Recently I was sitting in a friend’s kitchen, we chatted, drank one of her fantastic herbal tea mixtures and the conversation drifted to our younger selves. Looking back half fondly, half embarrassed, I shared how at times I was so disorganised that the floor of my flat was covered knee-deep in clutter, with only a small pathway, if any, leading to the bed. I suffered from acute “can’t-have-anyone-over-syndrome” and a stylish or classy life seemed farther away than the moon…
She was flabbergasted…. and it is true, it seems like I’m living on a different planet now, yet I still do remember how frustrated, blocked and stuck I felt at the time. Looking back, it seems like such a waste…
A question I get all the time from clients when they feel stuck: “What should I do?” I can’t answer for them, though I do lead them to figure it out for themselves. And then sometimes comes the question “How did you do it?” Now, this I can answer and my answer is always the same: small upgrades.In French we have an expression: “Tirer vers le haut”, which means to pull upwards. In other words upgrading. I’m such a spokesperson for small, daily upgrades, simple gestures, sometimes so subtle that they seem futile, because I have seen again and again that they will make the biggest impact over time.
It was really by trying to pull myself out of my disorganisation that I came to experience the power of small upgrades and the irresistible pull of easy elegance for the first time. They helped me to change my mindset from feeling helpless and trapped to becoming attuned to what I really wanted. Once I shifted my thinking, I also started to notice all the small occasions and possibilities I had to move forward and implemented small upgrades.
The changes over time were unexpectedly beautiful.
- I remember how I decided that money or no money, I wanted to have something luxurious to use every day. I bought one beautiful crystal champagne glass and used it all the time: for water, juice and milk (à la Audrey Hepburn). Over time this snowballed into clearing out my whole kitchen (I couldn’t have those mismatched plates, cups with a dent and other UFO’s keep company with my beautiful “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” glass now, could I?). Today there is not one useless or unloved item in my entire kitchen, and every day I enjoy the luxury of eating from bespoke china specially made for me by a talented artist….
- I remember how I looked at my clutter covering every surface and how, instead of thinking for the umpteenth time “I’ll never make it”, I told myself that I might as well start somewhere. As soon as I stopped to lose all my energy in the wait for la grande action spectaculaire, the one where I would do everything in one go (the one that somehow never came to be), things became simple. Quickly I gained momentum, and energy and clarity. My home felt free again – and I felt free too! The unexpected consequence? I packed my suitcase and signed up for a three months stay in Paris (which I have now been calling home for 25 years!). Talk about life changing consequences!
- I remember how I always felt that a beautiful and elegant lifestyle was something to dream about, not something that would ever be accessible for me. But Paris teased me relentlessly with her style and elegance at every corner. One day I started to put on lipstick in the morning. And the next day. Soon I walked (trembling) into the very chic salon of a very chic coiffeur. I became a student of the essence of elegance and the rest, as they say, is history…
I always have new ideas for small upgrades in my life or my work. This weekend for example: I noticed that I have been eyeing the sauna at my gym for the longest time, but never once used it. My excuse: no time. (No comment :). Not any longer: I’ve penciled in sauna time after my weekly class and enjoyed the first round of my new relaxed and purifying Sunday morning ritual. (And who knows what kind of changes will spring from this small upgrade).
How about you? Where do you see the possibility of a small upgrade in your everyday life?
(If you’re drawing a blank on a small, simple upgrade you could make right now, join my newsletter community here and stay tuned for Friday! I have something very special in store to help you upgrade your way out of overwhelm and into elegance.)