Surrounding Beauty

beautiful“You are so smart. And beautiful.” a woman in the locker room at the gym said, after admiring my knit arm-warmers. I stood there half-dressed, pink from showering. My hair was still dripping, uncombed and unruly. I looked like a drowned rat. But I thanked the stranger anyway like I was thrilled she’d noticed. Maybe I appeared needy, like I could use a compliment, some attention, a hug, or a gift. Even my sister had recently sent me, for no apparent reason, a Heated-Seat Cushion tushie-warmer to put in my car.

That evening, when I couldn’t find anyone to go to a restaurant or movie with, I ended up at the mall, at the BonTon Department Store’s cosmetics department.
“I need iridescent white eye shadow, please. On Facebook, someone suggested dabbing a bit of white eye shadow on inner lids for lovelier, livelier eyes,” I said, not able to remember when I’d last worn makeup. With kids there had never been enough time to put on makeup. And makeup seemed senseless during the almost three years in and out of hospitals with my daughter’s cancer. After that, hardly a day went by that I didn’t cry my eyes bloodshot. Now, almost four years since my daughter’s death, my eyes looked worn out and red.
“That’s not white enough. It has to be shiny, opalescent, silvery like a pearl. You know. EER-uh-DES-int,” I said.
“Can we give you a makeover?” the Clinique and Lancome counter managers begged. I asked for a rain check. More snow was coming and I didn’t intend to stay long. But there were few shoppers and the managers all knew my son. So I got a lot of attention. Soon my upper lids glimmered with sparks of lustrous Grandest Gold and frosty Bit O’Honey. For contrast we penciled my lower lids with tiny dashes of distressed Moss.

I walked out into the cold, smiling with shimmering eyes, Super Strawberry Chubby-Stick glossed lips, and a free Gift Bag of tiny cosmetics samples. Why do I get excited about these things, I wondered? And how come I finally feel beautiful now?
I took my lively eyes to Wegmans to buy storm food. And then there was nowhere to go but home. Pulling into the driveway, I noticed the almost-full moon dazzling its way through the haze of a snowy sky. For ten minutes or more I sat on the tushie-warmer in my car, in the driveway, with my iridescent eyes glued on the moon beyond the towering piles of snow, in a blissful appreciation of all the surrounding beauty.


In these cold dark days what do you find beautiful?


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8 thoughts on “Surrounding Beauty

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Iridescence mirroring iridescence. I visited the cosmetics calendar at BonTon last summer and have enough rouge to last a lifetime. You’re brave to write about it. You’re just plain brave.
    I think you need to have a stern conversation with that nasty critical voice. Maybe we could turn our critical voices on each other? they need to get lost or at least be laughed at. You’re beautiful and the winter is cold and harsh, isolating and too long. The moon was gorgeous this morning when I took Willow out with the strap under her belly. And the world seemed frosted and magical.
    Look at that photo you created! It says so much, including that you have beautiful, soulful eyes.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you, Elaine. OMG look what all my nasty critical voice got me – four people have called me beautiful since I wrote that. That was a real gift in this dark winter. As is the picture you’ve planted in my head of you holding Willow by the tummy-strap under the morning moon. Keep warm and well. Cheers!

  2. Annette Corth

    Dear Robin,
    You are always beautiful, outwardly and in spirit. Makeup is fun to play with but quite superfluous. Please don’t keep putting yourself down. You are a lovely, spirited, smart, and creative person. Keep your head up and your eyes shining with their natural beauty.

  3. SusanB

    Oh Robin that was a very EER-uh-DES-int read. Finding the bits of brightness in a life where losing a child sometimes makes it hard to draw a breath is how we make it. Our broken hearts need us to take the time on our tushie warmers to notice how the moon does glimmer.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I can’t say it better than that, Susan. Thank you for being out there too, watching the moon glimmer, my sister-in-grief.

  4. Mary

    Robin, the telling of your day companioning beauty, and the question you pose to your readers has me thinking. In these cold and often grey days of winter, it appears that when sunlight and snow come together there–iridescence and sparkle dance. I think that’s beautiful. Still, what of all the ice crystals that lay beneath the surface layer of snow? I imagine them still full of beauty, but below the surface they no longer reflect light. Even so, as winter melts away, I often see the same iridescent, sparkly, particles tumbling and twirling on the waters of Springtime. Be shiny Robin, thanks for your pen, cheers!

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thanks, Mary. Now you have me thinking as well. You’ve inspired me to try to Photoshop all the crystalized beauty that gets buried deep as the layers of snow build up. Your response is so poetic and perfect. Cheers!


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