When You Need to Love Yourself a Little

When You Need to Love Yourself a Little

“The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside by a generous hand. But- and this is the point- who gets excited by a mere penny? But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.” ~Annie Dillard, Tinker at Pilgrim Creek

by Cathee Poulsen

Hurricane Irma blasted through Lake Placid exactly five months ago and literally changed the landscape. In more than one way. Ancient old trees went down — among them the magnolia my dad bought in a coffee can in Texas for .25. Planted in the front yard, it grew to enormous height of 30 feet and every May gifted us with dozens of lemon-scented blooms.

Whenever he was coming to visit and they were blooming, Daddy would carefully clip the blossoms, wrap them in wet paper towels and bring them to me. Losing that tree was more than yard storm damage. It was a lovely part of my life loaded in a truck and hauled to the dump.

But while the hurricane brought much destruction, it was only one of many disturbances we experienced as a nation towards the end of 2017. And maybe we need to see all that in light of this verse in Zechariah 9:14

“Then the Lord will appear over them; His arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign Lord will sound the trump and He will march on the storms of the south.”

Finding God in a Hurricane

Some translations of this verse say He will “ride in on the storms of the south.” And more interesting than that, “storm” can also be translated “hurricane.” That was our experience! God rode in on that storm and the end of it resulted in great blessing. Harvey, Irma, Maria = H.I.M.

He’s always there in the midst of your worst nightmare.

For our family, the gifts from the storm were as follows:

  1. Our old roof blew off and we got a brand new one.
  2. All the flooring in the living room and two bedrooms was replaced.
  3. The ceilings were re-plastered and paid for by insurance, as was all the rest.
  4. We all gained a new appreciation for electricity and water after being without it for a week.
  5. Our son, Buddy, was knocked 15′ from a building in the aftermath of cleanup and is alive and well.
  6. We experienced the love of our community as they helped us clean up the damage.

After such a disruptive, chaotic autumn, I looked for ways to restore happiness and calmness into my life. Jesus is all of that to me–my Peace, best of all. But when great turmoil comes, we often focus on it instead of the goodness of God that is right in front of us.

I’ve been thinking about what made 2017 different from the year before. In spite of the dramatic events that made it a disruptive, chaotic, year, I found ways to add small treats that don’t cost much but make me smile. Because sometimes we just need to love ourselves a little.

Five things that make me happy, happy, happy.

  • Every week, when I grocery shop, I buy fresh flowers. They are $4 a bunch. I usually keep them on my kitchen counter where I see them off and on all day. And simple daisies are my fave. They often last 10 days and even then, I can salvage a few from the bunch to put in a tiny vase on the bathroom counter.

  • My second treat is rediscovering fountain pens. I love pens. I’m a writer, yes. But I’ve loved pens all the way back to sixth grade when I bought my first Parker fountain pen and filled it with peacock blue ink. Most of them are less than $5 and I find the most interesting ones on Jet Pens.

  • 2017 was the year of the podcast for me. When I walk in the mornings, I put on my Plantronics BackBeat Fit wireless headset (a surprise gift from one of Dori’s friends) and I’m off. I have listened to interesting people talk about home, decorating, organizing, cooking and and the truth that everything is spiritual. It’s changed my whole attitude toward exercise. I listen to podcasts when I’m ironing too.
  • My fourth happy place is learning to Bullet Journal. Wow! It opened a whole new world for me. Definitely not a fit for everyone, but for those who love planning, lists, noting things about life, it’s a fresh and fun way to change up traditional journaling. The link I’ve included is the original design by Ryder Carrol, but there are literally hundreds of ideas on Pinterest, You Tube and Instagram.

  • A 2018 reading commitment also came as a surprise gift from the hurricane. In the midst of our renovations, we had to pack up all the four bookcases of books in order to lay the new floor. Over the years God has often spoken to me while packing or unpacking books. I’ll open one up in what seems to me a random act and something I’ve been wondering about, or the answer to a question, or a brand new piece of wisdom, will jump out like a miracle word from heaven. It’s happened countless time over decades. (I’ve moved a lot!) But this time, what came to me was how many books on my shelves I’ve never read. So this year’s pledge is to read those books. I’m currently reading Robinson Crusoe. What a story of one man’s spiritual journey. It’s amazing.

A lifestyle of grace is offered to each of us. Like any other loving father, God is aware of small gifts that bring a smile to His children. The world is filled with gifts He has lavished upon us. Things He wants us to notice or partake in. His intimate knowledge of each of us means He sends particular things our way that might mean nothing to someone else, but everything to us.

It is a token of His love that He indulges us as a favored child now and then. Not enough to spoil us, but just enough to remind us how intimately He is aware of who we are.

I’d love to hear about your happy place. Please share with us in the comments.



  1. G. Polly Jordan :

    This blog simply made me feel good. My happy place is in my mind and it sometimes spills over into my stories. I love to surround myself with experiences. I also surround myself with things as I love to look and reflect and think upon them while remembering.

  2. Sweet and simple. That is what love is, just like this writing.

  3. Beautiful blog Cat. I’ve always admired your creativity in creating beautiful settings. Especially how you use flowers. This is spoken by one who can’t even arrange 2 flowers in a vase!

    My happy place is my home. As I sit in front of the fireplace and look around, I am surrounded by treasures collected over 50 years, many that were gifts from loved ones and each that has a special story. It is that way in every room of the house and savoring each of these stories and memories makes me smile. And now we’ve added a new puppy that will add to the memories! I feel blessed!

  4. Diane Ferguson :

    I haven’t gotten to my physical happy place yet as I am looking for a home. I am a n transition living with my son’s family. My happy place is in the Sozo 0f God and I go there and rest there. Thank you for your words and enjoy what God has given. God bless you and your family. Tell Rev poulsen I miss seeing him at the HCSO.

  5. Thank you, Cathee. I love myself, too, with the beauty of my home & surroundings. When I sit in my favorite chair, with God’s Word in my lap, and simply look around I see so much love–gifts from friends, a treasure I’ve found when junking, a ray of sunshine crossing the floor with Buddy centered in it. So much to love! Thanks for calling my attention to the simple things.

  6. Beautiful

  7. Simply beautiful. Sometimes it takes a hurricane to rearrange us so we can appreciate what we have. I’m writing a note of gratitude every day and I am shocked at the way it has changed my attitude about my life. I see my blessings more clearly and it certainly has adjusted my attitude throughout the day. You taught me a long time ago to buy flowers and how seeing their beauty would brighten my day. We also share a love for pens. Hopefully I’ll find the time to try to bullet journal. It looks like fun. Blessings and joy to you dear friend.

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