The Beauty Collection

A Grace-Filled Beauty Routine
There’s nothing anti (opposed or against) about it. I am aging.
A wise woman once told me, “When you argue with reality, you lose.” And the reality is, I have reached an age where I find myself in the “anti-aging” section. Much the same as one moves through the children’s section, to misses, to women, and so forth – there’s an anti-aging section.
To age. The nature of this matter is time, therefore, I don’t want to waste any more time opposing my own reality. I don’t want to lose any more time in the anti-aging game. I forfeit. 
As to not oppose aging, the counteraction would be to embrace it. To embrace time with more grace. More grace-filled beauty – that’s the game I want to win.
What does grace-filled beauty look like?
The Amazing-Aging Beauty Routine. 
The morning reality check: this body will be ash one day. I am choosing to cremate so my son can talk to me every day as my ashes sit on his mantel (he doesn’t know it yet) – but besides that, and until then, I thought it would be a good idea to start appreciating and enjoying this body while I still have it; while I am still in it.
Time in a body-bottle: understanding that age is time, I can appreciate the time in this body. My body holds 49 years. There is history in this body. Stories this body can tell. Glorious glorious stories. This body holds its very own epic tales of horror, drama, comedy, romance, and adventure.
The landscape of my body holds scars and wrinkles of time. There’s a scar just below my lip that tells a story of foolish folly. A scar on my knee that tells of risk and adventure. And a scar below my navel that saved my life.
I’ve got a soft potbelly that says I had more important things to do (according to me) than crunching abs. And my soul is delightful but my body doesn’t like to SoulCycle.
My less pronounced scars, the ones of most meaning – can tell you trills of a heaven, just as much as they can a hell. This body has traveled both. 
Amazing wrinkle cream: I gently pat the wrinkles around my eyes with cream. Patting…remembering that I have lived long enough to witness these beautiful lines. Gently pressing (filling in) laugh lines with reverie.
I press into the lines on my forehead, that formed over the years with contemplation. Amazed at all that has run through my mind. There are lifetimes up there – mine, yours, and just about everyone I meet – I try to capture lifetimes in my mind. And the beauty lines that surround the eyes…oh, if these eyes could share their witness. These beauty lines are a measure of my time. 
Privilege Powder: I dust myself with the realization that I am only at half-time. That I get the privilege to keep playing, and that I get the privilege to take a half-time break, as to decide how I want to play the rest of the game. Whether I think I’ve been losing or not, I get the privilege to keep going. Time, aging, becomes a gift – to embrace with grace.
Fountain of Youth: Injections include reminding myself that I am the youngest I will ever be, and to not discount myself from the wonder and magic still in my bones. To draw from the nutrients of my bone marrow. To remind myself that I don’t want to be young, per se, but I do want to keep injecting my life with carefreeness, playfulness, gracefulness, and wonderfulness.
Vitality Serum: To slather myself with vitality serum. Ingredients include; music, mischievous, play, dance, service to others, simplicity, spontaneity, laughter, appreciation, and a bit of raw rebellion sometimes. The serum focuses on human senses- to engage and activate sensuality. To not let my senses go dull; to keep my senses vital.
Evening Body Wash: My evening beauty routine includes disrobing any feelings of lack and not-enoughness, and to strip off socialized constraints from the day. Then stepping into a warm shower to wash my body from any bacteria of shame or unworthiness.
Anointing Oil: The last part of my amazing-aging beauty routine is the anointing oil of allure. With hints of lavender, it’s an evening massage in as I rest in the allure (the mystery and fascination) of this being human. To rest in the knowledge that I can’t go back in time, and my only option is to keep moving forward. That the future of my beauty rests in the grace of aging.
The anti-aging game was actually aging me. The fear and the worry was exhausting. I had to stop dying to be beautiful and start daring to define beauty differently.
I had to stop fighting the current of time and embrace the flow of whatever comes my way. Whether it be sorrow, illness, hardships…or the trauma of sagging skin; to embrace the weathering of my life with as much grace as I can muster.
Nor am I after more time. I don’t need more time- I need to fill in the time I already have with this amazing-aging beauty routine.
And no more beauty regrets.
When I find myself in the presence of pretty girls in their twenties, lovely ladies in their thirties, and beauty emerging in their forties…I send out a little blessing of, “Oh, you sweet sweet beautiful thing, I hope you know how beautiful you are.”  Because the one regret I do have, is that I didn’t know how to experience beauty until now.
I missed my own beauty. I missed it in my twenties, thirties, and in my forties. I was too busy chasing beauty every which way but under my own skin. I didn’t get the chance to experience the sheer joy and delight of my dance, my rhythm, and my style.
I didn’t understand that my attempts were just as beautiful as my failures- my victories just as beautiful as my defeats- that my imperfections were my perfections. I didn’t understand that this entire outfit called being human is beautiful.
At this midlife point in time, I have the chance to change my beauty routine. A chance to let go of my youth (but not my youthfulness) and to experience the grace needed to embrace this amazing body as it continues to pass through the gift of time.
Laura.

Inspired by The Longevity Book by Cameron Diaz, and Ann Voskamp’s teachings from One Thousand Gifts. And the wise woman was Byron Katie.


Parched for Blind Beauty
I am going in blind. Blindness seems to be what is needed. To let go of my usual seeing.
A year of clear vision. Of twenty-twenty.
Because my perspective is unclear; my beliefs (which sometimes feels like I have none – I believe everything because I doubt nothing – and I believe nothing because I question just about everything – and at the end of the day, I know nothing), my aims ( have been aimed at aimlessness – unable to find worthy targets), my purpose (I am without), and my values (unknown).
All that.
That which has served me well now fails me. My freedoms and pursuit of happiness have served me, yes, and now fails me – hurts me – like a double-edged sword I have not been skillful with. Starving for new freedoms and new pursuits.
Craving, aching – starving for pursuits of self-respect and for significance in my surroundings. Parched for a beauty that is unseen, but can be felt. For a beauty unseen, but known
She asks me, “If you were blind, how would you know I was beautiful?”
Blind now.
Thrust into the abyss of nothingness (but everythingness), and into the depths of; I don’t know.
Going into the unknown like I’ve never known.
Aiming for targets that my everyday senses don’t understand.
Starving to see what I can’t see. To hear what I don’t hear, and to feel what I don’t feel.
To question such beauty within me. And to discover, there is little-to-none.
To find new territory within –  to quench my thirst.
Parched I am for a beauty unseen.
L.

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Eye of the Beholder
I asked myself, where was beauty today?
His eyes:
Waited for me as I walked down the steps. I felt the masculine gesture to let a lady walk by.
I looked up to meet his eyes, and without my words, I let my eyes say thank you.
I lingered for a few milliseconds to add an unspoken, “I see you, and I witness your gesture, and it is greatly appreciated. Thank you.”
And with the slightest nod of his head and a subtle smile, his eyes let me know that he appreciated my appreciation.
Her eyes:
I felt something coming at me as I walked toward my car. They were about twenty feet away- walking toward me – waiting for me to meet them. They had a presence of joy. A bouncy-sort-of-joy and I looked up to meet them.
Her eyes.
I smiled at the beauty of her joy. And she smiled as if to say, “Thank you for seeing me.”
And both of us nodded an unspoken, “Good day to you, you beautiful soul,” and ” A good day to you, you beautiful soul.”
His eyes:
Were bagging my groceries.
I had to look away.
The intensity coming from his unspoken, I see you – was directed toward me.
His smile was great – as if he was lost in his own delight and inviting me in.
I looked away and then forced myself to see – into his eyes so I could say…I see you too.
I was left with a feeling of awe, and maybe some jealousy, as to his capacity to be lost in his own beautiful space.
And I was so very grateful to witness that which I so desperately want to believe exists.
Depth. Beauty. Joy. And appreciation. In human connection.
L.

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The Sweaty Embrace of Ourselves.
It was the most beautiful thing to happen that day.
She says to me as I sit next to her, “I feel like I’m in a different place.”
I don’t know her.
She is still breathing hard, staring out the window. I am wiping sweat from my body. Accumulations of deep breath and sweat from the completed Bikram class.
I inquire, “You feel good?”
Still looking out the window, befuddled almost, she replies, as if questioning her own experience, “… … ...I feel so proud of myself.”
It was as if this was the first time she’d felt proud of herself. Or maybe it’s been too long since the experience. I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to distract her from bathing in her own glory.
Then I started feeling proud of her. And we were both sitting in the midst of sweetness.
I remember seeing her in class. Taking breaks from poses. Resting, but never leaving the room.
She stayed in the room. And that’s one of the hardest things to do in a Bikram class. For some of us, it’s not about the poses (yet) – it’s just the act of learning to pay attention to ourselves. To closely observe our bodies (i.e. body temperature), and to observe the mind that questions why we showed up to this sweaty embrace.
And it wouldn’t be worth it if we didn’t sweat. The heat, the sweat, the holding of the poses – no music, no distractions – it’s a class that demands something from us. Demands that we actually pay attention to ourselves.
The gift is just that; if we can stand to stay with ourselves for the entire class. To do what we need to do, to take care of ourselves, to not give up, is something that runs deep. To be in contact with that depth within our being is priceless. You will be in a different place.
I didn’t particularly feel proud of myself that day, or maybe I did, I, however, was more interested in the fact that her feeling was contagious.  I felt proud of her– and that was the most beautiful thing that happened to me that day.
L.