Saturday, March 21, 2009


Happiness is living and seeking truth, together with others in community, and assuming responsibility for our lives and the lives of others. It is accepting the fact that we are not infinite, but can enter into a personal relationship with the Infinite, discovering the universal truth and justice that transcends all cultures: each person is unique and sacred.

We have chosen to be who we are, with all that is beautiful and broken in us. We do not slip away from life and live in a world of illusions, dreams, or nightmares. We become present to reality and to life so that we are free to live according to our personal conscience, our sacred sanctuary, where love resides within us and we see others as they are in the depth of their being. We are not letting the light of life within us be crushed, and we are not crushing it in others. On the contrary, all we want is for the light of others to shine.
Jean Vanier.

I really want to meet this Christian Humanitarian who lives and breathes his beliefs..... Personally however, I struggle with trying to apply the tenets he espouses on a daily basis. My friend Pip frequently writes about loving the unlovely. I tend to dismiss my own self. I am the first to discard my own unloveliness because I get wrapped up in the deprecating shame and embarrassment of not being able to live up to the standards of what is considered lovely.

When i'm tired and frayed at the edges this foreboding feeling like an ugly freak who is acquiring more wrinkles on her face and errant hair in the wrong places.....whose eyelids are droopier and whose skin is aquiring lumps and bumps......whose hands look like they have spent 30 years working the land......I can't seem to summon up the enthusiastic acceptance of the ugly parts of me. And if I do....I don't believe myself. Ok, I do believe I have very cute feet.

happiness? fleeting at best......maybe its all humans have the capacity to muster when it is tied only to the extremities? How does one find this internal glow of gladness if one can't recognize the beauty of their own unique broken bits? I guess it comes down to perspective. And perspective needs a good night's sleep in order to work properly. Oh, and its best not to look in the mirror when you're hungover either.


Gilly said...

How does one find this internal glow of gladness if one can't recognize the beauty of their own unique broken bits?

Oh yes! I never seem to have an internal glow of gladness, and I just hate looking in a mirror! Being the total opposite of young, slim, lithe and beautiful, I feel a nobody in this world. And I feel guilty, God gave me my body, but I eat too much and have ruined it! No will power either to get thinner and no opportunity now to exercise briskly.

I do envy the old people in countries like Greece, where they can wear a figure-covering black dress and headscarf, and are honoured as old, wise and to be revered.

Oh well, breathe in and sit up straight!

swile67 said...

Well said! I had a week like you describe but am coming out the other end! And so true that you can't love the unlovely until you love yourself!

much2ponder said...

Dana, another thought provoking post! I guess I have come here for that purpose so I am glad. Sounds like we may be in similar places. Well in fact we are; being we are about the same age. I feel that it is difficult at best, this transition from young to old and at time have difficulty accepting it. On the inside I feel just as I did in my late 20s but then I look in the mirror and say. Who the heck are you? We do our best to accentuate the positives and I jokingly say, these gray hairs are mine and I earned every one of them, but I don't really like them. We grow a little wiser and our skin loses it's elasticity. I guess it's a trade off. I try not to think about it too much because I have a long way to go and it will get worse I know.

Scarlet said...

"How does one find this internal glow of gladness if one can't recognize the beauty of their own unique broken bits?"

I have struggled with these very issues for awhile.
Having turned 40 this year, I made a conscious (VERY) decision to embrace my aging, overweight body and love who I AM. Broken bits and all. Especially the broken bits.
Somedays are better than others, and being a virgo, I DO have difficulty accepting many things about myself ... including receiving compliments.
I attempted a return to dating ... and I was sadly let down. It amazed me that many just could NOT get past the physical.
They loved the mind, and the wit ... but the body?
Not so much. Instead of dissolving into depression over it, It merely strengthened MY resolve that THEY weren't good enough for me.
That was a huge step for me.

I am trying to break the cycle and take delight in ME.
By the way, you're quite lovely. Stunning actually.
Although I have never laid eyes on you, your words, and your heart are all I need to "see".

Be kind to YOU .... You are phenomenal .... woman.

Awareness said...

Breathe and sit up straight...and smile.
I bet there are more people than not who hate looking in the mirror Gilly. You're in good company.

Karyne....there are most definately better weeks than others. I believe though that we do ourselves a good turn of gladness if we can continue to at least attempt to apply the words of M. Vanier....even on the ugliest day eh? :)

m2p...the transition is hard. i would still like to be able to turn heads, but like you i'm learning to do that in different ways. And, I try to see things in a positive light...and if I can't do that, I keep the light OFF!

In many ways I wouldn't want to turn back the clock. I like being in my 40's...and the later they become the more I like them. Though my kids are younger than yours they are now at an age where they are so much more independent and consequently, I can be!

Scarletina...thank you! I'm blushing! and much as I feel and look like a frumpy dump on the couch tonight, my internal diva will sing again. Just gotta get off the couch, get over my cold, get through yet another "curse...." and move on.
and once that all happens and I can get some sunshine in my cheeks, I will get Martha my daughter to take a few fresh photos of moi.

Selma said...

The thing that has taken me aback the most about aging is how tired I look. I can still wear jeans I wore when I was 20 but the shadows under my eyes look like they're eating up my entire face. I used to glow. In the past few years life has really tired me out. What I wouldn't give for a bit of vitality again. At least I still have my wits about me. For now. Hahaha.

Carmi said...

Such a challenging set of questions for a Monday. As I stared into the mirror this morning, wondering when my writing voice would kick in for the day's deliverables, I thought about the mess of hair atop my head, the stubble on my chin and the general sense of fuzziness that seemed to frame my entire head.

I couldn't find anything aesthetically pleasing in the mirror. But I thought about the stuff I couldn't see, the tiny little things I hold onto for dear life when everything on the outside seems to be crumbling. It helped. A bit.

a mouthy irish woman? ridiculous! said...

loving the unlovely....i work hard to embrace myself everyday...some days it's easier than others...but i do it because it's living....and if i can love myself? i can love anyone....

BreadBox said...

Check out Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine's lovely song for children "I Love The Animals": it's a lovely boppy song, with some rather amazingly inclusive lyrics.


Anonymous said...

I think the middle years are the hardest for us to accept.
Having said that I think we see beauty in others so much more readily than we can in ourselves. Do we then place too much importance on who we think we are in the grand picture of life.
God tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Some day I will send you a poem I wrote to my grandson Ben.
One more comment ,think of an older person, do you not marvel at thier beauty found in thier frailness? So often they have an aura of acceptance and peace around them.
You must never forget that others see the beauty in you. You have something that calls out to people, when I am around you I have the urge to lay my head on you and just know I can rest. (don't worry I will not do it I can controll my OCD for short periods lol)

Awareness said...

Selma....there are days when I'd trade some of my wits for my 20 year old perky tits! I wish I could fit into my jeans from way back then....
I think we look tired more easily than we used to. I was out on Friday night having some good fun and way too much wine. The next day, I looked downright scary and pale. It took way too long to bounce back. Not like it used to be eh? :)

Carmi....I swear we are the most vulnerable when we really take the time to look in the mirror (or if I have to see me in a photo. I am so unphotogenic!!) But, maybe it is in those times when we do let our guard down that we begin to look inside where our most important beauty dwells....maybe its the kick in the pants we need every once in a while to look there.

Irish Heather....well stated! I wrote this piece for a couple of reasons....because i was feeling this way but also because i was delivering a lunch workshop on assertiveness on Monday. The point you made here was THE point I was trying to make throughout my session with a group of women.

N. I hope to God Robert's mom didn't really name him that! lol. I will check it out.....thanks.

Mavis...first off...I do think Charles captured us in a photo with you resting on my shoulder! hahaha! You are welcome anytime my friend. When I ever see you sitting down after moving and grooving throughout the downtown after all the advocating and interacting you do....all I would like to do is to give you space to rest. Your energy and drive makes me tired just thinking about it!!

You make some very very interesting points!! Who am I to see myself any differently in the grand scheme of things?? Right on! I am no more beautiful or ugly than anyone else...!

I remember being with my grandmother the morning of her 90th birthday party. She had been feeling quite ill the night before and hadn't slept well, so was more frail than I had ever seen her. We had a cup of tea, and then she went off to get dressed up, comb her hair and put a little make up on.... When she returned to the room, it was the aura around her and the way she was standing that made her look lovely, like she had inhaled some fresh air. This is who I thought of when I read your comment.

Thank you Mavis! Hey you should become a blogger!