I read the following essay a few nights ago and have been popping back to re-read it since. It's from the book 'Younger by the Day - 365 ways to rejuvenate your body and revitalise your spirit' by Victoria Moran. She has a very gentle and dreamy way of writing which, to be honest, I'm not always in the mood for. But when I am, it's great.
And because I'm approaching 40 later on this year, it spoke to me (Victoria turned 50, but it was still a milestone birthday that makes you think about Everything).
'I don’t think it was accidental that I ended up in Paris just as I was trying to learn to make the most of being fifty. The French make art out of life, an art easily observable to anyone looking. They effortlessly turn simplicity into style, and look fabulous despite all those buttered baguettes and chocolate croissants. There are theories aplenty about how they can do this and largely avoid obesity and heart disease. I side with the appreciation theory. The French appreciate beauty: the beauty of art, architecture, a fresh-faced mademoiselle, an elegant mature woman, or a fine meal.
When it comes to dining, it is about taking time, seeing the food, smelling it, savouring it. This means putting your knife and fork down between bites so you can feel the textures in your mouth and discern the flavours on your tongue. It means never again consuming anything while standing up or on the run, because you’re worth more than that. So is the person who prepared the food and the time spent doing it.
It is refraining from inferior food because quality is a key value in your life as a whole. In food, quality shows itself in produce that’s fresh and crisp and bright, bread that was kneaded by human hands and baked this morning, and entrees skillfully prepared and presented. In dining like a French woman, you eat sensible portions, because quality satisfied in a way quantity never could. You rarely eat between meals – why spoil your appetite? – or while watching tv – why dilute your attention?
This attitude can carry over into every aspect of life: a few wonderful pieces of clothing, tailed to fit and painstakingly cared for; rooms that may be cosy or elegant but invite you in either way; days evenly invested in work, love, and leisure, with love and leisure seldom slighted for the sake of success.
For most of us, such a change in sensibilities is no small undertaking, but it can be done, and you don’t have to move to Paris. If you’re so overly scheduled that you not only eat on the run but put on your makeup, return calls, and write thank-you notes that say too, slash your schedule. The sky won’t fall and your star will surely rise.'
I agree with 'slash your schedule' too. My favourite thing to do when I'm frazzled and think I have so much to do, is really, really look at what I have to do and only do the essentials. Other things can wait. Then go and wash my face and take myself off to bed early, with a book like this one. Ridiculously early like 8.30pm or maybe 9pm. A nice long read and there's still time for lots of sleep. Delicious.