I often have to remind myself about the progress part of my blog title. The reason I added it was that while becoming a well-bred woman is my goal, it is also a process, one that I never expect to fully complete in my life. To the ever-learning mind, there will always be new information to absorb and assimilate, new challenges to undertake and overcome, and deeper revelations of one’s own character with which to reckon. My latest motto has been “Live for today, look to tomorrow, learn from the past.”
This has been particularly applicable to my life lately as I go through what may be one of the more difficult life stages. My small children require a continually high amount of physical care and intervention. Each year they learn new skills, such as dressing themselves, toilet training, tying their shoes, cleaning up after themselves, and simple etiquette such as “yes, please” and “no, thank you.” Living for each present day, I strive to continually love, care for, provide for, teach, and lead them by example even though it can be wearying at times. Looking back, I can see how far they have come in mastering basic life skills, knowledge, and understanding, and it encourages me to look forward to seeing them blossom fully in the future. But I know, as many other parents often remind me, that these precious years of babyhood and young childhood are fleeting, which is why I try to relish each day and fully take in the moments even when I am tired or overwhelmed.
There are many lifestyle blogs and books I read that list ways for a woman to become more elegant and grounded by taking time for herself. Though I try to do this, I realize that I cannot let the idealistic suggestions of another woman whom I admire become the unyielding standards for my life, which only I can live. The truly well-bred woman knows that this movement to better oneself, one’s family, one’s future and one’s world is not about being a copycat. To teach and inspire others is every woman’s gift; to learn and be inspired by others is a woman’s priceless treasure . So I take from the examples and inspiration of others to create my own world, and I recommend any aspiring well-bred woman do the same. During this intensely busy time, I devote a minimum of effort to my beauty routine; however, I have purposed not to give up time for myself completely, even though I am sometimes tempted to skip it altogether. I remind myself again of my motto: Today, I need to feel okay and look presentable, which I am surely able to do on with minimal effort. Even though I am still wearing many pieces from high school–staples that have lasted well for many years, although the styles are dated and the colors are not my best–they are good enough. Learning from the past, I have been taking all the knowledge I have acquired by reading about style and presentation and applied it to my current wardrobe and beauty regime. Looking to tomorrow, I look forward to eventually paring down my closet and acquiring a capsule wardrobe of high-quality pieces based on my colors, which I finally have had analyzed.
Another area to which I am applying my current motto is my house. It is cozy and lovingly furnished with handed-down items that are starting to look worn. I often daydream about buying some property, building a custom house, and upgrading or refinishing our older furniture and decor. My cats will become outdoor creatures, and I hope to never have to deal with fleas infesting the house or scratched up furniture again. Some days while vacuuming, bathing cats, or cleaning up the same mess recreated by the kids, I zone out thinking about the future. I want to just sit down, stop trying to clean up, and make myself tolerate living in conditions that do not match my comfort levels. But that attitude is unbalanced, because it places too much emphasis on looking to the future and not enough on living for today or remembering the past, the latter area being where I struggle the most. How forgetful humans can be! Sometimes to encourage myself, I walk through the house and observe all the organizational tactics I have implemented throughout the years. The encouragement of past accomplishments combined with the motivation of fear that the messy corners may eventually evolve into monsters keeps me going in the present moment.
Whoever you are, wherever you are in life, and whatever you do, my hope is that you, too, may live for today, learn from the past, and look to tomorrow. Evaluate which situations in your own life could benefit from this balanced viewpoint.