One of my student’s families gave me a bouquet of gorgeous lilies, roses, and daisies. They have been sitting on my kitchen table since Wednesday evening. While I write in my journal, write for the blog, tinker on GarageBand, or do quartet-related development work, the flowers’ incredible fragrance perfumes the air around me. One of the lilies yawns impressively in my direction. The brilliant pinks and greens look awesome with our red curtain. This bouquet has changed my life! Why I don’t get myself a fresh bouquet every week? Because I can’t afford it? That’s probably the wrong way to think about it. I can’t afford not to live in the presence of beauty.

In The Artist’s Waythere’s a very memorable essay on small luxuries. Julia Cameron discusses how different people have different things that make them feel rich, but aren’t actually very expensive. Like always having fresh berries around, or buying a new record every week, or letting yourself put as much cream in your coffee as you want. Cameron describes this as one way to fill the well — to take care of ourselves so that we remain creatively inspired and resilient.

We artists are often good at self-denial and austerity, which translates to being bad at self-pampering. Myself included. Summer is a great time to change this, since there are so many things to savor that are cheap and even free. To help me remember the little things, I am hereby making a list of things that make me feel like a millionaire:

1. Fresh flowers on my kitchen table.

2. Guacamole in the fridge.

3. Spending a lazy summer afternoon picnicking at the lakeshore. (P.S. Thank you City of Chicago for keeping this public land. We ALL feel like millionaires when we talk onto OUR beach and enjoy the sapphire water, clear skies, and big beautiful trees.)

4. A small, rotating collection of interesting library books around.

5. My subscriptions to TimeOut Chicago, Bon Appetit, and Cook’s Illustrated.

6. Nice moisturizer for my skin.

7. A beautiful journal & a nice pen to write with.

8. A Spotify Premium membership, so I can spontaneously listen to whatever I want while I’m commuting. My latest favorites are Sharon van Etten and Wye Oak.

9. A quick trip to Crossroads Exchange for some recycled fashion. Yesterday I found an adorable sun hat, a killer summer dress, and two nice concert tops for $50. This, for me, was not a small luxury but a wild shopping spree. Anyway!

What are your personal luxuries? If you’re like me and you struggle to make a list of nine luxuries you’d grant yourself … well, we both probably need to work on this.

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