Life lessons from a Grande Dame

A young and very glam Kitty Carlisle If you are 30 or younger, you may never have heard of the late Kitty Carlisle. She was a singer and a minor movie star, and later she became a fixture on TV game shows. A well-known hostess, philanthropist, and spokesperson for the arts, she was one of the last true Grande Dames. 

I think of Kitty Carlisle often.  Her style and the daily ritual that kept her young and vibrant for so long fascinate me. She began every morning with floor exercises to keep her body supple, and then would study her reflection in a mirror and say, “Kitty, I forgive you.”
 
The exercises took eight minutes and, according to Marie Brenner in her book, Great Dames, left Kitty Carlisle’s legs looking flawless, even in her later years. Kitty told Brenner she learned the workouts from the great dancer Martha Graham  in the 1950s.
 
However, what intrigued me the most was that morning forgiveness ritual. What a great idea to start the day with a clean slate of forgiveness! It made me wonder how many of us are weighed down by the small failings and disappointments we carry day to day. They make us feel tired, defeated, and judgmental — before we even get out of bed.
 
Isn’t better to begin fresh each day, to really forgive yourself and get on with your day with vigor and commitment. I think so.
 
Kitty Carlisle was a charmer with delightful manners. She really knew how to focus on others and make them feel special as she garnered support for her projects.
 
Elegant "grande dame" Kitty Carlisle remained vigorous, slim and attractive well past 80. She had a great career, raised two children, and contributed to many philanthropic endeavors.
 
So this year why not take leaf out of Kitty Carlisle’s book and see if her routine works for you:
 
Make exercise a part of your life
If you are not fortunate enough to know a great dancer like Martha Graham, hire a good trainer or take a class. Try yoga or Pilates. Get a whole body routine that will carry through life.
 
Cultivate good manners and charm
Be sincerely interested in others. Be considerate and be on time. Respond. Reach out. Smile. Learn to pay sincere compliments. Say please and thank you; a little politesse goes a long way to smooth out life’s rough edges.
 
Forgive yourself
This doesn’t mean are blowing off your bad behaviour or failures. But, you are accepting yourself and treating yourself with compassion and love. Practice compassion daily and extend it to others. The world is a harsh place.
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