Sunday, July 12, 2009


Giving participation another go as part of an effort to exercise my writing discipline. The prompt this week is 'indulgence'.

The majority of my adult life, aside from a few notably unexpected windfalls, I've barely gotten by financially. I wouldn't have described myself as poor - poor is when there isn't enough money for even the barest necessities of food and shelter (though there were MOMENTS)- but it was most often more have not than have. You learn to get by though and making do or doing without becomes as natural as being either right handed or left or having brown eyes and hair when red hair and green eyes is what you find striking. You not only accept getting by but find blessing in it - $3 grocery sacks stuffed with 'like new' newborn size baby clothes from a garage sale, bakery thrift store bread 5 loaves for a mere buck, re-tread tires, junk store lamps with working bulbs already in them. You develop a disdain for the folly of those who succumb to the marketing and advertising ploys of retail stores.

Anything not an absolute necessity becomes indulgence - the blue box of mac 'n cheese or the Big G or K marked cereal instead of the black and white generic packages, the full measure of sugar mixed with the envelope of dry powdered drink mix, 3 slices of bacon with eggs over easy on your plate instead of crumbled throughout a skillet of scrambled for the family, turning up the thermostat on a cold morning in January instead of putting on a sweatshirt or sweater.

Despite mandatory frugality I have consistently had one significant personal indulgence - magazines. I love, love, LOVE cottage/country decor and gardening magazines, craft and quilting magazines. Their colors, creativity and representations of texture and hominess totally seduce me. I keep them forever and spend hours upon hours escaping to beautiful surroundings there and finding inspiration for tweaking junk store and yard sale treasures to appear as more than they are in the rooms I inhabit.

Exercising restraint , doing without or just making do trains you tough it out. It's a form of discipline, building of muscle. Too much indulgence and one grows soft, flabby. Distinction between want and need blurs. Not enough and I wonder if you lose the capacity to embrace pleasure for yourself, or maybe, you have a greater appreciation. I know many women who routinely have their nails 'done'. I have had two professional manicures in my entire life, once for my oldest son's wedding and a second time for a family reunion. I felt like royalty both times! Would it have affected me so if it were 'routine'? I'm sure not. But, should I ever win the lottery and become able to - manicures, and a pedicure perhaps now and then, will be on my list of regular indulgences.


  1. Beautifully written, Sheila!! You have come at the issue from a totally different place than I did and have presented that view wonderfully, eye-openingly well. Some of your phrases & examples were superb: "making do...natural as being right or left handed..." The joy in finding what you really need/want at a garage sale and feeling that as an indulgence. Bravo!!

  2. Wonderful post!! I have spent many years now since my divorce being "frugal" by need. I truly believe "Poor" is a state of mind not being. I can totally relate to the need for magzines..I think they keep me focused on what I want and where I want to be. LOL...I think they are just plain fun too!!
    Thank you for popping by me Quilting Bee - wonderful comment! Thank you, Sarah

  3. That's so the right attitude! I complain too much about not being able to afford certain things! But I can't live without magazines either!