The Five Most Beautiful Things Project

I was instantly smitten and moved when I read about Jen’s Five Most Beautiful Things Project.  What she says about the essential human need for beauty, and the power of waking up to realize that it is all around us, moved me deeply.  Jen asks, what if we walked around looking for beauty instead of looking for things to be stressed about or offended by?   She then challenges everyone to write down the 5 most beautiful things around them once an hour, and challenges her readers to make this effort, this active engagement with the outright gorgeousness of our lives, go viral.

I love this idea, and it speaks to me on a very deep level.

The search for the poetry that exists in every day life is one of the central tasks of my life.  I’ve written endlessly about this, about the beauty that’s exposed when we lean into our lives, about the phosphorescently-bright moments of joy that streak days of monotonous, often mundane activity.  It took looking closely at the weave of the fabric of my life for me to see the glint of that thread of meaning, of gorgeousness.  It’s there.  I promise you, it’s there.  And it manifests, this beauty, in a thousand different ways, every single day.

Paying attention – the only real advice I have for writing and, in fact, for life – helps us see the shimmer of the sacred even in our most ordinary hours.  There is real power in deliberately celebrating the beauty in our lives.  For me, at least, the act of noticing and honoring this holiness has been nothing short of transformational.  There is plenty of grit in my life, I assure you, of tears and raised voices and frustration and exhaustion.  But I can’t look at those things anymore without seeing the grace mixed in too, and that irrefutable truth casts a light onto my experience of every single day.

What are your five most beautiful things?  Mine, right now:

1. The framed charcoal drawing of Grace at age 6 months that hangs over my bureau.  All it takes is looking at that to tumble down the long hall of memory to those early days of motherhood, when I was besotted and confused in equal measure, overwhelmed with both wonder and fear.

2. The sounds of Whit’s lullabye CD drifting through his door after he has gone to sleep.  Every single note of the CD he’s listened to every night for almost 8 years is familiar, and the songs are suffused with memory.  Often, they bring me to tears.

3. The smell of clean laundry, which has always been one of my favorite smells.

4. The few spare red leaves against the heartbreakingly blue sky that I noticed when I glanced up this weekend at the playground.

5. The taste of the green juice I just drank.  I’ve come to absolutely love this juice (I make it myself, daily) and drink it every day.  Don’t worry, I also drink Diet Coke daily.  I remain full of contradictions.

Please share the five most beautiful things you can see (or hear, smell, touch, or taste) right now.  I agree with Jen, that the practice of deliberately looking at the world through this lens can fundamentally alter our lives.  Let’s all participate in that.


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14 Comments

  1. Posted November 13, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    This is beautiful.

    I too, believe in the power of noticing – moments, beauty, people.

    {And letting/making/ensuring people feel noticed.}

    Thanks for the reminder to see beauty today. {I will.}

  2. Posted November 13, 2012 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    I love this – your words and images, as always, of course – and the whole idea… thanks for this gift, Lindsey!

    XOXO

  3. Posted November 13, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Lindsey,
    that is exactly what I tried to do in my last blog post, walking around the farm yesterday during a brief sun-break with camera in hand, looking for the beautiful in the distinctly unbeautiful. I tried to see the farm in a way that I ordinarily would not (everything looks like work–i.e. peeling paint, weeds to be pulled, garden to be put to bed) and created a portrait of our farm in deep autumn, in its last gasp before the sleep of winter. Thank you for expressing what I had not. Emily

  4. Posted November 13, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I love your thoughts here, and the inspiration behind this project. Okay, top five moments of beauty, right here, right now:

    1. Listening to Phillip Phillips’ “Home,” a song that Abra and I are both obsessed with.

    2. Abra just named her first doll “Color.” I love this name beyond compare.

    3. Driving my morning latte from a cheerful mug that my old blog partner and longtime friend, Anne, bought me.

    4. The cold, crisp, impossibly clear mornings that are typical of New Mexico this time of year.

    5. Feeling the weight of Abra against me as we sit and read a story (for the eighth time in a row).

    Love this mindfulness exercise!

  5. Posted November 13, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful way of seeing the world — looking for beauty instead of for things to be stressed or angered by. Let’s see, five of my most beautiful things right now:

    1. My son in stripey pyjamas this morning when I came downstairs, jumping up and down, beaming at me, yelling “hi mama!”

    2. This coffee mug, which I bought for myself in college; it’s big and curved and fits into my hand, and it’s glazed in rich blues and browns, and despite its cracks it still works.

    3. Our red couch. Even though it’s piled with blankets and board books, or maybe because of those things, it brightens the room on the wintriest of days.

    4. The cluster of bright inquisitive birds at the bird feeder.

    5. The cosy quilt a friend made when our son was born, in vivid shades of green and black and dinosaur-pattern. It’s fleece. It’s incredibly warm. And even at three, our son still adores it, and every time he uses it, I think of our friend and I smile.

  6. Posted November 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m staring out a window right now at some brilliantly red leaves. The maple leaves linger longer than others and so are there in the grayness of November, looking stark against the sky.

  7. Posted November 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I love this post, this idea. So much.

    1. The dog lying on top of the bed, sprawled out at the center of the house.

    2. My oldest daughter, quietly playing math games for hours because they make her happy.

    3. The smile of my little imp girl, the youngest.

    4. The warmth of a good sweater on this cold, rainy day.

    5. My “Weepies” station on Pandora. Lyric.

  8. Posted November 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Oh, the paying attention. The appreciating. The living deliberately. I try so hard to do this, and need so many reminders. I vow, once again, to do better.

  9. Posted November 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    1. The late afternoon fall golden light filtered through bare tree branches and my window blinds.
    2. Dalai Lama chanting, his full and deep voice the sound of kindness.
    3. The click of keyboards, the sound of writing drifting in from the office across from me, a writer and teacher and mom finishing up her afternoon tasks before going home to her new baby.
    4. The quilt that hangs over my desk, purples and greens, a kimono design made for me by my aunt and godmother.
    5. The collection of rocks and feathers that surround the tiny red buddha who sits just under my computer monitor.

    Thanks for this, Lindsey!

  10. Posted November 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful exercise!

    Right now
    1. two cats, curled up tails to noses, eyes closed, purring.
    2. the dark but shiny wooden dragon from Thailand hanging on our wall.
    3. Two new tutus, overflowing frills. They were the only acceptable skirts for a wedding. Ah, the wonderful strong sense of style. Even if I wouldn’t pick them.
    4. From earlier today, the low grey sky. I love the bright blue, but somedays need a cocoon of calm.
    5. I can just glimpse my table – nearly cleared from dinner, the kids added perler beads

  11. Posted November 13, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    #5 got cut off – on the table, someone left her orange plastic pumpkin bucket and it’s glowing.

  12. Posted November 14, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I absolutely love this idea, of taking notice of beauty and poetry around us, in intentional ways each hour. I try to do it occasionally throughout the day, but I’m going to try this hourly practice today – can’t wait to see what it unfolds. There’s so much goodness (what to me is God-ness) waiting for us, even in the midst of the dirt and the darkness, if we just take notice.

  13. Posted November 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I love that a I stole moment to come by for a visit and get this amazing reminder to slow down and notice. I need that, frequently. So thank you friend.

  14. Posted November 16, 2012 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    Gorgeous concept, so well said. I think the ability to see beauty comes when we build time for awareness into our lives. Margin. It helps tremendously. Thank you, Lindsey!