Always Be Beautifying

rogers-gardens

Every once a while I find a favorite phrase. It’s kind of like a personal mantra but more like a decision-making filter that I apply to everything. Lately my phase is: Always Be Beautifying.  Last year it was “Always Put Yourself in the Way of Beauty” from the book/movie, Wild.

Yes, I got the idea from Payam’s favorite movie, Glengarry Glen Ross.  I don’t love that movie. It’s full of conflict and the whole movie stresses me out but I do love the ring to “Always Be Closing.”  I love that’s it’s succinct and applies to everything. It’s one of those big ones that has made an impression on many young money-making salespeople not to mention it’s had a significant historical impact on corporate America for better or for worse. I’ve worked with sales people over the years and it’s a skit they all love to quote.

However, I don’t care about closing but I do care about beauty.

I use this phrase in all kinds of ways. When I’m tidying the house I apply it to each room. I walk into the room and think, what can I change to make it more beautiful? Rearrange something? Yes, let’s do it! Clean something? Put something away? I’m on it.  Something needs to be repaired or replaced? I pull out my list-making app and make a plan.

I know most people don’t think like I do. I know Bug definitely does not. She looks at her messy room and promptly throws herself on her bed in overwhelm. She’d rather lose herself in her phone than even take the tiniest step towards wrangling her clutter. I don’t know why I’m different. I guess I don’t get overwhelmed by the whole. I see lots of little parts and bite-sized challenges. I can’t fix the whole kitchen that needs a remodel and has a broken countertop that leaks but I can wipe those fingerprints off the refrigerator handle… You get the picture.

I skip around my house hopping from task to task “beautifying.” It’s a very chicken-with-her-head-cut-off way to do things but it suits me. I’m not necessarily orderly by nature.  I don’t wash my body from top to bottom when I’m in the shower. I wash whatever I feel like and it changes every day. I know this would drive my OCD friends crazy but this is how I work. So I clean my house like a beautifying fairy flitting from task to task.

I do the same thing in my garden. I can’t make everything grow like magic like it does in my favorite fancy nursery but I can curl up the hose that’s laying across the yard into a tidy circle and I can water everything. Before I know it all my little small changes start adding up. Things do grow. Weeds do get pulled and even though it doesn’t happen overnight all at once, you can tell that care has been taken.

I’ve also been applying this to my recycling. I know I might be getting a bit out there with my concept but I like making art out trash. I made tiny haunted houses out of milk cartons for Halloween. I think I’m going to switch them up to cute pink cottages for Christmas or maybe I’ll give them away as gifts… I also cut up a plastic milk jug to make the flower below. Jury is still out on whether it beautifies my yard or not. But it’s fun and I like doing it. One tiny footprint of recycling at a time and we aren’t even talking about the mental health aspects of doing art. Who needs to go to an art store for supplies when you can find all sorts of things to recycle at home?

odds

It’s not a perfect system. I waste a TON of time being a busy little fairy and I imagine people with real jobs and kids that need to be cared for won’t have anywhere near as much free time as I do but I think it can be applied in little ways. Putting on lipstick can make you feel like you’ve beautified your face. Plating dinner in a pretty way can be beautifying. Teaching your kids to make their beds can be beautifying. Even sitting still and noticing the pretty sky or a pretty plant can be beautifying to your mind. I think we just need to stop and find the beauty in life because right now it can be so dark and scary and overwhelming.

So let’s make art! Let’s make things beautiful! Let’s find the beauty where no one else is looking for it. Is it in your bathroom under your sink? Maybe it’s your linen closet? Maybe its the row of favorite mugs by your coffee maker. Maybe it’s your tidy glove compartment. No space is too small to be beautified.

 

I made you some printable postcards Just in case you want to play along. I know it would be weird to send them to someone, how dare we command someone to beautify!??  But little cards are great to use as bookmarks or just stick somewhere as a messages to yourself. I hope you like them!

 

Everyday is the End of the World as We Know It

side-shot-golden-rosey-cacti

Lately I’ve been waking up at 3 in the morning to worry. Not on purpose of course. It’s probably that I’ve gotten back in the habit of drinking a few cups of coffee in the afternoon AND having a glass of wine when I’m cooking dinner at night. This is not good for me. Coffee and wine mess with my sleep but sadly, I’m not always on my best behavior and sometimes these vices, disguised as treats, sneak in. Sometimes might be all the time.

Super early yesterday morning, after ruminating in the dark for what seemed like hours, I finally just got up and decided to walk the dogs at dawn. I love doing this because there are less people out and lately it seems like there are people everywhere. Running into people with three not-so-well-behaved dogs (I still have my mom’s dog, Spreckles) AND navigating social distancing etiquette is challenging. I’m always finding myself taking weird routes I had no intention of taking just to avoid people. Hello, stranger. I guess I’ll just take a right turn here to avoid you!  Doesn’t it seem like everyone is always out these days? Not that I blame anyone. I’m sick of my house too and sunshine and space are all that’s keeping us sane these days.

I often listen to books on Audible while I walk. I also listen to podcasts and I call my dad regularly. This is a good thing and a bad thing. The books I’m reading are often stories about social injustice and while they are super educational and meaningful, they often make my habit of over-worrying even worse. Podcasts are great too but the health and wellness spectrum that I often find myself in also tends to make me over-worry. And even though I love my dad to pieces, sometimes talking to him and absorbing his problems ALSO makes me worry too much. I am just the worriest worry wart there ever was.

This worrying tendency makes me think of my grandma who passed away forever ago. She was known as the worry wart of the family. I miss her so much. I wish we could talk about this worrying habit. But maybe it’s good she’s not around today to see all the things that are going down. It is not a good time to be a worrier.

The other day, I walked out into the orange light of mid day (due to all the fires burning in California) and there on the wall of our entryway was the biggest green bug I have ever seen. I looked it up and I think it’s a green Katydid. I’ve seen small bugs like this a lot. Small finger-nail sized versions but this thing was HUGE! It was as big as my palm. And then later I walked out into the backyard and there in the track of our sliding glass door was the hugest slug I have ever seen. All I could think was, it’s the end of the world! Giant bugs, heat waves, weird orange light, pandemics, crazy political scenes, the country on the brink of a civil war… I just wanted to hide like Chicken Little.

golden-rosey-cacti

I decided books and podcasts and phone calls were just too much for my poor stressed-out brain. (I know. Eye-roll-worthy.)  I often walk without listening to anything but I decided to turn on my favorite “chill” playlist and a Moby song came on.  I don’t know why I don’t use music to calm myself more often. I don’t remember which song it was but as the softly repeating base line echoed around the inside of my head, I felt my cortisol levels lower. I gazed up at the trees that line the sidewalk path and I started to notice how they were pruned.

Every tree was pruned differently. I know a lot of this is dependent on the tree and how it grows but the more I examined the branches of each tree, the more I thought they looked like individual works of art! Some were trimmed to flay out symmetrically in all directions. Other trees were pruned to turn in on themselves in spirals. Some were weirdly pruned to grow over the sidewalk…It got me to thinking about who pruned them.  I bet there is a tree-trimmer on our neighborhood route who decided to create his own masterpieces on every tree he comes across! How cool is that?!

rosie-roses

I’ve always thought our neighborhood was a little over-aggressive with their gardening (seriously, it seems like every day is a new and different very loud gardening task: blowing, edging, trimming, mowing…) but today I actually appreciated it. In a community where everything looks the same, I thought, how cool that it actually isn’t!

Then I started to imagine the cool animated graphic I would create with long willowy purple trunks and branches spiraling around each other to pretty music and wished I was an animator with 3d graphics skills. But that’s just a typical Brenda rabbit hole to fall down.

everyday-feels-like-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it

But let me tell you, it’s a whole lot better than all the other worry rabbit holes I’ve been falling down lately! A whole lot better than worrying about civil war!!!