I have done several book reviews in the past that show us how to live a disciplined life for God. With today’s book review of, Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic, by Jennifer L. Scott, I want to focus on that.
In many of the books I have read about French culture, although they tend to be very liberal in some areas, their daily lives reflect a strong discipline to rise early, dress modestly, eat in a way that takes care of their bodies (God’s temple) and choose not to gossip about others. I find it fascinating that they are led to do the right things in a very liberated society, but after all—God does write His laws on our hearts: “Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.” Romans 2:14-15 (NLT)
Jennifer writes from a Christian perspective and Madame Chic is shown to serve in her church; both women are an inspiration to me.
This is the second book I have reviewed by Jennifer L. Scott. The first one was Lessons from Madame Chic 20 Stylish Secrets I learned While Living In Paris. In her early 20’s, Jennifer went to live as an exchange student with a family that Jennifer calls, the Chic family and has passed on to us, all that she learned.
Now for the interesting lessons from “Polish Your Poise“.
On page 5 of the book, Jennifer gives us a list of the 5 Characteristics of Poise:
She includes a definition for each in the book.
The back cover gives a list of all the information you will learn in this book. Here are a few that I felt were important to me:
- Saying no with grace
- Accepting compliments
- Developing personal style
- Being punctual
- Dressing appropriately
- Speaking comfortably in public
- Being a good guest
- Being a good neighbor
Jennifer says, “Poise is defined as a graceful and elegant bearing. Madame Chic’s graceful and elegant bearing certainly laid the foundation for the gracious way she lived, but it was allowing this grace and this elegance to guide every choice she made throughout the day that truly solidified her poise.” (pp.5-6)
We see a clearer picture of Madame Chic in these words from Jennifer: “Take pride in absolutely everything you do. Cleaning house. Filing those spreadsheets at work. Ironing your clothes. Dealing with that customer who walks through the door just as you’re about to close the shop. Cleaning the pots in you kitchen. Volunteering…. Give it your all. Give it your full attention. Madame Chic took pride in everything that she did. She didn’t waste time griping about her lot in life. If she wanted to be doing something other than what she was doing, I would not have known it.” (pp. 244-245)
Jennifer says, “We must be prepared to deal with other people in a gracious and poised manner no matter how they behave toward us.” (p. 255) Sometimes that means changing our perspective. She explains, “Whenever you feel self-righteous in anger, ask yourself if you can look at the situation from a different perspective. This trick does many things: it allows you to pause before acting; it prompts you to question your thoughts to see if you are blowing the issue out of proportion; and it gives you clarity to take the best course of action. Most important, it calms you down. That calmness—choosing peace—is part of the poise that we are striving for. (p. 258)
“…the poised person also knows that no moment is wasted. Once you shift your perspective, you will realize there is a sliver lining in all trials; you will actually become grateful for the difficult moments. You will see that these trials only make you stronger and increase your resolve. Be thankful for the difficult people in your life, for they are teaching you assertiveness and tolerance…. Get through each situation and take what lessons you can from it. These difficult times are building your character and strengthening your poise.” (p. 265)
I will end with encouragement from Jennifer, “You and you alone can make others want to be better. You and you alone can give hope. Just when people are ready to resign, they can see you and the way you live and be intrigued by it. Your passion for life, your commitment to persevering is so attractive. It is so rare…. Don’t let the ways of the world discourage you. Let them motivate you to shine even more brightly. Yes, you will stand out. It might feel uncomfortable at first. You might be misunderstood. But you will make a difference to someone. And that is all that matters.” (pp. 268-269)
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve how they handle life and develop disciplines that line up with God’s word.