Posted in Blogfest Entries, Life Writing

#BOAW: The Beauty That Is… Me!

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This post is part of August McLaughlin‘s Beauty of a Woman Blogfest …an annual celebration of beauty in all its forms…for more, here’s August herself! =D

What makes you feel beautiful? What’s helped you embrace your body/appearance as it is? What area are you still working on—or should you? What makes you feel sexy? What helped you embrace, rather than shame, your sexuality? What’s stopping you? How do you define real beauty or sex appeal? Who epitomizes beauty and sexiness, IYO? What advice would you give your younger self or a girl in your life about beauty and/or sexuality? 

I’ll admit it. When I say that I know I’m beautiful, I still find myself resisting the urge to turn around and look over my shoulder. You see, I was raised to believe that it was immodest, and therefore undesirable and maybe even wrong, to compliment myself. I was told that it was bragging or ‘fishing for compliments’.

Well, I am beautiful. And I don’t think it’s bragging or unseemly to say so. My beauty is an accomplishment, a tribute to years of learning, work, healing, and self-discovery. I’ve delved beneath the layers and levels of conditioning, drained and stitched festering old wounds, and adjusted my inner and outer vision until I could see not only the beauty all around me, but also that which has been within me, all along.

Yes, I look back now at pictures of me as a little girl, and as a young woman – and I see someone beautiful – without the confidence to see or know her own beauty, or her own strength.

I first realized it by accident, a few years ago; I was at my parents’ house, when my attention was caught by one snapshot of a lovely young girl with long wavy blonde hair, sitting on a picnic table with her legs drawn up beneath her. I stared at her for minutes, trying to place her.

She was me. I’d been about sixteen then, and deeply insecure about my appearance. That wavy blonde hair? Wouldn’t do a thing I wanted it to. This was the 80s, the decade of big hair and oodles of hair spray to hold it. Only, my thick hair simply would not be tamed, insisting on doing its own wild thing…

At nineteen, with Aviendha. Thin, but unhappily embroiled in an abusive and toxic relationship.

I thought I was too skinny. I’d been a late bloomer, and held onto the image that I was a scrawny girl, long after I wasn’t anymore.

When I saw that old picture, I saw a beautiful girl smiling or laughing at something long forgotten…

Caught in that unguarded moment of not caring how I looked, I was beautiful. And that was the beginning of healing, for me.

As I’ve healed and grown and explored my own inner terrain, bits and pieces of it rise to my surfaces. No, I’m not sixteen anymore – but there’s more light and love and life in my eyes now. I don’t spend a lot of time considering how I look to other people – there’s too much else to think about, and see, and do. I’ve found not only my beauty, but my strength. I spend my time in a way that delights me, surrounded by people I love.

Brand new mom with two day old Jeremiah.

Sure, I’m no longer the thin young girl I once was – but the thickening of my body is the result of nearly forty-six years of life, almost eighteen years of being married to a mighty fine chef (I don’t just mean that he cooks for me; he actually IS a professional chef). It’s a consequence of having carried and given birth to three children in the space of four years. To some extent, I’ve been thickened by grief – the grief that comes with the loss of our second child twelve days after his birth.

I’ve found joy, and purpose, in the aftermath of that tragedy. There’s something beautiful in that – in embracing love and life and possibility, when I might’ve chosen a different path – one of bitterness, or rage, or betrayal…

With my kids in Lake George, NY, fall 2013. I’m beautiful when I’m happy and fulfilled!

I’ve found a beauty that comes from my deepest places, my most intimate self. And, by bits and pieces, I’ve given it the space to shine through. The more confident I grow in myself, the more beautiful I grow.

My hair? It’s darker, now, and scattered liberally with silver. It’s still as wild – but now, I see that as a reflection of a more elemental part of my own nature, and I love it. It suits me. So do the new lines in my face, the roadmap of my own personal history I wear with pride of ownership.

Mine may not be a ‘classic’ beauty – but it is my own, born of my history and my personal journey, and I claim it for my own.

What makes you beautiful?

Find more Beauty of A Woman blogposts here!

Making my own dreams – like being a published writer – a priority in my life makes me beautiful!


I am myself. I own my life, and live with three other people who own theirs. My intention is to do only those things that bring me joy, and to give myself wholly to those things I do. Writing has been my passion throughout my life, and this will become the home for my writing life...because it brings me great joy!

25 thoughts on “#BOAW: The Beauty That Is… Me!

    1. Why thank you! Finding my own beauty, and accepting it, have been instrumental in seeing it in others.

      A world where every woman and girl could always see herself as beautiful would be a far better place to live, IMO.

  1. What a touching post. This was so moving and inspiring. I think it’s great you’ve come to realize your own beauty, and agree we should all always be able to do that. It’s a shame it tends to take a few years to come to that conclusion for many of us, but better late than never, right? Thank you for sharing ithis!

    1. My homschooled daughter is ten. She’s so much more confident in her whole self – beauty and otherwise, than I was at her age, or for decades beyond that.

      She’s grown up away from the need for peer approval of her looks, and away from the nastiness that can surround these things, especially for girls.

      Maybe that’s a key…but it makes me happy to see her admire her appearance, be playful about her burgeoning curves, and know that this is just a small part of what she has to offer.

      1. That is so great! And I like your point about how all of that is just a small part of her. Sometimes when people take pride in their outer appearance they forget about how they’re so much more than that. I maintain whatever schooling you are giving your children at home is excellent and should be duplicated by more parents!

        1. Actually, we aren’t giving them ANY schooling. Instead, we give them the freedom to learn as they will, and we facilitate and offer them interesting opportunities and experiences (like our recent family vacation to Oregon, where my Accomplice grew up).

          We trust them to learn. It’s what humans do, after all. =)

          I agree that it would be a better world if more children were trusted, and supported in the learning they choose.

    1. I’ve come to see my hair as a statement of who I am. A little wild. Not quite as tame as I may appear.

      Today, it sports streaks of turquoise! =)

      I’m happy you’ve made peace with your locks, too! =)

  2. I smiled the whole time I read this. Even the part about the toxic relationship brought a knowing smile of understanding and gratitude for that is ancient history and we are still here, more beautiful than ever!

    1. So happy to bring you smiles. And that toxic relationship? It led me to fulfilling a dream of living in the desert – and it was there, wiser and more sure of myself, that I met my husband.

  3. This post is as gorgeous as you are, Shan! I relate deeply to feeling far more beautiful through self-embracement and empowering growth and experience.

    Thanks so much for for sharing your inspiring journey, and participating in the fest!

  4. What a powerful post Shan. You are truly beautiful – inside and outside. I’ll check out this blogfest. I know I have struggled with the whole “beauty in this society” all my life, but most times I am comfortable in my won skin and accept myself.

    1. Well, not everything in my life makes it into writing. Like everyone else, I have my un-beautiful moments…

      But I try to connect with what matters, and accentuate the positives – and forgive myself my occasional ugly moments…

      Maybe there’s some beauty in accepting my humanity…

  5. I’ve always found beauty in people’s hearts. The way they treat people or give of themselves unselfishly. I’ve always felt their beauty shimmers in their eyes and radiates outward through their smiles. 🙂

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