Let’s talk about splendor, the mission statement of this site, for a minute. Dictionary.com defines “splendor” as: “magnificent and splendid appearance; grandeur”. I choose define Splendor as: “care and selective embellishment used to make both the every day and the special occasion a little bigger, grander, shinier. Living one’s life with appreciation and gratitude for beauty and magnificence, whatever those words mean to you.” In other words, it’s ok to gild the lily sometimes. But make sure you stop to appreciate it on its own merits first.
So I copped to a cliche and I opened with the dictionary definition of a term, and then redefined it. I beg your pardon, but sometimes a cliche really is the best way to start.
This site is dedicated to the idea of a living a life of splendor. I gave my own working definition of the term but ultimately, it’s up to you to figure out what will make your life just a little more lovely. Like most intangible concepts, the burden of definition ultimately falls on the individual.
Before I break that down a little more, I have something very important to say: The following things have NOTHING to do with splendor or living a good life:
- The amount of money you have, or don’t have.
- How much your things cost, how big your home is or how much stuff is in it.
- Being “fancy” to impress people rather than for joy of it.
- Not taking time to actively appreciate and enjoy what you DO have.
- Doing “fancy” things that do not increase your joy because you feel like you “ought” to
I’m not kidding about those. If you take nothing else away, believe that living in splendor is about what you do with what you have, not about having money or the “right” things, or even about following other people’s recipes for splendor.
With that out of the way, let’s talk a little more about the purpose of this site and of what it means to add more splendor. For me, splendor is:
- sitting down to a nice meal at a formally set table with the “good” china
- trying to fill my home with art and lovely things that truly bring me with joy
- a garden, filled with flowers, vegetables, birds and bees
- drinking out of “nice” glasses, even if it’s just water
- a well-mixed cocktail before dinner
- the smell of dirt
- a loaf of my husband’s amazing homemade bread
- reading a book that is both a wonderful story and a beautiful tome
- books, in general
- watching the birds in my garden
- eating a tomato fresh off the vine
So, you see, that list might start off sounding high-fauluting- You might even be thinking “sitting down to a formal table with china?!?!” “drinking out of “nice” glasses?!?! art and lovely things? Those sure sound like conspicuous consumption and fancy-schmancy stuff.” And you’re right, to a point. Those things *could* mean an emphasis on “stuff” and purchasing power.
For me, there is great joy is setting a table with beautiful dishes, silver, and crystal. But the joy is from the time and effort and from actively appreciating the lovely, but very inexpensive, set of Noritake china I bought on eBay, the heirloom silver flatware, and the budget crystal I bought on amazon, all set on the table I found on craigslist. It’s about appreciating the beauty of that table set with things I like and about elevating one of the seven dinners we eat each week to something a little more special. While I take joy in my pretty dishes and am happy to have them, my joy would not be greater if they cost quadruple the amount nor would it be much reduced if we didn’t have special dishes at all.
I’m very lucky to have been able to slowly acquire some beautiful and beloved pieces of art and furniture for my home (which I am also very lucky to have, and which I love dearly). While there is no denying that they represent an expenditure, they also represent a very deliberate and careful purchase, bought and cared for because of the emotional response they create. For me, they are an experience I live every day, one that enhances my life tremendously.
But also on that list are things that are not about buying or having things, or about things at all – watching the birds in my backyard provides me with literally hours of delight. Looking out the window and seeing flowers and plants is a constant joy, both for the beauty and for the satisfaction of planting and caring for them and from knowing they’re helping our native pollinators and species survive and thrive.
But yes, there are things on my splendor list to certainly represent “Stuff” and consumerism. I will be candid and say that I struggle frequently with wanting more beautiful things than I can easily afford – part of why I created this website is to help focus my mind and intention on part two of MY definition of Splendor: cultivating appreciation and gratitude for what I do have, rather than harboring active awareness of what wish I had.
In the end, living in splendor is loving and appreciating beauty and knowing what extra efforts or embellishments will bring you joy, and then putting your resources there. It’s true that the focus here is largely on domestic splendor, but that’s not the only way or means of enjoying or appreciating splendor.