Sunday / April 05 / 2020
Beautiful is how you treat people
I’m humbled and excited to be featured in Herself360, an online magazine that supports & encourages women to connect through stories. Nod of appreciation to co-founder Cathie Briggette for the opportunity to share with this incredible, empowering community. My article is published on their site and I hope you will enjoy it HERE.
FULL ARTICLE as published in Herself360 here . . .
Several years ago, I observed a man hold a door open for a stranger walking in behind him. She quipped, “Are you holding that for me because I’m a woman?”
“No,” he replied. “I’m holding it because I’m a gentleman.”
To him, it didn’t matter who this woman was, what kind of day she was having, the life she was leading, or if she’d thank him. It likely didn’t even matter she was a woman.
It was beautiful. He was beautiful.
On whom he doled out his kindness, this man passed no judgment. Courtesy was his nature. It oozed out of him like sap from a maple tree around the first of March, the traditional time for tapping here in northern New England. It was on purpose, delicious, and unstoppable.
Beauty is a verb intended to be shared liberally, regardless of the recipient’s response.
Are you game for a personal challenge I call, the mirror dare? I challenge you to walk to a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and say out loud, “You are beautiful.” Don’t just chuckle and imagine yourself doing it. I DARE YOU to get up right now and actually do it.
It’s okay. I’ll wait.
Give yourself permission to feel scared, ridiculous, or just straight-up weird. Get the giggles out (you know who you are) and then, say it for real. You deserve this and I promise you’ll be infused with an empowering rush of positivity and energy. If you feel nothing, ask yourself why you don’t believe you. Lean in and listen.
Allow me to shed any pretense I walk around completely confident and secure with myself all the time, saying how beautiful I am. I wrestle with doubts and fears all the time. I’ve simply decided I will no longer allow them to keep me hostage. My evolution story is something I’m proud of and in April 2020, I get to turn the page to age 50. But first, I want to take you back eight years to a much darker time in my life to share a raw glimpse into my own experience with the mirror dare. Head to toe, this was me in April 2012.
My eyes scan my body as though taking inventory. So many blemishes and ugliness. Could my skin be any paler? Look at that unsightly frown embedded in my brow line. I don’t just have fat; I have rolls of fat. I’m a canvas laden with scars and tragedy. Hideous.
I can’t even look myself in the eye because I’m disgusted with how I feel and what I see. Brutally, brazenly judging myself as if trying to win over a jury. As I scrutinize every morsel of myself, it occurs to me I’d never judge best friend like this, or anyone, for that matter.
Once I consider how I treat others, it allows me the freedom to contemplate how I treat myself. If beautiful is how you treat people, then I should start with myself. I’m people, after all.
This time, my eyes lock with mine and I see deep, hope-filled fierceness. I notice my face doused in a percipient smirk because I know the worn roadways, which brought me here.
The girl I see lived the stories that built this face. The gut-wrenching, the heart-warming, the agonizing, the miraculous. Somehow, through sheer determination, a little madness, and an occasional creative tantrum, I’m a better person because I allowed myself the lessons.
Easy? No. Accomplished? Hell yes. Every one of these wrinkles, freckles, and scars was earned. They litter my face with sparkles of imagination and uniqueness. So many life-giving blemishes write the chapters of my life.
Now, I see legacy in the paleness of my Polish skin, passed down for generations. In my furrowed brow, I see survival. For without these scars, I’d have no proof I made it through the fire, both literally and figuratively. I am not fat but rather, I have fat, which I will soon shed. I’m a canvas blessed with scars and stories, which make me perfectly imperfect.
All this time, unbecoming everything I wasn’t in order to become everything I am. In part, to share it with others. Well hello there, perfectly imperfect me. Thank you for being beautiful.
What about you? Have you allowed yourself the lessons? Did you take the mirror dare? Will you? That joy you’re looking for comes directly from the beauty you see staring back at you in the mirror. Go remind her how awesome she is.
Tell her she’s a champion. A badass. An overcomer. A believer the human spirit can overcome a “bad day” and live a remarkable, hope-filled life. Say, “You deserve to be here, girl” and then say the same to our sisters out there, who need to slough off the burdensome shame, doubt, and negative self-energy. If we’re not sharing beauty with others through the simple act of holding a door open, then we need to adjust accordingly. Are you with me?
You have a purpose and a calling. You may not fully recognize or understand it in this moment or perhaps, ever. But don’t you dare stop looking for it. Don’t you dare stop striving to attain it. To be it. To share it with others. To be beautiful.
It’s not the size of your waist that makes you beautiful or whether your hazel eyes are more green or brown today. Beautiful is how you treat people, and that includes yourself.
Well hello there, perfectly imperfect you. It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for being beautiful.
author’s side note: As I conclude the privilege of writing this piece for Herself360, our world is battling a mounting scare surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). In the spirit of this article, can we please be intentional not to forego human connection? Rather, replace every missed handshake with a smile and every missed hug with a verbal expression of kindness and love. Stay safe, aware, and healthy, my friends. Love, Donna