“to be beautiful means to be yourself. you don’t need to be accepted by others. you need to accept yourself.”
-thich nhat hanh
a picture can set a soul free. i want to reach inside and make moments when the camera falls away, when we are completely ourselves, when our bodies are one with our spirits, and we are safe. my daughter is old enough to understand this, and we have talked about it. my son can feel it in the way we live. it is a hard won epiphany, but everything i do and am is rooted in this.
there are a few moments in each day, when i feel so full, that i want to shed my skin. it just feels too small to hold all of the beauty we get to feel. i can count on this. and after thirty five years in this body, i know profoundly the desire to escape it. i have also learned, with angst and pain and danger and finally grace, to love myself in it.
i am closer to the child in me than i have been for years. this is no coincidence. there is something sad about not having pictures of myself with my kids. yet. but there is also something truly exquisite in seeing myself as the love reflected in their eyes. i embrace that beautiful mirror. i believe in it. this fierce love has quieted the voice that urged me to pull away from life, to deprive myself, to control every move and push harder than my soul could take. i feed myself with love now, i nourish all of our bodies. because we are a “we”. the same rules and ways will flow through us, and i need to lead the line. i need to house my soul with care, so that my heart and eyes can work together.
i really do not know how to be in pictures. i want to see the insides i have been tending to, not this new, soft, imperfect shell i have yet to recognize. it goes beyond seeing the extra few pounds. i have lifted myself beyond that, and into life. i needed to roll down the window and let the air dance over me, and toss that feeling out, never looking back. i needed to survive. we earn beauty. it starts within and it finds its way out, to the light. i want to believe it flows toward goodness, toward the kind of truth that is full and messy and rich as stories of survival. i want to believe that we all can invite it in.
every day i tell my oldest girl “i loved you first”. one of the simplest and most beautifully loaded things i have ever understood. it has become our mantra, it has become a reminder. when they see me present with them, wildly in love, singing all day, smiling real smiles of pride and wonder, using the words i love to tell them in a million ways that they are special, just totally free with myself around them…i hope they will see that i love myself with them. i have learned to do it, because we NEED to do it. lose yourself in what you love. look in the mirror less, and choose your real mirrors wisely. it just might set you free.
(i needed to include a picture of all of us. without planning or makeup or even a timer. our hearts are in this. it is all i see.)