This is What Beautiful Is
I think as women, we spend our entire lives trying to figure out what beauty is. Who doesn't want to be beautiful? We all do. Unfortunately, we spend too much time looking in all the wrong places. We look for it in Cosmo. We wonder if that's in on the fashion runway. We can't help but to flick over to the beauty pageant on TV. And we even search for it in our own mirrors. We never do find beauty in any of these places because it simply doesn't exist there. So we keep searching. Beauty is elusive.
Last night, I found myself at a private dinner with ten other women. We had our own glassed in room overlooking a magnificent golf course, with a cozy fireplace in the corner, a four course dinner, and plenty of wine and good conversation to last all night. I wasn't looking for beauty last night. I really wasn't looking for anything. I was there to socialize, relax, and have fun. It was there, while we were eating cheesecake and sipping coffee, when I looked up and unexpectedly found the elusive treasure so many of us spend a lifetime seeking; I found beauty.
In the most fortuitous of situations, a dinner party, just the right brush strokes all came together at once as the conversation turned to our dreams. A masterpiece had been created; beauty had been revealed. The seven hallmarks of beauty as I observed them last evening are as follows:
Selfless - One woman's goal was to figure out how to pay for her step-sons college. She was brought to tears as she contemplated how she could afford the $40K to $50K a year it would cost for him to go after his dream. Her stepson. So beautiful. Another woman talked about how she has prolonged her career change because of an overwhelming sense of obligation to the people she serves. Beautiful women are the kind who don't just look at their big dreams and say "What's In It For Me," but rather they examine their dreams and say, "What's In It For Everyone."
Scarred - One woman bravely pointed out the scars from her recent surgery, the physical ones and the emotional ones. We were all brought to tears when she shared what she had gone through and how it has taken a toll on her life. "I want to feel normal again," said this brave soul. Beautiful women do not bury, hide, and cover up their scars. Beautiful women expose them.
Endurers - For everything that was shared at the table, there was so much more that wasn't. There were women fighting custody battles, families fighting cancer, and marriages on the brink of failure. These women know how to quietly bear their cross for the long haul. They will endure until the time is right to ask friends to come in and help carry the load. There's beauty in emotional strength.
Collaborators - Beautiful women lift one another up. They invest in the dreams of one another. They raise their hands and offer guidance, support, and ideas. Beautiful women utilize their voices to make connections for others, to open doors, and to make dreams happen for the people around them. The village. The team. The wolf pack. The community. The lion's pride. Beauty is in not allowing others to travel alone.
Truth Tellers - Beauty is anyone who can say the truth; the dirty, scary, messy, heartbreaking, truth about life. I envy this kind of bravery. It's so much easier to let the real truth go unsaid, because nobody would be wiser. Any woman who can say to her friends, "I'm confused, I'm lost, and I am sad," is my absolute hero. Because, here's the truth. We all are. Most of us are just too afraid or ashamed to expose it so we can get some help.
World Changers - Beautiful people have an innate desire to change the world. More than half of the women at the table are writing books. They have been through downright awful life events; the kind that beat you to a bloody pulp. These women have had chapters in their lives that they would absolutely never want to relive. But they will relive it all, in the pages of their books, because by doing so others will never have to.
Rebels - Perhaps the funniest part of the night was when each of the women confessed to having at one time broken the law. Yup, a couple of them even ended up in prison cells at one time. These women look a lot like business leaders, role models, moms, teachers, and artists; but deep down, every single one of them is a rebel.
As I was reflecting on the evening with these women, I was taken back twenty years to one of my favorite movies, The Breakfast Club. "Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did was wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us....In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each of us is a brain....and an athlete....a basket case....a princess...and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely Yours, The Breakfast Club."
And so I close with this...a letter to anyone who has ever searched for beauty....
The world is going to see us as they want to see us.... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. We are moms, business people, role models, artists, and teachers. But what we all are....what we really are to the core...we are selfless...we are scarred... we are endurers.... we are collaborators....we are truth tellers....we are world changers....we are rebels. What we all are is beautiful. Sincerely Yours, The Dinner Club.