Of Beauty From Illness

Dakota Fanning

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When difficult times arise, the core essence of who we are comes out. With my family, it all came down to love. It glimmered around us like our own private rainbow. For as the tulips began to bloom in the spring, my grandma started to fade. Her body attacked by bacteria on her pacemaker and seeped into her blood.

I would describe Grandma’s love as fierce, a powerful force driven by her love for Jesus and the genuine desire to ensure that her family is taken care of. She has this ability to know if I need something, whether it’s a few bucks for gas or a toothbrush, she’s always looked out for me. A practical love.

I went to visit her during my lunch break. I was expecting her to be like sick people in movies, suffering but still coherent, with a good chance that they’ll be okay in a week or so.  When I walked in the hospital room, she was being spoon fed by Grandpa, her fever so high that even being fed like a child was difficult. Her forehead was sticky as I kissed her. I’d never seen her vulnerable, and to me, that was the hardest part. I tried to hold myself together, tears threatening to pour from my eyes. I got up to wash my hands, checked my watch, tried as I could to not completely breakdown in the room. For my struggling was not what mattered, we were there for Grandma, but we needed to be supportive for Grandpa.

In the way that Grandma is fierce, Grandpa is sweet. From the glimmer in his smile, to the way he hugs you like he’s never seen anyone so wonderful, Grandpa is without question one of the cutest people to ever grace this planet. He’s gentle, caring, and truly kind.  He’s so humble that I don’t think he’s ever realized the effect that he has on the people in a room, for I’ve never met anyone else like him.

Watching Grandpa look over Grandma, he’s sweet nature shining in his eyes, was possibly more heart-wrenching than watching Grandma suffer in her bed. But I can honestly say, I don’t think I ever witnessed the power of love until I watched them in the hospital room. People always think they know what love is, usually defining it by putting someone else first, compatibility, and the willingness to work through difficult times. All of this is true, however, understanding that you may never see your partner again, and doing everything you can to ease their pain and tell them how wonderful they are – that’s love in the rawest form.

There was something beautiful about how my family functioned. Our personal lives were put aside with the understanding that Grandma and Grandpa came first. We gathered around Grandma every day, ate our lunches in the hospital cafeteria, did what we could to help – which was essentially just to be there. We were all hopeful that the operation to remove the bacteria ridden pacemaker would go smoothly, but we also understood that this could possibly be the end of Grandma’s time on this Earth.

When I got the word that Grandma made it through the surgery, I took the first real breath I’d had in days. I was crying and laughing, the walls of trying to maintain composure finally cracking. Though sadly, we weren’t through the worst of it, at least, not yet.

Grandma’s fever was still on the rise, making her uncomfortable and delirious. I went to visit her on a particularly bad evening; she tossed and turned, groaning in agony, trying to rip her temporary external pacemaker off her body as it sat uncomfortably on her chest. It took an hour or so for her fever to drop enough that she could open her eyes and see me. If there was ever a time that it would be totally acceptable for someone to be selfish, it would be then. But she looked at me, told me how precious I was, and informed me that she had leggings for me back at the house.

Grandma’s true character is selfless. She barely complained, whenever she was coherent she would make sure that we were all well fed, she’d talk about her beautiful family, and how she doesn’t know what she’d do without us.

Now it seems like Grandma is through the worst of it, however, she’s still gonna be in the hospital for at least a month as they wait for the bacteria to completely leave her system. But even through the hardest times, the one thing that really stood out was how much my family loves each other.

And I’m not just being biased, even the doctor’s made comments.

Up! Movie

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Of White Skin and Sunshine

I’m about as pale as a person can get, and I seem to stay that way year round. In the summer, when my friends are showing off their tanned arms, I am just as white as I was in mid-December. I don’t tan easily, and I’m not one to sit around soaking in the sun. For starters, it’s a really boring activity. Just lay there and eventually turn over? Nah, point me towards a hiking trail, ideally in the shadows, so I can open my eyes without squinting.

Whenever I say that people always seem reply with, “You gotta bring a book with you, and read as you lie there.” I get that, it’s a swell idea, except for the fact that reading outside is incredibly distracting – with nature and all those people around, there’s too much to observe! Plus, my brain would start obsessing over shadows from the books pages creating awkward tan lines across my face. I simply lack the ability to relax my mind long enough to lie down and let the sun turn me into leather.

It doesn’t help that I burn hella easy. Observe. This was from being in the sun for roughly fifty minutes at my mom’s concert band performance on Saturday:

My burn

My burn

 

And the truth is, I’m okay with remaining pale year round. Tan lines lost their appeal on me when I watched Holiday In the Sun, a Mary-Kate and Ashley movie, as a child. They had these crazy tan lines that looked like someone took white out and drew on their skin. Not cute. I also remember changing out of my swimsuit after playing on the beach all day in high school (with no sunscreen of course), looking in the mirror, and laughing hysterically. I looked ridiculous. Dark arms, face, and legs, pasty white boobs, and my stomach was a very subtle almost beige.

If my whole body was uniformly tan, then I could deal – course then I’d have to buy new make-up, and I’m too cheap for that.

I don’t know if I’ll happen to get tan this summer as I explore hiking trails, canoe out on the lake, and attend the occasional picnic. I do know that before I tan I’ll burn, and 90% of the time that burn fades back into blindingly white skin.

Happy summer everybody!

 

 

 

Of Pretty Friends

Friends

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I’ve always said, “I don’t have ugly friends. Well, I had one once, and it didn’t end well”.

Most people find this flattering or humorous. After all, I certainly don’t mean any malice towards my fellow humans.  But every now and then, someone reacts with a bitch-are-you-serious stare. Or instantly launches into a verbal judgment of me – assuming shallowness and other unpleasant personality traits.

Okay, I get it, you are easily offended and wish that everyone was treated with love at all times  – and in an ideal world, everyone is. I respect that. But here’s my question, dear person who jumps down my throat, do you find your friends ugly?

Honestly, it’s a fun reverse, because no one ever says no. And I would hope not.

It’s not about being shallow or only caring about how you and your posse appear to the masses. You should find your friends beautiful. Granted some might be more physically striking than others. Or soul-wise more stunning. But ultimately, unless you’re one of those people that surround yourself with others you think of as ugly to make yourself feel good – your friends are most likely attractive.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Of Nipples and Pasties

Nude Girl With Coffee Cup

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I’ll never understand the logic behind artsy nude photos. I’m not talking pornographic photos where the girl is flashing her privates for the world to see. I mean the classier photos, often found in magazines, that you might find of celebrities or high-end models. The pictures showcase their figure and sexuality with soft tones as well as suggestive posing. Often the artsy photos are beautiful and tasteful. But they are not fully naked, they are nude, there’s a difference. Apparently.

Here’s the part that baffles me – they can show everything, literally everything, as long as they cover the nipples and crotch. And therein lies the difference. Naked equals full frontal. Nude equals full frontal plus pasties or hand/prop placement over the naughty parts of the body. Why is the nipple the culprit? I don’t understand how that makes the photo more appropriate. After all, we don’t hide man nipples from the public eye.

Is it to protect young innocent eyes? Cause I’m fairly certain that just seeing a naked figure is equally as effective as seeing a nipple. I doubt anyone is completely turned off by a woman until she shows her nipples and crotch, and then suddenly – BAM! – she’s sexy as Hell. Human’s aren’t robots, we don’t work that way. The imagination is a powerful tool.

Obviously I’m not an art expert, but I do find the modesty in nude photos ridiculous.

Of the Illusion of Fashion

Me in a Weird Hat

A nice dress and a monster hat on my head? If that’s not fashion forward I don’t know what is.

I’m often told, “only you could pull that off.” It’s a rather trite remark regarding my fashion sense. I dress well, I know this. I wear a lot of dresses, I like to feel pretty, I can’t understand what’s so unusual about that. Typically my casual is regarded as fancy, I’ve spent years building a wardrobe that makes me stand out in the way that I want to be noticed. I don’t want to blend in with the majority of people who surround me with their boring t-shirts and sneakers. But I’m not the only person that could ever pull it off, that’s just silly.

Everyone can dress well, everyone can pull off fancier fashion than say the jeans and hoodies of the general population. It doesn’t have to do with how good you look in nice clothing. Crazy as it is to believe. It has to do with self-esteem and finding clothes that fit not only your body type, which is VERY important, but also match your personality. Fashion is the illusion of confidence.

There’s a reason why some people look good with tattoos and others would just look strange. Why some people can pull off goth, hippie, or vintage clothing. Or why others can manage to dye their hair bright pink and not look like cotton candy. Yet another person does the exact same thing and looks disheveled – and should really hide in a box until their hair goes back to normal. Confidence. If you feel sexy about yourself and in turn your clothing, the vibes that you give off will scream of your attractiveness.

I think Scarlett Johansson said it best, “If you’re comfortable with yourself, then it’s sexy. Maybe people think I look sexy because I feel sexy. I am a very liberated person that way. I’m very comfortable with my sexuality, my body, my face – well, sometimes I’m not comfortable with my face, but it’s stuck there and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Well said, pretty lady, well said.

You can definitely pull that off.