Why Beauty Matters

These writings shed some light on why I believe so strongly that embracing beauty does matter in life.

Yes, even tissue boxes matter...

People have always sort of laughed at my consideration of beauty. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been drawn to it – and if it wasn’t there, I was interested in creating it. When I was about 10, I was with my siblings at the house of my parents’ friends. They were showing us the yard where we could play and an old tree house. It was a little dirty, with a few years of dust and leaves strewn inside. I immediately set about cleaning it up, already seeing in my imagination how cute it could be. I remember this because later on that afternoon, I heard my parents' friend telling them how I immediately started cleaning up. They all thought it was one of those cute/funny things about me and my dad said if left to my own devices, I would have it all fixed up in no time.

When it came time for new wallpaper in the dining room and living room, my mom picked it out. But she was stumped when it came to which color to paint the wall going up the stairs since it needed to complement both rooms. I was horrified that they were going to go with plain white by default – it would have looked terrible. So, I got to choose (a soft peachy pink, if you're curious). They raised their eyebrows at my selection, but once it was on the wall, agreed it was the right choice, warming the space and harmonizing the two rooms. Beauty 1, Boring 0.
One time in my teens when I was being teased again about always having to choose something “pretty,” even practical things no one should care about, like tissue boxes, I explained that it wasn't that I would automatically discount something just because it wasn’t “pretty.” It was just that I felt if one had a choice, beauty should always be considered. After all, I told my dad, why live with something ugly if you don't have to? And yes, that applied all across the board, even down to little things like tissue boxes. Being surrounded by beauty is important, I argued at the time, or else God wouldn't have bothered to create things like flowers, nor would he have graced us with creativity. (Now I would add that choosing to surround yourself with beauty – be it beautiful furniture, colors, fabric, flowers, clothes, etc. ~ is a cross between honoring the divine and self-love.)
Dad laughed, said he hadn't thought about it like that, but I had a point. Years later, my friends said the same thing. I hope you agree.


Authenticity and beauty go hand in hand...

Style is as unique to each individual as a petal is to a flower. Things I find fabulous you may find ho-hum.
But as I’ve gotten older, one of the things I have discovered is that even though something might not be to my personal taste or style, I can still see the beauty in it. A lot of times, being able to do that means seeing something through someone else's eyes.
I'm not big on super modern, contemporary decorating. One of my friends, however, is. And you know what? I love her house. Absolutely love it, even though it’s not my taste. Partly because she’s my friend, but mostly because her love and enthusiasm for what she considers beautiful shines through.
And it’s nearly impossible to be in the midst of that and not appreciate it.
Another friend of mine has a love of green and earth tones, with a sort of contemporary country flair. And though it's not necessarily how I would choose to decorate, I really love her sense of style.
Many people would never consider a pink-dominated living room. For me, there's just no other way ~ it suits. And you know what? Even though my friends would never have such a thing, they love it because it is so me. The lesson? By embracing what we each feel is beautiful and putting it out there for the world to see, we have put forth part of our true selves. And people respond to it because it is authentic.

Same goes for your personal appearance, too. How many times have you run across a woman who makes you think “I could never dress that way,” but you find yourself drawn to her nevertheless. You know why? Her sense of herself is on display and you recognize that and are responding to her authenticity.
Embrace beauty in whatever form you want. If you’re not quite sure where to start because you aren't sure what your tastes are, hang on. We’ll get to that.

Cut, paste, enlighten...

The home decorating collages I did back when I was in love with cottage style.

Have you ever been unsure of exactly what it is that you like? That sounds like a dumb question, I know. But think about it. Do you know what your style really is? If you’re not sure ~ or even if you think you are ~ I’ve got a little project for you. Collage.
Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance, discusses collage as a tool for uncovering “your authentic self.” Now let me just say that I unabashedly love Simple Abundance ~ it is a wonderful, wonderful book and I encourage you to read it and every other of Sarah Ban Breathnach’s books. I have learned so much from her work and am a huge fan. In Simple Abundance and the companion Illustrated Discovery Journal, she walks you through the process of creating different collages to get at what you really feel. She can explain it much better than I can (and I can't encourage you enough to seek out her books for reference) but the general gist is this: Get some old magazines (and other materials if you like) and start tearing and cutting out photos that speak to you on whatever topic you're working on ~ your home, how you dress, your dreams, whatever. Pick out what speaks to you without putting too much conscious thought into it. Pull images one day, then work on the collage the next. There is no right or wrong way to put the images together ~ do whatever feels right. Afterward, look at the collage and then look at the reality of what the collage is about ~ in other words, if you did a collage on decorating your living room, compare the collage to what your living room actually looks like.
Are the two similar? If not, why? What can you do to make your reality reflect what you truly love?
If you think this sounds silly, I assure you trying it a few times (and reading Sarah's work) will make you a believer. Would you believe that when I did the collage above about how I'd decorate my home that I lived with dark green/blue/red plaid furniture, dark green carpet and what can only be described as wildlife art? It’s no wonder I walked into my home and felt like I didn’t belong. It also explained my penchant at one time to wear florals (which I thankfully got over). I realized I was trying to compensate for what was missing in my home environment. When I made a collage focusing on wardrobe, it looked nothing like the clothes in my closet.
If you do a collage and are unsure what it is telling you, send me a photo and I’ll be happy to interpret. I took a class from the master herself at Simple Abundance online to learn more. (I have a certificate and everything!)
And, I am happy to say that, over time, I have been able to revamp my home (and wardrobe) to reflect ME. And for that, I will always be grateful to Sarah Ban Breathnach.
So, go get some magazines and try this out. Better yet, get Sarah’s books and read them, too.
After all, how can you embrace beauty if your mind and soul aren’t working together to tell you exactly what beauty you need in your life?

Open the door to beauty...

There is beauty to be found in nearly everything ~ people, homes, food, clothes, pets, books, etc. Seeking it out and then embracing that beauty only makes your life better. Happier. What on earth does a new coat of paint or buying a pretty scarf have to do with happiness? Plenty.
I'm not saying that choosing to embrace beauty in your little corner of the world is going to solve everything ~ in your life or anyone else’s. But if you doubt that a lack of beauty makes a big difference in life, I encourage you to take a ride through a blighted neighborhood down on its luck ~ the hopelessness is palpable. Or watch one of the endless makeover TV shows for homes and people. It's not a coincidence that everyone feels a thousand times better after the makeover.
Quite honestly, in our current economy, we could all use more bright spots in our day ~ and that could start with something as simple as seeking out beauty. Need ideas? Try cooking a lovely dinner and then setting the table with the good dishes for no reason other than to enjoy using them and bask in their beauty. Spend $10 and bring home a lovely bunch of flowers from the grocery store ~ or better yet, cut flowers and greenery from your yard. Dress like you matter ~ wear that funky old jewelry or change your purse to go with your outfit. Dig around the house and see what you can do to change things around to be more pleasing to the eye ~ try furniture in different rooms, move some art, throw the pillow covers in the wash. If you’re going shopping anyway, take a moment to check out how some of the things you buy look ~ if you find dishwashing soap in a cute container that you don't have to hide under the sink (I recommend Method), buy it instead. With time, all these little things build on each other until you are basically surrounded by beauty at every turn. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?


Please consider supporting this wonderful organization that believes everyone deserves a little beauty in life. Enchanted Makeovers does amazing work. Click here to learn more.