Last week I was thinking a lot about beauty. I'd stopped in at a makeup & perfume shop, where I purchased a new lipstick and an eyebrow pencil. I don't wear much makeup, and I don't really enjoy it much anymore. I have found that focusing too much on the exterior takes me too far away from God in a way I don't like.
This past December I turned 44 years old. Along with my greying hair, some of my eyebrows are now losing color too. With a little smudge of the new eyebrow pencil, I'm hoping to save what's left of my eyebrows! Maybe this is too much vanity. The lipstick was a pure impulse buy. Just a little pink-nude color, almost the natural color of my lips... haha... (L'Oreal Color Riche Lipstick 236 Organza). It's interesting, the small things that help us feel a little bit better about ourselves.
The stop at the makeup shop got me to thinking though, about all the times I never felt beautiful, which is probably most of my life. I've never considered myself to be beautiful or pretty in any physical sense. I was picked on as a child at school for being too short, too petite. And wearing glasses too--automatically labeled me as a nerd. (And I am--and I'm OK with that now! But being picked on as a child isn't much fun.) As an adult, it's still hard being short of stature. People push you aside, or shove you a little bit out of the way. Or they step in front of you in the line/queue, as if you weren't there. And the times I've heard, "Oh, I didn't see you!" There have been times when I have felt not truly seen even among those closest too me. Truly seen, you know? A lot of figuring out about me and my relationship to the people and the world around me. What is real, who is real, and what is not, or who is not. ...Not seen...
Not that I am, or ever was, looking for any great attention or admiration. Just be counted among the living--one among the many. To be a part of the greater world. It's not always easy to find one's place among people. Even among those closest to us. I understood, even when young, that real beauty had to begin from within. So I've tried to concentrate more on inner qualities of being, or blooming more beautiful from the inside out.
It's all a life's work! And it's taken me years to understand the larger meaning of being, and the greater meaning of beautiful. Of being in community with others. Of being God's Beloved. That I am His Beloved--always. That I have been created by Him, for Him. That is really the ultimate beauty!
The contents of my makeup bag, plus some extras. A whisper of powder foundation to even out my sometimes blotchy middle-age skin tone, a dash of mascara (I have short, fine eyelashes), a tinted lip balm. Homemade powder antiperspirant/deodorant--a mix of baking soda/bicarbonate of soda & cornstarch--which I dust on with a brush. (Sometimes, during the high,very HOT days of summer I use a commercial antiperspirant, but get by most of the time with my natural homemade kind.) In the blue jar is a homemade facial blemish treatment--honey & ground nutmeg (anti-inflammatory properties). In the pump container is extra virgin olive oil, which serves as both my moisturizer and makeup remover. I use an olive oil soap for showering, along with a microfiber cloth.
Just as I make our own household cleaners, I make a lot my own "beauty treatments." Foot/body scrubs, etc. I use a mix of crumbled oatmeal/porridge oats and a little bit of milk for a gentle facial scrub/exfoliant. I don't use commercial shampoos or other hair products. For some time I've just been washing my hair/scalp with water. Using a natural bristle brush to "condition" my hair. The natural oils of the hair can be the best conditioner. (This is sometimes called the No Poo Method.) The one "bad" thing I do, is color my hair with commercial hair colors. I began coloring my hair shortly before I turned 30, so a long time now. I tried some natural colorants, including tea dyeing... But a while ago I went back to chemical dyes... *sigh* ...
But these two pictured above are really my greatest, biggest beauty tools. Following the path of Jesus, with aid of Our Lady, to love and serve God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind. (Matthew 22:37) How may I grow more beautiful in my heart, mind, body and soul as I walk with Jesus in His suffering to the glory of His Ressurection on Easter?
On our altar shelf is a pair of icons. Christ Pantocrator and Mary, Mother of God, the Theotokos. Though they are just in paper form, they are very dear to me. The prints are postcard size, and I have been having a difficult time finding frames the I like for them or in the right size. I bought a small canvas on which I will mount both of the prints, which I will do during Lent. I have some special gold paints and gold leaf with which to make a pretty display of them.
Some thoughts as Lent begins this week...