To make living itself an art, that is the goal – Henry Miller
I really like good wine and things cooked in butter.
Expensive olive oil drizzled on salads (potatoes), long baths by candlelight with the annoying extractor fan off, even though it means the ceiling will pay the price and a rather sexy, hardback book.
The truth is I’ve always liked nice things. As a teenager I’d save to buy one pair of Karen Millen trousers instead of popping to Primark to buy fifty different items. I started young.
This got me in a spot of trouble once. Well, as far as trouble goes not that bad. I wasn’t drinking in the morning or burying the bodies of previous boyfriends. I did however rack up a small amount of debt due to my urge to keep consuming.
Quality over quantity was thrown out of the window in favour for quality and quantity. Fine if you’re Madonna and collecting children but I was renting a room at eighteen from a lady that lived down the road and working for not a lot of money.
I guess I had an idea of what my I wanted my life to look like and I thought I would reach destination happy by buying stuff. Lots of stuff. Expensive lingerie, clothes, make up and jewellery and quite frankly, shit I didn’t need. As I’m sure you can all guess, it didn’t bring me any closer to the life I imagined in my head. It actually wasn’t until I started subtracting things I could really see what was important.
Fast forward six years and I’m married, debt free-ish and we have a home. It’s diddy, adorable and round the corner from the house I grew up in. I don’t own much, but it feels a hell of a lot more beautiful that my life ever did before whilst drowning in all of that stuff.
I don’t want anyone to get confused. When I say I want to, or I feel I do, live a luxurious life I don’t mean I’m walking around wearing a crown and telling Dan to tickle my back while I shop online. I mean that, as much as possible, I appreciate the smaller things and that makes them luxurious to me. I try to pay attention to them and a simple act of making a cup of coffee in the morning can turn into something quite lovely. As much as I can, I only surround myself with things, people and food I love. Okay, I’m not there in every area. I still look at my un-plastered ceilings with a small amount of disgust and there are things in my home I don’t love but as a recovering debtor I know nothing is worth having until I can afford it. Not forgetting, there are so many luxuries in life that don’t involve unpacking something out of a cardboard box.
When I got down to thinking what I wanted my life to be like two words that sprang to mind were simple and beautiful.
Why should your life feel and look any less lovely that a bubble bath accompanied by a glass of champagne?
One example for me is lighting candles. I quit smoking two years ago and I kept my lighters for that soul purpose. They are just plastic things dyed ugly colours. It no longer gave me joy to run my thumb over the spark-wheel. It was so boring, mundane and I associated it with smoking. No longer as inciting to me as lighting candles and soaking in a hot bath. But striking a match, well that’s just lovely. I now only have matches in the house and I only buy packets that are beautiful. Every time I pull a match out of that intriguing box I feel decadent. It makes it special and to me, that’s a little slice of luxury right there.
Once you adjust and personalise what luxury means to you it’s everywhere. It doesn’t mean constantly buying things to fill voids or to show people that your doing well at work. It doesn’t mean spending money on a dress you can’t afford and then getting crippling anxiety and only being able to drink white wine when you wear it. How miserable.
It means only spending your money on things you really love, there’s nothing more decadent that being surrounded by things you really love and that mean something to you. As much as possible, only doing things that fill your heart up with joy and treating yourself with the kindness you give to others.
For me, it means five more minutes in bed, lighting candles for every bath I take (even the quick ones) and buying full fat mayonnaise. Dan once brought me “lighter than light”. He never made that mistake again.
Cross to the opposite pavement so you’re walking in the sunshine. It feels so nice.
Lots of love,