Cultivating Everyday Elegance: Beginning with Pause – Ponder – Proceed

Chico's outfit on Over 50 Feeling 40

 

I am so excited it’s Friday because it’s the weekend, but most excited to continue our conversation about Cultivating Elegance into our everyday lives.  Your comments on Monday were incredible; there was so much to glean from and many of you provided much needed encouragement and inspiration.  I believe my biggest challenge will be how to find the best ways to present everything I am learning.  There is so much to cover.

But, it is always good to have a foundation when going through a transformation.  Since I recently began this new journey, every decision…and I mean, every decision…has been guided by this principle, Pause – Ponder – Proceed. Let me show you how I got there….

 

DEFINING TERMS 

Recommended Reading on over 50 Feeling 40 

Out of the mouths of babes often comes great wisdom.  I have learned much from an impressive young woman, Jennifer L. Scott in her series of books about an older French woman with great impact.  Jennifer spent time as a student in Paris and lived with this woman she later called Madame Chic, who changed Jennifer’s life with her demonstrations of elegance, poise, and dignity.  (Links to her books are below)

In her book, Polish Your Poise, Jennifer writes that all we are aspiring for on this journey can be purposefully cultivated.  She said, “Dignity, grace, style, and elegance are all learned behaviors. Anyone can cultivate these attributes.” So, I did a little word study and developed my own definitions…(it helps me understand where I am going with this)…

Dignity – Peaceful strength grounded in wisdom

Grace – unearned, empathetic acceptance; loving to all

Style –   a confident understanding of me and ways I communicate it

Elegance – self- assured poise

I would like to encourage you to also ponder these words and develop your own definitions to them.  What is unique to your journey for every day elegance?  Of course, you are welcome to use mine!

Jennifer writes, “Poise is defined as a graceful and elegant bearing. Madame Chic’s graceful and elegant bearing certainly laid the foundation for the gracious way she lived, but it was allowing this grace and this elegance to guide every choice.”

 

THE PRINCIPLE

Spring Flowers on over 50 Feeling 40

Once I understood what I was going for…the four definitions…then I began to ask myself when making any decision, “What Would A Woman of Elegance Do?”  The following has become my new decision- making procedure”

  1. Pause – I now wait a moment to consider what is before me. This is contrary to the woman I have been in the past….the one who forges ahead, listens to her gut , and goes with it. I often either react too quickly to something or over-react. The elegant woman brings awareness to everything and every moment.  For me, this means to pause before going forward or reacting.
  2. Ponder – Does it require research?  Does it require seeking counsel?  Does it require new budgetary consideration? What are the pros and cons?  Does it require a purposeful consideration of others? Does It require a time of prayer or meditation? By looking at whatever the decision is, will it enhance the outcome if I think of it differently?
  3. Proceed – Now that I have stopped, waited, thought it over, what direction is giving me true peace? Then, with courage, proceed that way.

I am learning that elegant women are not reactionary.  They are purposeful, thoughtful, considerate, and wise.

I recently have used this process to decide how my kitchen makeover would look; to decide what to serve at a family gathering; and to decide purchases.   I have used it to decide when to speak up and when to hold my tongue.  Women of elegance listen first….speak later.

Pausing before speaking is always a good thing.  But, as I wrote, I am a passionate person and have not always held my tongue when it should have been held.  So, this is a new Pamela…an aspiring woman of elegance…who is now going to wait before charging forward.  I am ceasing to be the bull in the china shop.  The woman who lives the definitions of dignity, grace, style, and elegance that I have put forward still has passion but knows when to reign it in and wait for the right time and the right words.  (Some of my friends just fainted upon reading that statement!) but I am committed to it.

 

IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS

Everyday Elegance on Over 50 Feeling 40

It is difficult to bring this to a close, because there is so much to say, but this is where I will leave us today…our first character trait lesson for women of elegance is Pause, Ponder, Proceed.

But, here is another tidbit.  Women of elegance are into details.  When they pause and ponder, they are considering the small details which will improve any situation and make it special.  For example, I drink a large amount of water every day.  So,  in an effort to make this special, I am now serving it in a lovely glass with squeezed lemon and lavender!  And, I grow the lavender in a pot in the backyard!  Suddenly, a drink is a special moment just for me.   

Look for ways to make the mundane special.  Life is too short to carry around a plastic cup all day!  Êtes-vous d’accord?

 (OK, I did take two years of French in college, so I know a little…very little)

Please join in the comments below with questions, advice, stories…the first two posts have been chocked- full of wisdom from this community!  Thank you, ladies.

Once again, here are links to many of the books I will be quoting:

 

Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott

Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott

At Home with Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott

Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange and Sophie Gachet

Parisian Chic Encore

Forever Chic by Tish Jett

Living Forever Chic by Tish Jett

The Essentials of Fabulous by Ellen Lubin Sherman

The Woman I Wanted To Be by Diane Von Furstenberg

Thank you to those who have recommended other books…I placed an order this week!

ABOUT THE OUTFIT

 

Summer silks on Over 50 Feeling 40

If it looks like it was raining while we shot these pictures…you are right, it was!  I will give you a fashion/style update on my new journey soon, but this outfit works for me with a tweak in my style adjectives to communicate.  This is an older silk Chico’s jacket, Chico’s denim (the Girlfriend Ankle Jean in Coconut in the slideshow below), Clarke pewter ballet flats, and a necklace from a past consignment shop purchase with my James Avery silver bracelets.   I am “beefing up” my basics, so I purchased (with a shopping pass discount) this Eileen Fisher black, sleeveless tank from Dillards.  I needed a quality black tank with good fit, so this was a must have for my new wardrobe.  More about that later. 

Of course, today, I have a Fabulous Find Slideshow for you…remember that tomorrow is Would You Wear It…and, yes, next week, we are going to discuss how this new journey affects my fashion & style!

 

KEEP SMILING!

 

JUST A NOTE:

Pamela Lutrell for Goli GummiesThere are several ways that I generate income through this blog in order to cover business expenses and give myself much needed income.  Purchases through the slideshow links is one way, ads on the page is one way and a new way is through ordering or re-ordering the GOLI Apple Cider Vinegar gummies through me with my GOLI LINK HERE.  Again, if you are not familiar with the benefits of apple cider vinegar, you should speak with your personal physician.  My husband and I are sold on the benefits and I am proud to represent this product.  I am going to leave this at the bottom of my posts so that when you, friends or family would like to order you can use my link.  Thanks for the support.  This is a great product; as well as, the ones below!

 

 

Mr. B and I love our meals from Sun Basket!

Sun Basket on Over 50 Feeling 40

 

Sun Basket is a delicious, easy, fun home delivery meal plan

 

My Complexion Loves Chamonix:

Chamonix on Over 50 Feeling 40

 

All natural, plant-cell technology skincare

 

By Pamela Lutrell

24 Comments

  1. I have been looking forward to this post! There is much to think about here, and much that resonates with me. While reading through this, and having thought for quite a long time now about elegance and grace, I realize that I have also been making changes in my approach to things, with work yet to be done! I am going to take the time to think through the words you wrote and define them myself, though you did a great job on the definitions! Dignity, grace, style, elegance. These ideas can truly be developed and I’m looking forward to the process! That word “pause” is one I need to work on. It’s going to be fun to have the peek into your fashion tweek also. I just did another major purge in my closet and am paring down to quality basics to mix and match. Of course, there are exceptions and some things I really enjoy and wear and they were allowed to stay. It’s interesting that one of my “things to do” today is to rethink my Foundational Five words, and along comes this post. I do love your idea with the water. Such a simple, yet elegant touch to something that we just grab throughout the day and take for granted. I grow a lot of herbs also and am going to do this with various combinations. Making ordinary things special is definitely a component of elegance!

  2. Pamela, When I think of elegant, it evokes a pure simplicity like an elegant solution to a problem—no unneeded fuss or embellishment—just pleasingly perfect! It’s that knowledge that she’s gotten to the essence of the matter that gives an elegant woman the aura of poise and self-assurance. Bonne chance on your new journey!

  3. i will try. im a little dubious, as i am that bull in a china shop type myself…not only that but i speak fluent trucker, plumber, and sailor after working 40 years in a blue collar setting…but i will give this some thought.

  4. I’m not elegant this week. Maybe never? Sadly I threw a mini tantrum when trying to back out if my driveway Tuesday a tree trimmers truck blocked my entire driveway (I was already in reverse backing). He stopped and jumped out if the cab to join others working on my neighbors tree. I screamed at him to please get back in and move. Ignored me. Why was I so rattled? On a walk my husbands kegs gave out and he nearly fell over (neuropathy). He was seated on a lawn at the curb when I bolted home to get my car and keys to return with car. It took them five full minutes to even get someone to listen to me about needing to pick up my husband on the ground! I was furious and it showed! Not ladylike. Being ignored in a crisis is not funny. Finally they got the only guy able to drive this rig ? I guess. Not graceful. Not elegant was thus fuming woman writing this!

    1. Paulette, in the same situation with a husband who needed help and people not being kind, I do not know that I would’ve paused and responded any differently. Some situations need a loud voice…but I working on pausing more to discern what those situations are. I am so sorry you were put in this position.

  5. Pam, a great post with lots to think about. I love your glass of water example. I did something similar. After my husband died unexpectedly last October, I realized life is short. So now I drink my water (with lemon) from a cut crystal glass I had been saving for “special” occasions. I eat off my “good” china at least once a week.
    Thanks for this journey. I’m making it with you.

  6. ! Read your blogpost this morning and shared it with many friends. Recently saw this in action between my husband and a neighbor when she asked his thoughts about Confederate statues. She paused in the conversation, said “I’m going to have to think about this before I respond, but I respect your opinion and still love you.” You reminded me of that beautiful, elegant moment.

  7. Lots to think about! The pause part is going to be an adjustment for me too, but one I do want to (need to) work on. When I read about the water, I realized that I would do that for a guest but not necessarily for myself. Making things special for others seems to be a natural act. Somehow we don’t always take the time or effort to do the same for us. Elegance shouldn’t be an outward showing but something comes from within. And treating ourselves as well as we would treat a guest is an important step.
    I will certainly be thinking over the definitions and seeing how they fit for me. I will also be checking out the books you recommended. So much to look forward to!
    Have a wonderful weekend!!

  8. Oh dear…..why would you want all those books when they are mostly about another country and women who live in that country? Why not simply be yourself……albeit the best possible version of yourself? And surely your best possible version of yourself is not as an imitation French woman?

    Sorry but disappointment coming through here in bucket loads…

    1. I am so curious, Roz as to why inspiration from others would disappoint you? I am not attempting to be French. As I wrote before, I believe I am refining and tapping into what is me…a woman of strength and dignity. Perhaps it would help you to read the other posts. They are located under the tab at the top of the page called CULTIVATING ELEGANCE. I really believe I am tackling this in such a way as to refine the every day me ….the books have helped me understand elegance and learn how to apply it to my American/Texan life. Please explain your disappointment…I am open to learning.

  9. But, I am truly loving this topic. I think of grace and elegance going hand-in-hand. I’m looking forward to the one else you have to say says:

    Have you ever seen the show myth busters? They proved that the “bull in a china shop” wasn’t true. Those bulls were surprisingly graceful running through the china shop LOL. They weren’t elegant, but they knocked down nary an item
    But, I am truly loving this topic. I think of grace and elegance going hand-in-hand. I’m looking forward to the one else you have to say

  10. So looking forward to the entire process. I will be following eagerly to see how this works for everyone following you as well as yourself. I am really going to have to work on the pause part of this, but can see how that will be much better than blurting out an opinion without thinking of all the repercussions. I too have quite a library of books such as those, and actually have Tish’s books and Diane von F as well. Oh, and of course Stacey.Think I will have to get those Jennifer Scott ones for sure. This will be such a fun and learning experience and I am sure some will love it and some may not, but that makes us all unique after all. More fun in the in box.

  11. Pam I started to comment as a result of Roz’s perspective, however, I realized how this post was resonating with me. I too “often either react too quickly to something or over-react.” My husband made an offhand comment once in acknowledgement of a comment I made about something I had done. He said “yes you are impulsive”. Not an accusation, just a statement of fact and at that moment I realized how true it was. I now try to “Pause, Ponder, Proceed” when contemplating a purchase. I am enjoying this journey With you. We take inspiration from many sources whether we want to admit it or. Thinking of Greta Thunberg, Mother Teresa, Anna Winter, you 😊 Had a friend in my life who did absolutely everything with thoughtful elegance. BUT, the elegance was not in her heart just the facade.

  12. As a woman in her late 60s, I like the idea of cultivating elegance rather than attempting youthfulness. I also like the idea of emulating women from other countries who are living well. Thanks for sharing your new direction with us.

    1. Thanks, Jean. I love your comment about cultivating elegance rather than attempting youthfulness. I, too, am in my 60s and don’t desire youthfulness anymore. I do, however, desire to be considered a lady whose life is admired. I do want peace and beauty in my life. Contentment and love. I think these French women have a lot to teach us. What a great thing Pam is doing for us! Thank you, Pam, as well.
      (And I am looking to order some of those books.)

  13. I have been using the “pause, ponder, proceed” approach with social media. In these highly charged days, there are comments, memes & articles posted from all angles of every situation. It is tempting to fire a back a response without giving it much thought. I usually pause & ask myself if the words I am about to write really need to be said. In almost every case, the answer is no.
    I, too, think everyday elegance is in the details & in noticing the details. As I am driving to the grocery store, I am noticing the changes in nature from week to week. The flowers in the various yards have gone from tulips & daffodils to iris & peonies to lilies & hydrangeas.
    Thank you for continuing to include us on your journey.

  14. Hello Pam, Great article and I am on this journey with you. Pause, ponder and proceed – something that definitely needs to be in my life. Now I need to find a reminder to do this process throughout the day. I am saving these articles to reread once a day to help cultivate the process. Thank you for taking us on the journey with you.

  15. That outfit looks spectacular on you! I figured out last year that a black V-neck tank, short-sleeved tee & cami triple the size of my wardrobe without a single other purchase. I’m spending this summer trying to find the same 3 styles in white, but, wow, it’s difficult to find white tops that are fully opaque while not being too heavy.

    Ahh. The Pause. One advantage I’ve found about being 61 is that I have learned to pause before speaking . It was a skill I had to learn because I’ve never been remotely hesitant about speaking my mind or standing up for myself — not a bad thing when you’re a woman in a predominantly male field like engineering. If you don’t speak up you’re going to often get ignored, overlooked or run over.

    But I also learned early on that not everything has to be pursued or commented on. I learned to let a lot run off my back instead of getting instantly offended by a careless remark, & that I didn’t have to win every argument or be right all the time. Those 3 things alone have saved me HUGE amounts of grief over the years.

    I’m still going to speak up when I think it’s the right thing to do — I don’t tolerate racism, sexism, cruelty, unkindness. And I will never stay silent out of fear of what others might think or say. But I think a little judicious self-editing is always a good thing. Especially as I can swear like a long-haul trucker if I don’t watch myself (thanks in part to my husband, although it certainly wasn’t ALL his fault); I’ve shocked more than one person who didn’t think someone my age could swear quite so . . . vividly 🙂

  16. The three “P’s” are good to include in our daily lives. When I was working and responding to a communication someone wrote me, I would write a draft reply stating what I really I wanted to say, read it an hour later and then rewrite it how I should respond. Guess the draft would release that pounce moment, haha.
    I think it is interesting to watch, see and read about and how other women in other countries live or what their life is like. You can use what you want from their experience and mannerisms and/or take treasure in your life, experience, etc.

    Looking forward to the next step to elegance.

  17. I think we need to be careful that we are not always trying to remake ourselves. Embracing who we are and how we choose to live our lives is important too. My Mother passed away a few weeks ago at 96. Everyone said how elegant she was. But that’s not what I saw. She was fiercely independent and did things her way. Rarely critical, but aways assessed a situation with keen insight. And knew how to use an iPhone and computer. I think she was amazing. But elegant does not describe her to me, and she would not have thought so either. So I’m not sure if elegance is so much something to aspire to, or if it isn’t better to just truly know and be yourself.

  18. Hi Pamela,
    I’ve been following Jennifer Scott on Yiu Tube for awhile and have her Madeame Chic books. I’ve been studying the French woman elegance subject for several years now. Marie-Anne LeCour also is good to follow on You Tube. Hopefully this won’t sound shallow, but when I think of elegant women of any age, I think of those who are restrained in their eating habits and who are careful with watching their weight. I have let the pounds creep up, especially through this Covid 19 situation and now at age 62 I am 40 lbs over my normal weight and the weight I feel the most comfortable and realistic at being. I have been walking more these past few weeks and working on reinstating more elegant, healthy, restrained eating habits and the French way of eating with mindfulness and discipline I believe is a good way to get back on track to be slim and elegant. I do also agree with the French way of wearing more neutrals and classic pieces of clothing as opposed to large and loud prints and jewelry. I tend to be drawn to floral patterns for dresses and tops and am trying to wean myself away from that and stick to basics.

    1. Hi Kelly, Thank you for sharing! Elegance is one of those words that has different meanings for so many of us. For me personally, I agree that I will be closer to my own vision of elegance when I can lose more weight. I am working on that now. But, I have also known women I considered to be elegant that were not pencil thin. I do believe restraint is a characteristic of elegance and when I wrote this post, I had eating in mind. I am attempting to eat slower, and pause before I grab something in the kitchen. I also am pausing and pondering more purchases at the grocery…there any many things that should not be available to me in my pantry on a regular basis! I agree that discipline is a part of my new walk. It will take a while for me to learn how to negotiate my love of color, prints and accessories. I am going to work on refining that area, but not completely eliminating it. I hope you will walk this journey with me and keep me up to date on your progress. Thanks for the comment.

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