Instagrams: Living A Beautiful Life

As promised, here are some of my favorite reader snapshots from last week's "Living a Beautiful Life."  I've included their instagram handles in the captions, so if you're inspired by some of these images, follow them!

Paperweights and sweet 3-year-old fingers in the perfect shade from Aimee. Instagram: byAimeeSki

Festive nails and fridge notes from Sarah. Instagram: secondhandsarah13

Kitchen details (painting by her grandmother, ceramic fowl, and happy tea towel) and an awesome stamped spoon from Aliesha. Instagram: feathersinournest

Scalloped lace curtains from Megan.  Instagram: thatsmegs

Just because flowers by the sink from Rachel.  Instagram: rev87

Favorite foods from Annette.  Instagram: annettecaudell

Sprinkles! From Red Letter Paper Co.  Instagram: rlpco

From Christina:  "Flowers that I picked for my Granny when I was 5.  She lovingly pressed and preserved them years ago, and I brought them home with me after she passed. A constant reminder to love even the smallest, most delicate aspects of life from a woman who adored the beauty in everything God created."  Instagram: xinaboldin

Extra crunchy leaves for stomping from Sara.  Instagram: sarasaintstreet

And here are some of my #livingabeautifullife Instagrams from this week:

From top left: Lacey sleeves, green kitchen soaps, whipped cream on coffee (in a sweet mug), happy succulent, favorite breakfast bowl - made in Tunisia, and my travel shadow box: 5 boxes filled, 6 to go.  Instagram: kateelizabethconner

Here are some of your reactions to "Living a Beautiful Life" that made me so, so happy.  This concept is really rocking my world and I love to see it catching fire in other homes and hearts, too.

-Lauren McGee said, "Thank you so much for reminding me to create beauty. I've neglected this aspect of my life for so long...and despised my home for that very reason. Thank you for gently and poetically speaking the truth in love. I loved your line "Sometimes a vacation isn't as healing as a ritual." I'm looking forward to making small, beautiful rituals in my life. God bless you!"

-Lindsey Mead said, "I love this. Thanks for reminding us that the most mundane tasks in life can be full of holiness and grace, if we just approach them with the right mindset. xox"

-Christine Trevino said , "I have been struggling with this very concept today (and many days the last few weeks). What fabulous ideas. I am going to punctuate my day with things that will make me smile as well :)"

-Kim Wasil said, "Kate, I wanted to tell you that your post on making the mundane things special really inspired me. I went out and bought fancy soap for me and my preschoolers to use in my classroom the next day!"

-Jaclyn said, "I love how you incorporated the book into your daily tasks. I'm going to make a list of things I do most often and ways I can enjoy them. :] I read "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin and a piece of advice from her was to splurge on small items you have to use often. For her, as a writer, she'd splurge on her favorite pens even though they were kind of expensive. That has always been on my mind, but I never knew where to start. Now I have a starting place!"

So much of the "Living a Beautiful Life" concept is anchored in sensory experiences.  It's not just "loving life," "being thankful," or "decorating."  It's about creating sacred rituals and spaces - intentionally punctuating your day with things that engage your 5 senses and bring you joy.  It's very practical - tangible.

I had a really impossibly hard time planning my wedding, registering for my baby showers, and decorating my house because, for the longest time, I didn't know what I liked.  I mean, I could go into a store and say, "That's pretty; that's not."  But when I collected pictures and ideas of things I liked, they were all over the map.  Some were dark, ornate, romantic.  Some bright, white, sterile.  Some country, cottage-y, shabby-chic.  Some hipster, some mod. I couldn't put together a room for the life of me; my wardrobe and all of my decor was schizophrenic.

It has taken me a long time to define my own sense of style - one that permeates my house and my wardrobe. I'm getting there, slowly but surely.  If you can't sum up your sense of style in a few words, or if you feel like your home and your wardrobe is a little schizophrenic, invest some time into figuring out what is "you."  It will change. your. life.  That's not an overstatement; it's changed mine.

When you love your house, your dishes, your rooms, your clothes, your beauty products - when those things aren't just functional, but carry an element of beauty for you -  everything looks brighter because you are literally surrounded by day-makers.

(There is an awesome little survey in one of the first chapters of Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan's book Apartment Therapy that asks all sorts of questions about your favorite actors, music, what 3 words describe how you feel about your home, etc.  This book was the starting place on my journey to define my sense of style, and I can't say enough good things about it.)

And in closing, here are some of my favorite sources of inspiration.  Some are deep wells of pictures and ideas and some are pretty narrow - a reflection of things that I like.  (Feel free to leave some of your favorite sources of inspiration in the comments, I'd love to see them!)

-tiny anchors - Brooke is my dearest friend ever, and she is literally one of the most creative people I've ever come across in real life or on the internet.  She has blazed the way for me in defining her style and intentionally filling her life with beautiful things.  Our styles aren't the same, but she is at the top of my inspiration list. Her ownership of her style and her constant pursuit and appreciation of beauty challenge me in the best way.  I'm addicted to her.

-Design*Sponge. - I get lost here.  A treasure trove of spaces, places, DIYs, before/afters, clothing, food.  And all of it is beautiful.

-DESIGN LOVE FEST - I get a lot of blogging inspiration here.  Our content doesn't overlap, because Bri is graphically oriented while I am writing oriented, but everything is so bright and pretty.  She reminds me that beauty matters, to keep things simple and fresh, and I love her advice column; it's a good idea, plus there's good blogging, business, branding advice to be found.  This is a great blog to follow.

-Oh Joy! -  FULL of tangible, beautiful details.  A recent post is about baby-proofing your STYLISH living room.  Love, love, love.

-Wendy's Lookbook - I love Wendy's style so, so, so much.  She takes chances, but is incredibly chic, always.  I like that she's modern without being too hipster for me.  Young without looking like she's still in college.  No over-accessorizing.  Fresh, and classy.

-Pinterest.  I use Pintrest really practically, but I do have a single board called "Beauty" for things that are just beautiful.  They aren't things I'll actually buy, make, or wear, but I couldn't bear not to keep the pictures close at hand.  (My other boards are governed by a "if you won't do it, don't pin it" rule, which keeps them full of tangible details.)

Books: I've already mentioned Apartment Therapy.  The other book that cuts to the quick of this concept is Alexandra Stoddard's Living A Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty, and Joy to Every Day of Your Life.  A reader recommended The Happiness Project to me, and though I haven't read it, I've added it to my list.

Now go: invest some time, some brain-power, even some money, and start filling your every-day, nine-to-five life with things that bring you joy.  It will change your life.