Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Living a Beautiful Life

Desk and Planner

I started writing this blog post nearly two years ago. Seeing a friend’s link on Facebook yesterday about the death of Anne Ortlund spurred me to publish the post finally.

My mother gave me a book—perhaps shortly after I graduated from college—called Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, written by Anne Ortlund in 1977. It has become one of those books that has shaped me markedly—at least my thoughts, if not always how I live. The book is significant, first of all, because my mother selected it for me. It thus bears her stamp of approval, plus shows how well she knows me—I need extra help being disciplined. It also carries the message of the importance of being/becoming a “beautiful woman,” again, even more significant because it is my mother who believes this is important for her daughter.

I received this book long before I moved to Pasadena from Washington state or visited Lake Avenue (Congregational) Church, where Anne's husband, Ray Ortlund, had been the senior pastor for many years. When I first read Anne’s anecdote about visiting an office supply store in La CaƱada after giving a seminar to a “luscious-looking crowd of 150 women” only to find that it was sold out of the notebook products she had recommended, I had no idea that one day I’d live just down the freeway from that exclusive Southern California enclave.

It was Anne’s description of her notebook (or planner as it might be called today) that intrigued me most. My annual attempts at organizing myself via any number of variations on a diary, calendar, notebook, planner or journal, were often modeled on Anne’s description of how she put together her planner—a calendar first, followed by sections for goals and various other lists—and her preferred dimensions of the planner (7” x 9”).

Related chapters discuss goals, daily scheduling, and a woman’s desk.

My image of Anne is from the small portrait on the back cover of her book, perhaps when she was in her early 60s? So, I was shocked to read she was 89 years old when she died on November 4.

Having been reminded of this role-model-via-book, I am encouraged to revisit the many areas of my life—both private and public—that could be more disciplined and, thus, become more beautiful.

What are your thoughts on the relationship between discipline and beauty?

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Friday, November 01, 2013

Houses, tea, conversation and beauty

Yesterday I went with some friends to a beautiful home nearby, which has been lovingly and tastefully restored and remodeled to recall an early-20th century aesthetic, the time period when the house was constructed. The exquisite attention to the smallest of details throughout the house is not for mere show, but reflects the personality of the owner, as well as incorporates her family’s heritage in antiques, linens, pictures, etc.

The excursion—which included tea, freshly-baked cookies and delightful conversation—was a refreshing reminder to pay attention to and cultivate beauty in whatever surroundings we find ourselves. 

It was not my place to take pictures and “blog” about the house. That would have detracted from the in-the-moment enjoyment of the company I was with.

Rather, I post here a picture of the PROLIFIC Blue Basil in my front yard that feeds many happy bees and that now obscures a small memento from my grandmother’s yard.