Beginning of the world

Because, by now, it’s pretty obvious we’re not at the end.

So I’m celebrating this momentous occasion by giving thanks to a number of key investments I have made over the past month to progress my life and the journey towards sophistication.

Let me explain… Has anyone ever read The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot? I’ve seen the films, they are fun, but the books really help you get to know Mia Thermopolis, eire to the throne of Genova.

I love Mia. She’s witty, clumsy, and can’t see the wood for the trees. She reminds me of myself growing up in some of her funny ways, and she’s obsessed with the Buddhist practice of self-actualisation. For Mia, this is a goal she strives for, believing the world will be a better place to live in once she gets there.

Now, I’m not so disillusioned to think anything makes the world different, or the people in it, but my form of self-actualisation is my fascination with one word – sophistication.

It’s not just a noun, it’s a way of life. It’s about knowing how to present yourself, elegantly and gracefully, on a daily basis. It’s about neatness, poise, focus and organisation. It’s something I see around me on a daily basis from women I don’t strive to be or envy in any way; I simply admire their presence and celebrate their inspiring lifestyle.

For me, sophistication is complex. Now, I’m not about to start breaking my ankles trying to walk in high heels or my wrists by trying to write coherently on a piece of paper – dyspraxia means low heels make me trip and my handwriting is never going to be pretty to look at. But that isn’t going to stop me gently working my way up in the world using the methods I do have available.

Sophistication for me goes hand-in-hand with professionalism, and here’s four ways I’ve invested in this concept over the past month.

The hardcover planner I'm using for 2013

The hardcover planner I’m using for 2013

Organisation –

Admittedly not so much an “investment” as a rediscovered gem I adopted from a friend who was cleaning out some unused belongings. As my laptop is slowly dying my reliance on Pimero’s diary and contacts software seems risky, so I’m migrating to a paper journal for now. I also purchased a note block from TK Maxx today – reduced to £3 because the jewel had come off, but it still looks smart, and will give me somewhere to scribble notes when I’m at my desk. Very professional-looking.

My noteblock - smart, professional and tied with a ribbon!

My noteblock – smart, professional and tied with a ribbon!

Preparation –

I’m always being caught short when I’m out and about – long waits without entertainment, last-minute meeting without jewellery, allergy reactions and no tissues… I’m hopeless! So I hunted through my local charity shops until I found a smart little burgandy-red handbag which fits all my essentials, and only cost £4. Now I’m fully prepped for any occasion – I even used this article to help compose a list of essentials to fill it with. I didn’t use all the suggestions, but I remembered everything that was important.

My handbag

My handbag

Presentation –

One of my favourite investments. Something I always think of when I imagine a sophisticated lifestyle is the manicure. We don’t notice how often we look at people’s hands in a day, but when we’re out and about it’s something we tend to look at. People writing, typing, handling money, drinking, lifting, holding doors open… the list goes on. My hand-eye co-ordination means I’m rubbish at painting my nails – I make a mess. And I can clean it up afterwards, but unless the result lasts it’s hardly worth the effort. Which is why I was proud to have found some double strength clear nail varnish for bottom and top coats. It cost around £3.50 from my local beauty products shop, which is more than I’d pay for a colour on a low-budget, but I painted my nails Monday evening and come Friday night they’re still in tact! Getting a little worn where my nails have grown, but apart from the edges getting jaggy there’s not a single noticeable chip! Whereas before I’d have them within 24 hours! Very impressed.

The double duty clear polish that’s kept my nails chip-free for 5 days!

Wellness –

I have been eating Ryvita with low-fat Philadelphia cheese, but I’ve also been eating the Ferrero Rocher chocolates my boyfriend gave me for Christmas. This is more about exercise than diet, although I am genuinely enjoying those Ryvita. A while ago a saw a friend using an adjustable exercise tool which he used to work out different parts of his body in different ways, and I’ve been after one of these ever since. I found one today, cost £5.99 (again from TK Maxx), and I’m really excited about being able to use it. I’ve also been reading the weight chapter in my female handbook, The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies for Women (essential for ladies everywhere, has chapters for everything you could ever worry about – just don’t read it cover-to-cover, or you’ll come out traumatized about a hundred things you’d never worried about before!) and I’m going to try drinking a glass of water before every meal in the hopes that I have less room for food.

Fitness Basics Pilates and Ab System – the exercise tool I’ve been looking for. Very excited about learning to use it!

All in all, I feel much more sophisticated than I did in November. And I’ve done it on under £20! Not bad really.

Here’s to the beginning of the world, now the end is over, and to a new year full of professional sophistication and Ryvita!

Kirsty

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