"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."
I have great admiration for powerful women. Women who embrace fully what it is to be themselves with abandon, zest, and little apology. Maya Angelou was such a woman. And she had flair. A knowledge of who she was that ran so deep she was able to get off the path of wearing what everyone else was wearing and put together a style all her own.
I realize now that style and substance are greatly connected because it's impossible to have flair if we don't know who we are, or worse, we don't like who we see when we look in the mirror. The world is big and there will be many, many people who cross our paths and won't like us, so I would say on this second day of the new year, it's incumbent on each of us to foster and nurture loving relationships with ourselves.
Maya Angelou knew this. She understood her own power, and the importance of the give and take of energy between human beings. She understood that if we let the wrong energy into our lives, over time like water on rock, it will erode us. It will erode the tentative peace we make for ourselves as we move toward love, and so, without apology, Maya Angelou removed people from her life who were toxic or who didn't have her best interests at heart.
It's kind of like cooking. If you're making a beautiful slow braised boeuf bourguignon the ingredients must be specific to the pot. Earthy red wine, fresh thyme, butter, and brandy meld together in a slow tango to perfectly season and make tender the beef. The people in our lives should be like butter and thyme, present to bring out the best in us so that we in turn can bring out the best in them.
After all, what would a boeuf bourguignon become if we added spicy Italian sausage to the pot? It might be delicious, but if the Italian sausage is assertive enough to take over and to do so without apology, you no longer have a bourguignon. You now have an Italian stew in which the boeuf is merely an afterthought. Or what if you stuck to the beef and then dumped a half cup of Frank's Red Hot into the pot. What would happen to the subtle combining of flavours? In cooking and in life, the introduction of one wrong ingredient has the power to ruin the stew.
So know who you are and understand which flavours complement you, which flavours overpower you, and which flavours have no business in your stew, your palette, or in your life. And then think about your personal style. What do the clothes you wear, your hair, jewelry, make up, say about you and they way you walk in the world? Do your clothes fit you properly and, if not, why? Too many women make the mistake of hiding behind clothes that are too big or unflattering, or worse, wearing uncomfortable clothing that's too small.
That's not to say the expectation is for any of us to look like Vogue models. That's not it at all. The idea is merely to work towards becoming the zestiest versions of ourselves from the inside out. Cleaning the toxins out of our lives and the dust from our closets as we continue to get to know who we are.
Julia Child, another powerful woman, knew exactly who she was and her sense of style reflected that. Sweater sets, her trademark string of pearls, and a fearlessness in life and in the kitchen is what comes to mind when I think of her. And no wonder she's one of my personal heroes along with Maya Angelou - both women became more powerful with the passing of time, not less.
So on this, the second day of January, 2016, my reminder is:
Be More, Not Less
More listens, Less talks. More has nothing to prove and everything to give. More sits in the solitude of her own power and tries to understand the bigger picture. Less sits in a vacuum of lack and creates pictures that aren't always based on reality. More has personal style and flair. Less models her flair after others.
As we go through life we will always be a combination of More and Less, but when we know and understand this, it becomes easier to balance the flavours.
Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer
with a passion for living, blogging and the ongoing inclination to self
medicate with pie crust.