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Archive for the ‘Beauty’ Category

The Year of Beauty

This year has not gone exactly according to plan (do they ever with me?). I didn’t read 100 books (which is two books a week – really not hard for me if I just read every day). Or finish Fishbowl (started Feast, however, and I’m pretty psyched about that). Or try 100 new vegan recipes (or probably not, anyway. I did eat a lot of vegan food.  However, I also really love goat cheese).

But I did embrace beauty.

I had all these preconceived notions of what having beauty for my word for the year would mean. I set up a Pinterest board to track them. Take a few minutes and peruse it. There are some pretty awesome things there. Beauty longs to be found, and it was pretty easy to do.

I found beauty where it was hidden. I looked around my world and, with the help of Jennifer Upton’s Re-Frame course, found beauty hiding in all sorts of overlooked places.

I found beauty where it had been neglected. I rediscovered things I liked about the way I look and see things, and I discovered new ways to look and see things that make them even more beautiful.

Most of all, I found beauty in a way that evokes a response. The most important thing about beauty that I learned this year is that once you see it, it’s hard to ignore. Beauty makes me want to create. I want to honor and celebrate the beauty in my life and the world. I want to embody it. I want to share it with others.

I thought for a while that my word for 2015 would be dance. Because that’s what beauty makes me want to do, both figuratively and literally. I want to celebrate my way through the year, basking in all the beauty that has been unleashed around me.

But dance is only part of it. Stay tuned.

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Wisdom Streaks

In a few months, I will be turning 40. I plan on celebrating the whole year.  I plan on being thoroughly obnoxious about it.  So there’s that for you to look forward to.

I usually dye my hair, but this semester, partly out of curiosity as to what was really going on under there and partly out of the more pressing matter of dealing with the whale of semester it has been, I have let my natural hair grow in a little.

Observation: I have some pretty serious wisdom streaks going on.

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“Wisdom streaks” is the term one of my beloved friends uses for the effect created when gray hairs are growing among the rest of the hair. One of my residents called it “tinsel.” Acceptable.

I like to play with my hair color, so I’m not quite ready to go all gray. And really – neither is my hair.  As you can see in the picture above, there’s still some brown peeking through. But in another ten years, when I imagine the majority of it will have turned, I just might.

It is beautiful. The picture doesn’t do it justice. My tinsel hairs are shiny and silver. This means that when I am old enough for all my hairs to be gray, not only will I be even more well-rounded, well-read, and generally badass than I am now, I will have the metallic rock star hair to match.

For now, though, I am having fun with the mocha color.  And in the new year, I’m going red again. Or copper streaks. I haven’t decided. But I’m still having fun with colors.

I also love the little flippy thing the long bob (or lob, as it was called in the magazine I was reading while waiting for the color to set) does at the end. Observe:

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Underneath it all, though – I know. Shiny wisdom streaks. I’m going to look awesome when I’m old.

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December

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We are in the final two weeks of the semester.  I had grand plans for grading, decorating, writing, and art journaling last week that just didn’t happen. I had plans this year to get it together, to focus on beauty, and to read 100 books, and I feel like all of those have fallen short of expectation as well. It would be easy to be discouraged. It would be really easy to power through and forget about Advent for the next two weeks, but I am pretty sure that doing so would have the exact opposite of the intended effect.

So I am engaging in intentional reflections. I am reading, journaling, and poetry-ing my way through Isaiah. I am joining Susannah Conway’s community project called December Reflections, and I am finishing up my year of beauty by looking for beauty in the ordinary through Awake the Bones. They will mostly be found on Instagram, but I’m sure they will make an occasional appearance here.

Right now, I’m just going to mind the mug and drink my coffee in peace.

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Beauty is Hard

I find it easy to see beauty in the natural world.  For example, the weather today, while not beautiful by some people’s standards, is gorgeous to me. It’s overcast, a little rainy, and best of all – the predicted high is 70 degrees. HAPPY.

I find it easy to see beauty in others. We had a division-wide breakfast this morning, and as is my custom, I enjoyed people-watching. In the sea of green (Friday is pride day!), I noticed the special touches people added to make themselves stand out from the crowd.

Crowds, however, are not my friend when it comes to feeling beautiful myself. Being in a crowd makes me feel awkward and unattractive. It’s not so much a comparison thing as it is a matter of logistics.

Crowded rooms are not a friend to the hot-natured. I live in the wrong state. I have never in my life walked anywhere without sweating at least a little, no matter how cold it is outside, but as long as the weather hovers near 65 and isn’t too humid, I can usually still arrive at my destination generally presentable (i.e., not completely soaked through). Unfortunately, the temperature doesn’t dip that low in Texas for the majority of the year. I dress in layers, not because less clothing actually does anything to make me more comfortable and less sweaty, but because that way, I can add a sweater or a dark jacket once I get to my location to camouflage the fact that underneath it all, I just look like I’ve run a marathon. Of course, the sweater or jacket then makes me sweat more for the few minutes that I spend acclimating to the cooler climate of the building, making my face red and the people around me nervous that they’re about to have a medical situation on their hands. I haven’t figured out how to make the transition in a less awkward way, because there usually isn’t time (or a place) to spend ten minutes cooling off. I’m just herded into the crowd (some of which I noticed were experiencing the same problems, so it’s not just me. I feel your pain, friends!).

Also, crowded rooms are not staged for the rotund. I seriously contemplated not going back for a second cup of coffee this morning in order to avoid weaving through the tight spaces between the tables. In the end, of course, I went back (because please – what in the world is EVER going to keep me from more coffee?), but the thought of navigating the room layout gave me pause. And my hesitation was not without merit.  I did indeed bump some elbows and have to squish a little too close to people WHOM I DO NOT KNOW (*deep breaths*) in order to simply make it across the room. And I can’t help but remember that I never gave this any thought when I sported a healthier weight. I mean, I’m sure I worried about other beauty-adjacent topics, but the immense amount of space I require just to get through the room was not one of them.

Sometimes, beauty is hard.

I’m going to continue my 31 Days of Personal Beauty, but it’s going to be more of a cumulative endeavor than a consecutive one. Apparently.

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Badass Boots

My style ebbs and flows. I go through phases where everything is loose and flowing (usually a winter phase). I go through phases where I want to dress like Cam on Bones (in fact, I found a fantastic dress a couple of weeks ago, so I feel that phase coming on again soon). Once, a friend said to me, “You dress like a cartoon character,” so apparently, there’s that phase, too.

But the one constant in my closet – the item that goes with every phase – black knee-high boots.

Boots Crossed

I am fond of the knee-high boot. I have had white ones (these will probably be the shoes I wear in my wedding), red ones, brown ones, and even green vinyl ones (I needed them for a Poison Ivy costume.  NEEDED.). But for the last twenty years, I have always had at least one pair of black boots.

Boots and Lace

They are practical. They go with everything. They give an edge to lace and velvet. They dress up a casual outfit while still providing some arch support. They make a dressy ensemble a little funkier.

And let’s just say it – these boots make me look like a badass.

I didn’t fully understand the power of the boot until I was old enough to go clubbing. I tried at first to go the sexy, strappy sandal route.  They looked great….at the beginning of the night. By the end of the night, my feet were angry. Now, I love me a strappy sandal, but unless they are specifically built for dancing (e.g., tango shoes, which is another post altogether), they are best suited for sitting still and looking pretty. As I’ve never had much interest in being an ornament, I needed a new footwear choice.

Enter the knee-high boot.

It is difficult to be a wallflower when you’re standing in fourteen inches of leather. It kinda makes me stand out. And I like it.

These boots are empowering.  Unlike the majority of shoes made for women, they’re functional.  I can dance in them easily without my feet getting tired. If necessary, I could run in them. And they’re sturdy enough that they could do some damage if I were in a situation where I needed to take out the knee of an attacker. I hope I never have to do so, but if such a situation presents itself, my boots and I are ready.

Boot Reflected

I’m writing 31 Days of Personal Beauty, even if it takes me until October to finish it.

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At The Club

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On Sunday night, the club I used to frequent had its 20th anniversary party.

I missed going because my car decided to quit and I had to bring my mother’s car back with me, and Mama’s car doesn’t go to the club. 

But car issues can’t stop my nostalgia. 

Margat and I used to be regulars at the Lizard Lounge’s goth night.  It’s called The Church.  When we first started going, I experienced Good Baptist Girl Guilt from attending a place that clearly was subverting the term “church” in less-than-holy ways. But that didn’t stop me.  

Also, I got over that guilt pretty quickly because:

  1. Um…they kind of have a point. And I appreciate that they’re upfront about it.
  2. Good bartenders.  Goooood bartenders.  
  3. The Church creates an atmosphere that recognizes and respects beauty.

I feel beautiful there.

I wear the lipstick that I like, which is darker than beauty professionals have decreed that I *should* wear. I wear black eyeliner, even though I have been told that I really *should* wear brown. I wear dresses that are more sheer than they *should* be, as well as skirts and corsets that are more revealing than they *should* be. I often wear things that don’t compliment (read: cover up…because as it turns out, they compliment it just fine) my body type. Sometimes I wear bright colors; most of the time I go in all black, even though I’ve been told my skin is too pale to wear all black. When I go to the club, I actually dress the way I feel most beautiful, not the way I’ve been informed that beauty is supposed to look. And unlike every other place in my life, The Church recognizes it and celebrates it as beauty, too.

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At The Church, I dance.  I love to dance. I love the way my body moves. And it doesn’t really matter how you dance there.  You can dance gothic. You can swing dance to Concrete Blonde with your roommate. You can tango. You can simply bounce in time to the music (or not…whatever). All (well, most…see below) expression is welcome.

My club experience outside The Church has not been a positive one. I can’t think of a single such outing that did not involve someone coming up to me on the dance floor and grinding on me without my permission, or groping me while we’re waiting at the bar (also without my permission), or if he did bother to ask my permission, yelling at me or belittling me when I had the audacity to say no. As if a total stranger has any business being up in my business. As if I owed them something just by daring to exist within their field of vision.

The unspoken rule at most clubs is that you have to make a choice – be seen or be safe.

That doesn’t fly at The Church. 

The sign by the front door says, “Enter without prejudice,” and they mean it. I’ve seen bouncers escort people out because they were being disrespectful of someone’s apparel or lifestyle. I’ve had a bouncer hover near me when a guy wasn’t hearing the no as quickly as he could have, just in case I needed him to intervene.  That same bouncer asked me after the guy finally did go away if everything was okay, making sure I still felt safe being there. As a result, there is an atmosphere of acceptance and comfort there that I just don’t get other places. When respect is the expectation of an establishment, it is often the outcome.

And it’s beautiful.

I’m woefully behind on writing about personal beauty for 31 Days.

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Drink the Wild Air

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” – Emerson

I am playing catch-up with my 31 Days of Beauty posts.  Sunday was supposed to be Day Three and the third installment of my Emerson inspiration.  Then my car decided to freak out and stop working on my drive back to Denton.

I don’t even have a picture.

I suppose it would have been very easy to grab a selfie in the wind (because West Texas…and trucks speeding by at 75 miles an hour WITHOUT GETTING IN THE OPPOSITE LANE) while I was waiting on Dad to come rescue me. But I was not feeling beautiful.  I was feeling annoyed and stranded. Also, after the car completely shut down, the air conditioner didn’t work so well, so I ventured into the grass on the side of the road, and most of my attention was focused on looking our for rattlesnakes (because West Texas.  The struggle is real.).

Suffice it to say that I did not get a picture in time for this post.

I am actually pretty surprised that I don’t have a picture of me with my hair all wild and swarmy around my head in the wind.  I love that. My love of strong breezes comes from growing up on the farm, where the land is so flat you can actually see the sides of the roads meet at the horizon in the distance. Mesquite trees (bushes – let’s be real) are no match for that wind. There’s nothing to stand in its way. Think Chicago – only not knife-like and stabby in its frozenness. Imagine warm gusts whipping around your body, throwing hair, clothes – basically anything not pasted down (and even some things that were) – into a frenzy.

And yet you stand. Embracing the wind but withstanding it as well. Strong.  Grounded.

Beautiful.

Drink it in. Drink the wild air.

I’m writing about personal beauty for 31 Days.

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