, indulging too often, saving nothing, never withholding pleasure.
But I’ve historically tended more toward self-denial than immoderation, and the tendencies are equally dangerous. We only have so much time to enjoy this life.
This week, I learned that I’m very much a flowers person. I like having them, and I like what they imply about appreciating beauty.
By the end of the week, the flowers had wilted, as flowers do. I bid them goodbye, a little sadly.
On Friday night, I wrapped up a late day of work. I ventured out in the freezing cold and walked to a local deli, where I suspected they’d sell inexpensive bundles of flowers.
Sure enough, they did. Their modest flower collection had been moved inside, to protect the poor stems and buds from the temperatures outside.
I bought a little bouquet and rushed it home. I refilled my neighbor’s vase, knowing she’d be happy to loan it to me for a while if it meant that I was making my space prettier and more pleasing.
That bouquet wasn’t a big expense or a big hassle. But it brought brightness—literal and figurative—to my weekend.
Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.
I’ve been loving escarole this winter, and David Leite’s simple preparation is calling to me.
I’d have loved to warm up with a bowl of this lentil stuffed pepper soup yesterday!
These stuffed artichokes look so good.
Marly’s vegan Valentine’s Day cookies may need to be a gift that I give to myself this year.
1. I was recently grocery shopping and struck by how many more vegan chick’n nugget options there are now than there used to be! This article may guide me the next time a craving strikes.
2. Christy Tending offers a powerful reflection on disability and “things that able me.”
3. A new science studies—and emphasizes the daily importance of—our relationship with awe.
4. A great conversation with Marisa G. Franco, author of Platonic, on making and keeping friends in adulthood.
5. I’m with Scott Simon on this: UNESCO, consider the bagel.
Wishing you brightness in the week ahead. If nothing else, something sweet is coming your way in this space very soon!
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