The Power of Words. The Art of Class.

I honestly don’t know why I don’t read more often. I loved reading when I was a child. My library card was a prized possession of mine growing up. I got a thrill from using the self-checkout where I could slide the spine of the book across the block all by myself. I would gather books from the library and proceed to spend an entire day and night consuming the written words. A flashlight was a staple by my bed, enabling me to read under the covers until I was too tired to keep my eyes from jumping lines and I was always getting my hands on something too advanced for me. I would spend hours struggling page by page until a vague plot could rise up from the coded style of writing or plethora of large words in front of me.

Side note: An interesting challenge would be to re-read the Jane Austen novels or political/social novels such as The Jungle by Upton Sinclair that I read as a child to pick up on all of the intricacies of language that I missed in my younger days. Perhaps a future project…

I don’t know why I hadn’t been reading more often, so I started. At this time, I’m currently in the middle of two books, just finished one today, and have at least one more ready to start when I can finish off another. If you’re a steady reader here, you already know that I’m currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady by Derek Blasberg. Admittedly, there’s no reason not to have these two books finished by now but it will happen in time. I finished How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World by Jordan Christy today and have The Me I Want To Be by John Ortberg, which my mother recommended to me, on deck. Yes, it seems that I have established a pattern for myself. The books could be categorized as self-help or improvement reads, but not in the typical, depressing, the-world-is-over-and-I-need-someone-to-talk-me-through-it sort of way. Quite frankly, I think more of us should put some of the positive improvement reads in our arsenal. I can’t say that men would enjoy those that I’ve listed above, but I definitely encourage my female friends to leaf through a few. They’re good markers of where we are and where we ought to be as women or people, really.

How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World discusses many attributes of a woman of class that I’ve already fallen in love with, but struck me with a sad note that we really need to be doing more to instill these attributes in ourselves not only for our own lives but for the lives of those whom we influence, mentor, or parent. Thinking of the next generation lends an awareness to our actions which can help keep us in check when we feel compelled to throw caution to the wind and embrace a celebrity-type night out or engage in the latest gossip ring about one of our fringe-friends. I know that I find myself in these situations more than I would like to admit and have still not mastered the art of gracefully bowing out.

When I first picked up Blasberg’s Classy, I wrote about the timeless attributes of a classy woman without really mentioning any specifically. Well… Grace, I believe,  is one of the most identifiable traits of a woman with class. It enables a woman to tackle a difficult conversation, exit, or faux paus while simultaneously leaving people relatively good-natured about the ordeal. It’s also an area in which I have been found lacking in the past. My acquaintances from high school (and a great deal of college) would probably describe me as outspoken, confrontational, etc. I have gotten in people’s faces over trivial things or run my mouth over things that, while true, would’ve been better left unsaid. At the time, I believed that being right about something trumped the need to be discrete about it. Geesh. Although I suppose that’s not to say that I’m not still lacking, because that certainly isn’t the case. In fact, just this past weekend I let my frustration over something manifest in a very obvious harshness of tone which squashed the mood between a friend and me – but hopefully these occasions are now exhibited in a lesser degree (and frequency) than in the past (and with faster recovery). What can I say? I’m a work in progress. But I am progressing. Slowly but surely.

I suppose it can be summarized thusly: Class really is an art form requiring diligence and active pursuit in our every day lives. Better yet, Jordan Christy states that “class is not defined by our circumstances–it’s our reaction to those circumstances that defines who we are.”

Noted, Ms. Christy. Noted.

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