Mariya Dondonyan: the vision and mind behind The Gracious Lady
You’re a creative soul and beautiful storyteller, in both words and photography. Tell us a little about the journey you’ve been on so far in growing your craft.
Thank you so much for the kind words! Well, my journey has been one that has required a lot of self-assessment and curiosity. I live with an open mind, always questioning; I work with a great focus, thinking carefully about what I put my energy into; and I walk with great ambition. I just really want to be able to fulfill my personal legend here on earth. I’ve been lucky enough to have found myself in the art of photography and writing and it was a happy and natural realization during college. It’s about trying to figure out who you are, who you want to be, and how you are going to get yourself there.
As the visionary and mind behind The Gracious Lady, what does being a ‘gracious lady’ mean and where did your personal pursuit in promoting a life lived graciously stem from?
To me, the act of being gracious is about making a conscious choice; to embrace a character trait that is to be remembered, respected, and appreciated. It’s about working on the person who you want to become, while still loving who you currently are.
I guess where this way of thinking stems from is how I was raised and the things I chose to surround my life with. My grandmother raised me, and she is the most gracious lady I know. She taught me everything about manners, respecting those around you, and being proper and a poised young lady. I’m simply living, or at least actively trying to live, a life of simplicity and graciousness. This isn’t a new concept of living either: this is something women have worked towards for generations; I’m just trying to keep chivalrous acts and gracious behavior alive. Success is often the result of perseverance. I’m reminding others the importance of being kind and promoting topics of conversation that are thought provoking and possibly even life changing. It’s about standing in the light of vulnerability and authenticity.
Why do you believe grace is such an important quality for the modern woman to embody?
How can it not be important? We focus on promoting a self that can positively influence society and how we can all live lives worth living. Today, we sometimes forget simple acts of kindness or how to carry ourselves with a sense of self-worth or authenticity to who we are. Especially with social media crowding our vision of how others may actually be living their lives, it’s easy to edit and hide behind filtered images or words. But remembering to be honest through all of that is brave. This is so important.
How can we practically go about being gracious in our every day living?
Being gracious isn’t and shouldn’t be a chore. It shouldn’t even be something we feel forced to do. It should come naturally within you. Pursuing graciousness in your life on a daily basis can consist of simple acts like wishing a good morning to your husband, intently listening to a new friend who is trying to open up to you, showing respect towards the people in your life, watching what you say online, and more of the like. Always be kind, be mindful of what you say, and carry yourself with poise and you will always be gracious.
If you could sit down with any feminine heart over a cup of coffee and conversation, who would it be and why?
Honestly, I really admire Queen Elizabeth. She became Queen at the age of 25, and has reigned through more than five decades of enormous social change and development. That’s incredible. I’d love to hear about what she has learned in this amount of time growing up as a woman, staying poised while prospering in front of the entire world, all while reining over the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms and being a mother and grandmother.
– image provided by Mariya Dondonyan