Posts tagged beauty
The Temptation of Photoshop

                                The Beauty Stretched Canvas

The Beauty by Kavan & Co available at Society 6

Sometimes I see better with my eyes closed. I find this to be especially true when looking at myself. In my mind's eye, my image is just as I remember it and still see it in my wedding photos, now ten years old.

When I open my eyes, I get really specific. I zero in on that new blemish under my nose. I focus on the wrinkles in my brow that grow deeper. I remember that figure drawing class where I discovered just how uneven my features are and that my face gets so wide when I smile.

My image is a pleasant one. I know this from years of reassurance, compliments, and love from those I hold most dear. I am blessed to have been given all that I have. And, yet, I can make it all seem so much less than when I look with my eyes open.

The blogging/social media world has challenged me in all new ways. Posting new avatars and profile pictures comes with the territory. "Selfies" pop up and tagged images make their way back to your page.

And since I can - the temptation to Photoshop is always there. I can retouch, smudge, and erase.

I took pictures with my children on Mother's Day. After everyone was settled into bed, I opened the images in my photo editor. I selected an image that I loved of my daughter and me. I magnified the image, and proceeded to brush off the bags under my eyes, click off the pimple on my chin, and smooth/smudge my brow. I then zoomed out of the image, ready to be pleased with the final photograph.

Instead, I hit the control Z to undo. It didn't work. I could not undo these changes in my appearance.

In my altered snapshot, I looked strangely morphed, slick, and odd. Who was this?

Turned off by this image, I clicked to the next photo of me (bags, lines, and all) and the image of me was much more approachable, warm, and human.

I realized that the bags under my eyes actually make my eyes sparkle a bit and bring prominence to my cheekbones. And that I look more like my children in my natural state, and I find them refreshingly beautiful. And, honestly, my smoothed appearance aged me more.

Editing or correcting took away the beauty that I expect to see in the mirror but rarely recognize. Or perhaps I should say, more fittingly, the beauty I rarely appreciate.

For my daughters and son. For my husband who's always given me the nickname, "Beautiful." For me and my inner joy and satisfaction.

I will look for the sparkle and the beauty before I find the fault. I'm still an artist; I still see the shadows, but I wll not let them define the final impression.

And I will use Photoshop... only sparingly. :)

xoxo, MJ

P.S. Join in the Love Yourself Linkup hosted by Anne, every Tuesday. You'll be surprised how much love comes back your way.






Holding Your Hand

I asked her if she wanted to hold my hand while we waited, and she gave me a slow, almost unnoticeable nod - the kind that only I might notice as the woman who has watched her so carefully these last eight years. I was grateful for that slight gesture, realizing that I might just need her reassurance as much, dare I say more, than she needed mine.

We stood together in the line inside our church. One line of many lines. She and I as equals in a way I had not yet considered as her mother.

Nearly one hundred eight- and nine-year olds were present, with families of all shapes and sizes, to this celebration of a Sacrament. As Catholics, we learn it as Reconciliation, the gift of God's forgiveness.

Though my heart knows that Reconciliation is overflowing with grace and goodness, my mind is absolutely terrified of the experience. The act of saying out loud to another human being my failings, mistakes, and sins is enough to cause me to break out into a cold sweat on a very hot day.

My daughter, M, woke up on Saturday, the day of her first Reconciliation, with excitement and anticipation. She wanted to go right to church to experience forgiveness.

I asked her repeatedly (I tried to space my questions to once an hour, but really...) if she was nervous to confess her sins. A simple "no" came back every time.

I just couldn't imagine it. Really?

The service was unlike any I'd experienced. Instead of the children and adults heading one by one into the smaller rooms, confessionals, to have a private experience, most of the priests were located right out in the open space of our church, with a chair set opposite theirs.

Thinking about this possibility of being seen during a very difficult conversation made me clammy. And, I had that moment where I wondered, can I get out of this?

But I pulled up my momma boots, and remembered just how important it is to be the example rather than talk about the example of what we want our children to be.

M didn't care which priest she went to or how out-in-the-open her experience would be. She took my hand and led me to the shortest line, right in the front of the church.

We stood there together, hand in hand, as children and dads and moms and older sisters and brothers came up one by one to experience the Sacrament. With calming piano hymns playing to drown out voices, I was able to watch forgiveness happen.

Have you ever seen it?

It looks like the jittery little boy who works up the courage to say that he's stolen something from his dad. It looks like this little boy's hands being held by a compassionate, smiling listener who reminds him that God's love is always there, even when we fail.

It looks like the father who comes with his head down, reluctant, who leans over to whisper his indescretions right into the ear of his confessor. It looks like that father then leaning back in his chair with a renewed understanding that he is good, he is always good in God's eyes.

I watched my little girl experience the gift of Reconciliation. She sat right on the edge of her chair and listened attentively to all the words the priest had to share. She smiled through her new set of braces and shook his hand in thanksgiving for the absolution.

She ran over to tell me it was my turn.

And then she perched herself in the pew and watched her mother experience forgiveness. She watched me muster up my courage and gesture nervously through hushed tones all the ways that I had failed.

When I stood to leave, feeling overwhelmed by grace, I saw her beaming blue eyes try to catch mine. She took my hand and told me she was proud of me.

She and I are equals. We offer our God-given gifts to the world freely. And we sin. We sin differently, but we both sin. We are human and make mistakes.

And we both experience the load-bearing release of forgiveness.

She's just braver to hold my hand.

xoxo, MJ


Chat It Up: Outward Appearances

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One of my favorite times of the week has arrived, friends! Let's chat it up.

Today's topic? Beauty. And not the amazing, inner light - the one that shines so bright in those who radiate beauty and whose lives reflect that brilliance.

Nope, we're talking exterior, surface today.

If you haven't heard me blab about it yet, let me share the good news (did you hear the angel choir voices), I'm heading to Alt NYC. This lovely day of fun will be hosted at Martha's HQ, and I will have the chance to chat with some of the most fabulous bloggers around the country. I can't wait to show you everything I see. This will be my very first trip to the Big Apple so any and all advice is welcome!

Honesty here: I'm already stressing about what I'll wear. Or more how I'll look.

I admit it, I'm vain, particularly when I'm meeting new people. It's not my best quality. But, it is.

I'm a gal on a limited budget so I've been trying to prioritize my look. Without saying, I would love to have those to-die-for shoes, with a killer dress, a touch of color in my newly trimmed locks, with some fresh makeup, and accessories that are more than memorable. But, that's not gonna happen.

So, let's talk surface here, friends.

Besides the confident walk, the gleam in the eye, and a dazzling smile, what do you notice first when you meet someone?

Where do you invest your money? Great make up? A signature hair style? Nails that complete a look? I'm really interested in your answers.

xoxo, MJ