You're the Leading Lady
It’s difficult to find inspiration in New England at the moment. The muddy slush oozing down my front steps has left my socks damp and I can’t seem to shake the chill in my bones. My fluffy blanket doesn’t provide the least bit of serenity, not to mention, I look like a man-child with jaundice as the flannel material frames my pale ridden face. I actually hit rock bottom when I throw my last bite of pasta into the trash, as if that one bite will curb my guilt for eating the entire box. I now have a Prego mustache, I’ve managed to super size, well…myself, and I have decided to throw a full-blown pity-party. Yet, just as I am about to ration AND rationalize a “healthy” square of dark chocolate (more like a New York City-sized grid), I think about the warm sun. What if the sun was shining outside right now? With that question, my icy thoughts melt into a pool of daydreams and I am jolted from my writer’s block.
Instead of that chocolate, what if I was reaching for a juicy watermelon slice and a minty, fresh mojito? What if I was wearing a white sundress while clipping roses and… ok CUT! I know, I know, this isn’t a Nancy Meyers movie. However, these daydreams put a smile on my face so it got me thinking. There is great significance behind movies like, Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated, The Holiday, and Father of the Bride. Yes, we all swoon over the sappy storylines but I believe, above all else, we fall in love with not love itself, but with the backdrops of these movies and how they make us feel.
The second-home beach bungalow, the blue and white awnings, the hedge-lined gardens, is it THESE luxurious backdrops that we fall in love with? Do we find it soothing to dote over the sophisticated high-end décor? Or is it just fun to watch these idealistic, female characters that appear to “have it all?”
Maybe it’s partially all of the above (I mean, who doesn’t like a clawfoot tub surrounded by Carrara marble in the Hamptons!?), but in my opinion, we are mostly affected by the small stuff in these movies.
For instance, subliminally we are allured by the romantic French music on the beach, the puff pastry shop that you can almost smell though your T.V., the way Meryl Steep so gracefully carries a straw basket as she picks her own tomatoes. These are all intangible, detailed luxuries that are created not by wealth, but by prioritizing and putting effort into one’s surroundings. I believe that we THINK we like the beach house but in reality, we are calmed by the way these women take care of themselves. Furthermore, because we feel this way, these intangibles thus illustrate the reciprocal and powerful connection between the environments we choose to create in relation to our own happiness.
Today was a perfect, micro example of this relationship. I felt down in the dumps but when I envisioned a happy environment, I felt happy! Then when I felt happy, I started to improve my environment. I took off my blanket, got off the couch, and cleaned my kitchen. My guilty lunch plate was then thrown into the dishwasher and the pasta was washed away along with my bad mood.
This concept is by no means a recipe for ultimate happiness, but we cannot deny the positive outcome when we nurture our surroundings. Like the infamous Billy Blanks always says, “You have to give some to get some.” When we focus on our ambiance we are essentially focusing on ourselves, which is great thing! We all deserve the right to take care of ourselves! As a side note: individual happiness will also help you take better care of others, a win-win!
So next time you are cooking, put on some Italian music and pour yourself a glass of wine. If you have a break in your day, put a lemon in your seltzer and jot down a bucket list. Get up early, make your bed, and spray linen mist. Throw a jazz song on your iPhone, then light a candle, and take a bubble bath. You can buy your favorite flowers, organize your office, or venture on a long walk with your best friend. It may sound too minimal or even too much effort, but these tiny and personal indulgences are too often overlooked.
Tending to your surroundings is in turn, tending to yourself and your mood. It is a priceless gift that only you can give to yourself. Be your own screenwriter to that movie we call life. Feel liberated and fall in love with your OWN backdrop. We get so bogged down by analyzing the dramatic twists and turns of our lives that we often forget the easiest answer of all…. sometimes the key to happiness is just to stop, pause, and simplify.
“You're supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god's sake!”
Iris, The Holiday