Beauty is Being the Survivor

I showed someone this picture of an ancient door in Kyoto, Japan. They commented that it was sad that the door was in such poor condition. That it’s beauty was marred by the missing pieces. They could imagine what it once looked like, and thought it would be great for someone to restore it to it’s original glory. 

I pondered their comments. It was not just that I did not agree with them, I actually felt sorry for them. I grew up in a world where the flaws in things were called character or interesting, and perfection was not the only definition of beautiful. I was taught to find the unique and special in old, weathered and flawed objects. The spaces we lived in were not filled with furniture from a single store. They were filled with items that had a story, or creativity, or brought life and interest to the space. A door with missing parts or flaws or that appeared imperfect was valued. Value was placed on being different and the more different the better the story. 

I felt sorry for the person who commented because I could only imagine the world they live in where only perfection or something with it’s original beauty in tact was impressive. Where things with flaws are seen as less, and effort should be made to bring things back towards perfection.  I hoped for them that this standard only applied to things and not to people. Because people are all flawed, everyone has something about them that is not perfect. Everyone ages and their physical appearance diminishes over time. No matter how hard we try or what drugs we take, operations we survive, or plans we follow our bodies will fail and fall apart. 

We are liberated when we are able to find beauty in flaws, imperfection, in the old and ancient. Our minds are opened when we look to see the value in the old and experienced instead of only wanting young and fresh. This door has stood for centuries. If it could speak imagine the stories about emperors and princesses, geisha and warriors it could tell. It has seen samurai and iPhones pass between it’s frame. It has seen cultures, worlds and empires come and go…and yet it is still standing. It has seen sun and rain, snow and heat over the decades…and it has survived it all. It has changed color, lost elements and hung there both open and closed…and it still invited the world to experience the wonders on the other side. It is far from perfect, far from pristine, far from where it once was…yet it still stands and reminds us all that no matter what comes your way, no matter how you endure the ravages of time, when you are the one still hanging in there no one can deny your value. Beauty is not in perfection, beauty is found in being the survivor who lives to tell the tale. 

Being Yourself Without Fear

As I was walking across the sidewalk today, I saw this butterfly resting on the warm cement. It rested in one spot closing and opening it’s wings, as if it was enjoying the summer air. As I drew closer it did not move, it simply continued to open and close its wings. I snapped this shot to savor the contrast between the rough cement and the elegant wings. The beautiful blues and shades of black reminded me that sometimes you simply need to rest and share yourself with the world. You don’t have to hurry, or panic, or be frightened…simply do what you do best and let those around enjoy being part of your beauty. 

Savor who you are and what you have to offer the world, and never let anyone take that away from you. By being secure enough to know your value AND courageous enough to share it with the world that is when you truly get to shine. Being yourself in contrast to the rough elements of life is when your character becomes evident and the real you begins to shine through. 

Never underestimate the power of being you. I learned that today from a butterfly. This creature was simply being itself, and it stopped me in my tracks and inspired me to write this post….simply by being itself without fear. 

Wrestle Those Fitting Room Demons

I was in a furniture store recently and two friends were walking around picking up things and putting a room together. They were having fun selecting items they wanted to use to decorate the client’s space. One turned to the other and said, “I’m glad we have aged and shop for furniture and knick knacks now, instead of jeans and bathing suits….that was torture, this is fun!” I actually laughed outloud when I heard that comment, and was glad that I was not the only one who felt that way. 
For many women this is the worst place on earth – the fitting room in a women’s clothing store. They dread trying to buy clothes that fit. Anything off the rack assumes you have a generic figure, very few curves, and that what is currently in fashion will look good on your figure. It also assumes you want to look like everyone else and that the clothes made for the masses will satisfy your personal style. Any woman who has tried on any piece of clothing in one of these spaces knows the turmoil it can cause. It isn’t bad enough that the clothes may or may not fit; if they don’t look the way you want it can get into your head and leave scars. All that from a dressing room? That’s crazy! And yet millions of women feel this way everyday. 

Through media, television, newspapers, magazines and the internet we have told women what is beautiful, what is desired, what is attractive. Did you know that over 70% of women in America dye their hair?  That most girls find themselves unattractive in front of a mirror by the age of ten? When we tell them what we value, we have left out the most important message, the most important part…what does she think is beautiful, desirable, attractive? We want to put her in a box that we defined, never bothering to ask what she has to offer. She is told her value is in how she looks not in who she is…

Every woman has something worthwhile and of value for the world, and yet all they may see is a pair of pants that bulge in all the wrong places. They see a hair color that isn’t quite attractive enough. They see a young girl who is ugly and no boy will ever like. They see the external picture compared to what they see in the world. Some of us are able to overcome the fitting room pressure and embrace ourselves. As adults we learn that no one is perfect, no one’s figure fits every dress, and we learn to face our body image and find beauty in what we have. But the ugliness of the public beauty image can come back to haunt us when we try on a dress for that special occasion, and nothing fits. 

It is time to wrestle the fitting room demons and leave them at the store. Embrace who you are and what beauty you have inside and out. It is time to clothe ourselves in what we want and express ourselves, whether it has to be altered, designed, or shopped for in fourteen different stores. The value we bring as women cannot be found in a dressing room. Our value and beauty is only found when we feel secure in our talents, skills, and abilities and put them to work everyday making our world a better place. Leave your demons in the fitting room just like those bulging pants…move on, get out of there, and shop somewhere else. Your beauty will never be contained by a pair of mass produced pants.