Living a beautiful life

by Lesley on November 7, 2012 · 3 comments

in lessons learned

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery  and if that’s true, I hope Kate doesn’t mind that I’m ripping off her blog post about living a beautiful life. If you haven’t read Kate Conner’s blog, you should. She’s one of several people out in the blogging world who I think I’d be real life friends with should we ever meet in person. She writes:

… I’m learning to love MY LIFE.  As in, the doing-the-dishes part of my life.  And the spending-90%-of-my-time-indoors part of my life.  I’m learning to love the rules, not just the exceptions.  Here’s how:

The secret, I’ve found, is to take what is ordinary about your life and make it sacred; create rituals in everything.  Take what is inevitable and make it an experience.  The more you can engage all of your senses in a task, the more delightful and experiential that task will be.

Her post got me thinking about the rituals I have in my own life, and the ones I wish I had. It also has me thinking about the rituals I’d like to get rid of; the ones that don’t seem to benefit ANYONE, and might even be detrimental to my family. Let’s start with one of those. Best to get the confessional part over.

The end of the day is really not the best time around here. 

Between 5pm and 7pm the following usually happens: Anna starts whining for dinner and clawing on my legs while signing “MORE MORE” as I scurry around the kitchen tripping over all the cups littered on the floor from when she emptied the cupboard out earlier in the afternoon. I serve her dinner, which she makes a mess of and oftentimes won’t eat. I run back and forth between her high chair and the stove (where I’m preparing our dinner) and trip on those same stupid cups again. Then we move to the bath where things get soaked and splattered and destroyed. When Jonathan walks in, the house feels like a hurricane has gone through. Here’s the dumb thing: he could care less how the house looks when he gets home, but I have this weird womanly desire for our house to be a peaceful place, and during those hours it’s not. And my ritual is to then lose it when the front door opens, stressing and shusshing, and telling him how she wouldn’t eat dinner, and how I’m so tired, and blah blah blah.

Here’s the ritual I’d like to create: House is a mess. Wife is not a mess. Any experienced parents know how to make the 5pm-7pm hours peaceful? 

Moving on.

The rituals I do love about my life are: morning runs, hot showers, making the bed, going to the park, reading/writing during nap time and reading in bed. 

Morning runs: I wake up between 6:00 and 6:10, and immediately go for a run. Three days a week. Same girls but varying conversations and sunrises. The time feels like a special gift of encouragement and fun before the day gets serious. Even if nothing else gets accomplished that day, I’ve exercised; and I’m a saner woman because of it.

Hot showers: Now that Anna is down to one nap a day, I’ve had to be creative with finding time to shower in peace. I’ve been putting her in her room with the baby gate while showering, and that allows me to hear what’s going on without her trying to climb in the shower with me. Now that we’ve done this for awhile she’ll actually hang out for 30-45 minutes by herself. I’ve noticed that when I have time to blow dry my hair and thoughtfully get dressed, I’m actually happier and more productive the rest of the day. I used to be pretty good about using my shower time to pray for other people but I’ve fallen out of that habit. I want to do that again instead of being lost in my own thoughts about the day.

Making the bed: I’m a neat freak, this I know, but nothing gives me more Type-A satisfaction than a bed with hotel corners and perfectly fluffed pillows. It only takes 2 minutes but the whole room feels clean. The rest of the house might be a mess most of the day, but my room always feels like a sanctuary, and this brings me joy.

Going to the park: Now that Anna can walk, we go to the park most days. I will often go for a long walk with her first because she’s happy while walking, and I am too, because it usually means I can catch up with a friend by phone. Then we stop at the park so she can explore. After being inside for so many years (school, then an office job) I delight in being outside in the crisp air, watching her pick up leaves. The park makes the day go by faster, and I think it’s good for our lungs.

Reading/writing during nap time: I have been trying to keep nap times sacred for ME. Anna is awake for 10+ hours of the day, so I remind myself that I shouldn’t feel bad about taking a “2 hour lunch” in which I read my bible, read other blogs, and then write. I don’t even want to think about what moms do when their kids don’t nap anymore. I shudder.

Reading a book in bed: I should note that reading in bed doesn’t always happen, nor does it last long because I often fall asleep. But, my favorite habit as a kid was reading before bed and I continue to do that today.

So, these are the things that help me live with elegance, order, beauty and joy. Speaking of those things, Kate also mentioned a book I’m adding to my reading list: Living a Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life

What are some everyday rituals that help you create a beautiful life? 

photo credit to apartment therapy/hotel therese

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"Any experienced parents know how to make the 5pm-7pm hours peaceful?" One way we did this was by both being home. I'd get to the office by 7:00 a.m. and work through lunch so that I could be home between 5:00-5:30 p.m. Don't know if this is viable for you and Jonathan, but that's how we handled dinner/bath/bedtime together most nights. And I'm right there with you on hospital corners, Lesley. I was a maid one summer in college and had plenty of practice. My bed making skills are pretty fair, even if I do say so myself. Life is beautiful, isn't it? Tim

Kate Conner
Kate Conner

This concept has seriously changed my life over the last couple of months, and I'm so GLAD you're feelin' it too! Please - WHAT is your secret to bed-making discipline? This is one ritual that I'm dying to master and still...can't...bring..myself to care about. You should instagram some of your treasures and rituals along with us this week! There are some lovely photos there already! #livingabeautifullife


I absolutely LOVE this. Now I'm totally trying to think about what rituals I can nurture & create to be a happier gal. Thanks for sharing!