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!

 

Been Busy

mom-visits

Where have I been? Well, I’ve been a little busy lately and I got out of my newly found habit of blogging in the morning. I’ll blame it on my mom. But it’s a good thing. My mom came to visit me for a week (while my dad drove a friend’s van from Portland Oregon to Austin Texas) and she actually gets up earlier than my kids so it was kind of nice to have some morning company for a change. But that also kept me away from my computer. So if you were wondering where I was, I was sitting at my kitchen table drinking coffee and chatting with my mom. It was super nice to have her around.

In my old age I have come to love cooking. I know those who are older than me are laughing and shaking their heads. Shake away, I’m right behind you. This is really great except it has been a source of frustration for me when my kids turn their noses up at my newfound love of cooking. I mistakenly think to myself that if I put love into my cooking, they should reciprocate that love with compliments and requests for more of my loving cooking. Harumph! It’s not going that way at all. Not that it won’t someday, but presently they are not interested. In fact, they would much rather not eat my cooking at all in favor of a bag of chips with a side of YouTube. They ask me what’s for dinner and then decide if they are hungry or not. You probably know how that goes.

You can imagine how wonderful it felt to hear compliment after compliment from my loving mom when I made her special dishes that stayed within the boundaries of her new healthy living die-t (that we have corroborated on together). I am super thankful for my relationship with my parents right now. I think this is the natural way of things. When your kids start to pull away from you to become their own strong individuals, you find comfort in your parents. At least that is how it is working out for me. My relationship with my parents is better than it has ever been.

I know I’m lucky. My parents had me when they were barely twenty so we don’t have that many years between us in age. Bug will not be so lucky. When she is my age, I will be (hang on, let me grab a calculator) eighty-three. EIGHTY THREE! I only plan to live until 82 so that’s kind of grim. Of course I could live until I’m 120 so who knows.  Anyway, I’m super thankful for my parents right now.

my-nature-trail

My mom left Saturday and now I am back to my usual routine. She did leave behind a photo album from that trip we took when I was sixteen across country in the broken-down RV so I am looking forward to blogging about that. It will be challenging though. I might have to fill in some gaps in my memory with a little fiction, and maybe embellish a little to protect the identity of my loved ones.

This morning I walked the nature trail with the dogs and I made you a little video. I had a rough anxiety-filled night (it was so stupid, I was stressing about the strangest things. I’ll elaborate later.) and I’ve been trying to start my mornings with positive thoughts instead of long lists of things I need to do. Most days I am not successful at this new morning mantra, including this morning. There I was thinking about all the things that are bothering me and all of a sudden my nostrils were hit with the super strong scent of honeysuckle! I didn’t take a picture. I should have but I was busy with dogs and dog poop bags and just not ready. But my point is from that moment on I took myself out of my anxiety filled brain and I started to notice how pretty it was outside!

It was really pretty this morning. Summer is definitely in full swing. The brush in the nature trail is dry and brittle. All the creeks (except that one really swampy one) are dried up. The mustard and queen Anne’s lace are dead. Their white branches look like tiny birch forests for squirrels and quail and speaking of quail, they are everywhere! I saw dozens and dozens of quail. If you have a keen eye, you might even see some in my movie but they are tiny specs.

My to-do list is still flapping away like a rolodex connected to a fan but I’m ignoring it in favor of checking in with you and sharing all the beauty around me. I love where we live. I love California. I know we have a bad reputation for traffic and politics but in the nooks and crannies are the prettiest things and of course everyone knows we have the best weather. So I’m trying to dwell on these things instead of worry.

prickly-pear

So pretty, right? I’ve been watercoloring a lot more lately too. The hardest part is getting myself to sit down *and slow down* in order to paint but once I do I am very happy.

A friend sent me some pink lemons and avocados and of course those lemons were screaming at me to paint them.

painting-pink-lemons

To the untrained eye, the painting looks pretty good. Don’t look too close, it’s very messy. But just like everything in life we can’t obsess over little mistakes. Just blur your eyes and soak in the pretty parts. That’s my mantra these days.