As I scrolled through the evening news on my local news website, a particular headline caught my attention. My interest usually falls short of the modern celebrity and their antics but this time I decided to flick across and see what all the comotion was about.
What I saw was nothing short of distasteful and repulsive. If you’ve read the news today, no doubt you’ve already seen the images of Miley Cyrus’s performace at the MTV Awards. If it made your jaw drop, take comfort in the fact that Rihanna, Will Smith (and his family), Nick Cannon and a handful of other celebrities were also among the shocked and stunned audience who rather vehemently exposed their thoughts via Twitter. I don’t feel any need to discuss what viewers witnessed but I am reminded that Miley herself is only one year younger than I am – just twenty years old! Yet she is an example of a young woman who exemplifies everything opposite to what we promote here at Grace & Poise.
It is with this example in mind that, if I could, for a moment take you back to the year 2007: I was 16 years old. It was in the early months of January 2007 that my curiosity for an elegant life began to blossom. I remember quite vividly a conversation I had with my mother one summer’s afternoon, sharing with her my longing for mentor who I could look up to that held the qualities of a elegant and graceful woman. Although such women were far-and-few between at that stage in my life I began to take a great interest in the style, elegance and poise of Mary, the Crown Princess of Denmark.
If you have been following Grace & Poise for a few years you’ll have noticed that Princess Mary is featured quite frequently on this blog during those early years. Although, I’m yet to have the privilege of meeting her in person, I learned so much from her via newspaper interviews: her style, her elegance in difficult situations, her calm yet optimistic view on life. These values taught me so much and were encouraged by my mother who was delighted to watch me grow into a woman who desired these qualities.
It was with great interest that I searched the internet for websites that encouraged women to cultivate such qualities. My search proved unfruitful. I found it difficult to find any real, practical inspiration on such topics. I wondered… “surely I can’t be the only girl to desire such qualities in her life?” Perhaps there were other young girls and women around the world who pursed such a lifestyle? And that is when Grace & Poise was born… Out of young, humble roots came a little blog about a girl on a pursuit of a more poised, elegant and feminine life.
But this interest in an elegant life, was rather unique in the fact that few of my friends grasped my vision. When I shared with a handful of them my dreams of one day possessing this ladylike elegance and femininity I was presented with harsh responses. Some criticized me for the pictures I used, others mocked me for trying to be ladylike and yet others teased me with jealous remarks.
Yet here we are: 6 years on and still going strong. Those that previously mocked, criticized and teased me have now confessed their admiration of the fruits this blog has produced. Sometimes, I look back and see how far I’ve grown but other times I feel like I’ve only just begun.
The term ‘grace and poise‘ no longer resembles simply the way I walk or how I eat at the dinner table but it has extended into a lifestyle of graceful composure and elegant living. Yet, I don’t think I’ll ever reach a destination where I feel like I can resemble ‘elegance’ or have fully attained ‘poise’ but I believe through the challenges that life gives – I’ll continue my journey…
It is because of this very personal experience that I turn to these pages and share with you. That despite the sex-obsessed, raunchy world we live in, as Miley Cyrus so aptly displayed tonight – I’m still proud to promote grace & poise.
For some, its a gift that comes rather naturally but for others romance is a act by which we continually need to be conscious and thoughtful of. Gifts, hugs, a note to say ‘I love you’ are small acts of kindness that are just the beginning of true romance.
In the course of life we sometimes forget those who are nearest and dearest to us. Perhaps the ‘honeymoon’ phase is over within a relationship and daily activities takeover an idealized life. Its true, romance takes time, it takes risk and it takes a daring heart. Encourage yourself to leap off the cliff and take on the challenge. Being truly romantic involves opening yourself up and revealing your feelings to someone else. Its a risk but if taken seriously, its a risk worth taking.
While romance is often associated with a partner, boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse, I believe that romance, the act of giving and sharing love should not be kept for when ‘in a relationship‘ only. What better practice than to shower your parents, sister, brother or friends with love and adoration is little ways?
Thoughts to remember when considering romance:
Add a little romance to your life:
1. Say ‘I love you’ at least once a day.
2. No need for fancy dinners to pull out the candles. Why not share takeout by candlelight?
3. Write a little note – pop it in the book he/she is reading.
4. Write a letter sharing how grateful you are to have him/her in your life. Send via snail mail for a simple surprise.
5. Finding yourself always forgetful of anniversaries or special dates such as Mother’s day? Place a standing order with your local florist and provide the dates for flowers to be sent out. Have the florist charge your card and bill you automatically. This technique is for the forever-forgetful and terminally organised!
6. Always stay in touch with the special, memorable, unique ways that the two of you have had fun together. What is your fondest memory with him/her? Why not, do it again!
7. Learn his/her ‘blind spots’ and encourage him/her in those areas.
8. Learn hi/her ‘soft spots’ and indulge in them.
9. Understand the difference between a gift and a present. A present is something that you’re giving the receiver because its something you want him/her to have. In contrast, a gift is something that you’re sure the receiver wants. What has he/she wanted for a really long time but held back from buying? Now is your opportunity!
10. Learn his/her all-time fravourite meal and learn how to create it! Get help from friends, family or neighbours – whatever it takes!
11. Hold a ‘romance idea brainstorming session’. Create a list of ideas and activities for the next month or so.
12. Do you take your partner/friend for granted? It’s time to stop! Take time to show that you appreciate their strengths and how their life has impacted yours in a positive way.
13. When was the last time the two of you simply went for a walk together? Not only is this a great opportunity to spend some one-on-one time together but it also has added health benefits!
14. Compliment him/her in front of friends and family.
15. Open doors for her with an extra little flourish.
16. Surprise him/her by giving him/her a gift on your birthday!
17. Do you know your partner well? Memorize their fravourite colour, flower, author, Bible passage, song, meal, ice-cream flavour, restaurant, artist, style of artwork, role model.
18. Why not… cook a meal together?
19. Sit down at the beginning of each month and discuss romantic plans that will fit into other scheduled appointments and commitments.
20. Remember: occasional romance is nice but its limited. Romance that spans over time is what its really all about. Why? Simply because consistency of romantic efforts reflect your commitment to your partner. It shows that he or she is top priority in your life.
21. Why not…shake up your routine. Changing your routine often leads to new ideas and a fresh perspective.
22. Think different: Always late? Be on-time!
23. Complete that chore or favor that your partner has wanted you to do for a long time.
24. Wear your favourite perfume to bed – even if you sleep alone! Or tuck dried lavender inside of pillow cases before using them for a fragrant surprise.
25. Understand that the disagreements are an integral part of the plot. Respect the other individual’s wishes/desires/believes. Never be too proud to not listen to the other side of the story.
26. Light candles when you arrive home, rather than turning on all the lights in the house.
27. Listen to relaxing music rather than turning on the television.
28. Keep fresh flowers by your nightstand.
29. Switch off the electronic equipment such as iPads/laptops/computers and enjoy a relaxing evening with a book.
30. Take a cooking class together. Learn how to perfect your fravourite dish.
“Being tender and open is beautiful.
As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed.
Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy.
Don’t let someone steal your tenderness.
Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart.
Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things.
Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you.
All of this is for you.
Take it and have gratitude.
Give it and feel love.”
– Zooey Deschanel
Today, Belgium gained a new King and Queen. Within weeks before his 20th anniversary on the throne, King Albert II signed a formal act of abdication before his son, Prince Philippe. The naturally, shy and introverted King Philippe was graced with a stunningly, elegant Queen by his side as he took the sacred vow: “I begin my reign with the desire to put myself at the service of all Belgians. I will work for it in perfect agreement with the government and in accordance with the constitution.”
It all began with a surprise announcement from the royal court of Belgium in 1999, announcing the engagement of Prince Philippe to Miss Mathilde Ghislaine. The public were very much unaware of the courtship and even asked the prince if the marriage was arranged? It was with great joy that the Belgium people learned that the twenty-six year old speech therapist had been secretly courting the Crown Prince for over three years previous.
Whilst many of Europe’s future queens such as Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark or Crown Princess Letizia of Spain were born ‘commoner’s’, Queen Mathilde was born into an aristocratic family. Before meeting the prince, she was graduated with the highest honors from the Institut Libre Marie Haps in Brussels. She had her own speech therapy practice from 1995-1999 and was very successful in the field.
Since her winter wedding in 1999 to the Crown Prince, Mathilde has won over the people of Belgium with her warmth and charisma. The King and Queen have welcomed four children into the royal family over the years, including Princess Elizabeth who follows her father to the throne.
Princess has worked extensively with UNICEF and UNAIDS, traveling to such countries as Niger, Mali, Tanzania, China, India, and Senegal. In 2000, she created the “Princess Mathilde Fund,” which awards an annual prize of 10,000 Euros “in recognition of a specific initiative focused on strengthening the position of vulnerable people.” The project was initially funded with donations the couple received as wedding gifts.
As the new King faces challenging times in the coming months he will be blessed to have his strongest supporter standing by his side throughout it all: Queen Mathilde of Belgium.
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