Recently my dear friend and blogging sister, Jessica from Wildwood Naturals, wrote a blog entitled The Virtues of Vanity. In the entry, she shares what being a mom of two can be like and the toll that constantly attending to the needs of children and household can have on the ego’s desire to look beautiful. She offers guidance which all women, mom’s or not, can probably benefit from.
I have carried Jessica’s message with me over the last couple of weeks. Although I don’t have children as she does, I can relate to having a life that sometimes feels out of my control. There are the demands of a career, a household shared with another family, the attempt to keep up with cleaning and cooking, not to mention staying in front of the entropy that naturally comes with life. I live a life that often feels pressing. On top of my crazy-busy life, throw in the holiday bustle and I have a recipe for STRESS.
But this last week or so, something has changed for me. And although I don’t think this is not directly associated with Jessica’s message, my mind somehow links the two. I have been feeling more beautiful than I remember feeling in a long time. I feel as if I am relaxing into my body and into the woman I have evolved into.
I am not sure exactly what has caused the shift, but I imagine like most things in life, it is probably not just one thing. It wasn’t just Jess’s blog, but I think that made me more aware of it. I imagine it might have something to do with being off sugar for two and a half months now, and perhaps may have something to do with the tiny bit of additional exercise I am getting on my bike. It may be that I am coming to terms with being in my 40’s…after almost two years of struggling with it. And, it may be that my career doesn’t feel new; I am more comfortable in it.
Whatever it is, I am grateful. I didn’t go out looking for it. I haven’t been trying to change this specific thing, it changed itself while I was busy creating the best life I know how to create.
It happened like this. Sitting in the movie theatre the other night, I suddenly felt supremely aware of how beautiful I am. Not just beautiful on the inside and not beautiful for a big girl. I felt the whole of the beauty that is me, all of me.
The beauty of my hair which once felt diminished by the suggestion that my curls were like a Brillo pad or as wild as a tumbleweed. The beauty of my skin which once seemed so old for my young face that I could pass for my friends’ mothers. The beauty of my breasts which just over a month ago I feared might be in danger of having cancer. The beauty of my round abdomen and hips which I have often felt took up too much room in this world. Beauty for the inside as well. For the part of me that risks against my deep seated fears. For the part that seems broken beyond repair. For the part that is so dark and hidden to others that it only shows up in my dreams or in the secreted actions of myself when I feel desperate. All of me. Every ounce and nuance felt witnessed and all I saw was my own lovely self.
And one of the best gifts is that when I walked out of the theatre, I could still see what had been shown to me that night. It went to work with me the next day, slept beside me in the bed as I recovered from the flu. It revealed itself in the mirror when I was nauseated and feverish from the flu. And stuck around to make sure I found it securely within myself as I faced the dark and ugly tales of humanity gone wrong from the mouths of the ones who have lived through them.
I have read varying times for what people say is the duration it might take to change a habit, so I am choosing to create my own duration by saying it only takes a moment. I think I had my moment there in the theatre. And it opened a door to the possibility of a lifetime of moments spent seeing what is best in me. But instead of making me complacent with the status quo, I feel as if the door lets that beauty shine into what is beyond it. It enlightens the darkness of doubt and fear so that I might reach destinations I never allowed myself to actualize in the past. Rather than being propelled into my personal best by messages of lack, I am lifted up by the knowledge of what is beautiful and lovely about me, a dynamic that I often offer to others but which has escaped me up until now.
And so, dear Self, I honor what I behold in you. Woman. Nearly 42. Full of story. Ripe with creativity. Capable of loving. Worthy of being loved. Resilient and graceful. Sometimes falling but always ultimately grateful.