My Beauty List

I opened (my morning tradition), and a headshot of a beautiful woman, her chestnut-colored hair blowing in the wind, was accompanied by this news flash - "$7 Million a Year - Savviest Woman Blogger?"

As a female blogger myself, I thought I could possibly learn from a woman who had captured the audience of the world's attention through the powerful influence of her blog.  After reading the article and clicking through the faces of the world's top bloggers, there was a reoccurring theme - they all centered on clothing, the fashion industry, shoes, and top fashion week shows.  The journalist wrote a very convincing argument that true six-figure earning masters of the blogosphere must focus on one thing: beauty.

So, I think I will follow the advice of the pros.  Here is my blog dedicated to the BEAUTY my eyes and soul have captured over the last few weeks.

My Beauty List

1.  I have a tradition of reading three books to my five-year-old girl every night- EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.  That girl will pry her eyes open with toothpicks to stay awake until she has listened to every single word of those books.  I could pride myself as a literary parent who is passing down the love of reading and a good story to her children.  I could pat myself on the back when I view an entire bookshelf of books that have been read to Ava dozens of times.  But, I don't feel that way.  Most nights I wish I never started the tradition - longing to just climb into my covers to read MYSELF a book.  Instead, I pull my tired body up off the side of the little one's bed, barely finding enough energy to brush my teeth, and fall asleep within seconds of hitting my pillow.  

But, last week, in the midst of reading from the entire collection of Madeline books, I saw something beautiful. I looked at my little blond-haired, blue-eyed girl and her eyes were literally sparkling with wonder.  She loved the story.  She stared at the colorful paintings of Madeline in her beautiful Paris.  She asked questions, and added her own insight into the complex plot of twelve little girls in boarding school.  

Her eyes were complete MAGIC - innocence, energy, laughter spilling out of the corners.  Those eyes reminded me of the raw consistency of our souls.  We were all born with that same clarity; sparkle.  We each had gifts and talents that were designed just for us, and we loved to dive in, use them and learn about them - it was effortless.  As we grow, life slowly tarnishes our initial glow.  If we can scrape off the residue of the years; the disappointments and lies we've believed, we each still have that core that truly hopes, trusts, explores, loves and sparkles.  Her eyes were a reminder of me of the truly beautiful that resides in each of us.

2.  As I sat in church a few months ago, I looked across the crowded auditorium.  There they sat- halfway back on the right hand side, underneath of set of high-set windows.  A young couple in their mid 20s.  He had blond hair and sat tall as her head rested on his shoulder.  He was not that handsome, and her brown hair tied back in a simple pony tail revealed a simple beauty.  She definitely was never one to be featured in a beauty blog, but then there was her smile.  She looked up at his face, they exchanged a knowing glance, and her face illuminated with love. After taking her hand, and smiling back, he looked ahead again with a peaceful gaze that exuded confidence.  He was loved; adored.  Their love was undeniably visible and truly beautiful.

Since that day at church, I've seen love everywhere in Tallinn - a couple walking, holding hands and laughing uncontrollably together at a shared joke.  New parents huddle over their baby's stroller to bundle it from the cold, and they give a knowing look of pride to one another - their love created this beauty.  An elderly man holds his wife's hand as she steps down the tram's steep stairs, and they snuggle close together as they cross the busy road.  

The beauty of love and commitment is so easy to take for granted.  Love is the glue that holds our families and decades-long marriages together, and yet the demands of work and surviving this life can deaden the true joy and freedom that love fills us with.  Love, however, if we allow ourselves to look for it; to realize its touch in our lives, is the most beautiful thing on earth.

3.  Recently while walking in a mall, my five-year-old Ava pointed to a man who was struggling to walk upright due to cerebral palsy.  She tugged on my coat and said, "Look mama.  He walks strange.  He's weird."  

I felt saddened by her raw comment.  And, I tried to share a piece of perspective that her young mind could understand.  For your benefit, I will explain it in more educated terms below.

"No, Ava.  He's not weird.  He's beautiful.  Not everyone is born with perfect bodies like yours.  He has to work much harder to walk and get somewhere.  He has to have more courage than any of us to go out into places where people will stare at him.  He has to have steel determination to defeat the difficulty and still walk.

And, I have a feeling that inside, his spirit is probably very beautiful.  He's had to overcome the stares; the power of others' opinions, and just believe.  He's never had the option of rely on the power of his first impression; he can only rely on the character he establishes from within.  

God doesn't even see our bodies - how perfect they are.  He looks straight through our shell and into the heart.  And, if his heart is truly beautiful, then he will be more gorgeous than the most perfect human body on earth."

There is beauty in the struggle.  There is beauty in the pain.  There is beauty in the forging of true character and strength inside each of us.  

Many things about my body are not beautiful.  Many things about every person's body are not attractive.  I would sometimes look in a mirror and long for the face of my teen years - without scars, wrinkles or blemishes.  Then I realized - scars are beautiful!  Who can truly explore, risk and experience life without accumulating a few scars along the journey?

The scar on my leg is from the time I learned to overcome my need to be in control of gravity and experience the true exhilaration of riding a bike.

The scars on my face are from the years I unknowingly battled PCOS and its side-effects.  But, the lifestyle changes I have been forced to make in that war against my imbalances have created a body that can still lift, run, stretch, and take my heart to its extremes.  

The tiny spider veins on my legs are from the miles I spent as a teenager, pounding the pavement, forcing my body into submission and into a lower weight.  And through my journey in, through and out of the grips of anorexia, I found God.  

When our souls and bodies reach the darkest nights of their existence, we have a choice- become bitter or become internally healed, scarred and beautiful.  We make a decision to become fearful or to squeeze every last drop of goodness and bravery from within. 

Every day we have a choice - a choice to recognize the true beauty that surrounds us.  It's in the magic of a young child's sparkling eyes.  It's in the tender glance of a loving couple.  It's in the scars and challenges we face.  It's in the cotton-candy white clouds that dot a bright blue sky.  It's in each and every one of you - it always has been.

***Now is your chance to add to my beauty list.  Please e-mail your own stories of beauty to me at  I will choose some of my favorites to share on my blog and inspire others.  And, I will treat my favorite entry to a.) a manicure if a female or b.) a nice wet shave for a male (like from this shop here).  Why?  Because even beautiful souls need to feel beautiful on the outside sometimes!  Entries can be submitted from anywhere in the world.  I'll find a way to get you a gift card!  My favorite entries will be added for the next few weeks and the winner will be announced on October 20th.***

So, until then, LOOK for the beauty that surrounds you.  Take a moment to capture it in words, send it to me, and remember...

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Carry it with you.