Book Review: Living a Beautiful Life

Living a Beautiful Life Book

Living a Beautiful Life – who doesn’t want to embrace beauty in their lives and create a beautiful way to live?

Alexandra Stoddard’s book Living a Beautiful Life is an old fashioned book that embraces this concept. She is sort of dated back to the 1990s, but when I pick up this book — again and again there are kernels of beauty that are easy to bring to our own lives. Basically, the 500 suggestions in this book are about bringing joy and beauty to our everyday.

This book has always sat on my bookshelf, as have so many others she has written. They all are written in an easily accessible manner, weaving the interpersonal with the design tips, the musings on partners, time, parenting, and more. Life seems to slow down when I pull these books to read. These are not the types of books to read from end to end, but rather as something to peruse for inspiration on any given day.

What makes your life beautiful? Can you find it in your everyday? Do you infuse your days with things that bring you pleasure? It doesn’t have to be anything big or extraordinary. It can simply be a favorite flower to look upon and care for, a beautiful piece of chocolate, a bubbly salt bath, writing a postcard to a friend far away, planting a vegetable garden, even picking weeds. Whatever you do in a day, engage it with beauty.

Although it feels like Stoddard’s day has almost past, I think there is a place for looking to the old ways of being happy, feeling beautiful, and taking time in the world to create joy that never goes out of style. I recommend her books to you and hope today — and always — you are living a beautiful life.

Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder


Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is an old-fashioned saying that sounds simple enough to understand, but difficult to appreciate without feeling external pressure on one’s appearance. Most of the time, just like this saying points to, the way we see our own beauty is through another’s eyes, the one beholding us. In a way, most of the time, we give our power over to another to judge our looks, our body, our physical appearance by another – rather than ourselves.

All the world over, women look to form their ideas around beauty by looking at others, holding them up as beautiful, and then striving to look like them. Unfortunately, the standards we uphold are often unrealistic and not even attainable. Most of these images are air brushed to perfection. Something that always sets up someone to fail, as perfection does not exist. However, to be one’s best self in the eye of her own self is not even considered as we are always looking to the other for validation and admiration of our beauty.

Although it may seem a part and parcel of one’s life – i.e. the idea of how much the other’s eye is on us and is important to us – we are hardly aware of it at all.  We wake up, work out, eat right, dress up, and make ourselves up to fit into what society and the other deems acceptable. It is very difficult to actually sit down and think about whether we want to do any of these things for ourselves – not just for the beholder. We are taught to not consider our own eye.

Unfortunately, this leads to undue pressure on ourselves – often pressure we simply live with and acclimate to each day of our lives. Stepping out of these expectations is a novel idea. To live one’s life looking upon our beauty from our own eye is a radical concept. To consider our appearance, our bodies, and how we care for ourselves along what expresses our own truth and makes ourselves happy is novel.

Yet, in undoing and letting go of other’s ideals of what is beautiful is a bold first step to living a life true to ourselves. First, think intentionally about your own appearance. What do you love about your body, your face, your hair, and any other features you want to focus on? How does your love of these parts of your body make you feel? Perhaps you want to accent them and focus on these parts of your beautiful self. And it may not be in the ways that society says you should embrace them. Let’s say you love your eyes. You can choose to do them up or go natural. Which way makes you feel beautiful?

Being able to look at beauty standards around the world and then intuitively think through what feels right to you is the important next step to define your own beautiful standards. Living out the truth of your own beauty is what we are then called to do to feel good, look good, express confidence in ourselves, and ultimately to embrace our unique beauty.  

Beauty begins within and not with the eye of the beholder. Let’s take the brave step to reimagine this phrase in this way and embrace our authentic beauty.

Mid-Winter Flowers

Mid Winter Flowers

Yes! This bunch of flowers have been picked just for you!

It seems a little odd to think of fresh flowers during these deep, dark January days. Unless you have a Birthday or particular celebration, flowers are not very seasonal this time of year. Even at the famous Pike Place Market here in Seattle, most of our local flower farms are selling dried stems that have a beauty all their own, but do not hold the scent and look and feel of fresh ones.

However, this is probably the time of year when we need a bouquet the most. I know Valentine’s Day is around the corner and the flowers will be pricey and in demand, but the quiet, slow, deep winter days where no flowers are to be found let alone thought about feels like the perfect time to treat one’s self or to pick a few stems for a friend or even plant a bulb inside your warm home.

Something about the flowers and their beauty can brighten an otherwise mundane day and remind each of us that the days are lengthening and that spring is not far away.

If a bunch of real flowers are simply not possible, you can definitely create a bouquet in your visual journal. Clip out all the flowers you see in your magazines and make the most beautiful arrangement of flowers you have seen. This is a simple yet wonderful way to dwell in beauty as you use your creativity and intuitive sense of what you are naturally drawn too.

Overall, flowers are alive and can be present with us throughout the days and seasons. It may be an upside down idea to have flowers in January, but that’s what makes it precious!