Guest Post: Author Rosie Molinary on Strategies for Delight

Today’s guest post is from the utterly lovely Rosie Molinary, author of Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance. This is Rosie’s second book on body love and acceptance, her first being the groundbreaking Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina. I’m absolutely honored to have nabbed Rosie as a guest, and feel quite certain that you’ll love what she has to say!

* * * * *

“You should get it,” my husband said me.

I shook my head no. I couldn’t even fathom the idea of buying something so impractical at that price.

“I can’t,” I told him. “I just can’t spend that money on it.”

It was a handcrafted artisan bag, crafted out of silk and dark denim with embroidered tropical birds and flowers that flirted with me in a small boutique in my native Puerto Rico years ago. It sounds awful. I swear it’s not. The price tag, however, was another story. It was a couple hundred dollars. I don’t spend a couple hundred dollars on an outfit so I certainly couldn’t spend it on a bag. I left the store.

Later, my husband went back.

“You never get excited about anything,” he explained when he gave me the bag. “I just wanted you to have it since you liked it so much.”

In my hands, the bag felt like pressure, kryptonite. Now, I owned this beautiful piece, and it was my job to keep it beautiful. Me, who looks down half-way through the day and can tell from the stains on my clothes what color pen I was using, what I had for lunch, and what color lipstick whoever I hugged was wearing.

I smiled and thanked my husband profusely and then carried the bag gingerly back to our hotel room.

“Don’t ruin it,” I told myself. Miraculously, I carried it onto the plane (I couldn’t bear the idea of crushing it in my luggage) and off again without anything landing on the silk. Back home, I slide it back into its protective sleeve and then I shelved it. Where it remained (except for one brave day in 2007 when I took it out for about an hour and then panicked and returned home with it, relieved that it had survived an hour out of the house).

I am as far from a helicopter parent as it comes, and, yet, I was a helicopter bag owner. I lived in so much fear of what could happen to this bag that nothing happened to it. No one even saw it. It was almost a sketch from theater of the absurd happening live in my own house. And the thing is I know I am not alone.

How many of us have a prized possession that we covet so much that we just can’t bear to enjoy it because enjoying it just might shorten its lifespan? Or because we don’t think we deserve to enjoy it? And, yet, the possession itself says so much about us, brings us so much joy that we’re denying ourselves a bit of pleasure with our resistance to it. Maybe it is our father’s watch, our mother’s wrap, our grandmother’s cameo. Maybe it’s a beautiful piece of clothing we bought on vacation or a gift of jewelry that seems irreplaceable. Maybe it’s something we bought for a special occasion and, yet, the occasion special enough for it has never come (perhaps because our own specialness has not occurred to us).

So much of the body image work that I do is about choosing to embrace life and its offering, and, yet, for a long time, I couldn’t bring myself to delight in the bag until I was standing one day in my closet and noticed it, tucked away in its protective sleeve. In that moment, I knew that the bag needed an outing. Not for its sake, but for my own need to delight rather than to deny. Rather than live in fear that I will ruin something, I decided to enjoy what I have.  (Ultimately, I liked this strategy so much that Use Something You’ve Been Saving for a Special Occasion became Day 73’s exercise in Beautiful You.) Bringing beauty into our lives – whether it is through nature, fashion, or experience – is life-affirming and life-giving. These past few years have been dark for many of us and full of plenty of deprivation. There’s no need to pile on with our own stringent rules about what we can enjoy, how we can share ourselves, our style, our sense of self with the world. I’m going all in with the choice to delight rather than deny, because what I do with my style is just a representation of what I do with my whole life.

Need some suggestions for moving towards a strategy of delight over deprivation? Here are a few ideas from Beautiful You.

  1. Use something you’ve been saving for a special occasion- from enjoying china that’s been handed down to you to writing a note on beautiful stationary that you couldn’t bear to use, delight in something you have on hand but don’t allow yourself to use.
  2. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers.
  3. Indulge in something you don’t typically allow yourself to do: a soak in the tub, some quiet minutes on the front porch, reading for pleasure, etc.

What are your strategies for delight?

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  • Hearthrose

    I learned this lesson when my grandfather called me to come get my grandmother’s china and table linens after she died. Some of the table linens had sat, unopened with original tags, for 50 years!

    My grandmother had truly loved beautiful things, so it wasn’t that she didn’t want them, it was that she was saving them. She saved them so long that she never touched them.

    I vowed there and then that I would use those beautiful things and make memories with them, and if stains happened… well, they happened. And I do. And yes, they did. Oh well, the pieces are STILL beautiful, just no longer pristine.

  • What a lovely tribute to your grandparents that you enjoy those pieces- and the connection they have to two people that you love- with flourish. And what a powerful lesson about not saving too long for just the “right time” to enjoy something. Thanks for sharing!

  • I absolutely and totally agree that you have to use it. I have mostly always been like this. I cherish gifts from loved ones and I use them. If there is some item calling to me from a shop, be it jewelry or clothing or bags, I consider, reconsider and if I buy it, darn it I use it, If it 1 dollar or hundreds it deserves to be used.

  • This is a wonderful post. I don’t hold with keeping things for best as you never end up using them. I think beautiful things should be used and, if you wear them out, then it shows how much they were loved.

    I wear my grandad’s watch every day and every time I look to see what time it is, I think of him and smile. That wouldn’t happen if it was “safe” in a drawer.

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  • What a good tale…
    I usually just use it if I have it. I do my best to be careful but there is definate joy in taking something beautiful out for a spin. I do have my grandmother’s leather clutch which I used for years but I have since retired it… I don’t want to damage it’s delicate nature and if I lose it, I would feel sick. The fact that my Oma gave it to me, means the world….

  • LK

    I use to do this with my pearls. I wouldn’t wear them because they were so expensive I was afraid to wear them. Now i use them all the time because what is the point of having something if you never wear it?

    • You know, LK, I NEVER wear my pearls. I think I’ve always thought they were for dressier times (like weddings, let’s say), but they could really work in more daily wear than I’ve realized before now. You’ve just inspired me to get them out the box and start using them for more of my every day experiences! Thank you!

  • Corinne, In the way you talked about cherishing gifts from loved ones, I was reminded that a significant way that we can show we cherish a gift is by using it. Thank you for that reminder.

    Emma, I love that you have your grandfather’s watch and wear it everyday. What a lovely tribute and daily reminder of his meaning to you. You absolutely wouldn’t have that experience if it were in your drawer. Such a good point!

    Jentine, There is a definite joy in taking something beautiful out for a spin; you are absolutely right! I love that you were able to enjoy your Oma’s clutch before retiring it!

  • Jenny in NC

    I have an antique (150 years old) gold wedding band that my grandmother gave me. She found it in the dirt in front of her house years ago. It is engraved with someone’s initials and wedding date, but the letters are worn off too much to read clearly. It perfectly matches my own wedding band, so I wear them both together. I showed it to a jeweler a few years back. He told me all about it and then said, “…and if you want it to stay in good condition, don’t wear it.” I said, “Oh, I wear it every day!” He smiled and said, “Well then, wear it and enjoy it!” Seriously, what good is it sitting in my jewelry box?

  • Jenny, I love that story! What a seredipitous find and gift from your grandmother. Enjoy it, indeed!

  • Hollie

    I had to comment! I just started reading your blog regularly about a month ago :)… love it. But I TOTALLY related to this piece. I’ve become a “hoarder of the finer things”….Like I got a Love Spell 5 piece lotion/spray/body wash from Victoria Secrets a few christmas’ ago and hesitated using it b/c I wanted to “savor” it. Well, I ended up throwing most of it away b/c so much time expired and it didnt smell the same. From that moment on, I use everything I have WHENEVER I WANT. I’ve been splashing on my favorite purfume ( and the first one I’ve ever bought) DKNY Be Delicious every day and I just tell me self, when it gets low. I WILL BUY A NEW ONE!! But its nice to know other people out there share my same struggles.

  • I definitely believe in using what you got. So I can definitely relate to Rosie Molinary’s commentary. I use to not want to wear or use my ‘good things’ for fear of ruining them in some way. Now I pull out my goodies and I wear and use them. Most folks on the job think I dress up entirely too much for work, but I bought these items and doggone it, am gonna wear it! If they want to come to work looking like super-casual Friday everyday thats on them. I’m wearing my clothes because I want to enjoy them today, cause tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

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  • I love this! And I learned this lesson and started wearing my good jewellery about 20 years ago when two of my close friends, in separate incidents, were robbed. In both cases, the wretched thief took ALL of their jewellery, including sentimental stuff, valuable stuff, and the junky stuff. I’d been saving my pearls for “good” and never letting my diamonds out of the apartment in case I lost one, I guess. What was I saving it for? For some creep to get his grimy meathooks on it? Fuggetaboutit.

    All these years later, I wear my favourite jewels, I use my Mom’s old Louis Vuitton bag, and wear my soft red leather shoes. It always surprises me how well some of these precious things wear.