Thursday, December 1, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

Have you ever experienced stress so mind-blowingly busy that your higher cognitive functions shut down and all you want to do is curl up in a fetal position, suck your thumb, and occasionally wail "Mommy!" in pathos and defeat?

Yes. I'm melodramatic. Surprised? If so, you must be new here.

However much you want to curl up and wail, you're not allowed, and neither am I. This is one of the most unfair things about adulthood and wifehood and motherhood and service to humanity in the name of the Holy Spirit or whatever it is you choose to call your guilty conscience: too many other people are depending on you to help THEM not curl up and wail.

So what keeps you from having a complete mental breakdown when life points a hundred tennis ball throwing machines* at you and expects you keep your eyes on all the balls at once?

Prayer and awareness that God loves me certainly get me through most days upright and wail-free (or at least merely whiny), but I think God made people curious and this world entertaining for a reason. Guilty pleasures (at least, innocent ones) can give us the little freshing breaks throughout our hectic, stressful days, reset our perspective, and keep us going.

If you're not giving a bit of rein to your oxymoronic innocent guilty pleasures, one of three things is wrong.

First, you may have bought into the current cultural trend of believing that there's a prize for whoever is busiest. People, there is no prize, unless you count exhaustion as a prize, which I don't. Sometimes life gets busy, but we should stay alert for ways to slow it down, take breathers, rest. Learning to say no helps enormously.

Second, you may enjoy being a martyr. We all enjoy indulging in a bit of self-pity every now and then, wishing others would do for us like we do for them, but for some people martyrdom becomes an Olympic sport. Snap out of it! Remember that you can't help others put on their oxygen masks if you are passing out yourself.

Third, you may have a serious mental illness and need to see a licenced medical professional. I'm not joking here, not even one tiny little bit, because I've been there. When people can no longer muster the energy to do something just for fun, become so obsessed with work that they can't stop and smell the roses, or start having physical symptoms of stress (panic attacks, racing heartbeat, weight loss or gain, insomnia, etc.), professional medical help is absolutely critical.

For those of us with fairly normal brain chemistry (stop laughing, George), a little indulgence in guilty pleasures can keep us happy and coping with life's tennis ball throwing machines. Here are a few of my guilty pleasures from the past two crazy-stressful months.

1. The Big Bang Theory. Television has been giving us guilty pleasures since its invention in the late 1920s, though I imagine there really was not much worth watching in those really early days when not even the big three networks were around. Our family hardly ever watches network television in these days of National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, History Channel, and Light Jazz Music. Yes, we're geeks, so when a friend encouraged me to check out The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom about geeks, I started watching reruns on cable channels. After watching my first show, I enthusiastically informed George, who was out of town, that we needed to start watching it ALL THE TIME. He asked why. I told him a character named Sheldon went to a Halloween party dressed as the Doppler Effect. George's response: "That is so COOL!" Sheldon is our new favorite person in the whole wide world.

2. Pinterest. The Internet provides lifetimes of guilty pleasures, and at least indulging in a little Pinterest won't require you to go to confession and say a hundred Hail, Marys, as other websites might. Oh, and if you get your significant other indulging in Pinterest, as I have done, then it's a couple's activity. (Just don't let the kids on it as content isn't always appropriate for young eyes and you just never know what will pop up on the screen as you scroll down.)

3. Rereading novels I've read before. Picking up a well-loved novel and rereading my favorite parts is like visiting old friends. Very comforting.

4. Reading magazines. Since so many of my neural circuits are taken up with move-related details, my attention span is gnat-like. So magazines, which I've always loved, give me the quick fix of distraction I need.

5. Coffee. Until two months ago, I drank two cups every morning. I've now moved to three, but recognize that this guilty pleasure needs to be scaled back a bit. Coffee jitters are not a guilty pleasure. 

Guilty pleasures, like everything else in life, are only good in moderation. Too much indulgence in them keeps us from carrying out our responsibilities. But truly, we need a little guilty pleasure in our life.

What are your innocent guilty pleasures?

*Shouldn't tennis ball throwing machines have a cooler name, something less clunky and more marketable? And shouldn't tennis ball be hyphenated? I googled them to find out a cooler name and they don't appear to have one, though some brands have tried to get creative. My favorite was the LOB-STER. But no one would know what you were talking about unless, well, they played tennis. Which I don't. So why am I digressing like this? Guilty word-nerd pleasure, I suspect.


  1. The Big Bang Theory gives us a giggle, too! Although my tv viewing is so infrequent that I keep forgetting when it's on.

    My guilty pleasures when feeling totally overwhelmed by life:

    * Sitting down to make a card when I know that I have "more important" things to do. The mental relaxation is invaluable.

    * Reading a novel or a magazine, by myself, with no interruptions.

    * Browsing the internet - blogs, Pinterest, etc

    The activities I choose allow me to switch off my brain from the everyday and "imagine", so very relaxing. :-)

    How is your clean house going? I hope you've had lots of interest already.

  2. Thanks, Michelle!

    No showings so far. Seems the holiday has slowed everything way down. Another home in our neighborhood just listed for over $100,000 more than ours...hoping that helps make ours even more attractive! Or perhaps it's just such a ridiculous price no one will take it seriously.

    Our house is clean, and I've started (almost finished) decorating for Christmas. Just can't decide what to do about the tree....

  3. Hmmm, guilty pleasures.

    Definitely surfing the internet. I enjoy reading blogs of interest. I follow about a dozen faithfully.

    Staying waaaay too long in the shower. My skin and my water bill do not thank me.

    Getting my hair colored by a professional. I used to do my own; but the color blending became too much for me as the gray/white overwhelmed the red. I look forward to "Redhead Day" each month; and my hairdresser has become my friend.

    We rarely eat out as we try to save as much for retirement as we can. So, dinner out is definitely a guilty pleasure. Even if it's just Applebees.

    Lastly, taking a WHOLE weekend day in my craft room. It doesn't matter if I'm doing sewing repairs, making a card, scrapbooking or even, horrors, cleaning it up. It makes me so happy.

    I'll have to look for the The Big Bang. I'm a nerd at heart too.

  4. We have satellite TV, and Big Bang Theory reruns are on every day. Gotta love that show! Did you ever pay attention to the stuff in the background? Science geek jokes are hidden on the set.

    Coffee is a crutch I can't live without...I usually consume an entire pot before work in the morning. But, I don't get the jitters? So either I need better coffee or I'm immune to caffeine.

    I tend to escape to my craftroom when I need a break from life's stress, although sometimes I think I'm really just hiding in there. Even organizing all my crafty stash calms me.

    But, my guilty pleasure is alcohol. A glass of wine by the fire with my dog on my lap at the end of the day is how I meditate. I tried the yoga thing, but it's hard to sip wine when you're on your head :) Plus, if I'm on the floor the dog thinks I want to play and he won't leave me alone.

    Good luck with the home showings! This is such a hectic time of year to have to keep your house immaculate, I feel for you.

  5. LOVE Big BANG and so happy they are on reruns so I can actually catch them. Another one we have enjoyed..through our public library the first 2 seasons of The Middle. Very funny, but in a real life sort of way!

    May the holidays bless you in an overflowing way!

  6. You keep me smiling!

    Guilty pleasures . . .
    -reading your blog at 2am!
    -crafting until 2, or 4am (but pay for this the next day)
    -drinking a whole pot of tea
    -reading, reading, reading
    -sneaking cookies or chocolate or something with enough sugar (you know that fine white powder that once you've had it, you keep wanting more). If I'm really feeling naughty, I eat a whole bowl/bar/bag while driving on the way to school to fetch the kids so I don't have to share. Sssh don't tell them.

  7. Here here to slowing down. It is not easy to do in a world clamoring for you to do more, but the benefits of slowing down are exponential -less stress, great family time, learning to be still sometimes for it requires our being still to hear God's the saying goes "God does not shout over the noise in our lives".

    My guilty pleasures include watching What Not to Wear with my daughter, playing on the Wii with my kids, sleeping in on a Saturday morning, buying myself a Starbucks Grande, Decaf non-fat Latte, and the biggest pleasure of them all is reading in bed at night.

    Enjoy your guilty pleasures :)

  8. Hmmmm ~ someone else mentioned chocolate~ My Guilty pleasure #1; cheese burgers #2. Surfing stamper's blogs and stores where I might spend too much #4; re-read books I know end well #5; crafting with my grandchildren and/or by myself instead of housework or exercising.

    Thanks for the health encouragement, Susan. Take good care of you and yours.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!