For at least fifteen years, I have been accruing a list. The benefit to being a prolific writer who is also organized, is that the tracks of my past have been laid down for inspection from the future. In a journal that I started in 1997, I find a list entitled
As the journal sits open on the bed beside me, I can recall my keen interest in gracious living -- on a shoestring budget. I remember thinking, “How can I make my life feel more special? How can I bring beauty and luxury into everyday activities using nothing more than the things I already own?” My vision of gracious living was then, and still is, the notion that the details matter. Taking time to appreciate and truly absorb the joy and beauty that is present all around us is, to me, at the very heart of bringing grace into our lives.
I discovered that the list I started in ’97 carries across the journals I wrote in ensuing years. Now, I have taken on the task of collating a compendium of these ideas to share with others. I have huge hopes for the change that is possible! I was talking to my friend, Kate, yesterday. She commented that someone once told her that to change her life she had to start by changing just one thing.
Just one thing is the first step.
I have read studies that show it takes six weeks to change a habit. It seems reasonable to suppose that by changing one thing for a period of six weeks, it becomes your own. Using that logic, it might be possible to change at least eight things in your life over the course of a year. Imagine that! Eight things that you are not happy with at the present moment you could change over the course of the coming year. So here is my reasoning, why not make two of those things habits of grace?
Habits of grace are the small things we do to celebrate life.
~Add to your bed’s mattress cover by adding an extra comforter.
~Keep a few sprigs of the flowers you might buy in a small vase in the frig. Upon opening the door, it is always a pleasant surprise.
~Look for wild flowers to use by your bed.
~Wash and iron your sheets. If too much to tackle, iron and starch your pillowcases.
~Hang your pillowcases outside to dry! Candle companies try to emulate that fresh, outdoor scent.
~Use extra pillows. Purchase the best grade pillow (down or down-alternative) that you can manage.
~Thread count on sheets really matters. If your budget is tight, make sure you touch the sheets before you buy them. ~Do they snag on your fingers? Do your palms glide across the sheets?
~Shopping on the internet requires a bit of know-how. An easy suggestion? Use websites that ship and accept returns for free. Use coupon codes whenever possible.
~Put throws on your sofas at convenient places. The layered texture looks nice in the room and it lends to a cozy feel on chilly nights.
~Throw your towels in the drier just before you take a bath. Warm towels are that easy!
~Use your perfume. It will evaporate over time and the scent changes -- often, not for the better. Don’t save it for special occasions.
~Wear pearls. On days when your spirits are low, WEAR YOUR PEARLS! Even if they are glass, the idea of dressing up seems to lift one’s spirits.
~Use three sheets on your bed. The bottom sheet, then encase your blanket between two sheets, folding them over together at the top. It feels elegant.
~Use your china. If you are too busy to do so daily, pick one day/ week that you will treat yourself to a cup of tea from your china set. Heirlooms are to be used and cherished.
Heirloom and use are not mutually exclusive.
~Set the table using linen napkins.
~Go ahead, surprise the family. Serve Annie’s Mac and Cheese from a serving bowl rather than a pan.
~Wear gloves. Not just heavy winter gloves. Gloves dress up any outfit.
~Use sachets in your drawers. If you don’t have time to make them, use drier sheets. They, too will impart a fragrant bouquet to your belongings.
~Always line your drawers. Use leftover wrapping paper. Buy some from the dollar store.
~Put something you love in the room you use most. If need be, put it out of reach of young children. Lay claim to the space you live in!
~The more you weed out, the more you will reveal. Recycle, share, trash. Keep things moving so your eye can rest on the beauty.
~Give to others of your time, your energy and your treasure. It is truly a luxury to share.
~Place a photograph that makes you smile inside the medicine cabinet. When you are not feeling your best, it will pick you up to see that memory.
~Learn new ways to tie your scarves. Scarves are an accessory that single-handedly can triple your wardrobe.
~Polish your shoes. Waterproof your boots.
~Care for your feet and hands. Choose a day to give yourself a manicure and a pedicure. Swap with your friend.
~It is a necessary part of good grooming to attend to cutting and removing hair. If you choose to color, be sure to stay current.
~Rotate the paintings and pictures in your house.
~Rearrange the furniture for a fresh look. Get a friend to help.
~Purge your closet and share what you can.
~Always write thank you notes. Use the heaviest grade paper you can afford. Maybe a gift wish list would include personalized notecards. Or buy them yourself!
~Many cleaning products are expensive and could be made easily at home. Look up the many uses for bleach, baking soda and vinegar.
~Wood is porous and thirsty. Use a product that is safe for the wood. The luster of wood tells you when it is happy.
~Keep a basket near the most-commonly used door to accept keys and change.
~Set aside shelf space for each child to create their own display of treasured objects. It is magical to see what they cherish and want to share with others. Treasure that window on your child’s mind -- gained at such a small price!
~Use one shot of yellow in every room. That tip I gleaned from Alexandra Stoddard. Look for work by Alexandra Stoddard -- as a teacher and guide, she is second to none.
~Keep a list going of your blessings. Before you know it, your will realize that your blessings are more than you ever imagined.
I predict that if you have read all the way through this list, that you will be able to start a list of your own. Grace in thought and deed begets grace. May grace be with you.