Friday, January 21, 2011

On Beauty

I can hear the words of my mother reverberating off the dressing room doors of the Macy's department store, "Why can't you just be happy with what you have been given." At first it just felt like someone had slapped me in the face, and all I could feel was the aftermath of the burning and stinging that her hand had left on the side of my cheek. You see my mother and I were shopping together for a dress for St. Vitus, also known as the medical school prom. My mom had just picked out a dress that was tight, black, and somewhat more revealing than I would have chosen for myself for me to try on for her. I remember coming out of the dressing room with trepidation as my mother gasped and said, "That's it. That's the one." It was just so interesting to me that as we both stood looking in the same mirror, we each saw something very different. In her eyes, I looked great, I had a nice shape, and if it were her she would wear the dress with pride. While I looked in the mirror and was horrified. I saw every imperfection, every flaw, and I just stood there baffled at how my mother could possibly feel that this was an acceptable dress.

Yet, I have asked myself for weeks the question that my mother did "Why can't I just work with what I have been given." The answer is I don't have a stinkin' clue. I guess I have grown up in a society that has defined the status quo of beauty for me. I grew up believing that the beautiful women will live happily ever after with their prince charmings. I believed that being beautiful in this society was related to your pant size. Yet, it is hard not to be convinced that there is not some validity to my views on beauty as the findings in a recent NEWSWEEK showed that women who were perceived to be more beautiful were more likely to be hired in the work force, make more money, and be more successful. Yet, the more I think about it the more frustrated I have become with myself and the society in which I live.

All women want to be desirable, if they tell you anything different they are flat out lying to you. It is our nature to want to be loved, and thus love and beauty are intimately connected. I had a guy friend of mine tell me once that he only dates "pretty girls." I of course appalled and mildly irritated by this statement asked "How's that was working out for you." But my question rests in what and who defines what is a "pretty girl." Is it only based on appearance or are there other characteristics that weigh in? Yet, I will tell you that I believe that as much as we would like to deny it society does dictate what we consider as attractive. For example, I have ridiculously curly hair. Yet I would move my hairstylist into my home in an instant, if she would make my hair straight every day because I think I look more attractive with straight hair. Yet, in all honesty, I believe that curly hair fits me and my personality far better.

Furthermore, I know in my heart of hearts that as hard as I try I will never look like Sarah Jessica Parker. Yet, there was a time in my life where I thought being skinny was the end all to beauty. I thought my life would be so different- better actually if I was thin. Somehow I had come to believe that men would like me more, that I would be perceived as more desirable if I was a size 0. Yet, what I learned along the way is that this attempt to control this part of my life only led to disaster and destruction. I remember one day I was in Boston for the summer doing research, I remember being in the gym and going to the scale moving the notches that determine your weigh and realizing I weighed 102 lbs. I remember the only thing that went through my head in that moment was I wonder what it would feel like to weight 100 lbs. The truth is I didn't look beautiful, I didn't look attractive, I looked ill. I didn't have rolling curves, I had bony fingers and an emaciated face.

Yet, somewhere along the way I had a metamorphosis. I realized that beauty was so much more that my exterior. It was more about what resides within you. The truth is that over the years beauty will fade. It will be replaced with gray hair, wrinkles, and sagging skin and what you will be left with is a distant memory of the person you used to be. While I still have longings to be that woman that is idolized in our society, I realize that I am just going to have to settle on being me. You see I believe that beauty radiates from people. It is in the smiles, the laughter, and the unadulterated acts of kindness and this is what truly speaks beauty to me. Thus, I encourage you this week to embrace your inner beauty as much as your outer beauty. To realize that there is no criteria that you have to meet, that you possess a beauty that far exceeds the status quo. And I hope that you will find as I have that trading in my skinny jeans for hips and happiness was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Running

I woke up this morning and it was snowing and now I am heading towards bed with a light dusting still spitting from the sky. While snow is often viewed as the enemy, with all the hazards it causes, I can't help but find the innate beauty of it.

As I geared up to go running this evening I had on my black leotards, my thick gloves, and my rainbow bright hat to keep me warm. I had my ipod blaring to Brittney Spears and Bruno Mars as I trudged through the banks of snow. Despite the extra energy it requires to run in the snow, and the fact that every mile you run seems like two, it doesn't matter because I am mesmerized by the gorgeous glistening reflecting back at me. The snow reminds me that there is something out there that can lift the darkness of winter that at times feels like it is engulfing me. I feel the small flakes penetrating my face, sticking to my eyelashes, and I feel alive. I hear the crunching and squishing of snow under my feet, it is the only reminder that my feet are still moving.

Perhaps it is the running itself, but in that hour where I am running I feel like all my worries and heartaches have lifted. I don't know what it is, whether it is the run or the snow, but I just lose myself. I sometimes wish I could run all day; escape the unknowns, the hurt feelings, and my ever churning mind. Yet, I know I can't.

Snow is clean, white, and pure. It gives me hope and a weird way embraces me and warms me.. As I run past the kids in the yard making snow men and snow angels. I laugh out loud as memories flood over me like the ocean at high tide. Through the overcast evening a ray of sunshine hits the snow and produces a sparkling sea of snow that resembles a diamond in the light. Yet, I look back and smile as I realize I am the only person who is weathering the storm tonight because my footprints are the only ones in the snow. Sweating, silent, and smiling I trudge to my staircase and just stand. Listening to the air, the traffic of the nearby street, and glancing back at my lone foot prints in the snow knowing that I am alive and that we are here to do nothing else but leave footprints wherever we go.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I have said it before but I am a creature of habit. I have a morning routine where I get up each morning and immediately go to my kitchen to start my coffee pot. Quite honestly, no one should probably talk to me until I have had my coffee. I listen to the percolating coffee, where the hiss and tinkle of the coffee maker is like music to my ears. I then pull out my favorite mug that is brown with white polka dots and pour myself a plentiful cup of coffee. I then sit on my lovely cream colored couch in front of my computer and press the refresh button. Sometimes I push it multiple times because I have no patience, but with just a small click everything is renewed and my day is updated- NY times style. Quite honestly sometimes I wish I had a refresh button for real life. I feel like it is so easy to get in a rut these days where we get in these habits of just going through the motions. Where my days begin to resemble one another and all you really want is a small reminder of the beauty and richness of life. All I need is a breath of fresh air.

Refresh. I can think of a ton of things that make me feel refreshed like eating citrus fruit, breathing in frigid cold air, siestas, and baking cookies are great examples. Yet, I think we are much more influenced by our surroundings- the people, places, and things of everyday life. Thus, my purpose is to let you know that even thought our lives can feel and seem so mundane, I believe that there is spice to life scattered all around us. We just have to be open enough to experiences and people around us to find it.

I really have no idea what my deal has been lately, I just really haven't been myself. This being said I will have to say that I was pleasantly surprised when someone was interested in spending the evening with me. The truth was that I didn't know him very well, to be honest he was somewhat of a mystery to me. Thus I was delighted when he suggested we should go to First Friday, which is where all the art galleries downtown open up for public viewing (I highly encourage everyone to check this out). My next favorite part about the evening is that he had nothing else planned after the art show. I know this would make some of you extremely uncomfortable, not knowing what to expect or what was coming next, but I loved it. Being somewhat of a free spirit, It was so refreshing not to have a mandated schedule dictating my life. We agreed to having drinks at one of my favorite restaurants in town.

Perhaps it was the libations, or the dark rustic atmosphere, but this is where I started to feel rejuvenated. It is so refreshing to talk to someone who embodies the characteristics of life that you believe so deeply. Perhaps I had been focusing on my future to much, that I forgot about how much I love the present. It was in the next hour that I watched this man sitting in front of me transform me and remind me of what I love in life. I love beauty, spontaneity, honesty, and depth. I have been on dates where people tell me about their luxury apts, their awesome new car, and which business they want to own next. If I would have had one of those cartoon bubbles that people get to have when they are in comic strips on these dates mine would have said " I want to slit my wrists." Yet, the conversation with my mystery man was rich in depth, and perhaps my favorite moment of the night was when he told me how he discovered he was color blind. Afterwards, I then asked him curiously, "What color are my eyes?" he responded, "um. .. green?"

If you don't know me, I have bright blue eyes. I felt like in that moment he had turned on a light bulb for me. He had reminded me that most of life is how we perceive things. We both can find the same things innately beautiful, even though he sees it slightly differently than me. This was so beautiful to me. Most of my life I have heard that my eyes are my greatest asset because I have brown hair and blue eyes, which is somewhat rare. Yet, he sees me entirely differently than the rest. His interest in me doesn't even include my eyes. The one thing that I believe is pretty about myself, he doesn't even see.

Unknowingly he had just pressed my personal refresh button. I felt as if I was seeing the world differently in the vibrant colors that I had been missing due to all the weight of my daily stresses and worry. Thus I encourage you this week to surround yourself with people who make you see things in a different light, go to places that energize you, and embrace spontaneity because life is too short to just go through the motions.