You’re Beautiful

You tell people that they deserve to be loved just the way they are but you’re incapable of believing the same holds true for yourself.

You admonish people who bring themselves down regarding their physical traits but you don’t hesitate to cut yourself down when you look into the mirror.

coffeeYou can be somebody’s biggest cheerleader but nobody brings you down harder than yourself.

You’d never destroy someone with malicious, malignant words… so why do you allow yourself to shatter your own heart with those thoughts?

You’re an exquisite body, whether you believe you were formed from clay with life breathed into by the divine, or a magnificent accident made of stardust from distant galaxies.

Don’t you see how beautiful that makes you?

Don’t you realize your soul, your spirit, your essence… the very thing that makes you want to reach out to others and lift them up so they don’t feel what you feel… is what makes you so alluring?

If not, then maybe it’s time you should.

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This Brief, Beautiful Moment

Your fingers were laced so tightly around your cane that your knuckles turned as white as the hair on your head. You, and I assume your son, also with streaks of white in his hair, waited in the hallway, just outside the door of the room your husband was in. Your husband was just brought back from a cardiac cath procedure and was surrounded by nurses hooking him up to the monitor. I stood at the door, trying to observe as much as I could without getting in the way and offered you a small smile, as a way to reassure you that everything was alright. You could go inside if you liked, I said.

Your son put his arm around your shoulder and gently steered you inside as I stepped out of the way. I left to grab some extra blankets and when I returned I found you sitting in a chair at his bedside, talking to him in hushed tones. He was awake, yet groggy from the sedation. His face was etched in as many lines as yours, his hair the same color of snow. And for a brief moment I wondered if you two had been together your entire lives.

As I laid the extra blanket on top of him, tucking the sheets under his feet, the exchange that occurred between the two of you just then was something I’ll remember forever.

“Did you remember to pack my clothes?”

“Not yet,” you replied. “The doctor wants to keep you overnight.”

“Then you should go home, get some rest.”

You placed your hand on his cheek. “I’m not going anywhere.”

He then took your hand and gently brought your fingers to his lips and kissed them tenderly.

That moment felt too beautifully intimate for my eyes and with my heart full I quickly looked away. I quietly stepped outside into the empty hallway and hastily wiped away at tears that were threatening to fall.

How lucky am I? To be in a profession that allows me to witness people at their most vulnerable, their souls stripped down to its rawest state… and every now and then I get to see something as beautiful and intimate as this. I get to witness love in one of its truest forms.

10 Things I’ve Learned in (Almost) 30 Years

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Technically, I haven’t hit the big 3-oh yet. But my soul is restless, my mind is racing, my fingers are itching (to type, my fingers don’t normally itch), and I figure since these ten things took me nearly three entire decades to figure out, I doubt my brain is going to be discovering any earth-shattering revelations in the next two months. So I’ve cracked my knuckles, tried to crack my neck all badass-like, the way they do in the movies (and pulled a muscle)… and ten minutes and some IcyHot ointment later, here I go.

1. Blood is thicker than water but…

…the sad thing is, sometimes this phrase is nothing more than a comparative description of the viscosity of both liquids. Just because you are bound to someone by blood, doesn’t mean they’ll love you unconditionally.

2. For some, wisdom does not come with age.

Some people live their entire lives, from cradle to grave, with a sense of entitlement. They never grow out of the “gimme” phase and feel that the world owes them something. They hold on to petty grudges, they refuse to take responsibility for their actions. The entire world is at fault but them. And you can’t change these people.

3. Hairsprays do not kill roaches.

Even if your lungs feel like they’re on fire after you accidentally inhale these noxious fumes. And no, they don’t freeze in their tracks if you pretend to be Subzero from Mortal Kombat and that the blast from the hairspray was your freezing special power. Invest in some good bug spray. The cheap, dollar store stuff won’t cut it. Cheapass.

4. Your first love is not necessarily your greatest love.

And that’s okay. The beauty of first loves is that for many people they are the first of many. So your first love ended in devastating heartbreak. Maybe it was their fault, maybe it was yours. Maybe it was nobody’s fault. But if the reason it ended was because of lies and deceit on their part, then think about this: if you could love the wrong person so much, can you imagine how much you could possibly love the right person? Don’t let that experience harden your heart and turn you bitter. You will love again. And you’ll realize that love shouldn’t have to be so difficult.

5. That scale in your bathroom? Throw it out.

If you have a scale, step on it. Look at your weight. Now drink two cups of water. Step on the scale again. You are now a pound heavier. You’re smart enough to understand the logic behind this. But years of mental conditioning will still leave you panicking. All the scale does is show you the combined weight of all the fluids, organs, bones and tissue, that’s wrapped up with skin. Here’s what it won’t tell you. It won’t tell you just how incredibly beautiful you really are, inside and out. It won’t tell you how talented you are, nor will it tell you how awesome of a person you are. It won’t show your sacrifices and hard work you did to be where you are now, to become the person you are now. The number on the scale does not determine your worth. It means nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

6. This world was not created for the meek at heart.

It’s okay to be a quiet person. It’s okay to be an introvert. There’s nothing wrong with that and you don’t have to change for anyone. But darling, this world was not made for the meek and timid. There’s a difference between being an introvert and being painfully shy and overly submissive and it was high time I stopped pretending they were the same.

7. Take nothing at face value.

That jerk who has a mean, snide remark for anyone who crosses him? Actually an incredibly sweet guy who volunteers in programs involving the disabled. That girl with many tattoos whose every other word is a profanity of some sort? She’ll end up becoming one of your closest friends who’d stick up for you no matter what. On the other hand, that lady who keeps pestering you about how you should go to church more often? She won’t stop making incredibly racist comments or talking about her “friends” behind their backs.

8. Trust your intuition.

Whether you believe your intuitive abilities were a God-given gift or a skill you’ve developed from quietly observing people for years, if you have it, never doubt it. Listen to the vibes your body is giving you about something or someone.

9. The quote “Be like a candle that burns itself to light others” is total bullshit.

Be compassionate. Be giving. Do things for others. Here’s the thing, though. In all that you do selflessly for other people, don’t forget that you are a human being who deserves happiness, too. Don’t sacrifice your entire life in the pursuit of helping others. Do the best of your ability. But don’t do so much that people start to take advantage of your kindness and good heart and start becoming leeches, draining the very life out of you. Because if your entire life consisted of sacrifices for others, on your deathbed you’ll look back on your life and have nothing but regrets… regrets for missed opportunities involving love, happiness, things you’ve always wanted to do but kept pushing off for others. And when you’re dying, regret shouldn’t have to be one of the emotions you experience.

10. Do things that scare the ever-loving crap out of you.

Take a sky-diving class. Run a freaking marathon. Okay, half marathon. Look up that person you’ve always had a thing for since forever and strike up a conversation if that helps you reach your adrenaline quota for the day. The point is, step by step, little by little, conquer your fears. Take chances. It’s true that sometimes in life shit happens. But it’s also true that life has some truly amazing things in store for you. The catch is that you can’t wait for it to happen on its own. You gotta make it happen.