Book Review: Elegance

Today I want to share with you my review of a delightful little book, “Elegance” by Kathleen Tessaro. If any of you are familiar with Madame Dariaux’s concise encyclopedia by the same name and loved it — you will appreciate this book. It follows the transformation of Louise Canova from a drab, depressed and depressing person who is stuck in an unsatisfying marriage to an elegant woman of substance who is unapologetic in living her life.

I really like this story because I think its a journey that all elegant women share. Although Louise’s specific background may be different from ours, we all have times in our lives when we have to choose between what is right and what is easy, an opportunity to express out highest ideals or to stifle that expression out of fear of change.

Louise’s journey is structured with passages from Madame Dariaux’s iconic book that set the tone for her metamorphosis. I will admit, it is a rather banal story, but the question of what elegance actually meant to me was what made it interesting for me.

At a certain point in the book, Louise gets fed up with trying to become the “perfect” elegant lady and decides to live for the moment with the exclamation that “life’s too short!”. She tosses everything she learned about elegance in the bin (including her chic wardrobe) and trades that in for impulsive nights at the trendiest clubs, expensive purchases from this season’s hottest fashions, and the dazed and hungover mornings that follow suit. She starts to interact with the world around her differently and her experiences shift as a result — and not in a way that ultimately served her true objectives. But, she realizes all of this and she eventually finds her way back thanks to a friend and a hilarious yet poignant incident at The Ritz.

By the end of the book we learn that elegance is not about appearances or about belonging to a certain social circle. Elegance is a state of mind that is reflected on the outside of a person. It is the daily practice of refining and cultivating the experience of quality emotions in our lives. Fittingly, the book does not end on a note of resolution. We see that Louise is starting to settle into her new life and enjoying all that she has to appreciate, but with the new awareness that she needs to remain in touch with her values and practice expressing them on a daily basis. Perhaps by reading this book it will trigger you to start nurturing quality moments in your own life, or if you are satisfied with your life, to go deeper into those moments because after all, there is no “destination elegance” — we all must find it everyday.

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How to Live Luxuriously (Millions Not Required)

I love luxury! There are few experiences I love more than walking by all of the boutiques downtown and staying in beautiful hotels with amazing hotel staff. I can’t start my day without my ritual of choosing which handbag to accompany me for the day.

Some people may call me vain, shallow or materialistic or whatever word they have for people that are like me, but I really couldn’t care less. I actually used to feel the same way. I used to have certain opinions about “those people”. It wasn’t because I thought they were bad people, it all came from unsolved issues that I had inside of me. The truth was that I was jealous because they had something I wanted that I believed that I couldn’t have.

I believe it’s important for people to learn how to find and bring luxury into their lives. I believe that once you learn to tap into your desires, learn to turn your work into play and live your passions out, the money will simply follow.

But before any of this can happen, you must first learn to think like a luxurious person which has little to do with what your situation is with the bank. I’m want to share with you how to claim your luxurious life because I know deep down that you want to enjoy the finer things in life — and there is nothing wrong with that! So here are three ground rules before you can obtain the luxurious lifestyle you desire:

1. Appreciate the luxuries you have now

Be thankful for what you have. If you are reading these words that means you have a computer or a phone — which is a luxury many people cannot afford. There is luxury all around you: nature, a significant other, your health and a strong and capable mind that can make life what you want it to be. Wake up and notice it.

2. Believe that luxury is attainable

While it’s probably tempting to wait to live a luxurious lifestyle until you become a millionaire, that’s probably not going to happen tomorrow and waiting is a waste of time, so what is there to do?

You need to redefine luxury to make it attainable right now. If your only definition of luxury is a Bentley and a Birkin — you’re living a lie and setting yourself up for a long time of waiting and disappointment.

Instead, broaden your idea luxury to include quality experiences, relationships, and things. Your life becomes what you tolerate, so once you decide that you deserve more for yourself you will seek out what elevates you and delete what brings you down.

3. Luxury is quality — not the quantity on the price tag

Every Friday night I look forward to watching a movie with my husband all cuddled up on the sofa, every morning I can’t wait to enjoy my cup of coffee in the brisk, cold air. These are luxuries. In fact, these are luxuries that you can’t buy. Money can’t buy a loving relationship or the ability to find and appreciate the beauty and love in your life.

Now that we’ve established those rules of luxury, here are a few things I did to attract more luxury in my life:

  • Dropped complaining whiners like a hot potato. People who always talk about how broke they are a complete luxury deterrent.
  • Found and hung out with people I want to be like. Learn from those who are living the way you want to be and learn to think like them.
  • Discovered what’s important to me. I drove a junk car to put my money into what I really loved — traveling with my family. I did not mind driving that car around but I still cherish those times I spent with my family.
  • Removed and continue to remove low-quality experiences, things, and people from my life. I don’t spend money on crap that I won’t appreciate for long and I don’t tolerate people that bring needless drama into their lives and mine.
  • Dressed and carried myself like a woman of luxury. Everyday that I left my home I felt great about myself and was open to receiving more luxury in my life.
  • Pushed out limiting thoughts about myself. Whenever some thought bubbled up about how I didn’t deserve some thing or that I would never get to where I wanted, I pushed it away. It’s useless nonsense that doesn’t help me or define my future.
  • Slowed down and enjoyed my life instead of rushing through things on a to-do list like a mindless, lifeless drone.
  • Believed I deserved a luxurious life. I stopped feeling guilty for loving the things I did. You are not doing anyone any favors by denying yourself. Some of the most loving, happy and generous people I know live well.
  • Became a valuable person. Instead of being someone who took more than they gave, I found ways to become a valuable contributor to my work and my family. Once you make a habit of paying it forward, you’ll find that your life opens up to more satisfying experiences and people.

As you can see, luxury is yours to define and yours to claim! Think about how you can live a luxurious life and leave a comment below.

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