I started using a fine china cup and saucer at work. You’d think it was just a teacup, right? But in truth, it was actually a powerful statement, a line in the sand, the moment when I finally “came out” to my colleagues.
I didn’t say anything. I just started using it. The teacup was simply on my desk filled with the tea that I was drinking.
But it was noticed.
Some people didn’t know if they should say anything. A few said they thought I was really brave. Others expressed profound joy at seeing it.
Overall, the response has been very positive and I know I’ve inspired at least one other person to do the same.
But I didn’t start using it for others. I began using it for me. And, as odd as it may seem, it has been a defining moment and I feel rather liberated.
I finally had the courage to say to the world, “I am the kind of person who enjoys using china…even at work.”
How did using a teacup happen?
A few months ago, I read Something From the Oven by Laura Shapiro* (hat tip to Maria for recommending it!). In it, Ms. Shapiro discusses how early to mid-century women’s magazines and advertisers promoted the idea of gracious living.
Something clicked within me. Gracious living. Gracious living. GRACIOUS LIVING!!!
I realized that that is the ideal I have been seeking. The phrase gracious living is the embodiment of all that I have been writing about for all of these years.
The Mister and I talked about what gracious living means to us. It means living by a set of values and ideals that are often cast aside in today’s modern world. What it all boils down to for me is a desire to embrace beautiful living–to eating good food, Only Wearing Beautiful Clothes™, exercising my body on a regular basis so that I can move through the world easily and effortlessly, creating a peaceful and inviting home, developing my poise so that I can find ways to make other people feel important and special to me, and nourishing my creativity.
This meant I had to stop trying to conform to the norm of my work environment and community. It’s not that the norm is bad in and of itself. But it wasn’t authentic to me. It was crushing my identity. And my soul along with it.
And so, the black mug with our department’s logo on it needed be put away. And the aggressively rebellious yellow mug given to me by an appreciative faculty member no longer felt playful because it didn’t represent the kind of person I want to be.
The teacup made from fine china quietly made its appearance.
Because I am the kind of woman who enjoys gracious living.
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