Yesterday I posted a picture to facebook as part of the #20BeautifulWomenChallenge. The point of the post was to show the unfiltered me and find something beautiful in that picture.
The reaction to the picture was not what I was expecting. The comments were so affirming that I want to print out each one and hang on every flat service in my home and office. The only problem was that I tagged people in the post, not to say lovely things about me, but rather to find what is lovely in themselves. Because, each of these women is beautiful to me for so many reasons and I wanted them to see it themselves and share it with the world-or at least Facebook. The fact is, I am a lucky woman. I could have tagged every one of the people I know because I am supremely blessed to be surrounded by the greatest of the great. For these 20 though, I have a few things to say.
1. You are strong. I have known each of you, some privately, some publicly, to wade through some of life’s sh** on any given day and somehow come out smiling and hopeful. You are each an inspiration to me and many others for your ability to handle it all with grace and style.
2. Your hearts are huge and no, that is not a euphemism. You each make room in your homes or your thoughts or your hearts or all of the above for anyone who needs a place to feel warm and whole. You reach out. You welcome. You never shy away from ugly to share some of your beauty with those who need it most.
3. I have major girl crushes on all of you for so many reasons and for many years.
Helen is the cool cousin who has worked with wild animals, loves rock music and has grown up to raise remarkable people as a super mom. When I was young I thought she was so much older and wiser. Now that we’re grown, I realize we’re the same old, but she is wiser and I still want to be her when I grow up. No matter our geography I hold her close.
Roxie is the other cool cousin that would visit when we were young and make me long to live in very cold places. Rox has a smile that can brighten a room and it reveals the kind soul that’s inside. She’s funny, loyal and works her butt of at whatever she chooses to do. She still makes me wish I lived (or at least visit) one very cold place and for this winter-hating girl, that speaks volumes.
Sarah just decided one day as a busy wife and mom who also runs a school, that she would be a runner and there is no mileage too long, mountain too high or day too rainy to keep her from hitting the road. She is my consistency role model and she brings that dogged determination to every aspect of her life including being a great friend. As a result she is a success professionally and personally and she also looks great in jeans because of it. And I would be remiss in discussing Sarah’s beauty if I missed her laugh. Sweet mother that laugh can change the world.
Erin is my soulmate. It’s that simple. There is no time or distance great enough to change the instant connection that comes when we’re together again. And the laughter, oh the laughter. Erin’s beauty is in her ability to welcome all who want in without judgment or bias. She is an equal opportunity lover of life.
Sandy, my goodness Sandy. If ever there was someone who loved harder, I have never known them. You hold up the world with your heart. You pour love into others and you make everyone feel better for knowing you. What a light you are to the world.
Cathy you should have posted on your own wall because you would have had more comments about your beauty than you would ever guess because we all see in you a lot of what we want to be around. We’ll skip your physical grace and beauty because they’re obvious. Let’s talk instead about the warmth you exude and the courageous way you have pursued doing what you love no matter what. Dance is beautiful often no matter what. You make it more so because your respect and love for the art shines through. So many people benefit from your brand of beauty. Thank goodness you share it with us all.
West Coast Amy and I might have been separated at birth with the way I felt like I had known her all my life but probably everyone feels that way, because Amy lights up the world with kindness, compassion and the gift of being able to say what we’re all thinking in a way that makes us feel just fine thinking it.
Emily and I are moms of quirky, creative, unique and outstanding kids. Thank God she sends me just the text messages I need just when I need them. We share a brain wave when it comes to protecting and cherishing our small people that is laced with a realism and humour that Emily has in spades.
Jennifer has been my girl since we were single digits. I still laugh at things she said when we were ten. Her one liners are part of my regular vernacular. We’ve lived far apart for more years than we were together, but the loyalty that is Jenn’s beauty means we’re never very far apart.
East Coast Amy‘s beauty is in her truth. She is honest and unfiltered all the time and it is refreshing and sometimes hysterical. She knows who she is and won’t apologize for it. I met Amy and Rebecca at the same time, when we were already grown ups. But, I always say I want to be them when I grow up because they are so confident and comfortable in their skin. That is beautiful. What I love most about Amy is that under all that tough is a big, tender heart that shows through even if she wishes it didn’t.
The first time I ever told my money story Jessica validated me beyond my wildest dreams. She is a fellow red-heel lover and her beauty reaches from those stilletoed toes all the way to her ruby red lips. But the outside beauty is merely a reflection of the kindness that’s inside. She’s got so much to share it comes out of every pore.
Maryland Jess makes being a mom something to aspire to. She is someone I look to when I need lessons in how to enjoy your life. She is an unabashedly proud wife, mother and professional woman, not always in that order. I always keep my eye on Jess because you never know what she’ll do next but you always know the world will be better for it.
Ilina is another word for advocate. She fights fiercely for all who need her and she does it so it challenges in the best way. Knowing Ilina means wanting to be a better person. She raises the bar for all of us but with such class and sass that you want to drink whatever she’s serving.
Heather is always laughing. Always. If it’s possible for a person to never be in a bad mood, Heather has the market cornered. Her beauty is in making the world a happier place, one smile at a time.
I am so lucky to have friends that challenge me on my (white) place in this world. Thien-Kim does it in such a way that I learn and grow but never feel put down or guilty for doing it all wrong. She makes me smarter and better, just by sharing who she is.
Susan has grown into such a leader right before my very eyes that I think her beauty is in the way she handles growth and change. I love watching her story unfold because it’s full of twists and turns that she handles with grace and a humour-two of the most beautiful things.
Tisha never gives up on people. She sees deep into your soul and hammers away at any resistance until you can see it yourself. Then she affirms and affirms and affirms. She is a beautiful truth teller, no matter how much you don’t want to hear it.
I have had the pleasure of watching Claudia take over the world one client at a time. She lets nothing stop her and takes on every new challenge with the same confidence and determination I have come to know her for. Claudia is a classic beauty on the outside, but I think it’s because there is so much good on the inside that it shines right through.
Lori believes so much in the power of women that she can make even the least confident among them believe in herself. Her beauty is in her uncanny ability to make people see their own.
Teicia, I’m not sure there is enough room to write about your beauty. Your beauty takes shape as strong, kind, open-hearted, fiercely loyal and unstoppable in all you do. Whether it is work, school or family, your beauty looks like big shoulders upon which you carry the world.
Priya’s name means beloved, which is interesting because that is how she makes other people feel. She hears things and notices things that most don’t. Then she acts on them to make someone feel very loved. Priya behaves toward people in a way that makes them all feel beloved. That is pretty damn beautiful. Don’t even get me started on strength, courage and the ability to forge ahead no matter what the world throws. I could write for days.
So there you have it ladies. Whether you want to post a picture on facebook or not, I’m calling out your beauty right here. It’s too big not to share!