Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Beauty of Kindness

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“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” ~ Mark Twain

While I have been contemplating writing about kindness for sometime, I was recently the recipient of an unexpected act of kindness, which prompted me to write this post now.

As I have mentioned before, one of the many reasons I enjoy Instagram is because it has allowed me to meet so many lovely, like-minded individuals.  I often receive thoughtful, encouraging words and am able to offer those same words in kind.  I turn to this forum regularly as an antidote to the negativity that exists in this world.

Through Instagram and a mutual love of Jennifer L. Scott’s books and blog, I met Tiffany several months ago and since then, we have corresponded often.  Lately, our conversations have focused around Jennifer’s latest publication, Polish Your Poise.  We have been chatting about this book since its release and we love it.

Fast forward to a few days ago, when I returned home from a long day at work to find a parcel in my mailbox.  Often, the contents of my mailbox consists of junk mail and bills, so I am always elated to find gifts or cards in their place.  I anxiously opened the parcel to find a small package wrapped in pretty pink paper, with a handwritten note enclosed.  Beneath the wrapping, I uncovered a copy of Polish Your Poise, signed by the author, Jennifer.  Knowing my love of Jennifer’s books and her message, Tiffany contacted a bookstore (thousands of miles from where I live) that had recently hosted Jennifer’s book signing.  They were able to send her two autographed copies, one of which she then sent to me.  I love my autographed copy and display it proudly on my desk.  I was and am truly moved by Tiffany’s kind gesture and am fortunate to know her.

Kindness itself is defined as behaviour marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern for others.  It is known as a virtue and considered a value in many cultures and faiths.  Further, the act of kindness is defined as a spontaneous gesture of goodwill towards someone or something.

For me, the beauty of kindness is that it can be as simple or as extravagant as you wish.  It can be planned months in advance or thought of and executed in a single moment.  It can be offered to a loved one or a stranger, it often costs nothing and can change the course of someone’s life.

However, when kindness is offered, it should be genuine.  It should come from a place of giving and should not be offered with a concern for its return.

In the spirit of this post, I offer you four simple ways you can sprinkle a little kindness into the lives of others:

Give someone a hug – When I hear the word kindness, I immediately think of a warm embrace.  Giving someone a hug costs nothing and takes very little effort, but the impact is significant.  Scientific evidence suggests that hugs naturally reduce stress, lower blood pressure and help to release the hormone oxytocin, otherwise known as “the cuddle hormone”.  Oxytocin promotes feelings of trust and bonding and helps us connect with one another.  Look at all of the kindness you can bestow with one little hug!

Listen to someone with genuine interest, concern and compassion The next time you ask someone how they are doing, or how their weekend was, give them your full attention.  We so often converse with others based on a social obligation, rather than out of genuine care and interest.  We ask others how they are doing, but do we really listen? In a world of deadlines and distractions, take a few minutes, put down that cell phone and truly connect with someone.  Who knows, a few minutes of uninterrupted attention may spark a new friendship!  We can always use more of those.

Compliment someone in a meaningful way – When the occasion arises, compliment a colleague, peer, family member or stranger.  Perhaps your nephew receives an A+ on their report card. Acknowledge their hard work.  Maybe your colleague receives a promotion. Congratulate them on their success and wish them well.  It could be that your friend is sporting a lovely new shirt that makes their eyes sparkle.  Tell them how fabulous they look and mean it! Often, people are all too quick to point out the mistakes we make, where we went wrong, or how we do not measure up.  Change that conversation in a positive way and it will certainly make someone’s day.

Greet someone with a sincere and pleasant hello Saying hello is so simple, yet so powerful.  According to estimates by John T. Cacioppo, coauthor of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, at any given time, at least one in five people suffer from loneliness.  While some would argue that we live in a world of constant connectivity, I would argue that this “connectivity” has spurred a lack of true connection to one another.  Many of us do live lonely lives even when surrounded by others.  When you say hello to someone, you acknowledge them.  You show them that they are worthy of being acknowledged, that they are important and that they are not alone. Those five letters could change someone’s life forever, so use them often.

If you are reading this right now, I’m sure you are already well-versed in the art of kindness.  Having said that, I challenge you to add even more kindness to the lives of others this week.  Need a little more inspiration?  Check these out:

Kindness Canada 

100 Ways to Be Kinder

Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

Thank you for stopping by and be kind to one another.

“Be good to people.  You will be remembered more for your kindness than any level of success you could possibly attain.” ~ Mandy Hale

A Touch of Grace

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What comes to mind when you hear the name Grace Kelly?  Princess? Movie Star? Perhaps, you associate the name with beauty, elegance, refinement or pearls.  Pearls are most certainly one of the many thoughts that come to my mind when I think of Grace.  She wore pearls like no one else and in fact, Grace was one the inspirations for this blog, hence the name, Pearls, Lace & Grace.

Grace Patricia Kelly was born on November 12, 1929, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father, John “Jack” Kelly, was a champion sculler who won three Olympic gold medals as part of the American rowing team.  Her mother, Margaret Katherine Majer, was the first coach of women’s athletic teams at the University of Pennsylvania. Grace was the third of four children and was named after her father’s sister, who died at a very young age.

As a child, Grace expressed a deep love of performance. In addition to school plays and community theatre, Grace occasionally modeled with her mother and sister.  After graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York at age 19, Grace sought a career on Broadway, but found it difficult and soon determined that film was more suitable to her talents.

Grace moved to Hollywood, where she would eventually star in 11 films, one of which would garner her the Academy Award for Best Actress (The Country Girl, 1954).  A few of my favourite films include:

  • Rear Window, 1954
  • To Catch a Thief, 1955
  • High Society, 1956

In 1955, Grace was asked to join the United States Delegation Committee at the Cannes Film Festival in France. During a photo shoot, she met Prince Rainier III of Monaco, who happened to be seeking a bride.  Following a whirlwind courtship, Grace wed Prince Rainer on April 19, 1956, in what would later be dubbed the “Wedding of the Century”.

The royal couple would go on to have three children: Princess Caroline, Prince Albert and Princess Stéphanie.  Despite several attempts to lure her back into the film industry, Grace resisted to focus on her role as a ceremonial leader of Monaco.  Over the years, Grace became heavily involved in cultural and charitable organizations (more on that later).

On September 14, 1982, Grace’s life was tragically cut short after suffering a stroke while driving along the steep cliffs of the Côte d’Azur region in Southern France.

I have always been a fan of Hollywood’s Golden Age, and while I cannot remember exactly when I first saw Grace, I was, as many are, immediately drawn to her.  Not only was she striking, but there was also something kind about her face, her voice and her manner.  Throughout the years, I have grown more fond of her films and more interested in understanding the person she was.  On what would be her 86th birthday, I cannot think of a better way to pay tribute than to share five reasons why I (and the world) love Grace Kelly:

Grace Was the Ultimate Hitchcock Blonde:  Following her performance opposite Clark Gable in Magambo, Grace was spotted by Alfred Hitchcock, who cast her in the movie Dial M for Murder.  This film was a box office success and thrust Grace into the spotlight.  She would go on to star in two more of Hitchcock’s films: Rear Window and To Catch a Thief.  Hitchcock was an admirer of Grace’s beauty and poise, dubbing her ‘a snow-covered volcano’.  While I enjoy and appreciate other Hitchcock blondes like Eva Marie Saint (North By Northwest) and Tippi Hedren (The Birds), Grace is certainly my ultimate.  If you have not seen Grace in one of Hitchcock’s films, we cannot be friends I recommend you do!

Grace’s Co-Stars Adored Her:  Grace often bonded with co-stars on set, bonds that would become life-long friendships.  Cary Grant (To Catch a Thief) often named Grace as his favourite leading lady, saying: “with all due respect to dear Ingrid Bergman, I much preferred Grace.  She had a serenity.”  Jimmy Stewart , Grace’s co-star in the movie Rear Window also noted: “[Grace] never distanced herself from others, and she was enormously friendly to everyone – no stuffy attitude, no star complex.”  Certainly a testament to Grace’s charm and character.

Grace Could Laugh at Herself:  Grace once said, “when Ava Gardner gets in a taxi, the driver knows at once she’s Ava Gardner.  It’s the same for Lana Turner or Elizabeth Taylor, but not for me.  I’m never Grace Kelly.  I’m always someone who looks like Grace Kelly.”  Despite her beauty and royal standing, Grace always remained grounded.  She knew that while celebrity and external beauty was fluid, love and kindness endured.  A great reminder that we should never take ourselves too seriously.

Grace Was and Is a Style Icon: In the dictionary, you will find Grace’s picture beside words like chic, elegant and lady-like (well, at least in my dictionary).  This woman could do no wrong.  Whether she was coming off a long flight, walking the red carpet, or playing with her children, Grace’s style was effortless and simple.  Immaculately cut capri pants, crisp cotton shirts, fit and flare dresses, cashmere and silk, culminated in a wardrobe that was and remains sophisticated and timeless.  Do you still need proof of Grace’s iconic designation?  Look no further than the highly-coveted Hérmes Kelly handbag.  During Grace’s first pregnancy, she was frequently photographed shielding her bump from the paparazzi with one of their angular bags – the French house was so thrilled that they renamed the bag in her honour.  How’s that for iconic?

Grace Gave to Others: Soon after her marriage, Grace quickly established herself as a gifted philanthropist and humanitarian.  In 1958, Grace was named President of the Monaco Red Cross and directed its various charitable activities. Each year on Monaco’s National Day and at Christmas, Grace personally distributed “care” packages through its social services branch and under her inspired leadership, the Monaco chapter became one of the most active of all the International Federation of Red Cross Societies.  Grace devoted her life to raising funds and awareness for charitable causes, such as refugees, hospitals, orphans, and children’s rights.  If that wasn’t enough, throughout her life, Grace also supported the arts, culture and struggling artists.

These are just a few of the many reasons why Grace Kelly was and is loved.  She was a real-life princess, a mother, a film star, a philanthropist and an inspiration to so many. For those of you who are interested in learning more about Grace, below are a few of my favourite publications:

Happy Birthday Princess Grace!

You are loved and missed.