I taste, smell, see, and hear, and my mind entwines with my senses and experiences. I live and move and have my being ... therefore, I become.
- Krista Tippett, from "Becoming Wise"
by Norma Smith Olson and Kathy Magnuson
"What are you doing when you feel most beautiful?" Have you just had your hair colored or had a manicure? Are you wearing a cute, new dress? Are you working out at the gym? Are you looking at yourself naked in front of a mirror?
"What are you doing when you feel most beautiful?" is a question posed by Jacqueline Novogratz in Krista Tippett's book, "Becoming Wise." We are both part of a women's leadership group that is reading and discussing this book. In it, Tippett examines wisdom from many perspectives - the poetry of words and language, lessons of faith, hope and love, and the wisdom we can become aware of by listening to our bodies. Tippett shares experiences both personal and from the many thoughtful people she has interviewed for her radio program, "On Being." She is a wise woman.
So, you may be wondering, what do beauty and leadership have in common? (And, why is the Women's Press writing about beauty - a topic common to most "traditional" women's magazines and an industry of which we typically are critical?) Inspired by Tippett's book, we are thinking about qualities of beauty that are the inner kind - a person's strength, gentleness, their smarts and authenticity. It's not the kind of beauty that is dependent on the latest hairstyle or fashion that we can wrap ourselves in. It's not about our height or weight or shape. It's not what we are but who we are.
Tippett's interview, Novogratz goes on to say, "Beauty is visible, palpable, in moments when human beings reach across the mystery of each other." Ah, mystery.
In spite of the bombardment of cultural messages in media and attitudes that to be beautiful a woman must be thinner, taller, bustier, blonder and whiter, we are not buying it. We are not buying the messages that if only we bought more make up, wore higher heels and giggled more we might rise closer to "beautiful." We claim our right to self-define beauty.
For this "body awareness"-themed issue we asked readers, "What is something you love about your body and why?" Readers told us that their bodies can run fast, bend well. They love their scars earned in surviving cancer and that loving one's self is a radical act. One woman tells of the legs she loves for helping her to walk away from an abusive relationship.
Our readers remind us of our awesome abilities to move, think and take action. Whether we decide to become mothers or are able to be mothers or not, women's bodies can have the amazing capacity to create life. In this issue, we talk with nurse midwife, Jennifer Almanza about her professional and personal experience of this ability of creation from the center of women's bodies. Many women have experienced illness and the uncertainty of body function. We talk with Brenda Hartman, who has lived for decades with ovarian cancer. Marie Marquardt shares her story of gratitude for receiving donated kidneys that allow her to continue living.
Our bodies hold happiness and grief, sweet and sad memories, vitality, beauty and wisdom - and have much to teach us, if we listen.
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