Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!

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Posts Tagged ‘relaxation’

The Wise Use of Leisure

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

do the things you enjoyI am heading out on vacation tomorrow ~ taking a roadtrip with my crazy dog Frieda to New England. Since there is much traveling going on during these fine summer months, I decided to find some words on one of my favorite activities ~ leisure. This one is from a home ecomonics textbook entitled Everyday Living for Girls.

1936: The Wise Use of Leisure

What is meant by leisure? Is idleness leisure? Is leisure time for rest? Is leisure recreation? Is it time for mental growth? Is all of your time outside of school hours leisure? Is riding in the street car or walking to and from school part of your leisure? Is all of a business woman’s time, outside of her eight hours at the office, leisure time? Are there some activities which are part of a high school girl’s job or her day’s work, while they would be leisure time activities for a young business girl? . . . Does your mother have leisure time? What is your definition of leisure? . . .

Leisure means your right to choose. Leisure time is generally considered free time, when you do the things you enjoy, when you choose what you want to do. Nobody or no outside force causes you to do or act. It is the time when you are not doing dishes, making beds, doing homework, dressing, or washing out silk stockings. Practicing a musical instrument might or might not be a leisure time activity, according to whether you chose to do it for recreation, or were studying it vocationally. Leisure time might be spent in arranging flowers, or even in getting the living-room ready for a party. When you really enjoy doing something and choose to do it yourself, it is a leisure time activity. Eating may be a leisure time activity when one entertains, is entertained, or eats in an unusual place. “Eating one’s way through” New York, or Paris, or old New Orleans would be a holiday activity.

Do what you really enjoy. No one should tell another person how to spend his leisure time. Unless you may do what you like to do, it is not real leisure. Certainly, this book will not presume to tell you what to do. Rather, you write this discussion!

Source: Van Duzer, Adelaide Laura, et. al. Everyday Living for Girls. Chicago: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1936.
~ pp. 447-48 ~

Provision for Sleep and Peace

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

everyone is overstimulatedWell, after many weeks I’m finally all moved into my little house, and am enjoying it quite a bit. Now that everything is nearly unpacked, here’s a little something from one of my home economics books regarding the need for a place to rest, relax, and sleep comfortably. I’m certain I’ve found it.

1947: Provision for Sleep and Peace

We spend long hours in bed and should arise rested, refreshed, and ready for the work and play of the day. We drop down in our favorite easy chair for a moment, and the charm and restfulness of the orderly quiet room seem to restore something within us essential to satisfying living. The need for privacy is deep-seated in each of us. We need time by ourselves to think things through, to sort our impressions, and to reflect on our beliefs. In earlier years, when our population was largely rural, people found privacy in the woods and fields, as well as in their homes. Now, every moment of the day has potential contact with many people. Automobiles, telephones, and radios seem to eliminate distance, as artificial light has shortened the night. The result is that everyone is overstimulated. If we are to have opportunity for serenity and poise, the home must provide for us times and places for the enjoyment of the quiet that allows one to think, to read, to relax, and to plan. The rest that will rebuild one for the stress of the next day must be assured.

Source: Justin Rust. Today’s Home Living. Chicago: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1947.
~ pp. 143-44 ~

R is for Relaxation

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

the proverbial coiled springI won’t go into details, but this week has been a bit stressful for me. Thankfully, ABC’s of Beauty, written by the lovely Babs Lee, helped me get organized and stress-free. On the book’s flap copy, Babs writes: “I started collecting these beauty rules some ten years ago and alphabetizing them for my own convenience and use. Loveliness is as simple to achieve and maintain as A B C for most women ~ once they know the formula, and apply it.” Right on, sister.

1950: R is for Relaxation

Get the most out of life, relax! How can your body function at its best when it’s tied up in knots? Relaxation helps to keep out and iron out those wrinkles, and it restores and renews you mentally. If relaxation does all these wonderful things for us, why in the name of heaven don’t we relax? That is the catch. Many of us do not recognize the need for relaxation in ourselves, others of us do not know how to relax.

Good, honest, fatigue from any sort of physical exertion is one thing, but fatigue from tension brought on by worry or the inability to take things in stride, is a dangerous fatigue. These tensions must relieve themselves one way or another. All too often they vent themselves on our bodies with results which range from a mild headache or mild indigestion to really serious disorders.

The reason is obvious.

When we become tense our bodies tighten up all over like the proverbial coiled spring. If we could release that tension in some constructive or physical activity the strain on our system would be gone. Once the strain is removed we can deal quietly with our worries or emotional conflicts. In fact, once you’ve really learned to relax, your worries may not seem so terribly important to you.

A few minutes of clear, organized thinking often straightens out all our problems.

Source: Lee, Babs. ABC’s of Beauty. New York: Lantern Press, 1950.
~ pp. 184-85 ~

Relax!

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

go with the windQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I am scared to show my body in front of a guy. How can I make myself more comfortable?

Signed,
Cassidy

A Dear Cassidy:

I think this little excerpt from Margery Wilson’s “complete book of charm” (The Woman You Want to Be) says it all. And by the way, that “laughing at yourself” thing really works. Trust me. I’m just hilarious sometimes.

1942: Learn How to Relax

To clear the decks for better judgment in all matters, we take our first step toward poise by learning to relax.

Whatever may be the real self trying to express through flesh, fears, mental tangles, mannerisms and odd notions that make up the average human personality, our best approach to it is first through relaxation. Let go!

Relax so that your energies can flow together harmoniously. Relax so that your forces of mind and spirit can bring you your natural vitality ~ so that your body may become supple and graceful ~ and renewed by a free-flowing bloodstream. Relax so you may get a new mental picture of whatever is weighing on your mind, and poise will gradually replace confusion and tension.

LAUGH AWAY AWKWARDNESS. Things go a bit awkwardly at first ~ naturally one must become accustomed to thinking and planning in certain ways. But after a few repetitions your actions become automatic, which is what we really mean when we say ‘natural.’ And you really can have a great deal of fun. When you are awkward, laugh at yourself. Few of us laugh enough. Let’s not go after charm grimly, with determination. Think how funny you’d look with a set expression on your face while you said something intended to be tossed off airily. We should relax and just ‘go with the wind’ for a few days and see what happens. Make a high adventure of the conquest of charm.

Source: Wilson, Margery. The Woman You Want to Be. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1942.
~ pp. 31 ~

1936: Wise Use of Leisure

Monday, October 9th, 2006

Some of you may not be aware that I play the french horn. I have since fourth grade, and since graduating from college a bazillion years ago it’s been off and on whenever I can find a group to play with. (I don’t do so well solo.) I’m currently playing with my local Takoma Park Community Band, and I just put together a Web site for our group. (Disclaimer: I’m hoping that posting here will get Google to find the link and index the page for us.)

Not to completely make this about Google’s index, I thought I would share an excerpt from a chapter titled “Wise Use of Leisure.” It is from the 1936 book titled Everyday Living for Girls, by Adelaide Laura Van Duzer (“Formerly supervisor of home economics, Cleveland Public Schools”) and a handful of other Cleveland authors.

~~
Leisure means your right to choose.Leisure time is generally considered free time, when you do the things you enjoy, when you choose what you want to do. Nobody or no outside force causes you to do or act. It is the time when you are not doing dishes, making beds, doing homework, dressing, or washing out silk stockings. Practicing a musical instrument might or might not be a leisure activity, according to whether you chose to do it for recreation, or were studying it vocationally. Leisure time might be spent in arranging flowers, or even in getting the living-room ready for a party. When you really enjoy doing something and choose to do it yourself, it is a leisure activity. . . .
~~

Later in the chapter, the authors discuss the importance of community facilities when seeking out leisure activities:

~~
Some girls do not take advantage of community facilities because they do not know about them. Find out what yours are. For instance, if you are musical and wish to join an amateur orchestra or string quartet, or would like to do ensemble singing, look around; find out if there is a group you may join or help form. In own town the young people established their own little theater. Opportunity for different types of self-expression was given. One group became responsible for the costumes, and splendid artistic effects were achieved at little cost.
~~

All this talk about leisure seems fitting after the nice, long holiday weekend, that’s for sure.