A world without standard.

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“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful, than the belief that she IS beautiful.”

Let’s talk. Let’s talk about the idea of what “beauty” is, and how we, as people,  particularly as women and girls, become “beautiful.”

Societies all over the world, show beauty in different ways. From what I’ve studied, women in Africa show beauty through intricate body paintings, and lip plates. In certain Middle Eastern countries, women become beautiful with stunning body wraps, or colorful head scarves. Here, in America, society opinions of beauty tend to revolve around a woman’s physical form, through smaller body sizes, makeup, and how a woman chooses to dress themselves. While none of these American views of feminine beauty are necessary wrong, it’s become very apparent within the past few decades how “important” they’ve become within mainstream society. Important enough so that our opinion of ourselves has been steered relentlessly towards the mindset of physical completion through society standards instead of towards what truly matters: that true beauty comes from within.

Have you ever really LOOKED at how biased society has become towards the female form? How there are FAR more stores within our malls that cater towards “beauty” products, and clothing, than any other kind of consumer product? How commercials are nearly entirely based on being a “wrinkle-free,” and “swim suit ready” mentality? How in order to be “beautiful” or “desirable” a woman must be a size 5, always dressed in fashionable clothing, with perfect hair, and a face full of makeup? That, according to magazines, the only way that you’ll be happy in life, is if you conform to the beauty of “perfection?” Or worse, if you’re NOT a size 5, without a face full of makeup, you’re not “good enough” to be seen? Because showing gray hair upon your head, or an un-formed eyebrow means that you don’t care about yourself, or body?

Well, I’m here to call ALL of that “beautiful perfection” as bullshit. How does painting one’s face every day, or covering up the gray within one’s hair, define a person’s beauty? Those winking little wrinkles around your eyes, and your mouth? They’re from smiling, and laughing. They grow each year because of JOY. So why do we feel the need to cover them up, or worse yet, erase them? Why are these beautiful marks of life considered “imperfections?” Those lovely strands of gray, threading their way throughout your hair? They’re because, as humans, we age. Have we turned a blind eye to how miraculous that is? The blessing of being well enough to celebrate another year of life, when there are so many others, because of illness, & disease, who don’t receive that blessing? Why should being a size 5 determine what a woman can or cannot wear? Does being a size 14, automatically guarantee that I won’t look just as beautiful in a summer dress, or bathing suit, as I would if I was wearing a pair of jeans? Why do we, as women, place so much importance on what others think?

Have we forgotten how important we are as individuals? There’s no such thing as a cookie-cutter society, so why do we force ourselves into a cookie-cutter mindset? I, for one, refuse to do so. Why? Because my life is my own. It’s not one that’s based on what others think, or feel.

Last year, before loosing all of my hair to chemotherapy, I fell into that vicious social standard. Because I was a size 18, at that point in time, I wore jeans all the time, and shirts that hid my arms and stomach. I felt uneasy, when being out in public places, because of my weight, and because of what others might think. Which, once you really sit down, and THINK about, was, and still is, ridiculous. Yes, ridiculous. Life is complicated enough, when faced with it’s many uncertainties, than to be controlled by a society’s biased opinion.

Because of my experience with chemotherapy, and how it changed my entire body last year, I’ve found myself learning how important being REAL is. Being real about my heart, and my thoughts, and the importance of lessons learned. Lessons of forgiveness, and strength, of health, and beauty. Lessons that have shaped me into a different, hopefully better, woman this year.

A woman who’s learned that I am more beautiful with a makeup-free face, no matter my wrinkles, and scarred skin. That I am more beautiful with a hair full of lovely strands of gray, and brown freckles upon my shoulders. That I am more beautiful without painted nails or toes. That I am more beautiful because I SHOW my true, natural beauty. Because I show MYSELF.

Imagine what we could do, within society, and our own lives, if we lived within our own beauty, without bias, or expectation. Without worrying about appearances or standards. Perhaps we would accept more, we would care more, we would love more. Perhaps we would BE more.

So here’s my challenge, to women far and wide, no matter your physical size, or age, or skin tone. BE YOU. The real you. Without that painted face of makeup. Without the perfect colored hair, or perfect shaped eyebrows. You, with all of your beautiful wrinkles, and battle scars. With bared shoulders, and bared legs. YOU are BEAUTIFUL. You, beyond what a misguided society may think. You are, and have always been WORTHY. Your physical size doesn’t dictate your worth. It never has, and never will. Believe it. I do. So now, go SHOW it. Get out there, in a pretty new dress that shows off those lovely legs, or a dreamy new shirt that shows off those freckled shoulders, and show them what beauty truly IS.

I believe in your beauty.

I believe in you.

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Happiness Project #86: Dragon Flyers Iced Lemonade!

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Mothers Day this year was truly MAGICAL! This was the first Mothers Day where I was healthy enough to go out and celebrate Mothers Day with my little family of 3. Which is a testament to where I’ve been and how very far that I’ve come.

What made it most US though, was how it wasn’t about flowers, or breakfast in bed, or jewelry, like a vast majority of other Mothers seem to want. Nor did I care about having an empty kitchen sink, or the laundry done. To me, those things are well…just things, that don’t really make any day more special than the last. I’m okay with a messy house on Mothers Day. A messy house means I’m doing something far more important (than worrying about cleaning) with my sassy little 4 year old daughter: spending real, uninterrupted time with her. Doing something that she loves. Which in turn, I love.

Which meant spending the day at our favorite local amusement park & zoo! Which was planned for the Friday before Mothers Day Sunday instead, so that we wouldn’t be slammed with massive crowds. Since I’ve become so much of a social introvert when it comes to being out in public places, the smaller, more familiar places, the better. Something that thankfully, my husband understands very well about me.

Anyhow, one of my daughter’s favorite rides at HH, is Dragon Flyers, where an adult passenger, with a child passenger, strap themselves into a dragon shaped flyer, pedaling themselves up & down, while the ride is in motion. Hence something akin to controlled “flying.” To say that this is my daughter’s favorite ride, is a major understatement though. Considering how she would “fly” in this ride ALL day long, if I let her. All. Day. Long. No joke.

Once we had finished “flying” and enjoying the parks other little kiddie rides, my husband and little girl enjoyed a couple of turns on the park’s lovely carousel, while I relaxed on a bench, in the sun, watching them. And while I was sitting on that bench, reviling in the moment, I realized how very blessed I was. Blessed to be healthy enough to be OUT at that favorite park, enjoying the day with my two favorite people.

Back in January, after I had finished chemotherapy, and had started living my life again, my little girl & I had gone to the same amusement park, just the two of us. But because I was so recently out of treatment, and in remission, I was still only functioning around 60%. So it was physically very difficult to run her around in her stroller at that point. Yet on this Mothers Day trip, everything was different. I WAS able to run her around in her stroller, and visit the lower area of the zoo, without exhaustion leaving me completely immobile. Being able to DO all of the “normal” physical things again, was truly exhilarating. And once again, life was reminding me of how very fleeting, and uniquely precious that it is. Something to never be taken for granted.

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To end such a perfect Mothers Day, the three of us, along with our 2 stealthy cats, and easily excitable dog, played hide & go seek until bed time rolled around. A game that is fast becoming one of my daughter’s favorite bedtime activities.

Oh! And just to add a bit of extra sweetness to the day, my little girl & I created this lovely Frozen Lemonade recipe together! A refreshing little indulgence right before bedtime!

May you and yours also celebrate many happy days together, with this yummy citrusy drink!

Juice from 3 lemons

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup cold water

3 cups ice cubes

Throw all of those ingredients into a blender, and pulse together for a couple of minutes, until your frozen lemonade is nice & slushy. You can add in another tablespoon or two of  granulated sugar to the mix, if you like a sweeter taste.

Serve immediately, or freeze for a more frozen texture.

I hope that all of the Mommies out there also had a wonderful, fulfilling Mothers Day! No matter how difficult life may get, I pray that you are always SEEN for the many, beautiful  little things that you do for those closest to you, and that you are always LOVED for every little part of who you are.

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