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Elegant Letters, Issue #37 Your Definition of Success and Elegance

Hi everyone!

I hope you are well. This is my second attempt to write a newsletter since my computer crashed. My computer is not quite fixed yet,
and I’m having my tech-savvy brother look at it while we speak. At the moment, I’ll have to work from the office.

I just had lunch and coffee with my European friend and we were discussing the difference in culture growing up in Europe versus
Asia and America.

Campania Italian Deli & Café @ Columbia Road

I didn’t have lunch here, but isn’t it pretty?

We started on the topic because I was telling him about how brave he was to ditch his engineering job for an unstable
self-employed job as a tennis coach from the start, 20 years ago (and it paid off). I asked him questions like, ‘how did your parents react?’,’did they mind?’?

He told me that when he’s from, people gather respect from your approach to work and your reputation at what you do, not from how much money you earned. So, even if you chose
a humble trade, like say, an engraver (someone who engraves words/logos unto metals), you gain self-respect and satisfaction from
doing the best you can, and trying to be the best engraver in town.

This is different to where I grew up, in big cities like
New York or San Francisco or Singapore, ‘success’ meant you did very well
in school, got a high paying job, own a successful business…and probably drive a flashy car. There is somewhat an obsession with ‘success’,
you had to be successful, and there’s no alternative.

So where does elegance come in?

While I wrote about learning the language of money, changing your circle of friends (if needed), acquiring exquisite taste – and while all of these
things are good – I feel we shouldn’t rely on these things to validate how we feel about ourselves. Nor use it to define success, nor use it as
a yardstick to judge others. You do what you can with what you have,
and you do your best. You work hard and smart, you don’t cut corners, but you also live in balance, taking time out to enjoy the pleasures in life.
And you respect differences.

In a way, that’s what my pastor says, you work relaxed. You work hard, but you don’t worry and you just have faith (for me, in Jesus) that everything will turn out okay.

Sometimes, it is good to take time out to ponder about how you define success. How is it affecting you? Is it causing unnecessary stress? Are you constantly comparing yourself? What is it that is different about the people you admire?

That is why, I really enjoy reading about cultures – be it the French culture, Japanese or Malay…there’s always something you can take from it.
I think most of all, it is important to be elegant in the mind. It is a continual refinement of thoughts and beliefs.

(For instance, though I don’t have children yet, this is quite an interesting book: Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

From there, you’ll develop your own way of elegant living, and it doesn’t have to be wearing crisp cotton Burberry shirts everyday (though that would be nice),
and having perfect make up on and only reading books by French philosophers.

So it is ALSO okay if you’re not exactly how media defines as ‘elegant’ (usually wearing expensive things and dining in fine restaurants),
you can still have an elegant self-confidence and an elegant mind with elegant attitudes. You can work hard, be the best wife, mother,
daughter you possibly know how. You can enjoy being a woman and pleasures in life without guilt. You take pride and
respect yourself highly.

Let your elegance come from inside, not by buying things or doing ‘things’ trying to look elegant.

Thanks for reading!

Shalom (which in Hebrew means wishing you peace, wholeness, perfect health and well-being),

Thanks for reading!

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