Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When do you feel most beautiful?

Calypso brought my attention to the above video.  I liked it, especially the poem at the end.  If you don't want to watch the whole thing skip ahead to about 4:30.

When I Feel Most Beautiful

I feel most beautiful

When I am four and I straddle the gas tank of Daddy's motorcycle and we fly across the field.
When I am six and letting the sea breeze tangle my salt-water washed hair.
When I am eight and wearing an old sweatshirt, muddy sneakers, and hand-me-down jeans as I hike through the woods collecting berries.
When I was ten and spent hours drawing the visions in my own head.

And then my body began to change with the normal passage of time.
Boys and men noticed.
The boys teased me, called me ugly or assumed I'd let them touch what was changing.
The men leered at my widening hips and swelling chest.
Girls and women disapproved.
The girls either envied early breasts or spread rumors that it meant I'd let the boys have their way.
The women told me young ladies didn't tromp through the woods, bite their nails, let their hair blow unkempt, that I wouldn't be pleasing.
I was not beautiful.
I believed the lie.

And yet...

I feel most beautiful

When I am thirteen and I teach a friend how to row a boat and we help measure a tranquilized wild bear.
When I am fourteen and performing on stage and have the power to hold an audience, make them gasp in horror, or laugh, or weep because I have created a character they believe.
When I am sixteen and a kind, intelligent, adorable boy my own age who I never dreamed would take notice of me does just that and admits he thought I'd never notice him.

And then he and I part ways and I make horrendous choices in replacing him.
They lie to me.
They use me.
They tell me I am a selfish bitch.
Those words echo.
I almost believe the lie,
until one raises his hand to me
and I know he is the ugly one, not me.

And yet...

I often do not feel beautiful

In the next few years during college.
I do not conform.
I do not match.
I've learned to walk hunched over to hide my breasts.
I dress atrociously in rebellion to those who want me to be pleasing.

And yet...

There are those who don't care what I do to the outside.

They tell me I am beautiful

When I listen to their pain.
When I stay up all night with them after they have surgery.
When I sit in an all-night diner trying to speak Spanish with them.
When I want to learn about all the wondrous places they come from all over the globe and I'm willing to look ridiculous trying new foods, or sports, or clothes, or words.

I begin to believe again.

I feel most beautiful

When I see the look in my groom's eyes when I join him at the altar.
When I am pregnant and my body swells with new life.
When I nurse my babies and watch them fall asleep well sated.

And yet...

I look at stretch marks
and a belly stretched beyond recognition
and things that jiggle like jello.
I hear the words that I should work harder to lose weight
and why am I not an athlete like my husband
and why am I eating that dessert.
I begin to doubt.

And time passes,
and injury, illness, trauma, and time
all leave their indelible marks
on body and soul.

And yet...

I reclaim being beautiful,
and though I still doubt at times,

I feel most beautiful

When I look at surgical scars and remember I have survived and can laugh at the pain I endured.
When the grey stripe in my unruly hair falls just so.
When I put on my Chucky T's, skinny jeans, and tie dye, even if my ample derriere requires a bigger size than I'd like.
When I am in yoga and stand in mountain pose with heart lifted, no longer afraid that a posture displaying my breasts makes me a target.
When I writhe in pleasure and know the one beholding me is rendered breathless.
When, in my library, I look into the eyes of a child who needed some love or attention or just needed the right book and I was able to give what was needed when it mattered most.
When, on a hot summer day, I hang laundry while wearing an obnoxiously bright colored maternity dress I sewed over two decades ago...because I made this with my own hands, it is comfortable, and it helped me carry my baby.
When I walk barefoot through my spongy moss yard or on the wet sand of the beach, feel the earth receive my footprints, inhale the universe and all its wonder, exhale the doubt,
and dance to the song in my soul.

When do you feel most beautiful?


Jocelyn said...

I didn't click on the video at first but just started reading. I assumed you'd transcribed a poem from the video.

It wasn't until the end that I caught my breath and went, "Wait. This--all this--so much this--is Lime's poem?"

You knocked my socks off.

Hilary said...

I have to head out in a few minutes and won't have time to see the video until later. But Michelle, you blew me away with your words. They touch deeply and oh so beautifully. This is an absolutely stunning piece. Wow!

Craig said...

This is wonderful, my friend. Just what I wish I could have imparted to my daughters. . .

Women - all y'all - are beautiful. There is something utterly wonderful about strong, confident femininity that a proper man is just irresistibly drawn to (and of course, part of that is that you don't need his approval to buttress your sense of your own self). . .

Craig said...

After watching the vid, I couldn't help but smile. Just about every day, I tell My Beloved how incredibly, wonderfully beautiful she is (especially when she's naked). Someday, I hope she'll really believe me, and not just think it's because I'm married to her, and I 'have to'. . .

Again, this is all very touching, even to me as a guy-person. Thanks again. . .

Bijoux said...

Thanks, Craig!

I like your last sentence best, Lime. I feel most beautiful when I'm enjoying the beauty around me.

Craver Vii said...

I wouldn't have thought that I'd follow the trend, but I also will have to check the video later.

Lime, you're beautiful to the people who matter most. Your husband and children see you as beautiful. Your friends here think you're queenlike. And your heavenly Father pours affectionate grace over you until it overflows.

I like to take portraits of people where I carefully use the light, perspective and timing to catch them in a way they find favorable. It's one of the nicest compliments when someone picks one of my shots for their Facebook profile.

As for me... I feel beautiful all the time because I'm an egotistical middle-aged guy who doesn't regard others' opinions. I keep a loose grip on reality, and that keeps me smiling. ;-)

Suldog said...

Valuable lesson learned from this: I should watch the video first, if someone says that's what I should do.

I watched the video after reading your words. I had assumed you used a template in the video for your poem. I was wrong. Shame on me for detracting from your work of art.

It is that, of course. Great art, as a matter of fact, and I'd consider seeing if a 'womens' magazine, one that publishes poetry, might like to give it a page. That's just the writer in me talking; I'm thinking of a payday. You've already gained the best reward possible from it (which has nothing to do with money.)

For much of my own emotional response, I agree with Craig (perhaps substituting "nieces" for "daughters", since I have the former and not the latter.)

As for confirmation of your beauty - as if you needed it from the likes of me - I refer you to the wonderful photo of you posing with your guitar (if you don't know which photo I'm talking about, let me know and I'll point you to the blog of mine containing it.) I can't tell you how many friends of mine thought that was one of the hottest photos they had ever seen. Me, too. Of course, beauty goes beyond the physical, and I adore women with a great sense of humor (as you know from meeting MY WIFE) and you (as she) are one of the funniest women I know.

In summation: Yup.

stephen Hayes said...

I have a theory that every person is beautiful at some stage of their life. I'm still waiting for my beautiful stage.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

I read this backward ...sort of.
It made me think.

Kat said...

You are gonna make me cry. This is just so beautiful. I honestly don't want to add any more words to this post than to tell you how gorgeous it was.

Anvilcloud said...

You should darn well feel beautiful when you write like this. This is a marvellous piece. I was glued, and I am often one to hurry past poetry.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I remember feeling astoundingly beautiful when I was hugely pregnant. And that changed the way I viewed my body - I saw myself as whole and strong after that. I feel more beautiful in my 50's than I did in my 20's.

It' said...

It's a powerful video, & I've seen other articles, videos, and such before...and I only despair that we (women) still judge ourselves in the eyes of those who don't know us.
I have - judged someone on their looks, only to discover that after knowing them discover that they ARE beautiful & fine, and felt ashamed for my earlier judgement. I suppose most of us have done so.
**Your poem was lovely! And yes, I cried a little. Thank you.

Jackie said...

A wonderfully-written piece.
You have true beauty....inside and outside.

June said...

Congratulations on your POTW. I should bookmark this and watch/listen/read it every day.

I try to believe that "beautiful" or not . . . does not apply to me. The girl who said "....single digits!" That's me. I think I have never felt beautiful.
Not ever.

Tabor said...

I missed this until Hillary made it a POTW. So glad she did!!