Wednesday, November 2, 2011

You Are Beautiful

Day 2: Leave inspirational sayings tucked in books at the bookstore

What’s on your mind?

Supposed to be writing. Too much conversation going on around me. None of it juicy tonight. Learning about schooners from a local author. Not that I'm sitting at her table, but she's great at projecting. I had to Google what exactly I was learning about. It's a boat. Also, a newly married couple seems to be presenting some sort of Amway thing to a couple of "friends" (I'm thinking they're not going to be friends for long).

What is it about a good inspirational quote that leaves me feeling all Braveheart? With Ghandi’s, “Be the change you want to see in the world” I am empowered to make a difference, knowing that I can and that I should, that whining and complaining and expecting others to step up to the plate first is a total cop out, that I am the role model I so earnestly seek. I know, in essence, that “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” Thank you, Helen Keller.

Words are powerful. They uplift; they motivate; they move, encourage, inspire. "For me, words are a form of action, capable of influencing change. Their articulation represents a complete, lived experience." Ingrid Bengis said that. I totally agree, although I’m not exactly sure who Ingrid Bengis is. I’ll have to look that up, so I feel as smart as I think I sound. I’ve found that the words I feed myself become the words I believe. If I repeat positive, upbeat, motivational type phrases, I tend to feel positive and upbeat and motivated. If I beat up on myself with “I can’t” and “I shouldn’t” and “Who do I think I am to even consider that?” then I find I go down a dark, dark road that serves absolutely no one. What’s the point of that?

So the challenge of the day presents me with an opportunity to feed the heart of another with those same upbeat and encouraging words I so love to feed myself. Maybe the person buying the book will feel moved, feel motivated. Maybe she will be nicer to others for the rest of her day, go around with a smile on her face. Maybe she will just feel slightly better about herself. And I could make that happen for her.

I am standing at my kitchen counter with a pink legal pad and a pair of scissors. I cut little slips of papers and plan out what I will write. With purple pen in hand and the best penmanship I can muster, I scribble out on each, “you are beautiful…….hugs and lip gloss.” I do this on each of the twenty slips of paper. I like this saying. It makes me feel great just writing it. It brings a smile to MY face and so I decide that it will bring a smile to others. I get the great idea to stick these in diet books. Diet books represent all that we believe is ugly about us and so what a wonderful time to hear how beautiful we are.

As women, we tend to focus on what’s wrong with us, what we need to fix. When we hit the point of heading for the diet aisle, we believe we are at our absolute physical and emotional worst. I want women of all sizes and shapes to know that they are beautiful, always, not just when they have reached goal.

This is the deal. We women are often nicer to others than we are to ourselves. We tell a friend how great she looks in that scarf. How that particular shade of red is a wonderful look on her. We tell her that her husband is a jerk and she should leave him or talk to him or make him go to therapy with her, that he doesn’t know how lucky he is to have her. We take her kids for a couple of hours so she can take a bath or go to the mall or just sit quietly in the parking lot of Barnes and Noble. We tell her how wonderful it is to have her in our lives, to have a friend like her and that she is the greatest.

We never tell ourselves these things.

A woman tells herself that these jeans really DO make her butt look big, that she will never be able to get rid of this belly. She tells herself that her husband is a jerk, that he could be more attentive, that he never listens, but that he is ok enough and that she doesn’t have it as bad as she thinks she has it. She runs her kids to dance and piano and gymnastics and cheer, does laundry and dinner and dishes and baths, and at the end of the day collapses without even thirty minutes for herself. She forgets what a friend she has in that face in the mirror, how that face she sees is her truest bff, that in the end, it is she who must be the love of her life, to give to herself, to feed her own inner beauty so that in turn she can better give to others.

And, so, I can provide that for her, a reminder of her beauty, a reminder for a heart that no longer sees it. It is critical, after all, that we each go out into the world our absolute best, loving ourselves and loving others. That is not an easy challenge. Too often, far too often, “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Hey, if it works for Marianne Williamson, it works for me.

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