Most of us spend a good portion of our lives denying ourselves things -- we don't lie on the couch with a book because we have another load of laundry to finish; we don't stop to take a nap when our bodies are asking for one because our brains are saying ''you don't have time''; or we can't say ''no'' to some perceived obligation and, for once, just chill out and relax. You know the drill, I'm sure.
Well, let me tell you about my friend Brenda. The one time she didn't deny herself something she really wanted, it saved her life. Brenda has an upcoming cruise vacation and wanted to look her best. She joined a gym, started a diet, and was really making an effort to be ''good.'' Then someone brought a chocolate cake (her favorite!) to work. Brenda knew she shouldn't eat a piece of that cake. She knew she should stay far, far away. But there the cake sat in the lunchroom all afternoon, calling her name. She held out, hoping that by the time she got off work, all the cake would be gone and she would be safe.
As she was leaving, she popped her head into the lunchroom just to see. There was still some cake left. She thought, ''Ok. Fine. I'm going to take just a tiny slice and eat it after dinner.'' She cut a small sliver, put it on a paper plate, and left to drive home. As she approached the green light at the first major intersection, the cake started sliding forward off the passenger seat. She stopped briefly to look down and push the cake plate back into place. As she did so, a tanker truck flew through his red light and directly into the path where her car would have been had she not paused to save the cake from falling to the floor.
Her life was saved by a piece of chocolate cake. How about that? This holiday season, as the ''shoulds'' and ''should nots'' come at us from all directions, may we stay centered and aware that sometimes we just need to take ourselves less seriously. You never know what might happen when you loosen up a little!