I was a young bride when I first discovered writer/designer Alexandra Stoddard. I remember my husband waking up in the middle of the night, rubbing his eyes, and asking me why I in the world I was polishing the doorknobs at one a.m. So inspired by her writings about light in our homes, I couldn't read in bed any longer. I rubbed until I had lifted the black tarnish from our apartment's original hardware to reveal the gleam of soft, burnished brass.
Later that year I read a quotation by William Henry Channing. It seemed so Alexandra! I copied it on a postcard to share with her and posted one above my kitchen sink. She wrote a lovely note in response.
I was even more thrilled to open a copy of her latest book, Things I Want My Daughters To Know, and spot a familiar quotation at the end of Chapter 8:
To live content with small means;
To seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion;
To be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich;
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly;
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart;
To bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never.
In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony.
--William Henry Channing