Today was her birthday and there was one thing she was immediately thankful for; she had the whole bed to herself and not having to share it with anyone was a gift; she was the queen of her own castle and relished every moment of it.
Kicking her legs up and down with excitement for the day to come, she heard a “Meow” and was reminded that sharing her bed wasn’t so bad after all, her newly found rescue cat kept her warm and protected throughout the night and she was satisfied.
Sitting up, she wiped her eyes, ran her fingers through her hair and smiled "Do I want to wear make-up today?" She asked herself, feeling comfortable in her own skin. "It’s my birthday, I want to feel free…” she yawned with one final stretch and sleepily smiled as she thought of last night’s ritual of dancing in her living room at the stroke of midnight with a toast as she embraced another year.
“My skin needs to breathe ….” she groaned not realizing as she said this, with every breath she took, the desire to be authentic, true to herself, feeling good outweighed her need to please. She was a woman now and proudly wore the crown that sat softly upon her head, one that she rightfully earned.
As she got ready to venture out for the day, she looked at herself in the mirror, twirled a few times and grinned while “Que Bonito” played in the background. She softly stroked a little eyeliner across her eyelids, forwent foundation and her lips …. her lips anxiously waited until she took her traditional trip to Sephora to find the perfect shade of red to adorn them with.
The weather outside was stormy, the biggest storm in years, yet she was at a point in her life where she was able to look back and see the value of the storms that poured into her life. Tonight, she was going to get all gussied up to celebrate with those who she vied the storms with. After years of drought, the outpouring of rain was a blessing rather than a foothold, as it is the rain that washes away the dust to make room for things anew, but first things first, it was time to find that perfect shade of red for tonight’s party!
“Shall I wear matte or gloss?” she wondered as she walked through the black and white doors of what she considered a little piece of heaven, she felt a sense of excitement as she glanced at what seemed like an endless palpable sea of possibilities.
She took her time as she glossed over different shades of red, it was an important process to her, she was a curator looking for that perfect piece of art. Suddenly, as she was about to give up, she turned over her left shoulder and was drawn to a case uniquely shaped, like a red rocket set afire, ready to penetrate the atmosphere, "Rouge Artists Passionate Cherry 436" a perfect color for a woman who just turned 52.
She liked the way it felt upon her lips as she carefully traced their curvature at the edge of her mouth. The smooth, silky texture made her feel lustrous. Lipstick was more than just an “enhancer” it told a story, her story of who she was. With a smile on her face, she walked out of the store proudly wearing her new lipstick, it held a different meaning for her now than in her youth when she employed it as a tool to be captivating, this time, it defined her.
She wasn’t the girl she once was, she felt more vibrant, passionate and alive than she had ever been before. Long are the days of yearning for approval, striving for beauty, to be accepted, to be noticed, she had finally found her peace for the days to come. The beauty that she locked away no longer shimmered in spurts, bits and pieces, it glowed like rays emanating from the center of the universe.
Beauty was not as they say in the “eye of the beholder”, no, it was held within her soul, in the souls of others that she found through the piercing of their eyes ….
Instead of comparing herself to other women like she once did, wishing she had their looks, worse yet, beating herself up for not being “pretty or sexy enough”, she now relished in their presence. She learned through trial and error that beauty was not skin deep, foundation, make-up, hid the scars of what laid underneath each person she secretly coveted, that is what made them unique and eye-catching. Alas, she was so caught up in what she didn’t have, that she did not notice that others envied her just the same; all along they were waiting for each other’s vulnerability to shine and light up the atmosphere breaking the cycle of self-loathe into love for self and others.
“… and that…” she thought to herself “is how generational chains are broken” and she was ready to begin.
When she was young, she often felt invisible, she wanted to be seen for who she truly was inside. For so long, she and others were caught up in societal norms of what “beauty” should be. Often, true beauty got lost in the shadows of the covers of magazines that defined what it meant to be “Sexy”, to be wanted. “Sexiness” yes, was skin deep, although we have profusely confused it with beauty.
At least that was what she was told she “had to be” in order to be pretty. She can sometimes hear the voice of an old boyfriend who plagued her about his desire to see her scantily clothed so that he can parade her around like a mannequin or showcase her like a porcelain doll, to be someone she didn’t want to be. Every time she tried to wear something extra revealing or put on heavy make-up to meet the expectations of the boys who pursued her, she never, really, felt comfortable in her skin. So much attention at times was exhausting, because it felt like she could never actually be seen.
When she did comply with their wishes, her skin felt heavy yet exposed at the same time, but not vulnerable in a way that allowed her true self to shine. It felt like a sheath of mud that covered her naked body, hovering the parts of her that she held sacred, never giving her the chance to wash free from it and discover what truly made her shine, naturally feel sexy, beautiful and pretty.
Now, she was able to let go and finally breathe instead of grappling for satisfaction, self-confidence, feel secure and to find her self-worth and value; it seemed like every time her fingers tried to gain leverage, the more dissatisfaction and heartache it brought. In retrospect, it wasn’t until she became bold enough to let go and say “No more…” was when she smiled endlessly, gained her independence and was set free.
As she got dressed for the party, she looked back on her youth “Why did it take her so long to finally realize all this?” she reflected. Was it something so simple yet so complicated as she didn’t know that the very thing that lived in and through her gleamed? There was really no one to blame, not society, not her pursuer’s, not herself, just time itself.
Time to heal, time to grow from a girl into a woman. Time not only changes all things, but through every challenge, every triumph, every heartache, every laughter shapes us into the people we are.
When did she hear the voice that called her name? When did her heart say yes? When did she realize that the love that she held within her soul was the very thing that could set her free? All she had to do was lift her head and look at what stood before her.
“You can see me now - your beauty” a sweet voice gently said “I am the one who takes your breath away, the one that you fear the most …” she got lost in a daze as she remembered those fateful moments of her life.
“Breathe me in slowly, take your time to absorb the essence of who I am, the one who sets you free. Reside with me in this moment, today - in the here and now. Walk with me through the graves, run with me through the fields, sit and drink with me in the gardens and play with me in the waters. Hold my hand as we wander through the forests and let us climb together until we reach the peak of the highest mountain. Allow the fragrance of life to drift through the air and live… with me.” That was when she told the enticing voice "Yes…"
She glowed as she looked into the mirror once more, twirled and curtsied to the woman that stood before her, she blew her a kiss with those defining red lips of hers, closed her eyes and giggled with joy that bled through her veins.
“Through time we are transformed …” she thought as she climbed into bed after a night full of celebration. She soaked into the glistening and calmness of the “moment” and it was then she realized that she was not alone, the beauty of her life was lying there lovingly right next to her.
She felt it within her bones as it sang over her, entwining itself through her fingers, sifting through the palm of her hands as she breathed in its essence. Her bones were dry no more, no, they were alive even as she peacefully slept dreaming of all the possibilities that women have of the future and her heart was once again satisfied.