How to be Beautiful, Part 1

Beauty Tip #1:

Lovely, right?

Our beauty, or lack of, is always, merely the reflection of where we are directing our gaze. 

For example:

Beaming with pride for someone else.  I am photographed often in this particular state. I’m a wife, mother, teacher, general “lover of all things sweet and beautiful and good” and I look better when I observe anyone doing even remotely well, and  smiling with every cell. It is a selfless moment, it is a reflection of where I am directing my attention. Beaming with pride looks like this on me and my very patient man: 

In Haiti when we learned how to take a selfie!

Personally, I think we look good wet and thrilled at our new accomplishment. I’m much happier with the photos caught while I’m beaming at someone else as compared to: lost in a silent stare, crying, early in the morning, yawning, no make-up, sick, bored, just for example. 

I’m choosing not to show the other emotions captured. Maybe later.

Webster has this definition of beauty: a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit. Has anything exalted your mind or spirit lately?

My point is, and I do have one, that when we look and think on what is lovely, we are happier and nicer and significantly more beautiful.

Imagine what our world would look like if 92% of the people we encounter anywhere were directing their gaze toward beauty.  We would live in some peace, we would not fear random violence, and would deal with each other from a happier place. Sadly though, I follow the news. Scathing words from our capital on all sides; devastating racism, floods, fires, horror, but to stay blindly ignorant and not keep up isn’t the answer either. I believe the answer is within ourselves and reaching out across our streets to make a lovely connection.

I got a virus today from the pit of hell and had to stay home from work, go to Urgent Care and then the drive-through Walgreen’s Pharmacy where my cough suppressant wasn’t ready. Not the best day today. But, when I was pulling out of the Walgreen’s parking lot I was behind this van! Look over here 

So, there I was in my little Prius, coughing and dripping all manner of things across the world and I see that I look lovely today. Nice! The woman who owns the plate never sees her own inspiration. It’s always looking behind her. This woman is brightening the lives of those who also are waiting to turn left and she never sees them. I think I’ll hang this message from the back of all my pants. Or I will look around more, at my neighborhood, at the people I pass and try to be more like this lovely lady: trickling kindness behind me and not looking back to see if it was noticed.

I followed her into the Target parking lot. I had a hard time keeping up. Gotta love a Prius! (I do actually.) But I just couldn’t get the shot, she was speedy quick! Like a creeper I pulled behind her parking spot and took the photo. She got out of her van quickly, so I couldn’t escape. I rolled down my window and thanked her for lifting me up. It stopped her, this coughing stranger following her and staying long enough to connect. Her reply, “I think license plates should say good things.” She was way cool.

Have you seen any license plates like this? I’d love to hear what else is out there!

In conclusion, if you can literally find nothing that pleasurably exalts your spirit, I’ve found the best face mask! My skin actually looks way better. I highly recommend this stuff! Farmacy Honey Potion Face Mask I learned about this wonder-stuff from a glowing 30-year-old. And Sephora has a better price than Amazon at this moment.

I swore the horse was following me. My joy was complete, a new horse! No ULKLVLY on my butt yet! But, no, he wasn’t. The beauty behind and in front of me still remains in my mind. (I LOVE NEW YORK!)

Advice She Will Probably Never Hear



It’s almost time. At 7:25 AM Monday, Hannah is a senior in high school. The same Hannah that was born to a freaked out mother who didn’t think she could raise a child. 

Oh. My. God.


If she does graduate from high school, does that mean I could raise a child?


There hasn’t been enough time to do everything I was supposed to do. I’ve done too much for her, just as I’ve done too little.


The doubt that I have not done enough to prepare her for survival is crippling. There isn’t enough time left to change what I missed. She is who she is at this point and if she fails it is on my head. Does her father share some responsibility here? Does half the making and raising of a child also count for half of the failure/success ratio? And what is success for a child? Staying alive? Or does it go deeper? Into thriving?Alive at the end of the day has always been my bottom line. May be time to raise that thing.


My heart is absolutely broken that I have only one more year to see her sleepy face in the morning. Only one more year to imagine that our relationship will go on forever. Only one more year to teach her to how to put a glass in the dishwasher and place shoes somewhere other than the center of the family room. Honestly, I have done enough on that end. I don’t understand how putting any thing in a different place from where you happen to be standing is still impossible after 17 years of demanding it be so.


How is this child remotely ready to enter the world? The real world. The real, wild, terrifying, beguiling world. The truth is, she’s ready and thriving and fabulous. Even though…


She can rarely find something to wear, under or over, clean or gently used, in the one room she has charge of, her bedroom, or as I call it, the apocalyptic glimpse. How will anyone who is not her mother live with her? I vaguely remember my mother saying that same thing when I got married…


I failed her in underwear location. I can rarely find anything I need either.


There are perhaps more important things to be taught.  I wonder if I will ever say or do what is inherently vital. Can she survive on what she’s yet to learn in half days of high school, afternoons on the couch and evenings selling clothes at the mall? Well, I survived doing almost exactly that. Just not the survival I envisioned in the childhood days spent daydreaming. Or the life I envisioned for her after she smiled at me for the first time.


If I was really, really brave and probably really, really stupid I would say:


“Beware the world outside of your apocalypse bedroom! Good exists beyond our doorstep, but so much good is missed if you spend too much time trying to find your underwear. You have to appreciate and take care of all that you have been given in order to be happy, and to move toward the life you are dreaming of now. And to stop your mother from aging any faster. 

Know how you feel about important stuff – and little stuff – and what is the bottom line for you – and then be strong enough to say it out loud to anyone. Even boys.

As beautiful and as useful as it is, you cannot get by on your smile. 

Drive carefully (never go onto a freeway or drive faster than 25, or 10 if children are present). 

Work harder than you play. 

Pray more than you idly wish. Then listen for the answers. Say the name of Jesus only in love.

Leave your world (room) better than you found it.

Keep saying “Goodness gracious” when you’re surprised.

Invest in something with your money that brings more money back. And invest money in your training of whatever career you finally land on. But, try not to get so caught up in just making rent that you ignore your dreams. I did this and still regret it, and my mother warned me about it too. 

If I had any money left – I would invest it all in you and your sister. I think you two are the best things that ever happened to me. Well, and your Dad. He’s very cool.

Healthy competition is good. Set a goal and think about it fervently, because Talia is right on your heels and she has something to prove.

If you get to play Cinderella at Disneyland, cherish every moment. This has been your dream ever since the first boy you loved didn’t slide a glass slipper on your foot. I think you were three years old.

I hope you don’t grow up and move away. 

I hope you do grow up and move away and talk fondly of your apocalyptic bedroom and the childhood you survived.”


7:25 Monday will be the beginning of life moving on for me and the beginning of the end of childhood for her.

But, beginnings are always exciting. And some things remain the same…I am still that freaked out mother who didn’t think she could raise a child.And just look at her. She’s thriving.