Thursday, March 18, 2010

thank you, Alexandra

Earlier this week, I donated to Goodwill - 9 of the 11 Alexandra Stoddard books I own. Alexandra Stoddard is a designer and an inspirational life coach. She's written books - lots of them.
I purchased quite a few during the 1980's and have read all of them.
Cover to cover.

Now I'm moving the books on, so that someone else might enjoy and learn from them.

Passing on the volumes was easier said than done, for Stoddard was, at one time -  my improve-your-life / make your-home-a-private-haven-as-well-as-welcoming-to-others guru / mentor/ inspirational maven.

I've incorporated a great deal of her philosophy on life/living as my own. Recently came across the books again on the shelves of my home library and leafed through them. Flashback - to happy memories of the period in my life when, from these books, came guidance for a life lived with grace and style. Suffice it to say that I got my money's worth with the books. Adopted, adapted, trying to stay with the program. Now it's time to pass the books along.

May I share with you some Stoddard wisdom as I interpret it...

To take pleasure in the rituals that make up one's daily routine. Those recurring acts we perform that define a rhythm to our everyday. A cup of tea, served in a lovely china cup and saucer (or coffee poured into a favourite mug). Fluffing the bed pillows. Taking the dog for a walk. Feeding the cat. Opening the mailbox and finding the gift of a card or letter sent to you by a friend. Preparing breakfast. Sitting down to eat it. Opening the blinds to consider the day's weather.  A hot shower. Listening to your favourite music whilst commuting to work. Shopping. Walking. Planning. Running errands. Sitting down. Taking your shoes off at the end of a long day.
Chopping vegetables with a sharp knife. Folding clean laundry. Taking the time to relive and enjoy a memory. Hugging. Laughing so hard that you cry. Doing the newspaper crossword puzzle. Taking a photograph. Making connections.

Stuff like that. And more.

Learning to treasure the little things that render a moment significant. Savoring the sensation of a taste, a texture, a sound.

To celebrate the joy of color - be it brilliant or subtle.

How to be true to oneself. To be radiant, yet modest.

To understand that silence can be golden. And classy.

Alexandra Stoddard emphasizes the importance of creating a home. A place that, more than anything - reflects the personality of its inhabitants. As a designer, she encourages development of the ability to take note of line, color and composition - at the same time, injecting personal meaning into one's home decor. No cookie cutter environment (copied from the pages of Architectural Digest) is as welcoming as a setting that is hand-picked and hand-made. The appeal of mismatch, whether made by conscious effort or accidental. No living, bedroom or dining room 'suits' for students of Stoddard. There really is an undeniable cozy factor that an eclectic decor can evoke, serving to cuddle one's own well-being. Eclectic can also convey a warm 'welcome' to guests.

Besides the art of personalizing one's life and environment, another thread runs throughout her many books - that communication is primary to living a good life with others.
I am reminded again and again of how important words (whether written or spoken) are as the tools to build, maintain and repair relationships. Just as active listening is key to keeping the portal of a friendship open, constant, accessible.

From the time when I began a study of her writings, I came to understand what it means to develop, maintain and grow a friendship. Also - how to be true to oneself by allowing some relationships to run a natural course, diminishing intensity on their own - gracefully. Not to fight the reality that some friendships are destined to fade. Not to be unafraid to put a deliberate end to interactions that prove toxic. To not waste time with poisoning our own greater life purpose with corrosive influences.

Stoddard, as a sensitive, caring individual, intimates how essential it is be a friend who pays attention.
To me, successful communication is a balanced exchange of ideas, thoughts and feelings. 

These, and other lessons are now incorporated into my everyday, and I still strive towards goals set by Alexandra Stoddard's writings. With the passing of more than two decades, the books I own are decidedly oh-so-dated in style - yet the core lessons remain.

So the time has come to clear those titles from the home library. To make room for more books with more lessons. Without a doubt, there will be confirmation of the same tenets.

A fond farewell, then - to my clutch of Stoddard books.
Save for two. This one and this one.

I let them go -
but not without a most appreciative -
' Thank you, Alexandra '


Lauren said...

I remember seeing some of those books on your shelf- I had no idea there were so many!

Some of what you mentioned reminded me of this blog I follow:

About treasuring the little moments in the day- check it out- I think you'll like it.

baffle said...

thanks, i like that site you posted!