life lessons

Of birds and beauty, sort of

Hi my friend,

You’re well, I trust? Based on the magnificence you are finding in the world – be it the sun teasing the cove (davidkanigan.com) or a turquoise window frame weathered to imperfect perfection (windinmywheels.com) – my sense is that you’re doing very well, which in turn makes me pretty damn happy.

Ah, beauty – it’s ever present, depending in part I think on what you want to see. I see the suggestion of green on exhausted bushes, bent and weary from the crazy winter we’ve had, and I think that little promise is beautiful. The vibrant appearance of a passionately red cardinal on a bare branch – beautiful. Few could argue with natural wonder and the sheer gorgeousness of it all. John O’Donohue wrote that “beauty is the illumination of the soul”. I find that such images brighten my being, enhance my frame of mind, perhaps eclipsed solely by images of my kids and grandkids. (I do know this is not what O’Donohoe meant necessarily)

There’s a ‘but’ coming…

But, I wonder as I look in the mirror, as I commiserate with friends-of-a-certain-age, why it is that we bemoan what we see. I’m still searching for the perfect blush, spend far too much looking for the jeans that will forgive the muffin top, lift the butt and have an inseam for a 4’10” woman. I still fret over hair color and my total absence of style. I hear one of my mom’s mantras “an owl to one, is a nightingale to another”, and am grateful that to my husband I’m more nightingale than avian predator.

And I know that inner beauty is far more than a cliche – it is undeniable. The beauty of a generous heart, a compassionate soul, a belly laugh…the beauty of a soothing voice, a spontaneous bear hug, a sincere word. Without these, there is no depth to the definition of beauty. Yet the doubt persists – and we fake the outside to try and match that inside. I keep telling myself I haven’t peaked yet. Just wait…

Anyway, a musing that really has no place to go, just an observation of what is arguably the driver of a helluva lot of marketing. We’re old enough to know that we want and what we feel we lack, even if it is frivolous and fleeting. When I was wheelchair bound, I just wanted to walk again; when I was up and walking again, I wanted to run (and I was never a runner)…Maslowe had nothing on this pyramid of needs and wants. Which makes me laugh…which throws me off track…which brings me back to the weather turquoise wood and the value of its story…which brings this musing to an end. Be well, hug those you love an awful lot and I’ll see you soon.

24 thoughts on “Of birds and beauty, sort of”

  1. How I love ‘a musing that really has no place to go, just an observation …’ – especially if it’s one of yours.

    As always, Mimi, your musings ‘illuminate’ the lives of all privileged to call you family or friend.

    Observation has been an interesting pastime during the UK’s Storm Eunice today. More has been flying than merely birds and planes! x

    1. Simon, you inspire – with each post, each photo and every combination thereof. I’m not sure how much I illuminate, more like hanging out in your glow. Hang on to your hat today!! xx

  2. Oh, yes, to all of this! It has only taken me 80 years to come to some kind of a grudging acceptance of my outward self: the masked pandemic has forced some of that on me. I think that letting go of some of the outward angst is allowing me to find a more deep and lasting inner power. Then there is the reality of starting cancer therapy again, which does encourage inner work to traverse it well. The journey is lifelong, and you have done it so well! Just think how good it’s still going to get!

    1. You have no idea how your comments have moved me…First and foremost, I’m sending as much good juju as the universe will allow for your therapy to be successful so you can regain health and strength. And of course you are right – letting go of some of this is freeing, despite its invariable creep back into my head at times. You are an amazing compatriot and I’m so so glad you’re on the road with me.

  3. Priorities, priorities. Early in life outward beauty is often times the key to looking deeper, even if that thought is shallow and misguided. I was one of the misguided, but fortunately got to look deep into the one I would come to call my dollgirl, puppy and the love of my life.

    I speak to you daily, but still love to read your written word. You are so eloquent, and I love to see you sharing your musings and perspectives with those who are lucky to have found your blog. By the way, those brilliant red cardinals we see in our backyard, pale in comparison to my nightingale.

    1. Oh honey – I’m thinking of Jerry McGuire ‘you had me at hello’…Here is sit with a migraine to beat the band and the red you’re seeing is likely high color from this headache. Thank you for your love and your comments and your lousy vision…

  4. May Andy’s own eloquence (sheer delight to read!), and the warm energy that all your friends and loved ones are sending your way, chase that migraine away! – even struggling with that you’ve found time to make generous responses here. Thank you so much for that xx

    1. Hi Ray – what an awesome video!! I was as delighted to hear a voice as strong as ever and a beat to rock out to in the kitchen. And sunsets with hugs from grandchildren are just as fantastic as sunsets with hugs from first loves..thank you for this…

  5. The older I get, the more I understand where real beauty rests. A pretty face will age, parts of the body will sag, wrinkles will encroach on previously smooth expanses (this I observe daily), but the beauty of a soul only grows more luminous, buffed to a high sheen by trials met and matched, joys embraced, laughs released, lessons learned. Yours is such a glow, angel. You radiate beauty…in every sense of the word. Love you so….❤️

  6. You my pea, pen the most poetic phrases, forgiving physical beauty for its clear limitations – be they time limited or genetic. Reminding me of Dorothy Parker’s ‘ugly is forever’, but far, far more eloquently stated. It is true of course, a luminous soul has an aura, inexplicable to describe perhaps, yet definitely present. And such a visible glow may airbrush some of the things we (I) see when looking in the mirror. Thank you for holding up your mirror as I hope you regularly look at yourself through mine. Love you mega…💕

  7. These are my kinds of musings, Mimi. So eloquent and I love that you meandered around to come back to the start. My grandmother used to lament that the old woman she saw in the mirror was not even close to the girl she felt inside. So the packaging fades and gets worn, just proof of all the love going on.

    1. Hi Dale…a bit of a meandering for sure and thank you for liking it! My mom used to say something similar – that in her head she was far far younger than what the mirror suggested, and it made her sad. Of course the other side of that sadness should be gratitude for the love lines that my sister and I gave her (😉)..Seriously, thank you – how fortunate to be able to even consider such things, you know? When I was ill, things like this never crossed my mind – and I do recognize my incredibly good fortune..❤️

      1. My grandmother was so sad I actually looked into having plastic surgery for her! I asked if such a thing was done on women over 80 (of course, since, we have seen Jane Fonda so…) However, my grandmother chickened out 😉
        I can only imagine how our perspective changes after we have been ill. I take it as a good sign that it crosses your mind now – meaning you are back up to par 😉 💞

  8. Almost at par – but far enough along to think about things like this! And though I understand your grandmother’s sadness, perhaps she was able to chicken out because you offered something to her that made her heart happier…💕

  9. I’m glad that I saw your comment on Beth’s blog and said, hey, Mimi’s back! And so you are, with your elegant words and moving thoughts. Yes, we want what we want and are who we are, Mimi, and as long as we navigate our easy peace between those two halves, life should be OK. And, hello again Andy!

  10. Mark, hi!! It’s so good to hear from you (and Andy was so happy that you sent hi’s to him as well!). It is a balancing act, you’re so right. I guess the trick is to make sure neither side judges the other too harshly. Sending hugs to you and Karen!

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