What is beautiful? Is it happiness, contentment, vanity, companionship, friendship, love or the sum of all the parts? Everyone defines it differently. Throughout our lives our concept of what is beautiful will change. I look forward to that.
Today is my parent’s wedding anniversary. In 26 years there have been highs and lows but today I would say, they love each other more than ever.
In their honor, I moved up a post I was working on for a later date. What is beautiful?
Real Simple did an article a year or so back on authors describing what makes them feel beautiful. I was so moved by the above submission from acclaimed author Anne Roiphe, that I tore it out and put it on our vision board next to Marilyn et al.
It is simply profound. Please read for yourself.
“It was mid-December of 2005. I don’t know why he said it. I don’t know if a shadow had fallen across him, something appalling he saw out of the corner of his eye. I don’t know if it was just coincidence or intuition that prompted him, but about a week before my seemingly healthy 82-year-old husband suddenly died, he emerged from the kitchen ready to go to his office, his face clean-shaven, his eyes shining, smiling shyly, holding the copy of the Anthony Trollope book he was rereading, and said to me, “You have made me very happy. You know that you have made me a happy man.” There I stood in my work outfit, blue jeans and a T-shirt. There I stood with my white hair and my wrinkles and the face I was born with, although now much creased by time, and I felt beautiful.
“What?” I said. I wanted him to repeat the words. “You heard me,” he said and put on his coat and drew his earmuffs out of his pocket. “Say it again,” I said. He said it again. “You’ve made me happy.” We had been married 39 years. We had held hands waiting in hospital corridors while a desperately ill child struggled to breathe and thankfully recovered. We had made financial mistakes together. We had spent hours out in fishing boats. We had raised the children and then second-guessed our choices. We had stood shoulder to shoulder at graduations and weddings and we were well-worn, but still I had made him happy, and I was proud and flushed with the warmth of his words.
I know I looked beautiful that morning. Perhaps not to the young man holding his toddler in his arms who rode the elevator with me; perhaps not to the friend I met for lunch, a true believer in Botox; perhaps not to passersby on the street; but I knew it for a certainty. I was beautiful.
I don’t believe that inner beauty is sufficient in this cruel world. That’s the pap one tells a child. I don’t believe that positive thinking improves your skin tone or that loving or being loved changes the shape of your nose or restores the thickness and color of hair, but I do know that there is a way of being beautiful, even as age takes its toll, that has something to do with the spirit filling with joy, something to do with the union with another human being, with the sense of having done well at something enormously important, like making happy a man who has made you happy often enough.
Ten days after that morning conversation, my husband and I returned from a concert and dinner with friends and walked down our windy block toward our apartment house when suddenly he stumbled and fell and died within minutes. As I waited for the ambulance, I remembered his words, a beauty potion I would take with me into the rest of my life.”
Those words are hard to follow but I figured why not reflect on and share what makes me feel beautiful, in the hopes it will inspire you to do the same.
Below is my list, the next time I am feeling melancholy I will revisit it and take notes.
Luella says…Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.
MY HUSBAND & HIS LAUGH/SMILE
THE PERFECT DRESS & PAIR OF SHOES
NESTLED IN READING A GREAT BOOK
ACCOMPLISHING MY GOALS/TO DO LIST
FEELING SUNKISSED ON VACATION
LISTENING /ABSORBING WHEN OTHERS REMIND ME
(All Images above via MEMORY BOOK & Krystal Muellenberg)
EARLY MORNINGS SPENT OUTSIDE
DANCING – (always)
BEING WHERE I HAVE BEEN BEFORE – WHERE PEOPLE KNOW MY NAME
BEING INSPIRED BY HIGH FASHION & FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY
VIEWING VINTAGE ARCHITECTURE / HOME DECOR
EXERCISING TO GOOD MUSIC (loud)
PARTICIPATING IN AN INTELLECTUAL CONVERSATION / DEBATE
A CLEAN & ORGANIZED HOUSE
(All images above via AN ABUNDANCE OF)
TIME SPENT WITH MY FAMILY
MY CHILDHOOD HOME/BACKYARD
(All images above via Krystal Muellenberg)
COOKING A GREAT MEAL
(Image above via The City Sage)
(Image above via Doublecrossed)
DECADENT WINE & DINNER PARTIES WITH MY GREAT FRIENDS
(Images above via Remodelista & Country Living)
I realized in making this list, beautiful to me means contentment and happiness. I look and feel best when I am at peace with my actions, state and surroundings.
Find your own variation of beautiful and hold onto it always.