8.24.2014

Cultivating Poise



Those of you who follow me on facebook are occasionally privy to my vents and frustrations. This past week I saw a new music video that disturbed me greatly. It is by one of the most famous young pop stars in the world right now. Her video disturbed me because it is pure vulgarity from start to finish with the sole intent of providing a high shock value. Yesterday I read that this video broke records in the amount of YouTube views. Children are watching this kind of thing, thinking that it's normal. Pop culture like this, which seems to get more and more extreme, is the very reason why this week's video of mine on cultivating poise is more relevant than ever. If we turn the other cheek and are not careful, we can completely lose any traces of dignity and self-respect our society has ever had. Let's practice cultivating poise on a daily basis and lead by example to be the powerful role models we were meant to be.

Poise is defined in the dictionary as a "graceful and elegant bearing in a person". Don't you love that definition?

Poise is free. It is something anyone can have, yet so many people today lack it. This video is meant to be a motivational message to continue to cultivate poise on a daily basis, no matter what opposing forces you face. I also share the story of a recent confrontation I had with a young woman and my hope for her future. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel (and subscribe!) at www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

I'd like to make the cultivating of poise an on-going discussion on The Daily Connoisseur. I love to hear from you! What is your experience with poise? Do you know people in your family or community who could benefit from cultivating poise? What does poise mean to you?

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
I love independent foreign films because they offer a glimpse into a different way of life and expand our horizons. This weekend I watched an excellent film that I highly recommend to all of my readers. It's an Indian film called The Lunchbox and features a marvelous directorial debut by Ritesh Batra. What a beautiful, moving and quietly thought-provoking film. It's available to rent now. You can learn more about it here.

See you soon!

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28 comments:

Emma Knight Peel said...

Fabulous topic! I strive to cultivate poise, and do pretty well in writing and when things are going smoothly, but when I'm stressed out or upset, I feel more like the girl on the sidewalk. :(. I'm making this one of my top priorities, as I really want to be ladylike and composed at all times. I'm glad you're starting this discussion! :)

Charlene said...

Poise is such a great topic for discussion. You are so correct when you say it's something we have to work on every day. For me, posture and graceful movement really take conscious thought. I was too curious about the music video and had to look it up. I only lasted through half but omg, so vulgar! And as another commenter said, really lacking in creativity.

Gam said...

Jennifer, I love this topic! One that needs to be taught to our children, male and female! A synonym is grace and dignity, our society as a whole seems to be lacking in all of these values. I fear that our society has become so crass and it considered acceptable by so many! Thank you for choosing to expound on this subject. Thank you for choosing not be ordinary!

Denise said...

yes, yes and yes! I believe poise has been lost in our society. Like you said, you can dress well and still not have poise. thank you for this discussion, I'm inspired!

Rose said...

Thank you for another captivating video. When you consider the women who are widely admired -- across countries and generations -- any list usually includes Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Princess of Wales, and currently Princess Mary of Denmark, the Duchess of Cambridge. All were/are women with great poise. Poise is a class act with no acting involved. Poise considers the other person's feelings, it sets boundaries clearly but kindly, it ensures that one's own emotional state doesn't dominate the picture.

I am not a fan of Facebook so I did not know of the discussion about the young pop singer until today. Her influence is likely to be fleeting and less than long term.

On the subject of the topics you present: I find any of your videos pique my interest in some area of living well but I think the important thing to remember here is that you are inviting us into your blog space, what you choose to present is your gift to us and it behoves us to accept that gift graciously.

Rose said...

I forgot to mention that I am going to see The Hundred Foot Journey with a friend next Sunday, it's good to hear you enjoyed it.

Nicole H said...

Yes Jennifer! Thank you! This is such an important topic and one that I have always strove for. Since it is so lacking in our culture, it is hard to find examples of women who show real poise. I am so excited that you, me and the wonderful readers of this blog are interested in cultivating poise!

J'adore Chanel said...

Hi Jennifer,
I have read your book and followed your blog and You Tube channel for a few months now, but this is the first time that I have ever commented on a blog. Ever!
Firstly, I would like to say that you are like a breath of fresh air, and wise beyond your years.
I am in my late forties and have two children (20 and 17). I am constantly complaining about crude and vulgar music videos,not to mention movies and songs, which are littered with foul language and crassness. And what really saddens me is my children's response. It appears that nothing phases them. They shrug off my moans with the attitude 'nothing offends us' 'that's the way things are' and 'we're used to it'. I think it's so sad that these days anything appears to go, which means that almost everything has become 'normalised' and our children are so used to seeing and hearing such things that it doesn't bother or affect them.
It was reassuring to read your article, and also the comments of others, to realise that I am not 'old fashioned' or 'sad' or 'weird' and that others feel the same way. Oh my goodness, I sound like my mother! How did THAT happen?!

Evaline said...

One way to encourage positive influences is to ignore the negative ones and pay lots of attention to and/or actively seek out the positive ones. When I am outdriving around and loud hot-rodders pass by or people blast music out of their car windows and pull up beside me, I do NOT give them a look. I do not change my facial expression, I continue what I was doing such as chatting with my husband, and casually close the car window. I do not want to give them my attention.
There are performers who receive a tiny fraction of the web hits of some of the more popular and vulgar ones. I’d like to share a link for a female performer who I do not know but whose music and presentation appears natural, positive and down to earth while being very listenable.
Her name is Catherine MacLellan and she is the daughter late Canadian folk giant Gene MacLellan (who wrote Snowbird). This song is about picking potatoes and love.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eox2qAjrf0U&index=1&list=RDEox2qAjrf0U

LilyBart said...

Jennifer - this is a great topic, and always timely. I strive to maintain poise, but find I often fail with the give and take of the day. Your comments remind me I need to pull myself together a little more lately. Stress can throw us off our game.

A story: at an Ice Cream Shop on a busy day, a mother with several children felt that the employee skipped her and helped the person behind her. She got upset and started to complain loudly. Everyone in the store looked at her in horror as she berated the teenaged employee. And She seemed to regret her outburst after she had calmed down a bit (she seemed embarrassed for herself).

Of course we need to stand up for ourselves - but after that episode, I told myself to watch HOW I complain or advocate for myself to avoid looking so strident, and regretting my approach later.

Maria Andrea said...

Hi Jennifer! I've recently been thinking about this topic. I'm a college student and I recently got a job as a server/hostess at a restaurant in my college town. It's a big restaurant and there are ALOT of girls working there; most of them high school and college aged. One thing I noticed right off the bat was the immense amount of gossip, inappropriate talk, and just general rudeness among co-workers over very petty things. In other words; cattiness, drama, and total lack of poise. At first it really made me question my decision about working there, I didn't know if it was something worth putting up with or if I was even capable of doing so without getting dragged into all of it. Thinking about it and watching your video I've realized that part of cultivating poise isn't necessarily avoiding these situations all together but more about how we handle ourselves in the midst of it. I don't expect any of these girls to suddenly change their negative attitude towards me or each other or their work in general, but all I can do is give give the example of poise by trying to maintain my own as best I can. I'm so glad you posted this because sometimes trying to rise above the gossip and pettiness in social settings can feel lonely and scary if you can't find someone that shares your same values, and it can be tempting to just follow the crowd. But reading blogs and books like yours is such great motivation! So thank you! :)
- Maria Andrea

xuxana said...

"If you are resisting something, you are feeding it. Any energy you fight, you are feeding. If you are pushing something away, you are inviting it to stay." -- Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul

Brenda H said...

Hi Jennifer - A great topic and gentle reminder to all. Poise is a beautiful thing - the one possessing it wears it well and offers a lovely gift to those around them.

You handled the young woman on the sidewalk in a very classy manner. And to the young womans credit she recognized her faux pas and offered amends. You never know, but you may have influenced her to think differently about her public behavior.

Keep up the good work - a sane voice in much darkness.

Madeleine Lawrence said...

When I think about a few women I know who always demonstrate poise I realise that one thing they have in common is that they always show an interest in the person they are conversing with - in other words, it's not all about them.

When you think about it, showing a genuine interest in others helps you avoid a couple of poise-wreckers - talking about yourself too much and complaining. I also notice with the generation coming up, that many (certainly not all) have not been taught how to have a graceful conversation, where it's not all about them. I don't think all of the blame can go to parent's here. As we all observe, most kids are much more interested in what the media shows than the values their parents are demonstrating. Although I love Ellen, I am always shocked by the guests on her show. They walk on and she barely has to say a word, it's all me, me, me. This is the complete opposite of poise. Anyone who has seen Audrey Hepburn interviewed will know what I mean.

Another great topic, Jennifer!

Madeleine.x

theculinarycharacter said...

Poise! That is a lovely definition.

I am actually a teacher, and I've noticed over time how my students are so perceptive of my behavior and speech to the point of adapting it. It is such a reminder of how we are all being observed in some form, and how we need to evaluate how we are handling stressful/tough moments (that always tends to show one's true character).

I love how you mention that poise should infiltrate every piece of our lives. It is one thing to be elegant in every way in public, and quite another to behave inappropriately in the privacy of our home.

--Brooke

Mary Grace Metheny said...

Hi Jennifer! I'm so excited you've chosen to write about poise, it's something I'm especially passionate about. Your book inspired me to think more about what it means to live well, and live a life that is characterized by graciousness. I'm a youngster, still in High School, but I dearly desire to be a woman of poise. I see people my own age that spit out rude words or carry themselves with an air of "I don't care" ... for them, these actions somehow prove their worth. It makes me terribly sad.

I actually wrote an article about poise on my blog recently and would be absolutely enchanted if you read it. Here's the link: (http://www.yoursunnyfunnyface.com/2014/08/poise.html). Thank you for encouraging this discussion, as well as encouraging me that a pursuit of poise/ladylikeness/grace is worthwhile.

Sincerely,
Mary Grace

Gracie said...

I certainly feel better about myself when I am more poised. It makes me feel more at peace knowing that there is something I can control in a world of uncertainty. Speaking of uncertainty, are your relatives in Napa okay? I live near Napa and was in the bathroom at the time of the earthquake. No, not very poised, I ran out without my pajama bottoms pulled up. I paniced, what bad timing I have. Thanks for the topic.

Linda Kerr said...

This is a great topic, Jennifer. I grew up in a time when we dressed up for school and church, and for travel as well. After I graduated from high school in '71, things began to slide...and it wasn't just the clothing. This was the time of "if it feels good, do it!"

Now, several decades later,as a high school teacher, I am appalled by the lack of a dress code (ok, there is one, but it's not enforced!) and the rude behavior of SOME of the students. Way too many, actually.
In a foods class I taught we had a section on etiquette, and tried to practice good manners at table. Many kids were clueless, but were happy to learn. It was sort of a novelty! There is hope.

welliewalks said...

thank you for the movie recommendation! it is so hard to find ones worth sitting through. i'll have to wait a while, but i can't wait until it becomes available at our library for me.

Kari said...

Jennifer, I love this topic. It's very timely with today's version of acceptable behaviors. I do have a story to share. It's about me not being very poised at all, and the reason why. You mentioned "potty mouth", and I admit I was once a potty mouth. Though I was never a loud one! When I was very young, I always appeared older than my true age. At 11 or 12, I was mistaken for 16, routinely. I am petite and blonde and had a "sweet look", whatever that meant. At the age of 12, I was approached by a man at least 60 years old, who made a very vulgar and disgusting offer to me. I was shocked and appalled and scared to death. I didn't know what to do. I wasn't in a place where I could get help. I decided then that words were the only weapon I had. And I used them. A lot of them. Bad ones! It surprised him enough that I was able to get away from him before he could recover from my screaming, cursing rampage. Since then, a well placed f bomb has occasionally been useful, and unfortunately became a bit of a habit. One I have tried for years to break. I am mostly successful with that, but at times, that behavior comes back to me. I try hard to remember the reasons for that and that its no longer justified. I'm grown up and I can take care of myself now. My point in this story is that sometimes there are reasons for vulgarity and we never can tell what is happening in a persons life at any given moment. I want to be that woman who gives a person some slack and the benefit of the doubt, because that cursing girl could have been me. And she could have been afraid.

I love that you gave her "the look". That was perfect. I wish I had someone to do that for me once upon a time. It might have helped me see sooner.

tvelicia said...

Great topic and an excellent message for all of us.

I especially loved the "look"--sounds like the same look I give the young men I see running around with their pants hanging a bit too low. Although initially I felt that these young men would curse at me for the "look", I am pleasantly surprised to say that they sheepishly pull up their pants...:-)

Huda Abbas said...

Hello Jennifer,

Thank you so much for this beautiful topic. Sometimes I feel sad when I see the lack of manners around me, but reading what you wrote and what your wonderful readers commented and listening to what you said makes me feel happy, there is hope after all, poise and manners not totally lost, what a relief.

Kathryn Bechen Ink said...

Jennifer, good for you for addressing the issue of poise. I agree with you that it's awful what's happening in society today re: vulgarity and I agree we must also speak out to preserve our dignity as civilized human beings. Good for you for bringing this up.

Vicki Zimmerman said...

What an an excellent topic and I'm happy to see you discuss poise and I look forward to more installments on this subject.

As for your wonderful example on your walk on the sidewalk and meeting the potty-mouth person, I loved what you did in a non-judgmental way (lifting your sunglasses and looking directly at her). I found your actions to show discernment, not judgment, and you did it in an elegant, graceful and poised way. Kudos to you!

Marianne said...

Here is my take on poise…not only is it free it's a bankable asset. The better jobs offered in the corporate world require poise. Working on your poise can help get you the added responsibility, the promotion and more money in your bank account.

Joy said...

Okay, I saved this video because I had guests here this past week, but I wish I had just watched it sooner! What a great reminder it was! There is a woman whom I have to deal with regularly, and she is just so difficult -- extremely pushy, confrontational, speaks without thinking and therefore offends generously, etc. She sent an email that struck a nerve and made me so grumpy, and I lost my poise in front of my family, ranting about her. My response to her was poised, but my family knows how bothered I was, and I feel now like I let her win because of that. I know I will be seeing her on Wednesday, so at least I'll have a chance to practice poise again.... Yay? ;-)

As usual, such a great post. Thanks again!

Gina said...

First, today I was ready to run out of the house. Then I rembered what you said. I took five minutes to make myself look presentable. I felt so good!

A question about. I have always been the "class clown". I make people laugh sometimes at my own expense. Am I undermine my sense of poise. I want your honest opinion

Gina said...

Meant to say, a question about poise

 
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