Photo: The dining room DIY is taking forever… but the wallpaper is now completely stripped and we’re repairing holes and junk and then we can PAINT!!! Will preview colors with you next week. I think you’ll like them. 🙂
During back-to-school night two weeks ago, I found myself in an “icebreaker” activity with a small group of other moms and, I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t in the mood for it. First, I hate icebreakers in general and, second, I especially hate icebreakers at 9:45 at night. It was just not a good look, and I probably should have took my leave instead of staying…
Anyway, the two questions that were asked for the icebreaker were the following:
If you could give up one of your five senses, what would it be?
If you could have an imaginary friend who only you could see, who or what would it be?
Dumb. Hate. No. Stop. Don’t…
The first question produced answers that ranged in spectrum from asinine (“I’m touched all the time, and it drives me crazy. I’d love to give up my sense of touch.”) to rage inducing (“There is a guy who works at Stop and Shop and he smells really bad, like so bad, and I have a sensitive nose, so I would give up my sense of smell.”). Seriously. That was said. When it was my turn, I informed that group that I was grateful for my senses and wouldn’t imagine giving any of them up, even under these “friendly” circumstances.
We moved on to the second question and it didn’t get any better. But there was one answer that has lingered in my mind, even now. One of the women said that she wanted an imaginary friend who would be there to tell her that she looked ok. “You know, someone to say, ‘yeah, girl, you look great in those jeans!’ or ‘you deserve that cute blouse and it makes your skin look great!’ or ‘one cupcake won’t kill you’ or even ‘maybe go for that salad instead…’ you know? Like a girlfriend who is always super helpful to boost your confidence when you need it!”
I’ve written before that I don’t always have mastery of my face, so I’m pretty sure that my thoughts of “ew” and “you poor thing” were written all of it (something that would come to bite me in the butt later, but that’s for another post). I was thinking about how much I would hate having that. I was also thinking that I know when I look good just as much as I know when I look bad. An imaginary friend can’t really do much for me in this regard.
I know that I made my share of mistakes in my 20s, but I am really proud of knowing that somewhere along the way, I took responsibility for my own beauty. I stopped looking at others in search of a standard and figured out how to, within my means and abilities, present my best self. My best self, as determined by a standard that I set based on a fair assessment of who I am, what I want to relay to the world, and what I’ve got. I figured out my hair, skin, figure and comfort threshold and decided to live within those boundaries. I know when I’m having a pretty day and I know when I need to do a little bit of maintenance. Having someone tell me that I look great when I know I’m not isn’t helpful.
I actually embrace and like the fact that I don’t have a staff to get this done. There is not stylist, no salon, no nail lady, no eyebrow person… I get my feet done when my mom is paying (that is like, never). I haven’t sat in a chair at a hair salon since 2009. I hate how makeup feels so I don’t wear it. My size fluctuates between 3 sizes, but I know my lines, silhouettes and tastes, so I can dress myself without staring at a model who is a quarter of my size.
And I don’t need someone to tell me I look good. I love myself enough to look in the mirror and see myself. My entire self. To love what I love, to attempt to change what I can and want to, or to find the right method to learn to live with the flaws. And, actually, I’m learning that the flaws add to the beauty in many ways… but in the meantime, I can do my own nails, I maintain my own hair, I like my eyebrow arch! It’s all up to me and I feel like I’m doin’ alright!
I don’t write all of this to say that I always love the woman in the mirror or that I don’t wonder what it would be like to fit in some of the adorable outfits I see on TV (I’d die for Olivia Pope’s wardrobe!). I wrote all this because I learned that, in the prevailing narrative of my invisibility depending on the context, the best projection of myself is the one that I choose, cultivate and love with my whole heart. Nobody can give this to me. I have to grow it and keep it.
So on a day like today, when my hair is screaming for a retwist, and I really need to cozy up to my bathroom mirror and some tweezers, I know that I have work to do and that is perfectly ok. I’m going to be my best self again in just a bit. No need for a girlfriend to tell me that I look good anyway. I’m fine with taking full responsibility for my beauty, good days and bad. If you can’t love me on my ugly days, you don’t love me on my pretty ones. If you can’t see me when I’m plain and uninteresting, my brilliance must blind you when I choose to let it out. If you only want me on my flawless days, you can never have me, as they do not exist.
Those rules count for me first, and everyone else second.
It has been an ugly week in Massachusetts, with no rays of sunshine since Monday afternoon. Off peak now, the trees have lost their vibrant color, the lawns now littered with their previous glory. Yet so much beauty remains, like little pumpkins on fence posts, scarecrows and cornstalks on the ends of driveways, jack-o-lanterns on porch stairs and fanciful gourds at the foot of mailboxes… eyes that wander away from the dark sky and bare trees find plenty of treasure to behold. That seems to apply to so many other parts of life, doesn’t it? That is my wish for you, dear reader, on this Friday. To go looking and find something beautiful, unconventional, rare or even fleeting. Something that seems to shine, only for a moment, just for you. I wish you the last few notes of birdsong as they abandon us for the warmer places. I wish you the scent of wood burning in a fireplace, the sweetness of it bringing a smile to your face. I wish you the taste of something wonderful, slow roasted with fresh and earthy herbs and hearty root vegetables (bonus points if they, too, are roasted). I wish you the opportunity to see yourself, fully, in the mirror, and loving all of what you see. I wish you the joy of knowing that you are loved, near and far, known and unknown, and that those people who love you see you, all of you, and find you worthy.
My chicken pot pie came out well, but I haven’t quite perfected the recipe to the point of sharing…
Let me try again, and then I’ll share. Yeah? I promise!
Until Monday, take care.