“Is not wisdom found among the aged? does not long life bring understanding?” Job 12:12
Besides Sundays, Terry and I love one day of the week more than the rest. It’s “clean sheet day”, the day we strip the bed, carefully remake it with fresh sheets, and place all the decorative pillows on neatly. That evening, we love crawling into bed with the crisp, fresh sheets. I am convinced that we sleep better, dreaming of warm breezes, Italian villas, and gelato. But as much as I love clean sheet day, I hate folding the cumbersome king-sized fitted sheet! I once watched a Martha Steward video on how to fold sheets properly. Her folded sheets have neat corners that stack beautifully in the linen closet. Something went terribly wrong in my attempt to carefully follow her steps. I ended up with a puffy, misshapen lump that was, if possible, worse than usual. I now leave sheet folding to the capable hands of my husband.
I recently heard an old podcast of an interview Martha Stewart did for Cherry Jubilee, a food conference for women. Until this podcast, I had never paid much attention to Martha, only occasionally flipping through her magazines, looking at a few recipes, and, of course, my failed attempt at sheet folding. This interview opened my eyes to the world of Martha. She’s an incredible entrepreneur who created the whole idea of lifestyle branding. Her hand is in every area imaginable: recipes, home décor, wedding planning, crafting, fashion, and even tips on having a hobby farm. Despite being eighty years old, she is still witty, still relevant with all her social media presence, and still looking to develop more businesses!
I was so inspired by this interview that I talked about Martha incessantly to my family and friends for several days. It wasn’t just that the interview was funny or insightful; it had to do more with how her life resonated with me. Her insatiable curiosity, desire to capture beauty around her, perseverance, and willingness to give back helped me to crystalize my thoughts about how to approach my fiftieth birthday, as well as life beyond it.
Martha believes that her curiosity is the most important key to her success. She is always looking for ways to be inspired and to learn. She insists on sitting in the front seat with her drivers so she can get a clear view of the world around her. She doesn’t want to always go the same route, because different streets are opportunities to see something new. This curiosity is reflected in other areas of her life as well, from wanting to learn about photography to raising chickens. It even explains her unique friendship with the rapper, Snoop Dogg.
Not only is Martha curious, but she also loves to cultivate beauty around her. Aided by her landscaping team, she has a clear vision for her award-winning gardens. Her website is full of articles on how to create homes that are comfortable and esthetically pleasing. Her recipes highlight certain ingredients wanting to make them shine. Her products are not only beautiful but priced to be accessible for the average consumer. Although she has some mad perfection skills with ironing and organization, the spirit behind them is to eliminate the chaos around you so that you have space to see beauty.
In the interview, Martha referred to a major incident in her life as “financial troubles.” In 2004, Martha was convicted of insider training, resulting in her serving five months in a federal prison. For many people, this would have been the end of their story. She could have easily gone back to her home in Connecticut and quietly lived out the rest of her life in obscurity. Instead, Martha came back, relaunching her brand and building new businesses!
Finally, Martha believes in the importance of giving back. She has created a nonprofit charitable foundation with her daughter. She also cares about her world and wants to be a responsible human by promoting composting and sustainable living.
By no means am I saying that everything Martha does or supports aligns with my Christian worldview. But I do think that there are some take-aways from her life. I think those who know me best would agree that I have already cultivated an insatiable curiosity. But I think I will take Martha’s advice and continue to look at things from different perspectives to keep me inspired. I also think its important to cultivate beauty in my world. Beauty helps reduce stress and adds joy to my life. And despite the setbacks we have had in the past, I will look to the latter half of my life as a time when, with God, I can still make an impact. Finally, although I am unable to contribute on the same monetary level that Martha does, I can still serve my community in tangible ways to improve the quality of life for others!
In the interview, she shares a tip on how to make the most incredibly fluffy scrambled eggs. It involves her award-winning chickens and a $5,000 espresso machine! Although her eggs sound amazing, and I wouldn’t mind owning an espresso machine, I believe my scrambled eggs are as good as Martha’s. I use Happy Eggs, a whisk from my mother, and cook them slow on the stove. Maybe I should start my own lifestyle brand!