If you have lived or driven through the Midwest during winter, you may have encountered rain as ice and liquid creating a hard slippy shell over the fields. Like hoarfrost only heavy, slick and dangerous. It coats and stops everything. It is beautiful.
During yesterday’s “ice day,” I realized at 11:30 a.m., neither the pup nor I had brushed our teeth, raked a comb through our hair, bothered a wash or accomplished anything of significance outside of our coffeed-up, couch-borne selves reading about wine, woo, joy and libraries. And I felt beautiful.
This is not a thought I tend to have.
And I worry that even writing this will sound like a not-too-subtle call for “oh you’re fine” or anything else. But there is a point in here for folks who – like me – wrestle with their good hearts and being enough.
Yesterday, I realized for the very first time that what caused me to feel beautiful was not make up (I am the worst with it), clothes (I was in my pilly, oversized charcoal grey sweater and a pair of yoga pants) or position (still in the magnificent attic Hobbit House).
It was contentment that cultivated this sense of “beautiful.”
My heart at rest and not worrying to keep up with something
or wondering where I’ve failed, who I offended or where I lack.
It was the full-on awareness that I was where I needed to be.
And I was simply BE-ing.
It was beautiful.
No lie. As I curled up with such an amazing and epiphanal thought and basking in my own AHA!, Izzy chimed in with an eye-blistering wave of gas that had me springing from the blue couch. She slept on as I laughed and scruffled off to brush my teeth. Back to reality.
The beautiful feeling of well-being stayed with me all day.
It was there when I swapped jeans for the yoga pants, kept my pilly oversized sweater on and tossed on a pair of Madi’s old jade flats. I had places to go that required real clothes and meeting new people.
Standing in the bright community art gallery and surrounded by clouds, tigers, owls and minotaurs, I tried to explain the morning’s experience to a few people I’d like to know. This sense of well-being, curiosity and rest as being beautiful. Simple. Accessible. An aspiration of relief. But I’m afraid I biffed it and woke this morning with the crappy attempt to share the AHA rolling through my mind.
I had to chose to feel embarrassed and terrible about it or to get up and drive on into the day. Hello day! And dishes and laundry and sorely-missed sunshine.
Perhaps we have been seeking to be “beautiful” as a gateway for “acceptable.” We’ve made “beautiful” into something it is not – artificial and stressed out. Appeasing to others over pleasing to us.
Beauty: It is not the clothes, the title, the great accumulation of accolades and admirers. It’s us. Simply as we are. At peace with ourselves.
And if this is true, pursuing peace and curiosity and well-being and inner rest is a better use of our time than nip and tuck and all of the comparing ourselves in real life and on Instagram and across the aisles.
Peace like a river.
Peace like the early morning world after the first quieting snows of winter.
Peace like curling up with the kids reading Dinotopia because that is what they wanted to read and I’d rather read it than miss that time with them.
Peace like the coffee after a long run with my best friends or the submission of the story … application … authorization that has had me shaking in my bunny slippers.
Peace like being well with sharing a life with a giant dog now and not yet a fella, a giant dog and whatever else comes into the equation.
A question to consider: in the world where we find beauty, is it the uptight embellished things that draw our attention and awe or do the simpler things bring forth wonder? A setting sun over crashing waves, two older lovers holding hands, the mystery of a seedling emerging from dirt to light, a friend who gets that job and the cooing of a tiny baby who has found a safe nestling place.
I am thinking that the pinched, worried search for beauty and acceptance is less appealing – regardless of the visual results – than the invitation of simple things and ideas. And that is both good news and a challenge.
If, like me, you’ve worked hard to be acceptable and pleasing and wanted, the good news is that you can stop trying. You can only guarantee that one person will find you acceptable … will love you. You. You can learn to love you.
You can learn to love you whether that feels like loving a scruffy stray pup or loving an amorphous idea that has not yet found form. Try it. Say out loud, I love you, ____. It may feel silly at first, but I am guessing, with practice, it will stick. And maybe revive something in you like it has in me (hope? peace? wait-and-see patience?)
This is a good first start. There are many ways to build upon this beautiful peacefulness. Google “mindset reset,” “Carol Dweck growth mindset,” “well being 2020” or hop on TED talks and find some encouragement. There is no shame in looking and asking for help. All you have to lose is the pain and loneliness and shame that is likely not yours to bear. And that sense of not being enough, being ugly in your skin or story … being unacceptable.
Remember: beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you are the beholder that lives with the real you 24/7. You are beautiful. You just may not know it yet.
Thank you for joining with me on this adventure of Uncomplicating. I write as the path appears and have no designs on being famous. I’ve found a few keys to unlock the shame and junk I’ve believed about myself for too long and would like to share them. The opinions are my own. The giant pup is my daughter and her husband’s pup. We are looking out for each other for the time being.