Perspective

The first time I ever saw Kate, I did a double take. She was the kind of beautiful that made every person stop and stare. She had shoulder length black hair that fell in soft waves over the tops of her shoulders and a flawless complexion. She was tall and thin and had the body of a runway model. I smiled at her and she smiled back at me. I envied her youthfulness. Even in my mid-20’s, I never looked like that. She had the kind of beauty you only see in photo-shopped photographs in a fashion magazine.

I imagined that she had her own apartment and was going to school part time. That she had fabulous friends and an equally fabulous boyfriend. I imagined her life as fun and carefree, without a care in the world.

So Kate. Not her real name of course, but the stunningly beautiful part is all true. Each time I would see her, which was always in passing, I caught her staring at me. I would always smile and say hello and she would politely smile back. The staring part seemed a bit odd to me, but I didn’t think much of it. A few months passed. She always looked beautiful but distant. The staring and quiet smiling continued.

A few weeks later, we bumped into each other again at work. I made small talk but she seemed to struggle even with that. Finally it was time to go home. As we were getting ready to leave, I turned around and there she was standing a few feet away, staring at me. I found it odd but she seemed sweet so again, I tried to make small talk. She asked about my girls and seemed genuinely interested in my life. She seemed touched that I was a single mom, struggling to juggle work and career and kids and a social life. After all those months, it was the first time we had ever had a real conversation.

Then out of the blue she said “You are so beautiful. I mean that. You really are so beautiful, inside and out.”

I was completely taken aback.

Here was this young, gorgeous model-esque girl telling me that I was beautiful. I really didn’t know what to say. I replied back “No, Kate, you are beautiful. But thank you so much.”

She didn’t dismiss me as old or faceless, as young people sometimes do. She admired me and looked up to me. I was completely touched.

She looked like she might cry. My natural instinct was to hug her and normally I would have. But we really didn’t know each other very well so I held back. She seemed so lost and sad.  She smiled at me and then, without a word, she turned and left.

One evening, when I was out with a group of mutual friends, I hesitantly asked “What’s the deal with Kate?” I wasn’t trying to pry, but something just seemed off about her.

That was when I found out that Kate was an alcoholic. She was living with her boyfriend who had been in and out of jail for heroin possession.  Some days she wouldn’t even show up for work. And when she did, she would often arrive looking like she hadn’t showered for days. Her boss tried countless times to help her. Instead of letting her go, she kept her on part-time. Kate would lie to people and say she had graduated from college, when the truth was she dropped out after only a few weeks.

Friends, family and co-workers all tried to help her. But yet she remained with the heroin addict and was struggling with alcohol.

My heart completely broke.  Here was this beautiful young girl, throwing away what should have been some of the best years of her life.

 

I’ve never struggled with an addiction, unless you count the high you get when you *think* you are in love with someone (note that *thinking* something does not always make it real), but I imagine it is one of the most difficult things to overcome.

Too often, we see someone whose life appears to be better than ours. It’s easy to think everyone else has it easier or has a more exciting life than we do. But the truth is our lives are exactly what we make of them, which has absolutely nothing to do with looks or money or appearance.

What we perceive to be true isn’t always. It’s easy to hide pain and sadness behind a smile or false exterior.

I may not be model thin or have flawless skin but I actually have a pretty great life. A beautiful home, two amazing little girls and a hundred other things I am grateful for every single day.

I don’t know what will become of Kate. That was the last time I ever saw her. I don’t know what events brought her to such a low point in her life, but I hope with all my heart she finds a way out.

What I do know is that not everyone is able to deal with the difficulties that life throws our way. I have been very fortunate in that I have been able to overcome most of life’s obstacles simply by finding the humor in most situations and by always keeping a positive outlook. But not everyone is able to do that.

Life is fair in that we all have our own share of hard times and problems and difficulties. The unfair part is that some people ultimately fall apart and are never able to put themselves back together again.

I hope with all my heart that Kate is not one of those people. I hope she can find a way to pull herself together and come out a stronger person. And if I ever do see her again, I’m definitely going to give her that hug.

No matter what someone’s life looks like on the outside, maybe we all need to take a closer look.

By Mai Ramai from abstract.desktopnexus.com

By Mai Ramai from abstract.desktopnexus.com

 

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Beautiful

Marc_Jacobs

I once lived in a one bedroom basement apartment with my best friend. We had a small kitchen table without chairs and two mattresses on the floor, and that was pretty much it. Our living room was completely empty. We had nothing except a few dishes in the kitchen cabinets and a closet over-flowing with all of our clothes, bags and shoes. I’m not sure how we survived with so little, yet I would drop $50 on a half ounce jar of eye cream without thinking twice. A completely broke 20 year old girl buying anti-wrinkle cream. I’m certain I already had flawless skin, like most 20-something girls do, but I still spent a chunk of my paycheck on beauty products vs. food.

For a girl who grew up reading Seventeen magazine, the pages filled with perfect bodies and pretty smiles, not surprising at all.

And I am sure I wasn’t the only one.

And isn’t that how most girls think? We grow up believing that beauty is vitally important to our being. It defines us somehow. Life will be better/happier/easier/more fulfilling, more something, if you are prettier.

And you don’t have to accept it or agree with it. But that’s just the way it is. And that won’t ever change. We will never live in a world where beauty is not revered or desired. Not ever. So what choice do we have but to accept and embrace it?

Audrey Hepburn said “Happy girls are the prettiest girls.” Who coincidentally was one of the most perfectly beautiful women to have ever lived.

We are bombarded by messages telling us that beauty comes from within, and that being a good person is beautiful, and that true beauty is blah blah blah.  But meanwhile, every man wants a Kate Upton. It’s all very confusing to a 12 year old girl, still learning about the world and trying to figure out where she fits in all of this.

And how do you teach that same 12 year old girl that inner beauty is more important than outer? Not an easy task.

And even with degrees in science and education on top of years spent trying to complete a Masters degree, I know that no amount of education will ever change the fact that I still want to be pretty, too. Because in this world, pretty is what everyone wants. Men want a beautiful woman on their arm (it’s a status symbol) and the prettiest girls find the most desirable mates. And any person- male or female- would be lying if they said they did not want to be more attractive. What person ever says “I want to be less attractive.” You can’t find that person because s/he simply does not exist. Because beauty is valued in our society. Period. Men want beautiful. And women completely fall into the beauty trap every single day.

It’s all a very ugly thing, when you really start to think about it.

An ex once told me “I would rather date a girl with a pretty face than one with a good body. Her face is the most important part.”

He’s not alone. Men can’t help it. They’re attracted to looks and the physical. And although women are attracted to good looks, too, it’s a fact that men rate a woman’s looks as the most important thing about her.

Men rate a woman’s looks as the most important thing about her. Worth stating twice, because wow. Wow and I think that explains quite a lot.

In a study done by Ask Men, men rated facial attractiveness as the #1 most desirable trait in a woman.   Whereas, women rated intelligence, passion and a sense of humor in the top 5 qualities most desired in a man.  And the importance of a mans looks to a woman was much lower at #9.

It’s no great mystery why women place such importance on how they look. It’s a competitive world out there and men are always searching for the next pretty face. Sure you’re pretty, but she’s really beautiful. And as beautiful as she is, that other girl is stunning. And men don’t think twice about leaving a beautiful woman for someone they consider to be more beautiful. It happens every day. So is it any wonder why women are continually trying to improve their looks?

I know a woman (in fact, an entire group of women) who have all spent thousands of dollars on surgery and injections trying to achieve “it”.  One husband even commented to me that his wife no longer looks recognizable. Make that his ex-wife. They are now divorced so maybe that says something about that. I don’t know. And admittedly, if I had the means, I too might consider doing some of the same. But I don’t foresee becoming rich anytime soon, so I guess I will never find out.

In the meantime, the perfect blow out and a pedicure still make me feel pretty. I feel sexy in a great pair of jeans. And all that confidence translates into feeling attractive, which makes me feel good. So where is the wrong in that?

The problem is that there will always be someone better looking. And along with that comes the natural worry that he might leave you for someone “better.” Even if she is not actually “better” at all. My best friend- one of the most stunningly beautiful and smartest women I know- discovered her husband was cheating on her. And I’m not suggesting that men cheat only because they found someone more attractive. But the fact is men are always looking. Even if they never act upon it. And cheating is extremely common. So maybe it’s not such an irrational thing to worry about after all.

Maybe that’s just the way it is.

Feeling beautiful, looking beautiful and actually being beautiful are all very different things.

And genuine beauty has nothing to do with what you see in a magazine.

But yet, that will never change the fact that men will continue to seek exactly that physical, outward type of beauty. And therefore, women will continually strive to achieve it.

 

In the end, each person should do what they want. Do whatever you need to do to feel pretty and sexy and amazing and happy and beautiful.

And hopefully, one day you will meet someone so amazing in every sense of the word, that they will completely redefine your own perception of what makes a person beautiful. Suddenly, it’s not just about how they look, but it becomes about the way they smile, the words they say, the way they look at you and the way they make you feel. The same guy or girl that you once viewed as attractive, now defines beauty in every single sense of the word. And all you’ll be able to see is a person you can’t possibly imagine being without. Ultimately, that is what makes someone perfectly beautiful, above and beyond anyone else. And that is what I am going to teach my daughters.

 

Link: http://www.askmen.com/top_10/dating/top-10-proven-traits-men-desire-in-women.html

Photo taken from catsandcouture.blogspot.com

Photo taken from catsandcouture.blogspot.com

 

Look Closer

Part I

Chaos swirls

Of crowds and strangers and vacant stares

They look right through you.

Nothing and everything

Meaningless and empty.

Then

You catch a glimpse

Her face catching the light

She is a beacon

Calm.

You look closer.

Her eyes draw you in.

And she is drawn to yours.

Her voice is soft and comforting.

Lilting

Like the moan of the wind

And all you want

Is to drown inside her mind.

Part II

Rain rolls down the window

Concealing your view

Still, you see it

The light.

You recognize the beauty through the haze.

And maybe that is what makes it so appealing

Veiled

Mysterious

Unknown.

An enigma.

Your soul aches for more.

Part III

You reach closer

She draws back

Hiding.

Covering her face

She runs away

Fearful

Distrusting

Guarding her heart

She slams it closed

Locking it shut

And throws the key into the river.

Gone.

Never allowing anyone to get past the gate.

11a1Rain

I am open, but extremely private. If you can earn my trust, I will do anything for you. I will hand you the world, wrapped inside my heart.

Miss Moneypenny ‏@_Ms_Moneypenny_