March 2, 2012

Five Faces

On a recent morning, hubby passed the Parade Magazine that comes with the Sunday paper over the table to me. "This is something you could have written," he said. I scanned the headline of the article he pointed to and set it aside to read when I had time.

Later that night, after SB had gone to bed, I sat down to read it. And I was blown away. I loved the honesty. The humility. The perspective. It was a message I needed to hear at the time I needed to hear it.

I've been dismayed by the face I see in the mirror lately. The wrinkles. The sagging skin. The dark circles. I am not loving my reflection these days. But this article was a great reminder of why I should. What my face reflects.

I have spent more time laughing than frowning.

I have stared life challenges in the eye, never retreating from them.

I have nurtured my spirit, if not my skin, through the years.

I have lived fully.

Here is my own Story in Five Faces because I love the idea:

(The oldest picture I have in my possession.) Living a Norman Rockwell life in suburban America. Midwestern girl. Tomboy. Outgoing. Happy. Carefree. Refer to myself as "Betsy the Great." Animal lover. Want to be a vet when I grow up. Painfully shy around boys. Taller than all the ones in my class. Attend a competitive, six year college prep school.

Only smiling on the outside. Suffering from depression, I flunk out of college after never having attended a single class that semester. There is no trace of the carefree, self-confident young woman I was in my teens. I turn to therapy to help me discover where she went. Then return to college, earn a 4.0 GPA my first semester back, get my degree and prepare to get back into life.

Career woman. Climbing the corporate ladder. Active volunteer and fundraiser. Social butterfly. Friend of many. Living life at a very fast pace. Haven't learned how to say, "No." Rarely take time to stop and smell the roses. No trace of the messed up 20 year old I once was. Strong. Independent. Confident. Very, very single. And perfectly fine with that.

Left everything and everyone I'd ever known behind and started a new life in a new city. Best decision I ever made. Homeowner. Beach dweller. Got off the corporate ladder; happy just to do the best job I can and then go home. Or to the beach. In a new relationship (he took the pic). Ridiculously happy. Everyone tells me I look far younger than my actual age.

Married (to that guy I met at 37, who also took this photo). Mom to a preschooler. Committed to my true passion - writing - for the first time in my life. That face I see looking back at me in the mirror each day is older, and I am trying to come to terms with the changes. No one tells me how young I look anymore. People do tell me regularly, however, how beautiful I look.

Today? I feel my age. But realize I am also wiser. More at peace than I have ever been. Exactly where I am supposed to be. I have finally come to see that beauty really does come from within. Just in time to teach my daughter this important lesson.

Thank you Connie Schutz for giving me perspective. And thanks to my friend Karl for scanning the older images!
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