The Legacy of Beauty

In my dermatologist’s waiting area, there are a few areas of distinction.  The muted color scheme is lovely and soothing.  Then, there is this cascading water feature in constant flow adding to the serenity.  It all makes for a pleasant experience as you wait to be called in for your appointment.  That is, until you start watching their video feed.

In this feed, it shows you the additional services they offer besides skin care.  While I appreciate the ads for sunscreen, everything else I could do without.  According to this video feed, I could use help with my furrowed brow, crow’s feet, sagging cheeks, skinny lips, back fat, and let’s not forget, my droopy caboose. It was hard to sit there and watch as each successive product or service offered was like taking a bullet to my self-esteem.  I texted a friend during this ordeal for validation and support.  No sooner than I hit send, I looked up to see I also could use a “chin assessment”.  Apparently, the angle of mine is ‘wrong’.

As women, we are expected to uphold a ridiculous standard of beauty.  No one really talks about how insane it all is, but I imagine, most of us could rattle off ten to twenty things about our appearance that we don’t like.  If we had unlimited resources, I suppose each of us could spend our time fixing these ‘flaws’, but when would it stop?  Most of the options available are temporary at best.  Who has that kind of time for all that upkeep?

When I think about real beauty, the kind that is sustainable through years and transcends aging, I always think of my Mom.

To me, she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

She kept her hair short, rarely wore make-up except for the occasional swipe of red lipstick, and preferred jeans and t-shirts as her wardrobe staples.  What made her beautiful wasn’t her adherence to unrealistic cultural beauty standards.  Instead, it was the sparkle in her clear-blue eyes, the playful laughter that would rise from within, and a smile that lit joy into whatever room she entered.

That’s the kind of beauty I want in my life. The best part of this kind of beauty is that it isn’t earned.  It’s uncovered.  It shows its way through the cracks of our facade by living life.  It emanates from a soul that has weathered loss, but still finds the ray of sunshine peeking through the rubble.

It is intangible and perfect.

It does require upkeep, but not by spending hours and dollars at a doctor’s office. It shows up when we follow our hearts, love without limits, and let the stars of heaven shine through us.



children, family, gratitude, kids, motherhood, parenting

Change Your Mind, Not Yourself (Happy Mother’s Day)

I recently was scrolling through a woman’s magazine on my iPad.  I quickly became discouraged as page after page advertised or extolled all the ways I needed to improve my external appearance.   It seems I have too many spots, wrinkles and imperfections to be considered truly beautiful by this magazine’s stringent and impossible standards.  I started to get really mad.  Mad at myself for all my flaws and mad at this magazine for pressuring me to be perfect.  Eventually I realized that I couldn’t really be mad at the magazine.  It is only perpetuating the insane ideals we as a whole have bought into.  What really, can any of us do about it?  We are helpless to the passage of time and the changes our faces and bodies will inevitably go through.  No amount of cream, lotion or potion will stop this.

Since I can’t change society or the external pressures we face, all I can do is change my mind about my own standard of beauty.  I started to think about the people in my life that were and are beautiful to me.  First and foremost, there was my Mom.  While she was living, she was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing.  She had the lightest blue eyes that always hinted at the wry humor hidden within them and she had this megawatt smile that could light up a room.  Hmmm,… she wasn’t a supermodel and she still did age through the years yet she was gorgeous to me.

My Beautiful Mom
My Beautiful Mom

On this Mother’s Day, I would like us all to entertain the possibility that maybe how we look on the outside has nothing to do with real beauty.  Let’s try to honor ourselves by how we love instead of how we look.

My wish for today is that when my boys look back at this time in our lives, they will recall a Mom who loved as much as she was loved and above all else, was perfectly beautiful just as she was.