A Woman Makes a Plan
There seemed to be a sort of theme going on when I started writing this letter, so I decided to embrace it and include a very inspirational book I’ve listened to this year, A Woman Makes a Plan, written by the exceptional Maye Musk. If the name sounds familiar, you’re not mistaken, there is a connection between this lady and the world-famous Elon Musk – she is his mother!
But she is so much more than that! She is a single woman of a certain age (72!), a survivor of domestic abuse, a mother of three and a grandmother, a nutritionist, a model, a best-selling author, a South African (with a lovely accent) and I could go on forever!
I loved listening to her story, it’s such an intimate experience to hear it in her own voice as well, I must recommend it again (as I have for Michelle Obama’s Becoming)! Maye Musk has a fabulous life story, from her childhood family trips in the plane built and piloted around the world by her father, to how she ended up married to the wrong man or moving to Canada, and becoming an international supermodel in her 60s.
There is a quote in her book that I think she might be one of a handful of people in the world to have the right to actually say: If you have a good attitude, make a plan and take a chance, even Mars is possible. No fancy philosophy, just facts, from the woman that gave us the man I hope to one day take me to space. Thank you!
When I came across an article in the Telegraph about ‘the stardigan’ it immediately inspired this exquisite find! It’s not just the term, it’s actually the concept of a statement cardigan that can elevate an outfit while also providing that needed extra layer of both comfort and sophistication. Not many items of clothing can actually support this double claim, but the ‘stardigan’ certainly can. Unexpected colours, structural designs, glamorous embellishments – it’s ‘granny chic’ taken to the next level.
This idea comes at the best time, as I’ve recently purchased a large selection of vintage buttons from a lovely elderly lady at the car boot market and I was looking for a chance to use them. Ah, another prime DIY project idea, I need to make a list and start crossing some of these out too!
Full disclosure, I am a hoarder at heart, with an OCD problem. Meaning, I like to have (too) many things that I probably don’t need, but I must organize and store them neatly, or display them in a pleasing manner. I dream of a big house that will give me enough wall-space to fill with all the random things I can find and buy! I have a full board on Pinterest dedicated to this (more on this some other time), I just need the house!
Henry Chapman Mercer was a man that shared my passion, unfortunately, I don’t share his fortune, which has allowed him to build Fonthill Castle and do exactly what I intend to do with my house one day. A beautiful building, telling stories at every turn, through every nook and cranny. Unmistakably his, not another random grand mansion, a museum now. Inspirational indeed!
Tangible Things, by Prof Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
‘Well-behaved women seldom make history.’ I’ve had this quote as my description on Pinterest for 10 years before I actually looked into who said it and in what context. But it was such a serendipitous moment when I actually did, that it made up somewhat for my initial superficiality.
When I was considering taking up an online class earlier in the year and I came across Prof Laurel Thatcher Ulrich‘s name, it ringed a bell and I finally made the connection and learned more about her. She is an American Historian, winner of the Pulitzer Prize (in 1991, the year I was born) and professor at Harvard University with numerous books, articles and essays published. Also a mother of five and a self-declared feminist!
I decided then and there to take the Tangible Things class offered by Harvard University for free on the EdX platform and it was one of the best ideas I’ve had this year.
If you are interested in history, culture and art, museums and exhibitions, and how objects, people and events tell bigger stories, I highly recommend it. Although I still have to submit my final project, it is in fact not mandatory, you can just audit the class and participate in the discussions if and when you want. Simply put, the class was for me an enriching way to spend my time, and every evening I read, watched videos, or did any research for it felt like an investment in myself.
Contrary to what might seem intuitive, science has shown that the older we get, the happier we are! Ah, if that isn’t just perfect! I’ve been saying for years now that I am already an old lady at heart and I can’t wait to actually be one! Strange as it might sound, I simply know that my 50s onwards will be my best years. I think it has a lot to do with knowing oneself better then and having gone already through the whole race and (hopefully) accomplished already what now is rightfully taking priority (family, career, material achievements) over personal interests and passions, leisure and freedom.
It seems to me now that those will be the years when I can truly hope to be spending most or all of my time doing only what I want and enjoy, although I truly can’t complain now either. Maybe that’s why I feel like an old lady already? Who knows, I guess I will have to wait a few more decades to find out.
Photo Source: ABC Photo Archives
Bonus exquisite find, if you want to get a taste of how old age might look like, watch The Golden Girls, a series I absolutely loved. It’s funny, it’s real, it’s outspoken and ahead of the times, it’s sometimes outrageous but always comforting and heartwarming.
Life Inspiration from an Elderly Couple
And talking of old age, when we will know ourselves better and embrace living exactly as we please, pure inspiration comes from this elderly German couple living their best lives, getting dressed up, having fun and being admired everywhere they go. They look lovely together, but her outfits and hats especially are absolutely outstanding.
The Devil’s Dictionary
Photos Sources: Goodreads
The Devil’s Dictionary is a satirical dictionary including entries written between 1881 and 1906, mainly as contributions to a weekly newspaper. They are funny, but also interesting reflections on the society at that time. I find it amusing to check a word I’m toying with sometimes, and for today’s letter, I looked up the word ‘old’.Certainly not a very flattering description, it looks as though this quality was not held in high regard back then (ironic gasp!)
OLD, adj. In that stage of usefulness which is not inconsistent with general inefficiency, as an old man. Discredited by lapse of time and offensive to the popular taste, as an old book.
A few others that have made me chuckle:
- ARISTOCRACY, n. Government by the best men. (In this sense the word is obsolete; so is that kind of government.) Fellows that wear downy hats and clean shirts—guilty of education and suspected of bank accounts.
- COMFORT, n. A state of mind produced by contemplation of a neighbor’s uneasiness.
- DIPLOMACY, n. The patriotic art of lying for one’s country.
- EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
- ELOQUENCE, n. The art of orally persuading fools that white is the color that it appears to be. It includes the gift of making any color appear white.
- FASHION, n. A despot whom the wise ridicule and obey.
- POLITENESS, n. the most acceptable hypocrisy.
Have a laugh browsing through The Devil’s Dictionary on the Project Gutenberg website.
If this letter has offered you a moment of inspiration, kindly forward it to others who might enjoy it too. And if you have been forwarded it, indulge in all previous Miss Onion’s Exquisite Finds and subscribe to the weekly letter at www.missonion.ro.