Archive for February, 2012

I just love this post.  I am going to print this and put it in my affirmations folder!  You don’t have an affirmations folder, you say?  Well, make one.  Everbody needs one.  Where else can you turn on those rotten days when life seems to be turning you to puree?

Archive by Author | Myndi Shafer…one stray sock away from insanity.

I Am Beautiful…Just The Way I Am

This is something that is hard for most women to tell themselves, let alone believe.  We’ll admit to little aspects of beauty – things like I have nice eyes or I like my smile or I have a nice ass (that’s you, right? *wink*).  Or, for others of us, we’ll admit to little aspects of beauty that lie under the surface, like I’m a good friend, or I go out of my way to be kind to strangers or I try to pay attention to other people’s needs, and help.  But we don’t often look in the mirror, or take total stock of who we are as people – inside and out –  and admit to ourselves,

I am beautiful.  Just the way I am.  Period.

I know I don’t.

For me, it’s too easy to see the unfinished business that is Myndi.  The broken parts of me that are struggling to grow into something more easily recognizable as beautiful.  Oh my goodness – my temper?  It’s an ugly thing.  My self-centeredness?  It can oftentimes be masked, but it’s always there, lurking.  And as far as body image goes, the list of things that could be considered un-lovely is lengthy.  Extra weight.  Wide feet.  Stretch marks.  That’s just a few.

But here’s the thing.  None of us are any one thing.  None of us are made up solely of those few seemingly undesirable things that pop out at us in the mirror, or shout at us in our psyche.  We are the sum of all our parts, good and bad.  Pretty and otherwise.

Yes, I have a temper.  But I’m always ready to laugh.  Yes, I can be self-centered.  But if someone needs an ear, I’m always ready to listen.  And I may carry extra weight, have feet that can’t be crammed into the prettiest shoes, and stretch marks from bearing children, but I also have strong legs that have never failed me, happy eyes that can’t decide if they’re green or blue, and health that I’ve never had to question or fight for.

Among all I lack, there is so much beauty.  Not just in me, but in each and every one of us.

We are beautiful.  That is absolutely true, no matter how our brains filter what we see in the mirror.

You are beautiful.  Just as you are.  Just the way God made you.  With your extra weight.  With the weight you need to gain.  With your thinning hair.  With your gorgeous locks.  With your extra chromosome.  With your missing limbs.  With your beautiful tattoos.  With the tattoos you wish you’d never gotten.  With a total mastectomy.  With your breast implants.  No matter where you are in life, how you were born, what you’re like now, where you’re headed –  you are beautiful.  Acne or clear skin, hairy legs or freshly waxed, crooked teeth or straight.  You are beautiful.

Gorgeous.  Stunning.  Lovely.  Exquisite.

Just the way you are.  Right now, in this moment.

I think it’s time we claim it.  Grab ahold of the idea, clutch it tightly to our chests, and declare, “This is mine!  My own! I am beautiful!”  We need to write the truth of that statement on our hearts, and believe it.  Because when we believe in our own beauty – real beauty, beauty that springs from the deep places within ourselves – something in us changes.  It becomes easier to see beauty in others.  It becomes easier to see beauty in people we wouldn’t have taken much notice of before.  Suddenly the cashier at the grocery store is more than a woman in a red vest telling us what our total is.  She’s a work of art with hopes and dreams and wounds and hurts…a complete, broken, beautiful package, who, chances are, has no clue about the Truth, or Worth, of her own beauty.  Suddenly the woman walking her dog in front of your house isn’t just a middle-aged stranger trying to get some fresh air before making dinner.  She’s a work of art with hopes and dreams and wounds and hurts…a complete, broken, beautiful package, who, chances are, has no clue about the Truth, or Worth, of her own beauty.

I believe beauty can be contagious.  I believe that when we own up to ours, our shoulders will straighten, we’ll look people more readily in the eye, and other people will begin to see their own beauty reflected in us…and maybe begin to believe in their own beauty, as well.

Isn’t that something you’d want to be a part of?

Here’s your chance.

Every month here at Blogging Barefoot, I’m going to do a segment called I Am Beautiful…  Before each segment, I’ll put up a post, asking for photographs of you – gorgeous, beautiful you.  Not just you, but the beautiful people that you know (with their permission, of course).  Then, later that month, I’ll post those photographs for everybody to see – statements of beauty that aren’t designed by popular media or out-of-whack cultural values.

In honor of August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman BlogFest 2012 (August has a ridiculously fabulous blog – head over there on Friday, the 10th for a chance to win some AWESOME prizes, and to explore lots of other really excellent blogs!), the theme for this month is Just As I Am.  I’m asking you to send me photographs of you just as you are.  Your daily self.  Do you normally wear makeup and heels?  Great – photograph it.  Do you normally go about your daily life makeup-less and barefoot? (eek! That’s me!)  Perfect – photograph it.  I want to see photographs of you, as you are at your most normal.  Don’t dress up; don’t dress down.  Just be yourself.

I had my boys take a couple pics of SweetZ and I to give you an idea.  This is us, at our everyday best, in our everyday habitat.  Feel free to get creative with your shots – or not!  Just don’t be afraid of the camera, and don’t be afraid to shine!

Send your pics to: myndishafer [at] rocketmail [dot] com, with Just As I Am in the subject line.  Cut-off date for submissions is February 24!  Spread the word…the more the merrier!

Can’t wait to see your lovely selves…


(p.s.  I wish I could say this idea was all my own, but it wasn’t – not even close.  The I am Beautiful project on Flickr, gave me the idea.  You should totally check it out!)

To catch other great posts by this author, please visit her blog at
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There are days when I so miss my mother, my sweet, sweet brother, Scottie, my nephew, Jimmy, my grandmothers and grandpas, my dear friends and my soulmate, my two precious babies that have crossed the veil.  I was ten years old when I attended my first funeral.    I still remember the kick I felt deep in my gut when I saw my Grandpa laying in his casket.  That was the moment true fear of loss gripped me.  From then on I knew that everyone I loved could be ripped from me with no warning.  I never really feared death for myself.  But oh, how I dreaded and trembled at those heart-wrenching losses.   After that, death seemed to hound me.  Both grandfathers and my dad’s only sister passed away all in the same spring.  Then my dad’s mother, my great-grandmother, my brother, my soulmate, my first baby, my old boyfriend, my mom’s mother, my youngest child’s twin, my surrogate father, my nephew, my dear friend, Kay, my mother, and my best friend from college.  Others I knew had passed in between these major losses, including a six-year-old boy whose funeral tore everyone up.  The grief just seemed to compound, never really healing.  Just a wound that reopened and grew deeper with each successive loss.  Pretty soon it seemed I had more loved ones in the cemetery than in the world with me.

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I do not know how others handle multiple losses.  The truth is I wasn’t really handling them.  My weight spiraled to a top known weight of 380 pounds on my 5’2″, small-boned frame.  Depressed, anxious, ill, confined to a wheelchair and a hospital bed.  I was certain I would soon die too.  It is really only in the past year that I have made my peace with death–learned to embrace it and not fear it.  I have been a christian as long as I can remember,  having accepted Christ at a very young age.  I have always been drawn to spiritual things.  But it wasn’t until my mother passed in 2006, that I began to explore further than the teachings of my local church.  I began to study the Qabalah, the third book of Moses.  My studies expanded to metaphysics, eastern religions and eastern medical practices.  I even delved into subjects like spiritualism, reincarnation–anything, really, that dealt with the Spirit.  Maybe I was trying to find some connection to all I felt I had lost.  I knew there were times I sensed my brother’s and my mother’s presences around me quite distinctly.  Was I imagining things?  Was it wishful thinking?  Was I going crazy?

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But when I think of how grateful I am to have known them, loved them, been loved by them; I am overwhelmed with the goodness of God. I celebrate these fine saints who served mankind well. I celebrate their spirits, their lives here and hereafter. I celebrate the future when I will not part with them again, but will spend eternity as one. And I celebrate those precious moments when I sense them here with me still. I am swallowed by memories that live so brightly in my soul, for a brief chance of time I am transported across years and the boundaries of death to live with them again. I feel their energy surround me, sense their touch, their smell, the sound of them until I can almost see them before me. And that veil becomes so thin it is almost transparent and I know. I know. Eternity waits for me full of more love than I can comprehend because love never dies. It waits for me on the other side.

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I spent a four- month vigil at my mother’s bedside, never leaving her day or night, watching as she faded from this world into the next.  It was an awful, most precious, holy, yet heartbreaking communion with her and God.    Yet there was a sweetness to each moment we stole from death.  We had all fallen asleep the night she passed, on the couch, on the floor, and in a chair by her bed.  I startled awake looking immediately to her bed where a nurse bent over her with a stethoscope.  She had just taken her last breath.  What was it that awakened me?  What awakened my brother just seconds after me?  I believe it was the spiritual being of our beloved mother, pausing to kiss us each goodbye before winging her way to heaven.  I remember leaning down the day before and whispering into my mother’s ear, “Do you see him, Mama?  Can you see your boy in his red sweatsuit?  I am sure he’ll be right next to Jesus!”  And I watched in amazement as her eyes panned back and forth behind her closed eyelids, searching some plane I could neither see nor to which I could  go.

Today, as I was walking through the surf  on the beach, I was reflecting on the sheer exhultant joy I feel to be up, walking, free of the wheelchair in which I sat for seven years.  What effervescent euphoria this freedom is!  The icy tide rolled over my feet as my toes pressed into the sand, the sensations welcomed by me to the depths of my soul.  I felt the same as I did when I was 16 and my parents handed me the car keys for my first solo drive.  Freedom!  I am free of that broken body that had held me prisoner all those years.  That is when it hit me.  This must be what death feels like.  Free at last from an earthly vessel that holds us back, we must fly heavenward in sheer joy at being set loose.  Suddenly, death changed for me.  It is not a losing, but a winning.  My mother must have soared to be unchained from a body that was so sick.  Her light shining full-beam, undimmed by flesh, unfettered by time or earth.   Stopping to kiss each of us, did she do cartwheels in the sky, zooming over like a shooting star?  As I watched the seagulls dance in the waves, I could see my loved ones dancing on the light-waves of energy eminating from their beings.  What a party must be going on next door!

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Do not fear to lose your loved ones; they are always with you.  Do not fear for them; they wing their way across the heavens, liberated from bondage.  Darting to and fro with the frolick of a child splashing in a puddle of  water, they must course through time and space with a freedom for which our own souls must somehow long like some dimly half-remembered, fantastic dream.  And they fly through the love of every soul who has ever drawn breath, basking in the warmth and light, multiplying it with their own, and waiting joyously for the arrival of the hour of our change.  Death is not separation.  Death is union.  Death is not loss.  Death is love.  Death is not the end.  It is a new beginning.  It is the answer to every prayer every person has prayed since the dawn of time.  Death is true life in disguise.

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