About what matters

Writing about what really matters

Tag: beautiful

Stretch yourself


Lately I’ve been noticing that as I get older, a flexible, limber body doesn’t come for free anymore. Last night as I spent time stretching, the subject of the SoulCollage card I made today came to me.

I’m challenging myself to stretch this week in as many different ways as possible–and I hope you’ll join me (and share your experience here in the comments section, if you like). Here are 10 ideas to get us both started …

  1. Make a monetary gift you wouldn’t otherwise have made. A couple of fun ideas are making a Kiva loan, or adopting a child for Christmas through a program such as Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. (Be aware that they have more gift requests to choose from, if those on display don’t appeal to you. I like to dig for low-tech requests like a tea set or doll’s chair … the kinds of things I liked to play with myself back in the day!)
  2. Instead of an e-mail or electronic conversation–nice as those can be–send a beautiful card with a hand-written note to someone you care about. The best e-mail you’ve ever sent has never been given pride of place on anyone’s mantel, but your card probably will be. This year I got a lovely Halloween card from someone who’s sworn off Christmas cards–and it’s on my mantel as I write. Bonus points for needing an extra sheet of paper to finish your note!
  3. Instead of running one more errand–let’s face it, the to-do list is everlasting and will never truly be completed no matter what we do–take time to enjoy something beautiful. Take in a museum show, watch ice skaters (or be one of them!), visit a sculpture garden.
  4. If you see homeless people as you go about your business, keep food in your car to share with those who are looking for it (I keep protein bars in fun flavors), along with an encouraging word.
  5. Be kind to an animal. Stock treats for the neighbor’s cat who likes to say hello, or take your dogs to the dog park. If there’s a stray animal nearby, make sure it has food, take it to the vet (and be sure they check for a microchip!), see about finding it a home or getting it back to the home it already has. Or, if you have room, adopt a dog or cat. If you’ve never done it (or even if you have), it’s a tremendously rewarding experience, and guaranteed to stretch you.
  6. Have a little more in-depth conversation with someone you interact with on a casual basis–your barista, someone on the elevator at work, a neighbor. You never know when a few kind words may change the course of someone’s life. A simple kindness could be among the most impactful things you ever do.
  7. Express something you might normally keep to yourself. Voice a compliment. Thank someone who’s been important in your life. You could write a letter to your alumni magazine, for example, expressing appreciation for your professors and your college experience.
  8. Put an electronic device away–for an hour, the day, the weekend. Remember what life was like before you had a smartphone, a GPS, a TV (OK, maybe I’m the only one who remembers what life was like without TV!), or a laptop. It won’t kill you, I promise!
  9. Do something different. Go crazy–change your drink order or your route home. Try a new restaurant or ethnic cuisine; cook a new dish. Buy a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tasted before. (If you’ve never had a pomelo, they’re in season now, and they are fabulous!) Jump out of an airplane, if you’ve always wanted to.
  10. When you’re just about to say No, if you suspect it’s out of unhelpful fear, say Yes instead.

SoulCollage® cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

Beautiful and useful

If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. –William Morris

Antiquing, for me, is a great way to relax, as well as find something beautiful and with any luck, also useful, for my home.

Sometimes I think that in an ideal life, I’d go every single weekend.

However … would an ideal life even have weekends? I’m not sure. Recently I read a Rick Owens interview where he said that he doesn’t observe weekends or holidays, and so goes shopping–often antiquing in Parisian galleries–whenever he likes. That sounds pretty good too (especially the Parisian galleries part).

As I read I felt a pang at the thought of no weekends or holidays, and certainly I’d never want to eliminate the really important red-letter days. But perhaps a life designed exactly as ones likes requires no Labor Days or Columbus Days. I can see how that might work. When I am called upon to live my life exactly as I would like, I will definitely consider at least a modified Rick Owens approach.

At any rate, when I went antiquing last weekend (my life still includes them), what I brought home was a vintage English Minton’s earthenware jelly mold with an Art Deco look about it. There aren’t too many of these molds in this part of the country, but even in pictures of whole collections, I’ve never seen one like this before.

Usually they’re plain ironstone, or clear glass. Mine is a pale yellow custard color with two bold red racing stripes at the base, and a thin black one at the rim. I find it quite pleasing to the eye, and it already seems very much at home with the other things in my kitchen, such as a pair of Deco red-dotted custard glass salt and pepper range shakers, and a green restaurantware creamer with similar thin black stripes.

Given the mold’s intricate design and my lack of expertise, I’ll probably never use it for its original purpose. I washed it by hand, and right now it’s holding my black and red bag of Bodum’s delicious piña colada tea, ready for breakfast and break time.

I stretched the budget I’d set for my antiquing foray a bit to buy what I really wanted, and as I look at my latest find in use, I feel pleased that I did. I’d love to know more about the person who originally chose this attractive mold instead of a more utilitarian one. Whoever she was, I know that she (or perhaps he) thought, like I do, that everything (and I do mean everything) should be both beautiful and useful.

Farmer’s market basket

The way we spend our food dollars is one of the most important votes we cast. –Michael Pollan

I’d been looking for a market basket for years when I finally found the one I have now at an antique mall. Now it sits on a table near my door, ready for next Saturday’s farmer’s market. It’s an old hand-woven oblong basket, a bit similar in shape to an egg basket, but smoother. Its thick double handle is fully woven into the basket, all the way around to the bottom. The same kind of reed (I think it’s a reed …) is the basis of the top woven edge of the basket as well.

The handle is sturdy and shallow–not much space between the top of the handle and the cavity of the basket. This makes it very practical for carrying comfortably on my wrist at a farmer’s market without bumping into things.

My basket has a bit of discoloration at the bottom–perfectly appropriate for a basket with a past. I especially love how it’s a little lopsided–the left and right sides are noticeably unmatched. It doesn’t seem to be the work of a specialist, but rather of someone who needed a good basket and knew how to make one. Very wabi-sabi, and just what I was looking for. I think I paid $23 for it.

I send a thankful thought to my basket’s weaver, who had the skill–lost to most of us now–to make this beautiful tool that was useful, endured, and now is mine.

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