Here is an awkward truth.
Most people who watch Project Runway will go out tomorrow wearing saggy yoga pants.
And most copies of Dwell magazine are sitting under a tangled pile of change, lip gloss, receipts, and keys.
Most people will never actually bring beauty into their lives; they’ll just fantasize about it.
So here’s what differentiates people who want to have a beautiful life, to live with style, elegance, and joie de vivre: They’re willing to take tiny, tiny actions.
I personally hate this, for the record. I’m much more into big dramatic decisions, shaking my fist at the sky, and winning the lottery.
The universe is clearly broken, because you make a meal and then–seriously?!?!?– you just have to make ANOTHER one! You pay the bills but the next month they are due! Again! You clear out your email and then DingDingDing it just fills back up!
Believe me, if I were in charge, this is not how things would work.
Nonetheless, I haven’t (yet) figured out how to bend the space-time continuum! We’re stuck with this physical material world that requires WAAAAY more maintenance than I like.
But there’s a flip side.
Here’s a weird thing I never expected: it turns out that even the drudgery of daily life can be kind of fun if you approach it as a ritual of beauty.
Even washing the dishes can be mesmerizing and satisfying if you think of it as a pleasurable cleansing ritual. (It helps if you can get a good ironic feminist kick out of being a high priestess of rubber gloves and suds!) Even the simple daily necessity of putting clothes on your body can become a sensual dance of identity and beauty, if you slip a red bra under your gray suit or you wear bright green yoga pants.
You can make your life as beautiful as you want. This isn’t a vague self-help theory; I’ve helped thousands of women gain traction in the physical world so that they are dwelling in beauty.
How To Have A Beautiful Life
(even when the kids are messy and bills are due and it’s gross outside)
- Toss those horrible, stretched-out underwear and replace them with something lovely
- Treat yourself to a mug that makes you feel joyful anytime you drink out of it
- Buy a bud vase at a thrift store; pluck something green or pretty from your yard. Put it in the vase in a windowsill in your sightline
- Change the radio settings in the car so your go-to station is something more soothing and atmospheric than the news or car dealership ads
- Put one bill on autopay so you can stop thinking about it
- Buy a truly delightful, feels-good-to-use pen and use it when you pay bills and sign all those school forms
- Use your good china. Yes, today.
- Spend 15 seconds putting your meal on a pretty plate and garnishing it – a swoop of olive out! A smattering of herbs you found at the bottom of the crisper!
- Put on the jazz station while you’re making dinner and pretend you’re in a Nancy Meyers movie
- Donate five items from your closet that don’t fit your body, life, or personality anymore
- Buy and use a pretty candle anytime it’s dark or cloudy
You can dwell in beauty even when life is busy and full. I promise.
My friends (and clients) are split roughly down the middle.
Half of the kindred spirits are really good at getting shit done, burning through their to-do list, and Accomplishing The Impressive Things. They are super-achievers. You cannot believe what they get done in this world. BUT here is the problem.
They get to the end of their list and it keeps reproducing! (see above.) So they keep cranking, and cranking, and working harder, and growing more exhausted and faint, until they are like a little wispy dry bit of impressive wispiness, and they keep wondering, Where’s the part where I get to feel happy and relaxed?
The rest of the kindred spirits are more like me; we can go into ecstasies over the night sky or swoon at a gorgeous shade of scarlet, but we can’t balance our checkbooks or keep our papers filed to save our lives. (At least not without the Queen Sweep.) So we may have access to a dreamy kind of bliss, but we’re also confronted with missed deadlines, piles of clutter, and non-dreamy messes.
The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle.
Because we’re all made of both body and spirit. We’ve got roots in the earth and our arms flung up to the sky.
We need to learn to navigate both elements of ourselves: the dreamy imagination and the practical adulting. There’s a sweet spot where the physical is taken care of and you’re also awake to the delight of it.
You’re celebrating this evening’s perfect purple twilight. You’re getting down on the floor with your toddler instead of rushing around frantic. You’re telling tales to your beloved over a glass of wine because the bills are already paid and next week’s schedule is already taken care of.
The Queen Sweep can help with this, but the true magic is the power of your own gaze. If you can open your eyes just right, you’ll see that the world is dancing its heart out for you.
There is immense joy in this messy sticky tactile world. In its own way, it seems to be loving us as hard as it knows how.
I pointed at some purply-blue pansies the other day and told my friend, “Honey, those pansies are flinging their very best purple love at you. They’re just pansying their hearts out for you!”
She grinned and looked at me like I was from another planet, but I honestly feel this way– that the world is this sumptuous banquet, and our main job is to remember to sit down and eat.
Bon apetit, dearheart.