Monday, December 19, 2011

Self-Destruct

Hello Beautiful

Occasionally in life I find myself entertaining ideas of a self-destructive nature.  Usually provoked by some life event of ill fate.  A relationship gone wrong.  An unforeseen financial expense.  A desired goal failed.  These seemingly bleak moments in our lives incur a whirlwind of emotions; not the least of which are personally villainous. 

No contemplation has lead to a point of personal harm, this is not the struggle of my own life.  But how many of us can honestly say we have never been faced with such thoughts.  Our society is full of detrimental options for coping with temporal pain.  Excessive alcohol. Drugs. Licentiousness.  Suicide.  We have even created options that appear more acceptable such as workaholism or social withdrawal.  But all of these fail to deal with the issues in our world.  Such thoughts only seek to destroy our lives in a party of self-pity.  None of these celebrate the beauty in our hearts.  They only exemplify the ugliness that exist in our world.  Self-destruction is never beautiful.

When I experience a derailing event in my life I am often left without strength.  That is why I am thankful for the Godly wisdom to surround myself with family and friends that promote good decisions.  For a loving God that listens when bear my heart’s pain unto His, no matter how small or great the matter.  And for the guidance to deal with each unique scenario I have experienced.

Where there is opportunity for self-destruction, there is even greater prospect for self-construction.  The chance to deepen relationships with those around us.  The occasion to pick up a new hobby.   The opportunity to become more beautiful.  Once you have dealt with the initial pain in a positive manner you can be of clear consciousness to deal with the real hurt inside.  Disclose your heart to a loving God that only desires joy and love for your life.  Then find a positive solution to the problem.

No matter what you are facing do not let the self-destruct feature in your nature take over.  Diffuse the bomb, take the issue to the authorities, and make the day sunny.  Do not let a temporary event distract you from knowing that you are beautiful.

\\ If you or someone you know is actively struggling with self-destructive acts, we encourage you to seek help and counseling.\\

Monday, December 12, 2011

Destructive Creation

Hello Beautiful

I am fascinated by the idea of the blank canvas.  Regularly I am confronted with blank canvases: a new drawing, computer model, website, graphic, or writing.  I stare at the expanse of space and enjoy its perfect beauty.  A vast sea of parchment or pixels void of all flaw, full of every conceivable potential, and those which have yet to be birthed.  I gaze in awe, not out of writer’s or designer’s block, but out of respect, knowing that everything I do to this canvas will only diminish its perfection before I create something of worth.

Yesterday I spent hours creating my Christmas e-card.  It began with a sketch on my dry-erase board.  Then I opened the first of many programs to begin the task of creation.  Again I was confronted with the expanse of white pixels.  I began to create and destroy, adding some of my best photos, hideous design elements, flawed lines of code, and halfway decent text.  An hour later I had a jambalaya of elements, not in a good way.  This is just the first step of creation—conception—the act of bringing a concept to life.  But to complete creation, design is required.  Design in this case is struggling and working out an object until something beautiful is created. 

Anyone can take a canvas, splash paint and call it art.  But it is not art, much less something worthwhile.  In order to transcend from the world of painting to art; pictures to photography; drawing to designing, a struggle must take place.  The conflict of will between the canvas and the creator must be resolved.

Our lives are much the same.  We begin our lives as a blank canvas.  Good and bad are added to it.  Success and tragedy. Wisdom and scars.  Memories and horrors.  Through all of this we work out our lives with an all-loving Creator.  In the end God’s desire for us is that His creation turn into something beautiful.

Throughout our lives we are presented with opportunities to start on a blank canvas.  A move, a new friendship, or even a new day each present themselves with open opportunities.  When confronted with one, stand in awe of its majestic perfection of possibilities.  Be grateful to God for this chance to create something special.  And begin to work it out. Do not quit early on creating something beautiful, for you are beautiful.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dreamstorming

Hello Beautiful

I sat in church listening to Pastor Joe speak of the value of keeping good secrets.  His words spoke to the depths of my heart.  Similar to a large warm wooden drum enveloping one with its resonance.  I began to think of all the secrets I have been entrusted with throughout the years.  Passwords. Crushes. Goals. Visions. The deep sharing of ones heart to another is among the greatest testimonies of friendship.

My favorite moments with my friends are when we are dreamstorming.  Dreamstorming is collectively aggregating conceived ideas that will change the world. This is my new term for sharing the dreams and visions for your life with another.  I love dreamstorming with my friends.  Seeing their countenance rise as they speak passionately of their desires.  Desires that were placed in their hearts by a God that has huge plans for their lives.  The glow that surrounds a person when they are speaking of their dream job, ministry, or relationship cannot be captivated. 

Dreamstorming is a delicate process.  It is so easy to have your dreams crushed by negative influences in your life.  It cost too much. It is to difficult.  No one will follow you.  These are all dream killers.  If we would cut out the dream killers in our lives we would soar to amazing levels.  Surround yourself with friends that will help you nurture and cultivate your dreams.  Friends that will not tell you how ludicrous you are, but rather how incredible are the thoughts in your heart.

Dreamstorming allows us an opportunity to spit out the rawest form of our Godly desires.  I have had the pleasure of hearing the most amazing ideas birthed.  You can see the beauty in each individuals heart as they open up and share their most treasured secret.  Cherish these moments and nurture them well.  Find a good night filled with amazing friends and have a dreamstoming session.  Precipitate a hurricane of visions, dreams, and goals. My hope is that in this you will create something incredible in your world.  And when we see it, we will know that you are beautiful.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Friends & Christmas

Hello Beautiful

I am so crazy about Christmas time.  Each year I cannot wait to break the seal on my Christmas music, make hot chocolate with eggnog (just try it), and find the perfect gift for my family.  Yesterday I pulled out the decorations and sprinkled some magic all over my house.  After church my friends came over to eat some pizza and share stories.  My house felt so incredibly warm.

I think the holidays are best when you have amazing people surrounding you who share not only a common view, but a passion about the true meaning of Christmas.  My friends are not overcome with the consumerist horrors of Black Friday shopping, bad work parties, and apathy towards holiday music.  They are filled with child-like excitement of all the festivities because to them Christmas is the craziest birthday party for their Savior.  Each light that is strung and dish that is prepared is filled with divine love.  Each activity is purposefully driven by their joy for the birth of Christ.

I grew up in a family the also adored Christmas for the same reason.  It filled the house with so much love.  It is more than just knowing a belief.  Many people of the same faith do not find Christmas as incredible.  It is when your belief is manifest in tangible activities with great zeal that Christmas time is exceptional.  Lavishly decorated houses, elegant dinner parties, and warm fireside moments are all declarations of a deeply rooted love.

Christmas time is the most expressively beautiful times of year.  Here our hearts and our hands come together with others to share love. In music, food, film, decorations, presents, and festivities we beatify the human spirit through the celebration of the divine. When my friends come together over the next month we will create some of the best memories.  Our futures will be shaped by the mirth we will inspire.  And through all this the beauty in each of our lives will be elevated.

I hope that this Christmas season you share your love with those around you.  I hope that you share you are beautiful.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pure

Hello Beautiful

This weekend I had the privilege to partner with Purity’s Treasure Ministries for their conference promotional media.  I was capturing the stills for their print material as they filmed a series of shots that would later be masterfully stitched into a touching video.  As I watched these young ladies labor meticulously I was captivated once again by our desire to create something greater than our personal ambitions.

These women from all different walks—students to professionals, short to tall, and everything in between—believed in a common goal and message: purity.  This morning in my office I watched the first clip of the video and had a new revelation of purity.  Many of us are familiar with the idea of maintaining sexual purity and its importance to our relationships; both with God and man.  However, I feel that we focus so much on the consequences of purity that we perhaps forget to consider purity itself and what it can do for us.

It is difficult for finite man to image such a thing as pureness.  By our own nature, the imagination of something that is pure is impossible because we always introduce our own imperfections.  However, to strive for purity is not to achieve a flawless state, but to seek freedom.  Freedom from our hindrances and inhibitions.  During the shoot I observed girls filled with all the normal insecurities of life free themselves from their shyness.  In watching the short video clip this morning I could feel a purity of cinematography that was real and releasing.  It will inspire change and freedom because freedom was projected into it. 

In our world we have so many opportunities to lay down our hurdles.  Should we truly desire purity, change, and freedom we would combat our struggles.  We would earnestly seek Godly intervention in our lives so that we can move beyond ourselves.  Imagine if all of us could be released from the obstacles that prevent us from achieving our goals.  What great things could we achieve without the struggle of self-esteem, addictions, or finances?  By chasing purity we can move our world.  By seeking purity you are beautiful.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cathedral

Hello Beautiful

I am enamored with cathedrals.  They are magnificent structures that testify to human’s desire to serve the divine.  Laced with intricate glass murals and mightily fortified by stone, these structures merry strength with grace.  Their existence testify of our faithfulness to a cause.

Cathedrals have stood strong for the last millennium.  It may take over 200 years to construct one.  Generation after generation worked on them without hope of seeing it finished.  Families of stone masons perished from particulate asphyxiation, falling stone, or disease.  Yet they persevered.  Stone by stone they laid foundations and walls for families they would not know.  In faith they created a place of beauty.  Hoping that one day there would be completion.

We would serve the world well if we kept a timeless mindset in our microwave society.  We breed impatience; instant Google searches, fast cash advances, and streaming entertainment.  We are constantly infected by the lie that the world revolves to meet our immediate needs.  Our society would benefit greatly if we would consider our descendants. 

Our current attempts to think of the future manifest themselves in environmentalism and foreign policy.  But what true good can we leave for our children.  Clean air and peace are wonderful gifts.  Yet I feel as though there is more we can offer.  A world full of beauty requires more of us.  I imagine a world where humans truly care for one another with no selfish gain.  A world where hunger and natural disaster do exist, but supernatural love motivates us to constant action.  A world where diseases like child molestation and serial killing have been eradicated.

To build this cathedral we need to invest now in ourselves.  Each day we should consider the work that we are doing; the stones we are tasked with placing.  Are we building up ourselves to succeed as parents, spouses, and siblings?  Do we create elaborate murals of transparent love, kindness, and goodness?  Are we laboring to dispose our  quickness to anger, addiction to materialism, or swiftness to jealousy?  It may be hard to see the completion of your small task on this earth.  Even more impossible to imagine the cathedral we are trying to build together.  I do not believe we must earn God’s love, but I do wish to create something together that our Creator will look down upon us and say, “Indeed, you are beautiful.”

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cerebrum

Hello Beautiful

Last weekend’s crisp fall air set an amazing tone for my photo shoot with Heat Entertainment’s new artist.  After spending a few hours with da Kid, I learned of his dreams and aspirations, not just in the entertainment community, but also in his pursuit of life.  His desires not only include music, but a degree in graphic design.  At the end of our session he asked me one question in reference to music and modeling: “Do you think I can make it?”

So often we ask this question.  We look for validation and encouragement from others.  We seek out milestone by which we can measure how much further we have to travel.  But we forget to see how far we have come.  “Yeah,” was my initial answer.  I expounded that he is well on his way.  We need not be so caught up in succeeding, and realize that the plan for our lives will be actualized if we simply do our part.  It is laziness that holds us from our dreams.  But it is busyness that keeps us from enjoying our journey.  There is path between laziness and busyness that is meant for us to walk upon.

Most encouraging to my conversation with da Kid was his desire to obtain his degree.  It is not just a backup plan, but a compliment to his life.  We should seek to constantly further our education.  Perhaps not always in a formal environment like a university.  One should still seek to develop every aspect of self: body, soul, and mind.  Complete beauty engages the mind with the eyes.  Captivating conversations draws an audience past the superficial.  One’s intelligence can further their opportunities.  It is with knowledge that we may advance our creations for the world.  So often I am amazed by the creative lyrics of today’s rap artist.  They draw references from current culture and combine them with eloquent linguistics to formulate music; constantly challenging their knowledge and talent.

We should never cease to further our minds.  Developing every aspect of ourselves deepens our beauty.  It increases our ability to contribute to humanity.  And through our creation, whether music or photography, medicine or politics; we can beautify our world.  Develop your mind to show you are beautiful.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fiercely Lovely

Hello Beautiful

My pastor, Steve Kelly, said that “lovely appeals to the emotions as well as the eyes."  When I think of lovely I imagine little old ladies sitting in wicker chairs knitting blankets for their unborn grandchildren in a discourse of the various teacups they have collected throughout the decades. 

But loveliness is a fierce force.  It is encapsulated physical magnetism that elicits an emotional response.  It uses charm to invoke an action.  A puppy’s eyes moving you towards adoption.  A ray of sunshine on a warm spring afternoon bringing you a smile after work.  A perfect date causing you to fall deeper still.  Loveliness moves our hearts.

It also pleases our eyes.  Loveliness is full of physical beauty.  Mal-nourished puppies are adopted out of compassion, a no less valuable force.  But it is out of their cuteness that they are adopted for loveliness.  The magnitude of loveliness is not a measure of perfection of appearance, but the degree by which beautiful appearance affects us inside.  An attractive model with a cruel heart is not lovely.  Furthermore, a storm may be lovely if it is ferociously filled with sheets of water; boldly casting lightning and thunder; colorfully filled with umbrellas and galoshes; and even promises with a rainbow.

Loveliness is the quintessential meeting of physical and inner beauty.  Ones maximized physical beauty is drawn into the spirit and portrayed to the world in a contagious manner.  The observer is entangled in a storm of sensory overload as their eyes and hearts are bombarded with delight.  They enjoy the presence before whom they stand because the signals received by their hearts match those perceived by their eyes.  They are swept away into a deep connection with the subject.

It is this level of loveliness and beauty that we should all desire in our lives.  We should seek to draw our physical beauty into our hearts and infect the earth with our love; cancerously devouring the world in an appeal to their hearts.  Inspiring not just more beauty, but true change and an elevation of the broken human condition.  To this end you must portray the loveliness you embody because you are beautiful.

Monday, October 24, 2011

It Just Is

Hello Beautiful

Tonight is a melancholy night.  Not in a depressive state but in a pensive manner.  There is nothing wrong or sad or broken.  It just is.  I live alone.  Usually spending evenings practicing my music and dreaming of new things to create.   Some nights I go to church and meet new people.  Other nights I watch TV and make dinner for one.  It just is.

I often think and dream of my future wife.  Making dinner together and fighting for the remote.  I wonder what she will be like.  Her smile and sense of fashion.  Will she like photography or be a good singer?  I am quite lonely without her.  It is just life.

I am studying for a big test I have in a few weeks.  It is one of the last major tests I have to take in my career.  I failed it last time.  It just happens.  I hate reading, making studying even harder.  It also makes reading the Bible really hard.  Not that I do not want to spend time with God, it just is.

I have been having some health problems.  Some short term, some long term.  I unfortunately have no choice but to take a lot of medication right now, despite all my research for alternative methods.  Everyday I feel it wearing on my system.  Like grains of sand eroding the paint on a beach house.  Some things are unavoidable, they just are.Like my workload at the office.  I am designing a building, writing a book, heading up a committee, conducting software research on multiple programs, and preparing for a major presentation.  It just has to get done.

It is life.  People often ask me how I can live alone or how I juggle all my projects.  My family asks if I am looking for a girlfriend or if I am eating well.  My friends ask me if I am watching a certain TV show or how I am feeling today.  Usually I answer people quite honestly.  Because life just is.  There is no sense in hiding behind facades because there is nothing to hide.  There are moments that we savor.  Memories we call them.  But life is more than just a string of highlights.  It is also the plain hours like tonight.  Nights where I do nothing special but still believe that my life is full of beauty.

You are beautiful.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Its over

Hello Beautiful

There is nothing that fascinates me more ethologically than the human ability to choose.  Not the simple choices of whether to eat when we are hungry or seek fire when it is cold.  It is the complex decisions that are required of humanity that separates us from animal.  This is a gift that was bestowed upon us.  And an untapped one.

We succeed at basic choices: nourishment, shelter, health, safety.  We are adequate at advanced decisions: education, career, marriage, religion.  Some can even make difficult resolves: break-up with a fiancé, volunteer with the Peace Corp, sacrifice your safety for another.  When presented with a choice between a quantifiable number of options humans can select one.

Where we fail is when the choice involves not options, but a state of being.  The most popular phone call I receive by far is “I’m so over him!”  Usually fallowed by reasons why the guys is lame, how they are better than him, all the things they USED to love about him, and so forth.  My deeply insightful statement proceeding such a disgorge usually revolves around how my last band practice went. 

The shock is palpable even through the phone.  Meeting cares and tears with a complete change of subject feels like slapped rejection.  And just before I am confronted for my inability to counsel my friend I explain.  If we claim we are over someone, should we not be over them.  Making the decision to not be with someone is easy compared to living out the choice of being with no one.  But when we end a relationship (whether with a person or a candy bar) we cannot live our lives in the shadow of that thing.  It must vacate the recesses of our mind.

So often we look for self-help books, motivational sermons, a resurgence of will, or the dissolution of procrastination; when all we need to do is tap into our human ability to choose.  Greater than its decision making capabilities, this gift we posses helps us live out our choices.  Deciding to break up needs to be followed by choosing to be single. Don’t just decide to lose weight, choose to be healthier.  When you decided to get married you chose someone to be with.  When you decide to wake up, choose that you are beautiful.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Paint

Hello Beautiful

Amid the western edge of the free world, where the mountains descend into the seas, is a promontory that keeps watch over the water.  Each night this land mass witnesses the sun kiss the horizon and sink into ocean.  This circadian ceremony yielding to the luminance of the moon is celebrated by a spectacular expression of color. 

It begins with a blue sky and blindingly white sun glistening off the surfs specularity.  As the sun draws lower, the longer wavelengths of light bend across the Earth’s stratosphere to create yellow.  Then orange.  Then red.  And just as the sun slips into the deep, the cloud's aerosolization of particles explode in a refraction of light; granting us purple.  As the moon takes hold of the celestial, the deepest blue covers the cosmos. 

This is Point Dume in Malibu, California.  Here you can see the end of the world.  As I watched I wanted to pull each color from the sky and put it in my pocket.  Keep them for later.  There were so many rich hues they could never be discovered again.  But alas I could not take them.  The sun would set and they would be gone.

Many of our beautiful moments in life set.  Relationships.  Plays.  Dinners.  Dances. Births.  And even life itself.  We replay the highlights in our minds.  We take pictures.  We try to savor the moments.   But no matter how hard we try, we cannot live our entire lives in those moments.  A memory is just an impression of life.  It is not life itself.  We must move forward and continue to paint more moments of beauty in the world. 

One would never watch a sunset, consider it beautiful, and hold onto that fading memory forever.  The sun sets every evening.  Every evening we fail to pause its leaving.  But every day it returns with chromaticism.  Imprinting us with a new memory of our breathtaking planet.  Reminding you that your world is gorgeous.  Reminding you that you are beautiful.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Await

Hello Beautiful

I was listening to a great sermon this Sunday at church delivered by a short, hilarious, Ukrainian pastor.  He read from a passage, Acts 3:2, which makes reference to the “Beautiful Gate”.  This was the name given to a gate of the temple in Jerusalem.  In this particular story a lame man was sitting outside of the gate asking for money when Peter and John passed by and healed him.  Naturally, like the good church going Christian that I am, as soon as I heard the name “Beautiful Gate” I pretty much tuned out and began thinking about you.

Why was this gate called “Beautiful”?  What makes it beautiful?  This story is the only known reference to a gate by this name.  The Greek word for beautiful used here is horaios; coming from the root hora, meaning an hour or time.  Horaios, or beautiful, therefore means belonging to the right hour.

So often we envisage beauty in terms of physical manifestations.  We rarely think of it in terms of the ephemeral, other than in platitudes of  beauty fading.  Yet we cannot deny the beauty of exquisite timing.  Your husband extemporaneously sending you flowers on the same day your boss drops a monotonous project on your desk.  A friend fortuitously calling the moment you reach for the phone to call them.  You serendipitously taking an earlier bus just as a seat opens next to the man of your dreams.

Proper timing is an essential part of a subjects beauty.  The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.  Meeting the man of your dreams when your hair is trifling may not yield desired effects.  A friend calling right after you learned of their betrayal will not be a pleasant conversation.  Receiving flowers when your allergies are in action… well that might still be nice. 

Timing was everything to the beggar that was healed by two men passing by.  I like to think this is why the gate is called Beautiful. Proper appointment of life’s special moments are essential to their beauty.  Flowers that blossom prematurely do not last.  Likewise no one goes to the beach at noon to watch the sunset.  In relationship, career, economic and definitely fashion decisions, wait for the right timing in your life.  And pounce on them when it is the correct hour.  Through your timing you are beautiful.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Appreciation

Hello Beautiful

I find the car to be an optimal environment to sample new music. The tightly enclosed space allows for optimal reverberation while the upholstery reduces any harsh overtones. Drowning alone in this sonic space I can focus on the marriage of lyric to melody while reflecting my own life into the sonance. It was in this environment that I first noticed Beyoncé’s “Dance for You” from her album 4. Co-written by Beyoncé, the song describes her appreciation for her man; husband and soon to be father Jay-Z. And of course in true R&B style the song describe how she will show her appreciation.

My absolute favorite line in this track is:

“And I wanna say thank you in case I don’t thank you enough”

I feel like this song proposes a solution to one of the great problems in relationships, especially marriages. We have been drilled with the differences in the genders, the need for communication, and the importance of intimacy since our first relationship with the opposite sex. Men are challenged to be gentlemen and women are taught to expect nothing less. All of this is true.

Very true.

However, we have filled ourselves with so much entitlement that we forget to show appreciation. When was the last time you thanked your man for opening the door? When he came home did you give him a kiss because he worked hard all day to provide for the family? Have you recently made sexual advances on your husband to let him know you love him? (Yes, mom I did just write that) (You are welcome dad).

–Speaking of appreciation, much love to my number one fans, my parents; happily married over 30 years—

The magic does not have to vacate our relationships. Relationships take effort. Life takes effort. Journeying through life with a boyfriend, fiancé, or husband requires exertion on all fronts. Dates do not plan themselves. Cars do not change their own oil. Grass does not stay the same length. Bills do not come pre-paid. If you are blessed enough to have someone in your life let them know what they mean to you. Speak life into your relationship. Profess what you think of him. Maybe pop it back Beyoncé style. And trust me, your man thinks you are beautiful.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Send to Voicemail

Hello Beautiful

I had a lovely dinner in Williamsburg with a friend from college. She is a delightful, energetic, charismatic young lady with a contagious personality. We discussed our ventures since we last met. As we conversed, the topic of being a good friend came up. She is not a person that takes friendship lightly. She commits to them no matter what they are struggling with. But the question revolved around how to be a friend to the people in your life that drain you?

Being a true friend is one of the greatest titles one can bear. It is an honor to walk life alongside another person through trials and highlights. Friends illuminate the dark times and bring vivaciousness to the celebration.

Yet sometimes you make friends that seem to only pull life from you. You see them on the caller ID and roll your eyes. You take their call because you want to be a good friend but three hours later you have talked in circles, pulled your hair out, and feel like a horrible friend because you know nothing was accomplished. After a few of these exhausting discourses you start to question your ability to be a friend, your stress level is through the roof, and your strength begins to waiver.

Being a good friend also means knowing when you have the strength and heart to be that friend. The days that you are without these you will not be successful. You will not be the friend they need, they will bring you unnecessary stress, and you will end up in a lose-lose scenario.

When you find yourself in this situation send the call to voicemail. I know at first it seems impossibly difficult but you will become a better friend through it. You can listen to the message to discover if it is a real emergency and call them back. You can take time to prepare for their needs. Or you will realize that they will be fine on their own.

Filter the friends that weigh you down. Do not cut them out completely because you are needed in their life. And you need them. But be sure you are being the most effective friend. Knowing when and how to be a friend is essential to maintaining your strength and value as a friend. Through your friendships you are beautiful.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Not So Easy

Hello Beautiful

I found myself on an adventure in Blacksburg, Virginia as I vacated my home to avoid Hurricane Irene.  It is always a delight to see my college friends.  There is something reviving about being around people that authentically know you and love you greatly.  True friends.  On the last night of my trip a small group of friends went to a local establishment called The Cellar; a dimly lit underground lounge where we could tell old stories and laugh at our new adventures in adulthood.

While recounting, an eager young man decided it might be a good time to hit on my friend.  Not an uncommon sight in this college town, but we were not a common group.  A few compliments, a slide across the booth, and a page of poetry later he walked away empty handed.  I found this both comical and annoying at the same time.

I am annoyed that men, when confronted with an attractive woman, must always hit on them.  Or at least consider flirting with them.  Wired to initially think corporeally, men instinctively classify women into “girlfriend material” categories first and “friend material” second.  It is only when men learn to move past this nature that they might mature into “husband material”.

Throughout the rest of the evening we had quite the laugh from our nights tale.  This unsuspecting student was not meeting the average girl.  Her physical beauty is a manifestation of a high level of self-esteem, not a lack there of.  Her age of “I graduated while you were in high school” gave her the wisdom to see straight though his lines.  And a lack of need to find fulfillment through the eyes of a man, made my friend a tough target.  Combine that with male friends that are not afraid of running interference to guard her merriment, and we quickly returned to our convivial evening.

Inventory your life.  Are you surrounded by men that hit on you because you are an easy target?   Or are your defenses appropriately placed?  Be confident with self-esteem.  Seek the wisdom of age.  Do not look for your fulfillment in others.  Surround yourself with friends that build you up and protect you.  And go have a good time, because life is fun and you are beautiful.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Know Your Role

This weekend I recuperated from an exhausting week of work by overloading on sleep, food, and laundry.  Along with this strict regimen I had the opportunity to hear amazing speakers, comedians, and friends discuss the the role of women in modern society.  Surprisingly, women and men, single and married, religious and… not, all had similar dispositions.  I am sure that there is a significant percentage of population that would disagree, but the diverse spectrum with which I interacted all said there was something broken with the role of the independent woman in neoteric civilization.

Woman are amazing creatures.  Fearfully and wonderfully made, they have the power to  turn heads, start wars, and create life.  In the 20th century women earned many rights that were long overdue.  The right to vote. Equality in the workplace. Respect from men.  With these rights women have contributed unfathomable amounts to humanity.  From medicine to  politics, the arts to education, woman have used their rights to transform our world.

But with freedom and rights come responsibilities.  Women desire equality in rights, but do they seek equality with men.  Women and men are not the same.  These differences begin with basic anatomical dichotomies and continue on to chemical, relational, and cerebrational processes.  Woman was made out of man  Meaning she has parts in common with him, but there are parts that were removed from man and placed in solely woman, and parts left in man that were not given to women.  Men and women have different but complimentary roles in this world.  We need each other.  As Jerry McGuire said, “You complete me.”

Beauty exists in harmony.  When men are acting as true gentlemen and women as ladies, a symbiotic congruency moves us forward.  I make no claims to know where a woman’s place may be.  However, I believe that place is not pregnant, intoxicated, and abused.  Neither is it as a CFO slandering colleagues.  You can know you are living your role in this world by your worth, value, nobility, support, diligence, tenacity, charity, industriousness, strength, dignity, wisdom, faithfulness, and honor.  Walking out your role means you are beautiful.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bloom

Hello Beautiful

After a very long, yet fulfilling day of work I drove home on overcast streets lined with trees sprinkled by droplets of rain.  I love how vibrant foliage appears as it is saturated with water.  Amidst the grey atmosphere and imbued leaves were delicate flowers of pink, lavender, and white.  Having seen these same flowers before I was shocked to see that these trees were still in full bloom despite hot summer months and thunderous rains.

The incredibly diverse classification of flowering plants (angiosperm) is a wonderful exemplification of true life.  These organisms have needs just like any do.  They require soil, sunlight, and water.  They create food through photosynthesis and contribute to global life by the production of oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide.   Just as any plant would and should.  But these plants go further.  After they have taken care their own basic life sustenance and contributed to the earth’s needs, they continue to produce in abundance.  Out of this thriving they render flowers, fruits, and seeds.  They create a beautiful sight for us to see.  They supply food that others may be sustained.  And furnish seed that their prosperity may spread.  The Greek prefix angio means vessel.  These plants carry with them bountiful life.

What about humans?  We consider first our need for food, shelter, and education.  We bear children and hold jobs to contribute to the human race.  This does not make us life bearing vessels.  To carry life is to reach beyond your immediate world.  To beautify another's environment.  To nourish another’s soul.  To illuminate another’s day.  Through this cross-pollination of life true bonds are formulated.  It is in these symbiotic relationships that we ourselves are transformed.  Uplifted.  Beautified.  And much like the trees along the street that are still in full bloom despite adversity, perseverance in trials will yield even longer periods of bloom.  We will express our love longer, brighter, and more generously.

Be a flowering plant in this world.  Carry life into your world through storm and sun.  Show them you are beautiful.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Over Easy

Hello Beautiful

There are few things in this world that disrupt our lives more than a broken relationship.  Whether dissolution of friends or the parting of romantics, the pain is great.  Time invested seems lost.  A vacuous space remains in our hearts.

Many young ladies have questioned why men seem to get over relationships more quickly than women.  This question has a few answers with varying degrees of complexity.  The simplest is this: they don’t.  Men do not actually get over relationships more quickly than women, they just get over them in different ways and at different times.

If a man chooses to end a relationship, typically it is after careful consideration.  A man has likely begun thinking about the end weeks to months before he actually executes his decision.  This means that he is already considerably further along the healing process.  Two weeks later he may seem completely fine because in his heart he feels six weeks out of the relationship.  However he should not plunge into another relationship as this is unacceptably disrespectful to the lady who is still experiencing pain.

If it was not the mans choice and he bounces back quickly, several things could be at work.  Perhaps he was contemplating the end, and thus is further along in healing.  He may be moving on as a coping mechanism for the pain.  Or he was not into the relationship to begin with and thus not worth your second thought.  You are too amazing to waste time thinking about boys that have yet to grow up.

We may also see instances where a man takes time to heal after a relationship, whether he or the lady chooses to end it.  In this case you can see that men do have feelings.  However, this is not evidence that the relationship should continue.  It is just evidence that heart mending must transpire.

In all cases the male reaction in the aftermath of a relationship speaks nothing of the lady involved.  It tells a tale of what kind of man was involved.  His character.  His respect.  His thoughtfulness.  A woman’s worth is not determined by men with mending hearts.  The lady’s actions speak of her character.  They tell the true tale of her poise.  Her respect.  Her heart.  What kind of tale do you display?  Do you reveal your vindictiveness or portray that you are beautiful?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dust

Hello Beautiful

I am fascinated by sand.  Living at the beach I have accepted the cruel fact that it goes everywhere.  In my shoes.  In my house.  In my couch.  It fills up the expansive space of shore that lines our terra.  It dissipates into the air when released with force.  I enjoy realizing the particularization of our earth.  An entire planet created from finite grains.

Each granule comes together to create a whole.  Sand refined to glass.  Limestone reacted into plaster.  Dirt fired into pottery.  Each whole becoming greater than the sum of its elements.  Even we are made from the same.

“for dust you are…”

But what will you do with what you are?  What will you add up to?  Each of us can live a life that is barely more than the dirt we are given.  We can live a life of just enough; scantily surviving.  Giving the least of our exertion.  It is effortless to complain about our economic circumstance.  Maintaining the same level of employment is undemanding.  Remaining stationary in our addictions is paltry.

To move beyond and create full life takes tenacity and adventure.  We love stories like Mulan, Two Weeks Notice, and Ever After.  Seeing our heroine or hero from humble means defeat obstacles inspires us to greatness.  When we are faced with training, trials, and battle we must step up to the challenges.  We should expend every morsel of time, resources, and life that we given.  We need to realize our dreams of bettering ourselves, augmenting the nefariousness we see, and raising the human condition.

“…and to dust you shall return.” Gen 3:19

Tomorrow we will inter my aunt.  Her life came to an end after a swift fight with cancer.  She is not thought of by the three week battle of internal dematerialization.  We remember her life and the fullness therein.  The joy, love, jokes, and lessons she brought us.

How will you be remembered?  Are you merely an amalgamation of dust?  Or are you a spectacular particle storm that dances upon the earth?  You are more than simple sand.  You are beautiful.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Flawed

Hello Beautiful

It is thunder storming outside as John Mayer melodizes “Daughters” on a live recording. In my peaceful sanctuary I think about the beautiful things that humanity has accomplished. Film. Music. Dance. Literature. The strenuous hours we take to provide illuminance into our existence. A place of idealism to which we can escape.

Last week a colleague recommended a short film to me called “The Third and The Seventh”. It is a masterpiece. The twelve minute film highlights some of the best modernist architecture of the twentieth century. It contains breath-taking artful shots of these remarkable buildings. The fascinating part is the film was made completely by one person using computer animation. Not one shot is taken from real life. The music, animation, modeling, production—all composed digitally by one man, Alex Roman.

As I viewed the hyper-realistic animation I began to notice what makes it so realistic. It is easy to capture the pristine quality of materials in the clean digital environment of computer graphics. Perfectly smooth paint. Highly reflective metals. Completely flawless skin. What makes this animation so real is the beauty in the flaws that are programmed in. The cracks in the age of the stone. The weathered discoloration in the windmills. The uneven texture of cast-in-place concrete.

The inception of these buildings by the architects were aimed to create a flawless moment in space. Yet they maintained the knowledge that it would not remain as such. It would age, crack, dent, break, and eventually crumble. But the buildings life along the way would be a testament to itself, the architect, and all the people that interact with the building overtime.

People are the same. There is a desirable beauty in being flawless. No blemishes, perfect tan, physically fit, heart unbroken, and confidence through the roof. But there is even more beauty in wearing our battle scars proudly. It is our flaws that separates us from androids. Fractured legs that show we dared. Acne that grew self-confidence. Broken hearts that taught us how to love. We are an amalgamation of skin and bones, heart and soul, personality and character, uniqueness and flaw.

With your flaws you are beautiful.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Your Fingerprint

Hello Beautiful

Human creativity is a quality that I find remarkable.  It is a divine insignia which humanity bears more proudly than any other creature on the earth.  We were created to create.  Yet most believe a perpetual lie that they are not creative.  The truth is that everyone is creative; but possibly not artistic.

This an argument of more than mere semantics.  The distinction of definition sheds light into our innate ability.  To be artistic is to show skill or excellence in the execution of art.  But to create is to bring into existence that which did not exist before.  Women and men create everyday in the form of bringing a child into this world.  Yet there is not skill required in this execution.  Nor is it an art form.  But one cannot argue the beauty nor the necessity of this act of creation.

Everyday you create.  Whether it is a new look with make-up or a new route to work.  You create new outfits and new spreadsheets.  You create stories, photos, and memories.  You create jobs, websites, and products.   You might even create problems and arguments.  And hopefully you create comfort and cookies.

Everything that we create bears our fingerprint.  It speaks of who we are.  Our skills, qualities, and ethics.  My photos bear a certain saturation of color that is distinctive to my style.  I have tried to switch, but this is how I see the world; saturated with life.  Some photographers see the form of things in the world.  Others see the emotion in the world.  The eyes of who you are and what you see will be imprinted into your work, just as we are imprinted with the mark of our creator.

What mark are you placing in the world?  When I go to work and design I wish to imprint beauty to resemble refined taste.  I strive for a precision and accuracy to reflect my work ethic.  And perhaps even a little bit of playfulness to make it extra me.  When you go to—teach, draw, meet, babysit, play—which of your qualities do you manifest?

Create to bring life into this world.  Draw from what is inherently alive inside of you.  Evince the distinct traits that are unmistakably the best parts of you.  Bring forth beauty into the world no matter what you are doing.  Your creativity can speak that you are beautiful.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Face of Adversity

Hello Beautiful

This past weekend I made an emergency journey home.  My great aunt was hospitalized with an extremely aggressive strand of cancer.  Admitted as a stage four patient, the outlook seemed quite bleak.  I arrived at the hospital to find a faithful woman fighting for her life.  As we visited over the following days I heard stories of her life, old school herbal medicine, and plenty of advice.  Naturally as a single male, the topic of girls was broached.  Despite traditional Hispanic culture, my aunt married later in life.  As patient as the formation of mountains and as faithful as the seasons, my aunt awaited her husband.

She said she would steadfastly pray for him.  Not just generally.  Anyone can do that.  She would write down, speak out, and declare specific things she wanted in a man.  Now one should have reasonable expectations.  Declaring Prince William as their husband may be a little much and a little too specific.  However, in declaring your desires you make your hearts desire known.  Especially to yourself.  It will help prevent compromise.  When you are lonely, everyone looks good.  Anyone can sweep you off your feet.  But can you wait over forty years for your hearts desire?  Your compliment.  Whether you believe in “the one” or not, we can agree that holding out for the right person is well worth it.  When you find someone worthy of your heart, keep your standards high.

My aunt also said, “Find a virtuous woman.”  Something that I feel is lost in our culture.  Ladies focus a lot on being the smart one or the pretty one.  An excellent home-maker or a tenacious career woman.  One of the guys or a delicate flower.  All of which are fine qualities.  But a virtuous woman, one of high principle, moral, and ethics, is a woman of beauty.  The word virtuous comes from the Latin root virtus which means strength and valor in the face of adversity. This is a test of true character.

So there sat my Aunt in a hospital chair with chemo running through her veins.  Her physical strength failing as her body is destroyed from the inside out one cell at a time.  Barely able to eat or sleep.  In all this she forsakes nothing.  And through it she has the strength to teach her nephew one more lesson.

Aunt, you are beautiful.

(My aunt is doing better all things considered.  Our family would appreciate your thoughts and prayers.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Face Paint

Hello Beautiful

This past weekend I again had the pleasure of taking a models photo.  We decided to keep it low key; one model, one photographer, one beach.  It was simpler than any shoot I have done.  Even the theme was to simply capture “pretty”.  Not over the top glamour.  Of course in this fun endeavor we had to figure out the make-up.  Most girls know how to do everyday make-up very well, but make-up that highlights ones facial structure on camera is a completely different exertion.  So on this simple and sunny Friday afternoon I applied make-up for the first time.  On her, not myself of course.

I was surprisingly good at it.  At first I thought, “this isn’t so hard.”  Dip, tap, brush, and blend.  As I began to paint my three-dimensional canvas I honed out the features I saw in her.  The depth of blue in her eyes.  The highlights of her brow bone.  The slenderness of her cheeks.  As I later reflected on the event that had transpired I realized what a painful ordeal this must be for girls.

Every day make-up is applied, touched up, and removed.  Pores are clogged and later cleansed.  Nails painted weekly, hair died monthly, and eyebrows waxed bi-monthly.  It never ends.  This is life in our society.  Get over it.  You have to do it.  Complaining looks good on no one.  The painful part is not the incessant routine. 

Each morning a young lady looks in the mirror.  She thinks about the day behind her; all its highlights and downfalls.  She looks at her scars from the years.  She attempts to focus on what she will accomplish today.  Her goals.  Her dreams.  Her future.  She thinks about boys and prays for love.  She wonders if she choose the right major and if her mom will ever talk to her again.  She takes all her confidence and insecurities, her wins and failures, her personality and aspirations; and creates her look for the day.  Everyday she replicates the metaphysical parts onto an epidermal canvas for all to see; reestablishing herself to the world. 

No matter how you feel each day—sad, hot, pretty—wear it well.  And wear as much or as little make-up as you want.  Its your declaration.  Remember your beauty is more than your situation.  It is a deep seated truth and testament to your existence.  You ARE beautiful.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Passion

Hello Beautiful

I know it is not Monday but I wanted to impart to you an extra entry this week.  Partially because I was dissatisfied with my earlier writing, but mostly because I had an incredibly beautiful experience tonight.  Rarely do I bring my Christianity as the topic of conversation, but this is a strange night.  I ask that those that do not share my theology to please indulge me in this discourse as this is not a blog on religion, but a blog of beauty.

Every fiber of my being vehemently revolted against the idea of attending church this evening.  I ran through every excuse.  Each one failing me more greatly than the last until ultimately I decided to be present.  A decision I will never regret.

I was excited about the guest speaker; a mid-thirties, well-sized, African-American male.  He began the sermon sharing that he had just received troubling news and it was clear this preacher was battling for his life up there.  Such transparency sent a distinct message to the over 1,000 young adults that filled Wave Convention Center.  The alter call brought forth more people than I have seen at a service here.  Normally this would be the end of the night, and a wondrous end at that.

But something shifted.  All were dismissed but the band was prompted to continue playing and an invitation for prayer was made.  At first a small group of people that really needed some time with their Creator came forth.  Slowly more accumulated.  And then the Heavens burst open.  A palpable Spirit saturated the atmosphere and engulfed everyone there.  With one extremely violent cry, hundreds of young people who have stayed for a bonus hour of church in the middle of the week reached out to their God. 

“OH OH OH OH OH OH OH OH” they vociferated.

Literally screaming, they sought after their God with passion.  In the end none could deny they were changed.  A new dispensation was released.

What made tonight undeniably beautiful, regardless of your religious beliefs, was the passion and unity by which an aggregation of personalities sought after something.  And the degree to which their seeking was met with answer.  Passion births the Beautiful.  Without passion so many things in this world would be dull if not nonexistent.  Move forward in your life mission with passion.

And remember I do and always will believe you are beautiful.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Life Interrupted

Hello Beautiful

Today was as plain a Monday as one could expect.  The nights effort to sleep brought little rejuvenation.  At the moment I was finally able to embark into a suspension of consciousness my alarm proclaimed the beginning of the day.  With a stomach full of Special K cereal, a mug of Crystal Light iced tea, and my Kenneth Cole bag slung across my chest I ventured to work.

Run copies. Check e-mail. Check Facebook. Draw building. Lunch with colleague. Draw building. Arrange training. Check e-mail. Check Facebook. Homeward bound.

Mondays I do three things: practice drums, workout, and write you.  I anticipated that the evening would be spiced up by some Photoshopping.  yay (un-emphatically).  I slowly pulled into my driveway watching out for my duck.  Yes, I have a duck with a dozen eggs living in my yard. 

Out of the corner of my eye I spot the cutest piece of animation.  A 7 pound puppy was curiously inspecting my front yard.  I instantly noticed that this little ball of fur had no collar.  Concerned for the puppy and its long lost best friend, I canvased the street to find no one in sight.  He came up to me with inquisitiveness.  I decided to befriend him and allow him into my backyard. 

There I was.  Never having a pet I was clueless with no food.  After setting out a dish of water I did what any perplexed person would do. I practiced my drums and worked out.  Once my thoughts had aggregated I proceeded to take the appropriate steps to take care of the dog.  Upon leaving my home I came across my neighbor who was giving a ride to two individuals that were clearly not her daughter.  I later discovered that they were displaced individuals.

An epiphanous moment caught me off guard.  How often are we so blinded by our routine that we forget to see what needs to be done in the world around us?  Are we so busy succeeding in our lives that we are too busy to help someone survive their life?  I wonder how hungry were my neighbors new friends.  I wonder how much the little boy that owns this beautiful puppy is crying tonight.  I wonder how many things I missed today.  For someone that claims to see the world—its beauty, its details, its heart—I definitely miss a lot.

You are beautiful.

Monday, June 13, 2011

First Kiss

Hello Beautiful

There is nothing that stokes the embers of one’s heart like a first kiss.  The atmosphere is saturated with droplets of anticipation.  The reverberation of hearts pulsating consume your ears.  Falling snowflakes hang in suspended animation as time lingers.  Hesitation, excitement, nervousness, expectation, joy, and anxiousness all populate the heart and mind simultaneous in an ever surmounting jambalaya of emotion.  Then suddenly, in the eye of the storm, the warmth of another's lips are upon yours.  Your body secretes a rush of endorphins into your brain.  And you experience the delicious wonder that is the first kiss.

It is the first kiss where many believe they can predict the future of the relationship.  It can be the kiss of death or the beginning of falling deeply in love.  The first kiss is a key point of intimate connection. 

We profoundly desire to be known by another.  And to know another.  To have an intimate connection with someone.  There is a fundamental longing in our hearts that is love.  We crave it.  We cry over it.  We fight for it.  Love is the strongest of human emotions whose root comes from a greater source than mere human chemical reactions.  The Christian faith teaches that God is Love.  So to love another is to share a piece of Godliness with another.

Don’t sell your kisses for less than they are worth.  They are a point of physical and divine connection to your heart.  This reasons why there is such stake in first kisses.  Your heart is precious.  Do not give it away flippantly.  You may find it difficult to have returned.

Yet if you find someone deserving of your kisses and, by extension, of your heart, kiss them.  Kiss them really good.  Kiss them like the very breath of your life depends on it.  Kiss because the beating of your heart needs them.  Kiss them like the first kiss, every kiss.  When you have been married for twenty years kiss them even more.  And when your hair turns gray and all your teeth are gone, kiss even more passionately.  Kiss with a passion spawned out of a love that has be cultivated over time.

We kiss out of an abundance of love in the heart.  We kiss those we care about.  We kiss those we know.  Kiss someone that knows you are beautiful.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Who’s talking?

Hello Beautiful

On my short drive home from an exhaustive day of work I began thinking about what I would write you today.  Fortuitously the most amazing song came on the radio.  Amazing not because the beat is especially bangin’.  Or because the melody was dramatically unique.  But the words really captivated something worth inviting into one’s heart.  Its Who Says'” by Selena Gomez.

The eighteen year old star really divulges a great message about the things we allow our minds to feed upon.  The main chorus says:

“Who says,
Who says you're not perfect,
Who says you're not worth it,
Who says you're the only one that's hurting,
Trust me,
That's the price of beauty,
Who says you're not pretty,
Who says you’re not beautiful,
Who says.”

We are constantly surrounded by lies about ourselves.  Bombardments are launched against our fragile psyche attacking our self-image, confidence, and identity.  Media tells us what we can and cannot live without.  Crushed relationships tell us we are failures and unworthy.  Family places heavy burdens on us with unrealistic expectations.  This is the weight of the world we are a part of.

But who is talking?  Could it be that this media that doesn’t know you, this relationship that wasn’t good for you, and these expectations that are levied upon you are all wrong?  We have heard the lies for so long we have come to think of them as truth.   

I heard a great sermon by Pastor Joe Riddle about the first three questions God asked.  The second question God ever asked man according to the Bible began “Who told you that…?”  Who told you that?  All this junk you believe, who said it?

And why are you believing them?  Take an evaluation of your life.  Seriously spend some quality time the deliciousness of being alone and consider your life situation.  Be honest with yourself about what you believe to be true in your own life.  Trace back who placed those seeds of thought into your heart.  And then start weeding your garden.  Remember that you have a voice and a choice.  We can choose to shut the haters down, eradicate the dream killers.  Remove people that constantly speak death into your life.  Surround yourself with those that uplift your smile.  Throw away what people say to bring you down.  And keep those things that help you grasp that you are beautiful.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Leading Lady

Hello Beautiful

Do you ever dream of being a movie star?  Sandra Bullock or Megan Fox?  Or perhaps the lead in Chicago or Mamma Mia?  Can you imagine yourself amidst all the lights and all the glamour.  But that’s not real life, is it?

My favorite Christmas movie is The Holiday.  In this movie an old director named Arthur Abbot played by Eli Wallach says one of the most reveling lines of modern romantic comedies. 

“Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend. “

Your life is your movie.  You have center stage.  And don’t let anyone take it from you.  What you do with the spotlight is up to you.  Will you lift yourself out of humble beginnings?  Will you use it to rescue those with no voice?   Will you chart your own course into the history books?

Don’t be the best friend of your own life.  You are the leading lady of your life.  So kick the encroachers out of your dressing room.  Put on all the expensive makeup, glittery dresses, and glamorous hair.  Turn on the spotlight center stage and get ready to shine.

Be the best friend of someone else’s life.  Be their rock, their support, their confidante.  The best lead characters are those that make sacrifices for those that they love and care for.  The heroine is the one with the most noble and courageous qualities.  And let others be the best friend in your own story.  Every movie needs a supporting actor or actress.  Don’t try to be a star on your own.  You need love and support as well.  Let those that surround you lift you up.  When the spot light turns on everyone will see that you are beautiful.

Monday, May 23, 2011

How to Become Perfect

Hello Beautiful

Perfection. The unobtainable desire of our hearts to be without flaw.  An impossible state as a cause of our humanity.  Humans make mistakes.  We feel the consequences of errors, whether they are justly a direct result of our own exploits.  Or our demise is the effects of another's volition.

Flawlessness is our goal.  We pump our skins full of Botox to maintain our youth.  Our minds are indoctrinated with higher education for eloquence and correctness.  We labor in the gym to fit into that amazing pair of skinny jeans.  We are driven by ideals.  Many proudly wear the title of perfectionist.  Meticulously refining every detail of a project. A subject. A life. 

There is nothing wrong with bettering oneself.  In fact it should be lauded.  But it is a cautionary tale.  As Master Yoda said, “once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” 

One must maintain a realistic expectation while continuing to push the limits of their humanity into divinity (not to be confused with deity).  How is one inspired for weight loss but not anorexia?  How does one out perform their classmates without alienating their friends?  How can one be in vogue, without appearing extraneous?  It is a matter of realizing your humanity.

Being a perfectionist is not doing everything perfectly every time.  It is not getting everything right in every situation.  It is not winning every debate.  Becoming perfect is putting forth your best every time.  It is trying to do better today than you did yesterday.  It is making yourself a little more whole as time passes on.

We confuse the need to be right with the desire to be right.  You cannot be right all the time.  But you should long to become right.  Righteousness requires of us to admit our wrongs, receive correction, learn from our mistakes, and rectify ourselves.  Then you can be right again.  We once thought the world was flat. and no matter how much we swore upon the throne of God and of England that it was, it could not change the fact that we were wrong.  The only way to become right again was to change our thinking about the world.  We do not always have the luxury to change the entire world.  But you can change your world and discover the Americas.

You aren’t perfect yet, but you are beautiful.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Captivated

Hello Beautiful

I take a lot of photos. Taking 500 photos is a negligible act in my week. And out of those, I might be content with 25 of them. Some because of technical issues with the camera. Others because of blinking eyes or awkward faces. But the most important reason is because of life.

When I ask someone if I they will model for me, I often hear “I’m not pretty enough,” “I’m not thin enough,” or “I don’t know what to do.” I usually laugh. Being photogenic has far less to do with the physical condition of ones body than most people realize. When I take a snapshot of even the slimmest, fairest complexion, gussied up model that I know, I am not initially pleased with what was recorded. It is junk. The reason is because there is no life in the photo. It is a static recording of a dynamic moment. A person pulled out of their context. A life portrayed as an artifact.

A good photo is an anecdotal act. There must be a relationship between model and photographer. I know what makes my models cry and laugh. If they are dating anyone and what they are studying. I learn their life stories. We work through several layers of high quality glass to draw forth an emotion. Over the weeks that follow most of the photos are tossed out. The few that remain are worked over. And over. And over. At first removing simple mistakes. Then accruing more emotion; adding to the photo the story of each individual. The end result is a life captivated in an image.

Every photo should tell a tale of life. No one takes pictures of cheerios, mountains, tears, and dresses. Your photos tell your story. They might say how you started your morning or with whom you ventured on a hike. They can reveal that you are hurting or that you are ready for your hot date. They show off your fresh haircut and let you brag about the flowers that some special sent you. Photos display your life.

So don’t shy away from cameras. Your life is fascinating. Be the rock star and give them all you got. Live in a glass house and dare them to throw stones. Let someone captivate you because you are beautiful.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Inequalities

Hello Beautiful.

We are taught throughout our lives to compare. Six is greater than two. A county is less than a country. Diamonds are better than cubic zirconia. To ascribe value to physical objects is a skill that is constantly impressed upon us. And while this is a great skill to have, perhaps we translate it too literally onto ourselves.

Do you worry more about your value than your worth? Worth doesn’t compare. Worth is an intrinsic value that something posses. A tattered blanket to a child. A Christmas card from Grandma. A touching Lifetime movie. Ladies are bombarded with the need to raise their value. Mothers force daughters into beauty pageants. People magazine lists the 50 most beautiful people in the world.  Facebook tracks how many friends we have.  And while none of these competitions are bad, our identity is not determined by a ranking. So often we see a clique of girls make fun of others at a party. All to feel better about themselves. But at what cost? Others are hurt. Ugliness is breed. True beauty is compromised. 

We must remember that apples do not care about oranges. Oranges do not boast that their sales are up. We do not purchase apples because they put down oranges more skillfully.  We select an apple because the orchard was nurtured by the sun with unadulterated richness. Its perfectly bright red color calls out to us. We are captivated by its firmness. When our teeth pierce the apples skin our ears will savor the crisp sonance. A fine mist of essence sprays into our nasal cavity exciting our olfaction. Our tongues will dance with delight as the juice fills our mouth. We are fully engaged with the apple because this apple is the best an apple can be.  We have completely forgotten about the orange.

Cease worrying so much about being the prettiest girl at the party, on the stage, or in the world.  Concern yourself more with being the most beautiful Michelle, Brittany, or Alison. Imagine where we would be if we stopped wasting time with comparisons. Realize your worth. Transform your life by raising yourself up and bringing a friend along too. Be confident because you are beautiful.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Inside Outside Inside

Hello Beautiful.

Do you think you look beautiful today?  Do you feel it inside?  Did someone compliment your dress?  Did you feel beautiful before you put the dress on?

A young reader commented that beauty comes from within.  In general we can all agree with this concept, yet further consideration is merited of this abstraction.  There is an undeniable industry marketed with the idea of beauty. Express. Glamour. MAC. Prada. Tiffany. Paul Mitchell. Special K.  They all sell one product:

Agents of Beauty

They are not beauty in themselves.  They are just an amalgamation of molecules from the vision of a designer and the mind of a chemist.  They are only ambassadors to assist you in advocating your beauty.  A beauty which comes from within you.  But what about the days when you wake up and simply don’t feel it?  Something has barricaded the view of your true self.  Perhaps it is a day you feel a little more full.  Maybe your spirit was crushed by relationship trouble.  Possibly you are weighed down by a stressful burden.  How does one realize their beauty when the candle is burning dim in the storm?

Just as products help physically manifest your inner beauty, so can inner beauty revelation be encouraged by outward appearance.  There is no replacement for a box of Kleenex, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, and an Audrey Hepburn movie.  But sweatpants yield frump, ice cream craves cookies, and sadness breeds depression. Awe striking are the times when the sun’s rays pierce through the tumultuous clouds.  The sun doesn’t wait for the storm to end.  It declares its presence boldly.  On those days arm yourself with the tallest pair of heels, pull out the special eye shadow, and rock those sunglasses.  Because you are beautiful not just inside-out, but outside-in as well.  Let your deliciously glamorous appearance wipe away your cares.  Be swept away by the complimenting eyes of your co-workers.  Allow your spirit to be encouraged.

Products help shape who we are.  They brighten our days.  They help us get past hindrances.  They remove the pieces that are not truly us.  They allow inner beauty to be exhibited.  Perhaps these agents help who we are take shape.

They do not make you beautiful, they display you are beautiful.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What is Beautiful?

Beautiful.

An adjective.  A noun.  An interjection.  A common word with extraordinary meaning.  To be called beautiful is a great compliment.  And to bestow the title is of greatest praise.

But what does it really mean?  Professor, Hans Rott, famously asks his design theory pupils, “What is ‘the Beautiful’?”  Who decides?  Is it subjective?  If it is subjective, can there really exist the antithesis of beauty; formally known as ugly?

Beauty is not a matter of capricious subjection.  It is also not determined by mere quantifiable means. The degree of curvature of the body.  The amount of sunlight refracted by the atmosphere.  The metering of words to rhythm.  We can find examples with the same measures but empower few with the title of beautiful.  This is not what ascribes worth to the things in this world that we treasure so dearly.  Beauty is a qualitative measure.  It is the burst of passion that Eminem forcibly spits into the microphone.  It is the glow of the sun warming your neck and kissing your heart.  It is the aura of confidence that surrounds a lady in heels as she pierces a room.

Inside each person is a divine spark.  A small flicker of combustion that can ignite the potential energy inherent to our humanity.  To have been created is to have purpose.  Anything with a purpose is by definition not accidental.  Even if unplanned, that which has been created is not an accident.  You are not an accident. 

Accidents are not beautiful.  They may end up fortunate.  One might compose a beautiful photograph of an accident.  But accidents are tragic.  They are followed by death : destruction : darkness.  Accidents are ugly.

To be created is the opposite of an accident.  It is living with fulfillment of one’s purpose.  It is raising the quality of one’s own humanity and that of a neighbor.  It is expending one’s potential into an explosive kinetic reaction.

You were created.

You are Beautiful.