You know how every once and a while you come across an article that just makes you stop and sigh? Kind of like a word spoken right into your heart, a kindred spirit reaching out to say “You’re not alone”. That’s what happened when I read through this WONDERFUL insight over at one of my favorite blogs ‘A House in the Hills‘. Here you have Sarah, and INCREDIBLE beauty who admits that she’s mostly clueless and an refreshingly uninterested in traditional “Lady Stuff”, lady maintenance like: eyebrows, makeup, skin regimens etc etc etc. I love that she is so candid in her thoughts, that she admits that she’s had these moments of complete self-disgust when she feels she has fallen short of the expectations society has placed on her. I know EXACTLY how that feels. It’s so wonderful to hear a creative and genuinely lovely person admit the same kinds of fears and issues that many of us have. A gentle whisper of kinderdship, one confused soul to another.
When it comes to my own “lady maintenance”, I’m just as lost. My mom didn’t sit me down and show me how to do my makeup or style my hair. She is refreshingly and blessedly low maintenance. She showed me how to wash my face and manage myself so that I looked just fine without painting on heavy makeup to mask things that OTHERS thought were wrong with me. In fact, my makeup was limited to a bit of concealer, eyeshadow and mascara UNTIL COLLEGE. That’s right, no eyeliner, no foundation, nothing until I was in college. Upon my new found freedom to make myself up? I wandered around the aisles of Target for hours trying to figure out what to do. What does ‘Neutral Fair’ mean? Do I want waterproof or volumizing mascara? What the hell is bronzer? Where exactly does blush go? And my personal favorite? Can I use the brushes I already have for Intro to Design to put this stuff on? So lost in lady land!
As I’ve grown up, I’ve picked up a few tricks, just as Sarah speaks about, a general way to make my eyes pop, the ability to keep my very VERY German eyebrows tamed in a mostly presentable condition, a easy and sub 5 minute style to make my hair look nice enough to appear as though I care. Over the years I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with learning about beauty and hair and all that this idea of “lady maintenance” entails. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve spent thousands of dollars and countless hours on this admittedly stupid obsession. What have I gained from it? Honestly? Nothing more than a deeply upsetting sense that I’ve become someone who cares more about superficial nonsense than authentic substance. That’s not to say I think that people who honestly enjoy makeup and beauty are superficial, but lately, I’ve become more and more ok with the understanding that I’m just not one of them. It’s weird to say and it goes against a lot that many people think about when they think about me, but I have this deep sense that these last few years have challenged me on SO MANY levels. I’ve grown up VERY quickly in the last five years and the expectations that I had of myself throughout my teenage years and college belong where they are: in the past.
Taking the time to sit down and just BE with myself in this new season of life has taught me a great deal about myself and what I can take and what I cannot. I feel more confident and free to be who I am now. With that growth has come a “putting away of the childish things of the past” and the introduction of a sense of peace with who am and what matters to me. As it is, lady stuff just doesn’t make the top list. I don’t need to know how to make myself look perfect, I don’t need to know how to contour my face or apply eyeshadow to the the lid, crease and brow bone just so. I need to decide what makes me feel the most freedom to be myself and stick with that. I need to stop taking myself SO SERIOUSLY and just enjoy the progression of my life for what it is: a gift that I get to experience.
So. What does that mean for my own lady maintenance? Well, for starters, it means taking a long hard look at my product line up to see what the hell is in those bottles and when I finish freaking out about the dubious chemicals I’ve been assaulting my body with, finding a good alternative that is both healthy and environmentally sustainable. As it stands I’m reading through this wonderful article from another favorite blogger Erin and checking out this new product line that Sarah introduced on her blog. I’ll also be taking a look at my own makeup bag and washroom and engaging in some much needed editing practice. I want to develop a routine that works for me, makes me feel comfortable and beautiful and doesn’t take up loads of my time. I’m also looking into simplifying my wardrobe WAYYYY down (inspiration here), re-evaluating my little families food choices (P is gearing up for fall rugby, I’d rather him not die at the first practice) and taking an overall look at the crap we have lying around here. I want to make our life wonderfully simple, I want to focus on the things we love, not the things we think we need and I want to stop trying to be and do what everything else thinks I should be and do. I thinking, more times for books, romantic dinners with P discussing philosophy and everything we’re not supposed to talk about but we love talking about, weekend visits to see our far flung friends, trips to start marking our map and time with our precious families. You know, life is just TOO SHORT to worry about those things that the lady mags bombard us with. There’s too much fresh air, too many fascinating places to visit, too much DAMN good food to try! I’m ready to embrace this season of growing and run with it. What a fascinating adventure it is to learn about oneself!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that being with P has had a INCREDIBLY profound impact on this desire to free myself from the past and from those superficial expectations I had about myself. Words can’t really describe the gift that he has given me, his trust, his devotion, his strength, his courage and he complete and boundless love have created an environment where I finally, FINALLY feel comfortable in my own skin. He doesn’t expect me to be something that I’m not and is happy to point out when I’m putting up an act. He loves me on that deepest soul mate level that allows us both to have the privilege of seeing all of the flaws we each have, and choosing to love the flaws, the perfections and the person all at the same time. I love it. we’ve been together for nearly four years and I’ve never NOT ONCE felt uncomfortable around him.