“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.” — Sam Levinson (quoted by Audrey Hepburn)
Today I’m participating in the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. It’s designed to celebrate beauty, however you define it, by the lovely (inside and out!) August McLaughlin. Visit her blog and read stories of beauty that are sure to be fun, inspiring and entertaining.
What is beauty to me? It’s the place where love resides.
Beauty is a loving heart.
A constant challenge for me is trying to act with love in my heart. As a wife and mother and a bystander in life, it’s hard to always be the good-hearted person I aim to be. I can be impatient and critical. My words can wound. I know this. And every time I lose my temper or let negative words pour from my mouth to someone I care about, or even a stranger, I regret my actions and try to find that loving heart where true beauty resides.
This place where love resides can never disappear. It’s inside us waiting to be discovered.
I’m constantly reminded of beauty in a loving heart.
It’s in the mother with three children at the store who maintains grace under the pressure of her little ones and speaks to them with patience and love.
It’s in the person in line at the store who’s waited so long and still smiles and jokes with the flustered, agitated cashier who’s had one tough customer after another.
It’s in the husband who does the little things for his wife, before she even asks, as he knows it makes her happy.
To me, all these things come from where true beauty resides. It shines outward to touch those affected and, I hope, is a ripple effect creating more loving hearts.
I see all this daily and I try again to meet the challenge of living my life with a loving heart so I can feel beautiful and help others feel beautiful too. I know when I act toward my son with love rather than anger, it affects him. He shines and feels good about himself. When I act with anger, I also see the negative effect it has on him. What a powerful thing it is – this loving heart.
I was especially reminded of it this week. I have a copy of Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff in Love, by Richard Carlson and his wife, Kristine Carlson. It sits in a basket within reach and I often thumb through it.
One section from this book that captures it’s theme completely is this: Respond with love.
We can choose to do this in our daily interactions. Try it and see the difference it makes.
My mother (a great loving heart example) gave it to me when I was getting married. She was always giving me little inspirational books and mailing me articles on how to live a positive life.
And if you don’t know Dr. Carlson, he wrote the hugely successful series of Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff series. For a long while I had wanted to look him up and see what he was doing today. I had always been moved by his book and the obvious wonderful relationship he and his wife shared.
I was shocked and saddened this week to discover he passed away suddenly in 2006 at the young age of 45. He collapsed from an embolism on a flight to a book event and died. Here was this amazing man who had touched so many lives with his words on living life with love and sharing the best life you can with those you love. He admitted to having his own challenges and struggles in doing the same thing.
I found his memoriam page and cried reading the poignant, heart breaking tributes to him from his wife, teenage daughters, and friends. His wife now carries on his series of books. What a legacy she is carrying on from a man who tried to teach the world about letting go of the small things and embracing life with a loving heart.
Since learning of his death my daily struggle to find beauty by living with a loving heart has become so much more, for I could very well die today and never have accomplished this. And what kind of legacy would I be leaving for my son, my husband, my friends – the world?
My mom taught me that to love others I had to love myself first.
Over the last year of my mom’s life as she slowly faded away from cancer, I heard over and over from so many of her special friends and family these words describing my mom: “An amazing woman”, “remarkable”, “so optimistic”, “never complaining”, “sunshine in my life”.
All these things I took for granted about her – thinking that all people are like that. But they are not. She was unique. But we can all be like this to others. We can. She was proof.
The way she faced her death was an inspiration to me and everyone around her. Not once did I hear her speak in self-pity or anger or ask “Why me?”. The dignity and grace by which she sailed through her life –and toward her death left a wake of beauty across many of the hearts she touched.
And it was because of her loving heart.
I came across a poem my Mom sent me after I first moved away after college and was lonely, trying to make it in a new job and city. I laminated it years ago and keep it by my desk. Her handwritten note on it says, “In case you missed this one! Love, Mom.”
Here it is:
by Veronica A. Shoffstall
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, Not the grief of a child
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After awhile you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
In stead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth,
and you learn and learn…
With every good bye you learn.
These words remind me that life is short and today is the day I can start building my life with a loving heart. And each time I feel quick to temper I say the words to myself, “live life with a loving heart” and I smile, take a deep breath, and begin again.
It doesn’t always work. But I will never give up trying to find the beauty in a loving heart – for it resides in me.
Where do you think beauty resides?
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Janice Gable Bashman says
What a beautiful post Donna – although I’m not with you ever moment of every day and haven’t seen you in those times of anger, I know you have one of most loving hearts I’ve ever known. Your mom would be proud.
Thanks so much for those kind words, Janice. I think we all can struggle with trying to be the kind of person we want to be. And that is different for each person. Thankfully, life is a journey not a destination – so we can keep striving to become the person we want to be that others inspire us to be. 🙂
Kathryn Chastain Treat says
This is such a poignant post. Your mother sounds like such a wonderful spirit filled woman. And I love as I see my daughter interact with her three children. She truly is loving, kind and patient and never lets a day go by telling them how much they are loved and what they do matters.
Thank you for such a lovely post.
Kathryn, how blessed you are to watch your daughter with her children and to have seen her grow into an amazing mother. I so enjoyed watching my mom with my son. She had so much fun with him and made everything an adventure. Thanks for stopping by.
Catherine Johnson says
I love that poem! How sad about that author and how beautiful of his wife to continue his legacy. My other half would never be able or willing to write my poems if I pop off lol.
Catherine, its funny you say that as I think, gee, if I died today how could my hubby continue my unfinished books? No way he could! He doesnt even like to read and it took him forever to get thru my novel – LOL. When he did start reading it I was like “Why are you reading my book?” 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Kathryn Craft says
Donna you have one of those faces that inspires words of beauty! Its openness, its (deceptive) childlike innocence and wonder. But what makes you—and all people—beautiful to me is that spark in your eye that reveals your passion! For writing, your family, craft beers!—whatever. Nothing is more beautiful to me than the pure expression of unadulterated enthusiasm!
Kathryn, you always say the things that inspire enthusiasm in me – that’s what it is! Well, and beer of course. I do love me some good beer 🙂
Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson says
How lovely. I have heard of the book DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF, but I have never read it. I am all too aware of how short life can be. I wish people would life with that mentality. If we did, we might think more about what we are doing to raise each other up rather than tear each other down because — as you say — what do you want to be remembered for? Being a positive person or a toxic person? I know the answer for myself. Nice to meet you, today. 😉
Renee, yes – there is a whole series of the books. Kristine Carlson now has one out called Don’t Sweat it for moms. I have two in the series and always keep on hand – they hold great daily reminders to create positive energy around us and the people in our lives. I have had to eliminate several “toxic” folks in my life over the years. Life is too short to have negative shadows over you.
Phyllis Humby says
The beauty of a woman is in the way she carries and expresses herself. Her confidence is shown in her posture, her kindness in her eyes, her passion in her expression.
To attain that beauty, we must love ourselves. That’s not always as easy as it sounds; we must be humble and forgiving. That enables us to love and be more tolerant of those around us, to appreciate what we have, and to celebrate every success. The more love, appreciation, and celebration in our lives, the more enthusiasm we have for others.
Love surrounds us when we love life.
Donna, the poem your mom gave you is beautiful. You were blessed to have had such a loving and thoughtful mother.
Phyllis, I agree confidence is such a part of being beautiful indeed – and confidence in who you are, for no one else can be you – but you.
Catherine Stine says
Wow, what a powerful post! Your mom sounds awesome, and I agree with a lot of what you say makes you feel beautiful. Love, and staying positive and calm work for me. And rising above the small stuff. Also, working hard and using my imagination to its fullest creative level.
Coleen Patrick says
Beauty is a loving heart–yes, I am with you on that one! Lovely post. 🙂
Rebekah Loper says
I try so hard to be that person smiling at the cashier, and some days it just isn’t easy at all. It’s nice to know that somewhere, someone sees that kindness enacted for another, and it makes a difference, no matter how small.
August McLaughlin says
Finding beauty in the “little things” can have such a huge impact on our daily lives and spirits, right? It took me some time to learn that. I think there’s a direct link between such gratitude and the level to which we value ourselves…
I had no idea Richard Carlson died. Very sad, but wow—what a mark he left. Thanks for this touching post, Donna! So glad you’ve joined the fest. 🙂
August, finding out Richard Carlson died last week is still affecting me. I pulled out his original Dont Sweat The Small Stuff and taking one piece of advice daily to work on. Today I’m practicing to “Be the the first one to act loving or reach out”. To let go of those little resentments and stubbornly wait for someone else to reach out. I am contacting a dear old friend who never calls and is hard to get hold of as she’s so busy with life. I know she has anxiety over how hectic her life is but I’m hurt sometimes that she cant find the time to keep up with our friendship – but I’m letting it go and contacting her to see how she’s doing and if she needs an ear to talk to as she just may be a friend in need.
How tragic that the author of such a wonderful series of books passed on so young and so unexpectedly. What a great poem to keep close from your mom.
Patricia Sands says
I have two of the “Don’t Sweat..” books but was unaware of the author’s passing at such a young age. Truly a tragedy … and one I have lived as my husband died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 49 when our sons were 12 and 13. From that time forward I have never forgotten that every day is a gift. It sounds like your mother believed that too. I loved this -“My mom taught me that to love others I had to love myself first.” So true … and so beautiful! Thanks for the reminder.
Patricia, my heart just hurt reading your tragic story for your husband and you and your young sons. How difficult that must have been and how every day is a gift really resonates with you. Thanks for sharing.
Reading your post made me think of the popular acronym of YOLO (you only live once) used so often to branch out and try things they might not otherwise. But making a commitment to love more, respond in love more etc. is such a grander twist to this. What could be better than making your mark by loving and accepting others, always striving to love even more? That can change the world, I think.
Sue, it is a grand way to think…and gee, can we really change the world with love? I do believe in the cliche – Love makes the world go ’round. I see so much war and atrocities being done to each other and think, love could change that. It could. But so many that endure and inflict atrocities are never shown love and raised in a hostile environment where all they can do is survive – and do anything to survive or feel powerful by hurting others as it’s the only thing they are familiar with.
Kim Jorgensen Gane says
I think beauty definitely resides in this post. I’m deeply sorry you lost your mom, she sounds like an amazing woman. How lucky you were to have her in your life. Thank you for sharing a little piece of her, and a little piece of your beautiful self with all of us.
Kim, thanks for stopping and so glad you enjoyed the post. I was lucky indeed to have my mother who gave me such a great foundation. I hope I can pass it on.
Kassandra Lamb says
Hi Donna, I had company all day today so I’m just now finishing reading the BOAW posts. So glad I didn’t miss yours. What a beautiful post! Thank you!
HI Kassandra, I’m so glad I didnt miss your BOAW post too. Very powerful and a message I hope helps folks.
Ellen M. Gregg says
I agree with you – beauty does reside in a loving heart. And it’s from the loving heart space that inhabits our core that the beauty of that love shines outward and glows on the surface. The poem is beautiful. Your mother’s heart and person is beautiful. And, clearly, your are a case of “like mother, like daughter.”
Thank you for sharing, Donna.
Jess Witkins says
Donna, I love this post for BOAW! It took real honesty to admit we’re not all angels. I always try to give myself perspective when faced with ugly thoughts about others (a boss for instance). Sometimes it helps, sometimes not, but I know people aren’t inherently evil. There’s something they’re trying to prove as well.
I’ll have to check out the book you talked about, sounds interesting!