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Richly and Graciously Caring for Ourselves

James Swan of Million Dollar Decorating

Today, the remarkably talented James Swan graces us with a heartfelt piece about the importance of caring for ourselves. Hi genuine eloquence is always a breath of fresh air to us here at Pandora de Balthazár Lifestyle. James is the brilliant mind behind Million Dollar Decorating, which is simultaneously a treasure trove of design advice and a peek into the lifestyles of some of our industry’s movers and shakers.

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His vision provides one of those rare experiences that those of us who live lives devoted to the field crave. A remark he made sparked a dialogue between us—leading to this piece—and we are so thrilled he agreed to share his philosophy about how important it is to care about the quality of our lives, particularly when it comes to our favorite subject—sleep.

James Swan on Caring for Ourselves

“The Golden Rule is a two-edged sword.

If some of us treated others as we treat ourselves, we would be jailed.” 

— Richard Paul Evans, The Mistletoe Promise


Pandora de Balthazar European Sleep System

Beautiful living doesn’t just happen. We don’t just roll out of bed to discover an artfully crafted home, filled with refined items, art and furnishings all topped off with the grace and style to know what to do with them. Things just don’t happen that way.

In fact, the effort required to create and sustain a beautiful life is monumental and not for the frail or fearful. There are times when great courage is required; when standing up for all that’s right in the world and fighting against what is evil takes every ounce of resolve you possess. That is part of beautiful living. There are times when great stamina is required; when rising early and working late, so that a special project can be accomplished on-time and on-budget, means we sacrifice so a greater beauty can come into our world. That too is part of living beautifully.

Antique Textiles Pandora de Balthazar

There are times when spiritual and mental fortitude must be called upon as the battle against a “lack” mentality in our homes and lives rages, threatening to stifle any small sign of elegance or refinement. That’s also part of beautiful living. There are times when resources are running low and great ingenuity is required for the flame of beauty to be stoked and nurtured into a blazing fire giving warmth, light and life to all. This too is part of living beautifully.

Key to all that a beautiful life entails is the need we have for our minds and bodies to rest. Key to superior rest is a sleeping experience that rejects the “lack” mentality often found in close proximity to our modern lives. Somehow the idea creeps in that after taking care of the world around us, it’s somehow permissible for us to “go without.” This idea is a recipe for disaster, for only by richly and graciously caring for ourselves can we hope to have the deep resources needed to meet the ugly world head on.

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I remember when, as a child, I was first asked to select the sleeping pillow which I found to be most comfortable. Varying degrees of firm and soft were offered and it didn’t take me long to zero in on the one I believed to be ideal. I’ve carried that experience with me through life (along with down pillows) always very clear on what was, for me, the baseline of sleeping comfort.

At times in my life I’ve added to that experience as my circumstances have allowed.  Department store linens gave way to fine combed Egyptian cotton; and these gave way to the best in Irish linen. Finely woven wool blankets replaced with those of cashmere. All in the pursuit of the best sleep possible; a pursuit that continues to this day.

Antique Lace Pandora de Balthazar

I’ve always believed Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s words, taken from The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems, about the power of rest:

“…. the night shall be filled with music,

And the cares, that infest the day,

Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,

And as silently steal away.”

The cares of the day will never “silently steal away” on their own.  It takes concerted effort; effort idealized in the Golden Rule. Effort best realized in what we would do for others. What a loss if we were to deny for ourselves the glorious rest we wish for those around us.

Antique Lace and Textiles Pandora de Balthazar

The Pandora de Balthazár Lifestyle Diary and this post, Richly and Graciously Caring for Ourselves, © Pandora de Balthazár and Jame Swan, all rights reserved. Our idea of glorious rest is achieved through our European Sleep System, which can be purchased through our atelier and here on Pandora de Balthazár Lifestyle.


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