ann@feminineproject.com

Practice Your Best

Written by Ann Burns

February 3, 2022

TFP Open House

When you use the best things you have and ‘practice your best’ on a regular basis, you slowly train your habits and your palate to appreciate quality. Those that save their best things for company are missing out on living a quality life and are, it has to be said, petit bourgeois. -Jennifer Scott

Practicing our best at home helps cultivate a life of meaning, purpose, and thoughtfulness. It reminds us of our human dignity, and it makes it all the easier to extend to others because it becomes a way of life.

Life is beautiful, and it’s good to live in a way that reminds us of that.

Quick disclaimer, I am not a naturally “domestic” person. I am not remotely OCD, and I would much rather read a book, paint, or chat away than vacuum, dust, and fold laundry. But what I try to remind myself is that these tasks aren’t just tasks; they’re a way of life. I can either choose to practice my best, making reverence and love in all things my priority, or I can slink into the lazy, “but I don’t feel like it” way of living. I can live casually and carelessly, or I can live meaningfully and beautifully.

When we take the time to tackle the mundane tasks with love and intention (rather than rushing through), we give those tasks meaning. We bring love into tidying up clutter, reminding ourselves of the beauty of a well-ordered life.

When we take the time to get dressed and look presentable, we remind ourselves we have a God-given dignity, and we choose to reverence that by appropriate dress.

When we take the time to create a warm environment, even if we don’t have any guests, we remind ourselves of the importance of cultivating a meaningful life.

We always have cause to bring beauty into the mundane. A life of thoughtfulness is transforming. It’s not a social convention or just being “high maintenance” or “extra,” but rather it affirms that life is so precious and it’s worth taking care of and cherishing.

Suppose we restore qualities of reverence and intention, even when no one is around. In that case, we glorify God, open our hearts to perpetual gratitude, and make “living beautifully” a way of life, not just a “show” for our guests.

Love Your Home

The language of Home is universal. It is where we find the eternal in the every day.— Theology of Home

Our homes can be powerful reminders of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.
I think almost everyone longs for that universal concept of home. A place of warmth, joy, peace, and comfort. We long for it because we long for the eternal. We want to have a home— a place where we are loved and known.

Often, we get crazy caught up in the hustle and bustle of work that we forget: “Our homes are not meant to be mere launch pads for our success in the world; rather, our success in the world is for the sake of our home.”

We crave eternity — we crave Heaven. But we can build a mini-home here on earth, a reminder of our eternal calling— a domestic Church, within the walls of our apartments, condos, cape cod’s, or mansions.

When I pause and remember that my home is more than just a place to fall asleep, I realize that taking care of it and ensuring that my house is a home is a beautiful honor. Each task I have — be it scrubbing the floor or filling a vase of flowers— is shrouded in dignity and love.

Love the life You’ve Been Given

The more I love where I live, the more I want to care for my home. It’s pretty simple. Sadly, due to our world’s skewed obsession with progress, careers, and worldly success, it’s easy to forget that there are things that are more important, more sacred, and more beautiful than the fleeting triumphs of earthly grandeur.

Yet, the most incredible thing about restoring the dignity of our homes is the cataclysmic effect it has on the rest of our lives. When I am more deliberate in my homemaking, I want to get up earlier; I am more intentional and less rushed. I elevate my wardrobe and pull out my apron.

I notice the little things, and I delight in them. My attitude goes from dour and joyful in a matter of seconds.

I find that it’s easier for me to be present and other-centered because I am not coming from a place of clutter and chaos. I am coming from a place of peace.

One time I was in Spiritual Direction, bemoaning my chaotic life, and the priest asked me, “What does your room look like?”

I paused, taken aback by the question, “Uh… not great. I have a pile of laundry to put away, and shoes are everywhere.”

“Sometimes, I think our rooms are a good metaphor for our spiritual lives.” He said with a smile, “When we are interiorly a mess, everything else becomes a mess. So, go home and clean your room.”

As I hung up each article of clothing, I imagined putting my interior life in order as well — one piece at a time. This visual helped immensely, and it enabled me to realize, once I could see my floor again, that I had plenty of time to visit Our Lord in Adoration, pray my rosary, and make my life Christ-centered. I had just been too distracted by all the other noise.

But Why?

When people ask me, “Why?” Why is it important to use the pretty plates or ditch sweatpants? They often brush it aside as “don’t you think that it’s a bit… much?”

Sure, we can become too obsessed with appearance, but I am not advocating for vanity. I am advocating for thoughtfulness. I suggest we slow down, pause from the business, and remember what matters.

The issue is that our world is so casual and careless. Is it shocking that we treat life itself with the same attitude of carelessness?

I believe that our interior dispositions are made manifest through our exterior lives. The way we live, dress, speak and take care of things communicates what we value and believe.

I believe life is a gift from God, so let’s celebrate it and practice our best in all things.

 

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