“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?
Watch for my new collection of tales The Dark Inside coming this month! Sign up for my newsletter and you’re entered to win a Kindle copy of The Dark Inside PLUS a print copy of A Human Element called “a riveting debut that had me reading till the wee hours of the night” by Intl Bestselling Author M.J Rose.