What I Want My Daughter to Know About True Beauty

I was a newly minted New Yorker, fresh from a two-year stint on an island, trying to find my way in a big city when stopped by a women’s magazine in Union Square.  They snapped my photo and asked me to describe what I viewed as my best physical feature. Without hesitation, I responded my hands. Not because I particularly liked how they looked, but because in them I saw my mother.

with mamaMe and my Mama, Summer 2014

Perhaps the most important beauty lesson my mother imparted was to find and spread true beauty in the ways in which you live. I was led by the light in her eyes when she helped and served others, and from the glow that radiated as she gave from her heart.  The hands that I always see within my own are perhaps most well known for their work with suffering humanity.

It is my greatest hope that she will continue to receive glimmers of the kindness and compassion that she has demonstrated to others.

Although my mom was never into beauty products, I view the umbrella of beauty as a positive avenue to take care of myself.  I strive to teach my impressionable daughter that a woman can be strong, empowered, and smart with whatever form of self-care she pleases.

I’m well aware, that I am my children’s most profound example, with values and messages practically formed by osmosis. The Dove brand reinforces this message, representing realness in beauty while striving to foster self-esteem among women and girls.

The new Dove Beauty Stories campaign celebrates the beauty habits and advice that are passed down from mother to daughter and encourages women to share their beauty stories to celebrate the women who have taught them to live beautifully.  A survey they commissioned actually found that most women trust the women in their lives more than celebrities for beauty tips and advice.

I hope to have this influence on my own daughter.  Human and flawed – I make mistakes.  But my body image issues consciously shifted the moment that I gave birth to a baby girl.  In many ways, I never felt more feminine and powerful as a woman.  Growing, birthing and sustaining life gave me a new perspective on my femininity, body image, and incredible capabilities.

My seven-year-old daughter is a joy-spreader.  She exudes unfading beauty and innocence.  I want her to feel beautiful and empowered by her magnificent inner light, compassion and capabilities.  And for her, I vow to continue to silence my inner critic – and stand guard while drowning the sea of voices murmuring: Beauty, that’s only found in how you look.

Pippa and Julie dresses

This post is sponsored by Dove via The Motherhood.  Thank you for reading.  Please join in sharing your #BeautyStory while celebrating the real women who inspired it.

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The Puddle Jumper

Save a few hot summer days, rainy days are not my favorite.  I understand their importance, but it’s still challenging to avoid becoming hyper-focused on the daily logistics of trudging along with kids in tow.

There was a time that I welcomed inclement weather with a smile.  I remember my red floral umbrella, puddle stomping, and fully-drenching my delicate ruffle socks.  And when the weather turned I’d get snow getting stuck in that spot around my ankles where my moon boots and ski pants didn’t quite match up.  Sure it was cold, but rarely uncomfortable enough to make me stop the important work found in childhood play.

There isn’t a puddle that this little guy doesn’t want to voraciously attack.

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Here is NYC, like many other places, we recently experienced what I like to call the sloppy melt; the time when the heaps of snow finally begin to dissipate into a wet, slushy, slop.

A puddle-jumper’s dream.

A few weeks ago, after school, my son looked at me with a giant mischievous grin, upon spotting a course of puddles.  His expression quickly changed when he met my eyes.  My mind was with his non-waterproof shoes and the walk home from school that we had ahead of us.  Without saying anything, he sensed my thoughts.

In that moment, thankfully, I caught myself.

And as arms flailed and water propelled into his face with each stomp – I marveled in his laughter, the repetition, and the refreshing gift in a four-year-old perception of the world.

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My goodness, how childhood innocence reflects in those ripples.

puddle splashing

Whispering

Protect it.

Don’t let that joy evaporate.

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On Combating Stress

I’ve had more than my share of the sort of moments of clarity that tell me to get a better grip of life’s stressors. I know what it’s like to suppress stress, or vent it inappropriately.  And I’ve learned that how I choose to deal with stress is crucial to my wellbeing and that of my loved ones – as it bleeds into other areas of my life.

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The funny thing about stress is that it may drive us batty, but it isn’t always a bad thing.  And if we can find ways to turn stress into fuel – then we are all the better for it.

each day brings a new beginning New York sunrise sunset

In addition to working out, eating well, getting sufficient sleep and practicing daily gratitude, I’ve found help in essential oils and other natural/homeopathic products.  RESCUE Remedy was first introduced to me about 15 years ago when I was living in Hawaii.  I tried it. It worked!  And since that time, little bottles of RESCUE Remedy Natural Stress Relief Spray can be found in corners of my home.  I’ve also tucked RESCUE Remedy Pastilles into care packages for friends facing hard times.  Want to test it out?  Grab your RESCUE Remedy coupon here.

natural ways to reduce stress Rescue Remedy

I’ll forever be a work in progress and am fully aware of the importance of proper self-care.  When I’m equipped to handle stress well, I’m able to see the incredible memories built past the sink full of dirty dishes.  Amidst the blurry heaps of toys, I hope to always find beauty in the evidence of a vibrant family life with kids.

tips on managing stress

When I manage my stress well, I’m able to view that overflowing inbox as freshly brimming with opportunities, and as a true testament to my own hard work and perseverance.  When I greet every single morning with gratitude, I’m able to appreciate the abundance of goodness that I have and model that perspective for my children.

And on days when I’m frazzled and less-forgiving of myself – I have simple steps in place to help bring me back.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. Please feel free to share how your combat stress in the comments below!

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Midwinter Pause

kids looking out a snowy windowWe had big plans of hopping on the train to local museums and galleries and filling our days with the sort of spontaneous adventure that typically leads an entire week of school vacation.  But the cold was simply too cold, and the kiddos could hardly handle walking to the train during our attempts to explore.  So we spent the majority of our time hunkered down together, and while I honestly prepared for the sort of conflicts anticipated when the kids are cooped up for long periods at a time – I was pleasantly surprised.

The were amazing, actually.

Two kindred, silly spirits, plotting made-up games and running every single wheeled toy, stuffed with animals and buckets of make-believe across the hardwood floors.  Temporary-tattooing their chests and leaving a trail of disaster throughout their tiny sanctuary.  Carefully arranged abandoned toys became vestiges of life frozen in childhood creativity. And during a week of carrying an unexpected heavy heart – I was grateful for all of it.

Inside the snowy windows – all that seemed to matter was the love cocooned between four walls and evidence of an incredibly vibrant life with children.

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On Not Giving Up – Lessons In Motherhood

She barrels into the indoor gym, slapping her legs, bolting forward with a look of determination.  Sometimes, her nervousness is palpable. Manifested in the flip of her braids, the tug of her jersey. Tell-tale mannerisms that only a mother would know.  She’s the only girl at Saturday soccer.

And she never gives up.

What my daughter taught me about not giving up

Even if she rarely has a go at the ball, she runs and gives her all.  Flushed cheeks, dramatically squirting her waterbottle over her head during breaks – always excited to return the following week.

This sort of 7-year-old determination makes me think about my own metaphorical playing field, and the countless times that I’ve been complacent, paralyzed or held-back in some way.  She has no idea that she’s made me revisit the words strewn in draft form that weren’t quite good enough. Questioning my recent risk-taking or lack thereof.

Only time will tell if this sport will stick.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to cheer inwardly and from the sidelines for my girl.  And as of now – it looks like she’ll continue to show up and bring her best.

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Christmastime

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It is the reminders of hope, the simple moments of togetherness, the in between times and the joy inherent in little believers eyes that bring life and meaning to real-life Christmas in our home. Wishing you peace and joy and love.  Always.

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