It’s 2022 and society tells us the best women are men (but who can define a woman anyway?). Meanwhile, so-called feminists are doing their darndest to send their fellow females to war and convince mothers that killing their babies is empowering.
We’re deluged with a narrative that says ugly is the new beautiful. To make matters worse, spiking inflation threatens our basic expenses, not to mention those favorite little splurges that make the everyday more lovely. What’s a girl to do?
There’s far more to womanhood than a set of habits, but practicing ways to bring order and beauty to our surroundings can be a blessing to ourselves and others in a world that far more often elevates the grotesque. Here are eight simple ways to do so in your daily living.
1. Write Notes
The age of instant messaging has largely doomed our stationery to the dustbin, but taking the time to write a thank-you note, birthday card, or “praying for you” memo is a simple way to practice thoughtfulness. You’ll get three things in one: penmanship practice (an art even further lost), a moment of being just a tad bit less reliant on Big Tech, and a chance to bless a friend with something far more tangible and personal than a text. Pretty or personalized stationery isn’t necessary, but you might find it makes the process even more pleasant.
2. Call Your Friends
Notecards are lovely, but there’s another alternative to the quick texting conversation: picking up the phone. Phone calls terrified me as a kid, and my generation is known for never quite getting over that apprehension. But voice inflection covers a multitude of miscommunications, and a quick “lol” is no substitute for ringing laughter.
In our mobile society, nearly all of us have those “long-distance friends” we never catch up with as much as we’d like, and we all know those paragraphs-long texting updates are nearly impossible to keep going. Schedule a phone call, or — if you’re the kind of person who never gets around to such things — just cold call a friend when you find a spare minute. Even if she isn’t available, she’ll know you thought of her and the door will be opened to finding another time.
3. Wear Everyday Jewelry
Jewelry doesn’t have to be for dressy occasions only — and it also doesn’t have to be those chunky, colorful acrylic necklaces that fill the endcaps of your local Plato’s Closet. A simple gold pendant necklace or a dainty heirloom ring, for example, can elevate the simplest of outfits. As a bonus, you may find signature pieces that help you cultivate your sense of your own style.
4. Gather Favorite Recipes
I’ll be the first to confess that I have little culinary interest and even less culinary talent. But I have fond memories as a kid of pulling down my mom’s big recipe notebook and finding recipes that were written down and shared from friends and family members. Preparing a meal is a lost art these days, but even if you see cooking as a chore, remembering a loved one each time you make his famous birthday cake icing or legendary marinade makes it less of one.
5. Cultivate a Coffee Table
Our homes — be they studio apartments or farmhouses — are one of the most immediate ways women can cultivate beauty, order, solace, and warmth around us. If that sounds intimidating, start with the humble coffee table.
Unlike your kitchen table, which is likely home to the daily mail pile and where a pretty centerpiece might be moved to make room for dinner, the coffee table can afford to serve a more decorative and less functional purpose. Showcase your favorite book (large, clothbound coffee table books are my guilty pleasure), a warm candle, a family photo album, or a floral arrangement, and practice the art of curating.
6. Print Your Photos
Just as the information overload of the digital age has dulled our capacity for retention, the ability to snap 50 photos in one instance can leave our camera rolls unnecessarily full of duplicative photos while burying the ones we’d care most to cherish. It’s great to have thousands of photos at the touch of a button, but try printing a few of your favorites to keep them at the forefront.
Display them via frames or a pinboard, or catalog them in a scrapbook. They’ll last far longer than your phone will; even if you back up your digital photos, a decade from now you (or your kids) are more likely to pull a photo album off the shelf than go digging through a hard drive or cloud folder full of thousands of snaps.
7. Keep a List of Your Favorite Quotes (and Read the Authors Who Write Them)
I have just such a list in my notes app on my phone, which I add to anytime I hear or read a quote that stands out to me. Some are profound — “Perseveringly depend even where thou canst not rejoicingly hope,” from Charles Spurgeon — and some are simply lovely: “The sun rose on the flawless brimming sea into a sky all brazen,” from Homer’s “Odyssey.”
I’ve picked up most of them just in the course of reading books. Imbibing the work of thoughtful, winsome authors is a welcome change from the captions of Instagram reels, and I’ve found that my own writing is improved after reading the work of an author I respect.
You can do this with favorite Bible verses too — I write them on the inside cover of my prayer journal.
8. Make Breakfast a Delight
Whether you’re rushing off to work, scrambling to feed a posse of preschoolers, or corralling a family to church, it’s hard to get everything done in the morning and harder still to do so in an orderly fashion. Some days it’s a praiseworthy accomplishment just to make it to lunchtime alive.
But order is a form of beauty, so when you can, start with the same routine each morning — whether it’s composed of washing your hair, putting on a flick of mascara, reading your Bible, brewing coffee, taking vitamins, doing pilates, or all of the above.
Eating breakfast specifically is good for your heart, bones, digestion, and metabolism. Since you’re hopefully already eating something anyway, if you can afford the time, try to sit down at the kitchen table to eat your morning meal. Put fresh-cut flowers on the table, or light a candle, or just watch the world wake up outside your window. Multitask by doing your morning devotionals or morning scan of the news while you eat, if you have to.
The World Needs Beauty
Between our culture’s instantaneous nature and its push to stretch the definition of beauty beyond all recognizable bounds, many of our simple habits that make life more lovely have eroded. But many women are looking for ways to cultivate beauty in their lives, as my friend Evita Duffy writes:
The reality is that contemporary culture is unfulfilling for the young people who are being formed by it. It is incapable of revealing greater truths about life because it doesn’t believe in truth itself. Everything is a social construct, nothing is innate, and morals are relative.
It is painful to believe one’s life is meaningless, and that is exactly why the ‘romanticize your life’ trend has had such a strong and lasting grip on social media.
You don’t have to capture those quietly beautiful parts of your day on social media to make them enjoyable. Embrace loveliness and femininity, and you’ll stand out from the madding crowd.