Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Absolute Beauty: Beauty in the Heart of the Beholder

Daily Prompt: We’ve all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do you agree? is all beauty contingent on a subjective point of view?

I believe that true beauty is perceived, not by the eye, but by the heart. Certainly our eyes play a part in perceiving beauty, especially superficial beauty, which is subjective, but also influenced by our cultures and societies. Take women, for example, often cited for their beauty of face and form. One society perceives a thin but buxom woman with blonde hair as the epitome of beauty. Other societies may regard tattoos and piercings as beauty attributes, or see women of ample size as more desirable than the thin ones. But superficial beauty is fleeting, while true beauty remains with us forever.

We often buy into what is considered the latest beauty trends, buying fashion magazines and trying to meld ourselves into the models we see on those glossy, colorful pages. I grew up in the 1960’s when models were pencil thin (remember Twiggy/) and the flip was the hair style of the day (Mary Tyler Moore, for instance). With my naturally curly hair I was about as far from the flip as a girl could get. But did that stop us curly tops? No, we ironed our hair and used super large rollers with big metal clips to beat our curls into submission over night. All in an attempt to present beauty to the eye of our beholder. In this  case, the beauty was not subjective, but pressured, by an outside influence to achieve what was accepted as beauty. By the time I met my husband, I had abandoned my attempts at superficial beauty, and my curly locks did not interfere with his proposal..

As far as beauty in natural things like sunsets and puppies and the twinkling of stars on a frosty winter’s night, beauty is in the eye of the beholder who takes time to notice and appreciate all the beauty the world has to offer. Too many of us fail to behold the beauty found all around us.

But  true beauty is perceived by the heart of the beholder and unlike the superficial variety, it is evident when we are looking our worst, but doing our best. A mother laboring to give birth, a friend undergoing chemotherapy, with bruised eyes and no hair, yet strong in the true beauty of her spirit and determination.  Or the soldier wounded in battle, facing life without an arm or  a leg. To be and to behold beauty, one doesn’t have to mold oneself into a fashion icon. I behold beauty in people living each day with pain, or chronic illness. I see beauty in persons facing death with grace and resolve. I see beauty in people who are, at the core of their heart,capable of beholding the beauty in others, of cherishing them and valuing them.

My mom is 91 and has battled breast cancer twice and now is in treatment for lung cancer. She has endured  a variety of surgeries, including  two mastectomies. Her body is a battlefield, its scars and sutures her badges of honor, They represent how true beauty reveals itself – not in physical perfection but in the strength and courage to meet life’s challenges. It is this  true beauty from within that touches the heart of the beholder.

My mom looks  at her body now,and  is sometimes disheartened by what she sees in the mirror. But I tell her, that’s not what we see. .Our hearts behold the way she make people smile, the way she is ready to lend a hand, and fight the blues that come to call. We see a parent who made our childhood special, who comes to our aid when we need her. To the heart of this beholder, she is true beauty, truly beautiful to me.


Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Life After the Blog

Daily Prompt: Life After the Blog

Once we become part of the online world there is no turning back. To disconnect from that wealth of information, from social networking and email, from Google and Wikipedia would be like being placed in a sensory deprivation chamber.

I look forward every morning to see the Daily Prompt challenge of the day, or the subject for photo of the week. I look forward to reading what my fellow bloggers have to say. I take online courses and have an entire virtual classroom of classmates with whom I discuss my writing or photography or poetry. I check Facebook to see how my friends are faring.

I had limited access to the internet on our recent cruise – the charge for the connection is quite hefty. I made a few entries on Facebook, but otherwise, I concentrated on my new experiences so that I could write about them when I arrived at home where my computer sat waiting for my return. I missed it, but I knew it was only a temporary separation.

A writer has a visceral need to his share words with others; a photographer yearns for others to see the world as she does, through the lens of her camera; a poet lives to see his words touch another with emotion. All these forms of communication are right at our fingertips, in the keyboard before us and through blogging we can reach so many more people than we could have before the advent of the internet and websites like WordPress to inspire us and offer a platform from which to reach out and connect with others. I could go back to a typewriter if I had to, mail my letters or submissions, but we would lose sight of one important possibility should that ever happen.

I believe that it may be the internet that finally connects us all in such a way that the barriers between us fall away and we can move on and advance our civilization in a positive way. The more you  get to know people personally, gain insights into their lives and experiences, the more they coalesce into individuals and are no longer part of that nebulous group we call “they,” and the harder it is to wish them or do them harm. Communication is the key to understanding , and communicate is what we bloggers do best.

As with anything, the internet can be used for both good and evil. But as the “blogosphere” grows, I think the interconnections we make will make the difference. Blog on, my friends!

In The Moment

One of the best ways to stay in focus is to be in the moment.  By paying attention to what’s happening now, we can diminish the cacophony of thoughts running through our minds.   We can reduce stress and fatigue.  People make a big deal out of multitasking, but all that usually results in is many things being done poorly rather than one thing completed well with full attention.

Take driving, for example.  That is one place where our full attention should be focused.  We have seen what happens when people are distracted while driving, and the stakes, as we know, can be pretty high.  But we are so used to  the constant chatter in our minds, thoughts about the past, the future, what we have to do today, that we aren’t even aware of how distracted we really are.

When our minds are full of chatter, communication with others can break down because we can’t hear then over our own incessant noise.  No wonder the statistics for failed marriages is so high.  We have lost the ability to tune in to each other.

We can practice being in the moment, however.  Take time to really look at what is around you, who you are with and what they are saying. Rather than walk along the beach with your cell phone plastered to your ear, stop and gaze at that beautiful sun setting over the curling white froth of the breaking waves.  While at your son’s ballgame, turn off the I-pad and call out encouraging words to him.  Rest assured, children know the difference between being there and being there with them.

As a former preschool director, I have seen this scenario play out far too often. Near the end of the school year we would have father/child day.  A special time for father and child to be together.  But so many times I would see a  child, ambling alone on a nature walk, her dad trailing behind the group, talking intently to someone, somewhere else.  The message sent and received: The someone, somewhere else matters more to me than you.

The handy devices of our digital age are wonderful tools, but  sometimes they can interfere with their own purpose. Take for example an experience I had last Christmas while visiting our family., As we were waiting for a table at a busy restaurant,  I looked around at the crowd, adults and children alike, families out to dinner, couples on a date, and more than half of them with an electronic device in their hands, minds far away from where they were and who they were with..  Most of the devices were phones, most likely Christmas gifts, but a device designed for communication was clearly interfering with their interaction..

So, try to still your thoughts once in a while, to be aware of your surroundings, to use your senses to the fullest, and yes, to stop and  smell the roses.   See nature through the eyes of your child on a walk in early spring .  By being in the moment,  you’ll keep the precious moments from slipping away. .