Beauty in the Ordinary?

There’s more to beauty than exquisite art, fragrant bouquets of fresh cut flowers, and a stunning wardrobe.  In Mary Pride’s book, All the Way Home, Mrs. Pride talks about a scene in the movie Cinderella.    She describes Cinderella scrubbing the floor and pays close attention to the way she sits and the graceful way she swishes the brush.  There is such beauty in the process of cleaning the floor in that movie.  It makes me wonder about the other ways we can infuse beauty into life while doing the ordinary.  In a sense, this is the idea that flows from the “Finley women” in my book, Past Forward.

I was thinking about this the other day, and I started making a list of the things that can be done with an eye to living more beautifully as you do it.  I’m not sure I’ll ever do them all, but putting them down on “paper” sure does make it FEEL more normal.

Meals- Tasty is a given, right?  Why make food that doesn’t tantalize SOMEONE’s palate.  I mean, if everyone doesn’t enjoy it, why not find a way to either make it taste better or fix something else.  Of course, aesthetically pleasing plates would be nice, right?  If everything on the plate is white or brown, isn’t it a bit… blah?  Instead of serving chicken chests on rice with cauliflower… couldn’t I maybe go with broccoli with red peppers with that chicken?  Can we dish them neatly onto the plate rather than dump it all in a heap and hope for the best?  What about dessert?  Is there any reason we shouldn’t have a fun treat now and then for the kicks and giggles of it?

A few years ago, I got the cooking bug.  I wanted more variety in our diet.  I made side dishes that I’d avoided for years due to them not being Kevin’s favorite.  It was simple.  Instead of one main dish and a veggie, I added side dishes and didn’t worry who ate it.  Eat the main food and take the extras if you want.  Sometimes I added rolls or biscuits.  I think I had desserts about half the time.  Then I got sick and was grateful if what we ate wasn’t from the frozen entree section of Stater Bros.  I think it might be time to find that fun again.

Organizing- One of the most brilliant books on organization is Organizing from the Inside Out.  In that book, she talks about organizing like you think.  If you think in terms of “out of sight, out of mind” then you need to organize with your stuff where you can see it.  So, if you have to see your stuff to organize it, why not make sure you enjoy looking at it.  Keep your library books in baskets with pretty liners or hanging on hooks in lovely bags.  Why make everything utilitarian?  Does it all have to be clear plastic with blue lids like an elementary classroom?  Then again, if you find that stimulating and exciting, then by all means, do what makes your heart sing.  However, if keeping stuff in piles makes you go crazy, why do you have everything in piles?  If having it behind closed doors means you’ll never use it… why do you force yourself to work like that?

Cleaning- Along the lines of Cinderella, can we make something as common as washing dishes, dusting, or scrubbing the toilet (forgive the crassness) lovely in some way or another?  Apart from the gross factor associated with cockroaches and rats cleaning, the scene in Enchanted where they sing a “happy working song” does have a beauty to it.  Practically speaking, in the kitchen, if you have a dish drainer, perhaps we should get a nice one that isn’t lime encrusted?  If our dishtowels are stained and holey, how inspiring is it to use them?  If lemon scents make you feel like working, then why do you buy lavender scented all-purpose cleaner.  Peppy music always encourages me.  I happen to like stuff from the forties and fifties when I clean.  Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Ames Brothers, The Four Lads, The Everly Brothers, Andrews Sisters… stuff with some bop to it.  I just love a good harmony and you can get that with groups from that era.  Maybe as we clean, beautify?  Add a plant here, a small vignette of frames there, the flowers your little boy picked in a bud vase there?  Why not?

There’s more, of course… correspondence, holidays, special occasions, yard maintenance, even laundry can be lovely!  If we have to do these things, most of them DAILY, why don’t we ensure that we enjoy them as much as possible?  Why not make the process AND the results beautiful?  I’m determined to add in little things… no matter how small… to infuse beauty into every part of my life.  Walden in the desert… now THAT is cool.



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