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on beauty

when Reachel first emailed me about this lovely series she posed a question that i loosely translated to what makes you feel beautiful? and then quickly mis-remembered as what make you feel sexiest?

(there's some kind of insight into my core right there).

the question could not have come at a better time. (precisely because i was feeling anything but).

beauty is a funny thing, isn't it? a fickle mistress. what i've come to understand is that feeling you're beautiful and knowing you're beautiful are entirely different things. and i'd take the feeling any day of the week, because the feeling--that inner spark--well, that informs everything.

so i took Reachel's question and i went for a jog (literally). and as my feet pounded away at the pavement, and the hudson river rolled past on my left, i made a list. and that list made one thing very clear: i feel most beautiful when i am most myself (which as it turns out is also when i feel sexiest--for me there is no difference between the two), when i am fully engaged in this chaotic and turbulent and wholly exciting world we live in.

what does that mean?

feeling pretty

well, it means i feel most beautiful when i'm laughing really hard. out loud. and even more so when i'm telling a good joke or a good story--watching the eyes of the people i love crinkle in response to something i've said? heaven. few things trump that.

i feel most beautiful while eating a green apple, after an impossible exercise class, with my hair pulled into a high, messy bun, as i traipse about lower manhattan giving thanks for a body that moves and runs and spins--holy heck is the body a miraculous thing!

or when listening to good music. or waiting for the subway with a good book in hand. reading and understanding and reveling in a poem that three years ago made no sense to me (walt whitman's "song of the open road"). watching the rain move in over chicago as portugal. the man plays "so american". standing arms and mouth open to welcome said rain. imbibing a hot drink on a cold day. a walk through central park on a cool morning. furtively glancing at the guy at the end of the bar and then catching him mid-stare. or a nod from the bass player from that one alaskan band i so love.

doing something, anything, that a year ago i couldn't (or rather, was too afraid) to do. heading into the belly of the beast of fear and coming out the other end makes me feel beautiful in a way that nothing (and i do mean nothing) can touch.

what i look like will change with time. my weight will fluctuate. the lines on my forehead will crease. the gray hairs will take hold and multiply. but my mind, my intelligence, the light behind my eyes--that (God willing) will remain. more than that (again, God willing) it will grow and burgeon. it is my belief that my intelligence and my desire to live life fully--to live imperfectly but honestly, makes me wholly myself.  and the more i can align myself with my value system, the more i balance on the axis of who i am--the more i know what i want and what i believe in, the more beautiful i feel.

and there, on that axis, perched atop it all--balancing on the bounties of this life (both good and bad) well, then, from there, the opinions of others regarding what i look like will matter only with my consent. it will be how i feel from within my body--inside the sweet-spot of life that will dictate my response. i won't need a mirror or a scale or any of the trappings to provide me with what i've somehow always known but often doubted: that i am, in fact, yes, beautiful.


EB said...

Wow. I loved this post.

I found your blog a couple of days ago when I was searching for the letter challenge and, instead, found your love letters to your future husband. I basically fell in love with the blog and proceeded to read every single post of yours.

Congratulations for this amazing blog, and even more for feeling the way you do about yourself!

Alice said...

I love this post. My boyfriend is constantly telling me how beautiful I am, and I always tell him I'm not. Partly because I don't always feel it, but often because I felt that it was self centered to think "yeah I am beautiful actually". This has made me realise that it's ok to feel beautiful, and that I feel most beautiful straight out of the shower after a run. Thank you for this.

Chelsea said...

i love how you speak of beauty as a fickle mistress.

so true.

I feel most beautiful when I'm snuggling my baby girl early in the morning & dustin kisses us goodbye.


Ria said...

I love this. This post, in and of itself, is beautiful. Taking the time to think about when you feel beautiful is amazing, especially during a run. I feel like a lot of my clear thinking gets done when I'm running.

Brooke said...

you find the best and most beautiful way to write. please keep doing it.

stefanie said...

this could not be more elegantly written, and true. so true. i just found this blog and have fallen in love with your writing. i admire your honesty. beautiful.

Ramona said...

to walk right into your fear or the unknown, that dark tunnel and coming out the other way. Yes that indeed makes you feel more beautiful because I believe in the process we become more ourselves. And being at ease with ourselves makes us radiant like nothing else!

Kate said...

This is so true. I think that you can look beautiful, but not feel it. Whenever you feel beautiful other people can just feel that about you. I think beauty is more than just the way someone looks, it's also about they way she or he feels it.

Elizabeth said...

This is lovely. I particularly understand that "it is my belief that my intelligence and my desire to live life fully-to live imperfectly but honestly, makes me wholly myself. and the more I can align myself with my value system, the more i balance on the axis of who i am-the more i know what i want and what i believe in, the more beautiful i feel."

Reading that, I finally understood why I haven't felt all that beautiful lately. And it inspires me to take better care of myself and figure myself out more.

Thank you :)