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Yesterday, I bought myself flowers. The name on the wrapper was “salmon babies.” I love having fresh flowers in the house, especially on my writing desk. They are a constant reminder of how beautiful life is, but also how short and fragile. The Buddha said “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” And yet, I was feeling so guilty about the money I was spending ($9.99 plus tax) that I almost put them back.

This week is sadly the last of the summer session of Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab, and yesterday we got our final secret mission: buy yourself flowers. I didn’t read the email until after I returned home, still feeling guilty and shameful about the purchase, the indulgence. When I did read it, I cried–every message I received from this course made me cry. I’m not exaggerating: every one, every time.

The theme of the course was rest, play, and kindness. It was all about practicing self-love and self-care in areas I’ve previously avoided, ignored, rejected even. The permission, the invitation to allow these things to manifest in my life, to actively cultivate them filled me with gratitude and joy, overwhelmed me with tender sadness and relief.

I bought myself flowers, and felt bad about it, and then the universe sent me a message: caring for myself is not selfish, loving myself isn’t something to feel guilty about, rest isn’t lazy, play isn’t a waste of time, and the abundance and joy I welcome into my life won’t diminish anyone else’s share.