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{“I AM Beautiful” Project} Beautifully 32

It’s my birthday today.  In just a few minutes, I will be one year older.  Thirty-two.  I am officially deep in the trenches of my thirties.  And, really, that doesn’t bother me.  At all.  Except

I’ve been noticing a few things lately when I look in the mirror.  My anti-aging glasses seem to be broken.  I went, practically overnight, from still seeing the 19-year-old version of myself smiling back at me in the mirror to seeing something that appears to be a lot closer to reality.

Some of the lines in my face are getting dangerously close to wrinkle status.  It has me paying a lot  more attention than I ever used to to the commercials for products that promise to erase those “fine lines.”

The whisker on my chin seems to reappear a lot sooner than it ever used to when I pluck it.  And, recently, it’s been bringing a friend with its reappearance.

And then there’s the gray hair.  The camouflage provided by having blonde hair doesn’t seem to be fully doing its job anymore, as I’m noticing more and more of them.  The other day, I plucked one out of my eyebrow!

Quite some time ago, I came upon a project that Jill Samter hosts on her blog, called the “I Am Beautiful” Project.  As Jill explains:

It all started when our good to WOW challenge hostedself-portraits on week 8 and less than half our group linked up.

My heart broke as I read post after post filled with words of how each woman feels about themselves and the reasons they are never in front of the camera.  I prayed as I left each post and thanked God that the women who joined in at least had the courage to go for it.   Yet, I asked God to show me how I could do something more than simply host a weekly photo challenge that would encourage women (girls, teens) to see themselves as they really are – WONDERFULLY, PERFECTLY, and FEARFULLY created by God.

Immediately, I thought that it was an amazing project and decided that I wanted to join in.  Several times, I planned to take the photos, only to have something or another come up before I got around to it.  Finally, last month, Runt and I headed outside on a particularly beautiful Fall day, with my tripod and signs in hand.  The photos were taken, with little care given to the curious way in which the next door neighbor watched me.

Later that same day, I loaded the photos onto  my computer.  And immediately decided against actually posting them.  Turns out, my hair didn’t look nearly as cute as I thought it did that day.  There’s those squinty-lines have me always looking like a bitch with my furrowed brow lately.  And maybe I don’t super <3 that shirt as much as I once thought…I swear, the mirror doesn’t make it look like it hugs my stomach that way!  Capris?  What was I thinking???  All they do is show my horribly ugly legs, complete with severe tissue damage from a medical condition that I battled a few years back.  Oh, but now I remember.  I chose the capris because I put a few pounds on over the summer, and all of my super cute jeans that I’d shrunk back into last Winter are now uncomfortably snug.

So, the photos have sat on my computer for a few weeks now.  And yesterday, as I ran my finger across my chin and realized that damn whisker is back again, I got to thinking about those  photos.  I pulled them up again, and I looked at them for more than my hair, clothes, or weight.  I noticed my smile.  The smile of a woman who is enjoying a beautiful Fall day with her sweet little boy.  The smile of a woman hanging out in the yard of a home she loves…a home filled with the love and warm memories of a happy little family.  The smile of a woman who has been presented with a myriad of blessings over the past many years.

I am a woman who has overcome a less-than-wonderful past.  A woman who managed to believe that she deserved better…who found faith that happiness was out there.  Somewhere.  A woman who managed to believe in herself, when few did.  And who managed to build around her a caring network of people who DO believe in her.  And that is beautiful.  I am beautiful.

So, finally, here they are.  Unedited.  Because that just felt like the way it should be.

I am


The beauty of a woman
isn’t in the clothes she wears,
The figure that she carries,
or the way she combs her hair.

The beauty of a woman
must be seen from in her eyes;
Because that’s the doorway to her heart,
the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman
isn’t in a facial mole;
But true beauty in a woman,
is reflected by her soul.
It’s the caring that she cares to give,
the passion that she shows;

And the beauty of a woman
with passing years only grows.

~Sam Levenson

and you are too

And, now, it’s 2:39pm back home in Minnesota. I’m officially 32.  Happy birthday to me!

This is such an amazing project, and I would love to see all of my bloggy friends joining.  Head on over to Jill’s blog and join the “I Am Beautiful” Project today.  Visit the Flickr group to add your own photo.

(And while you’re visiting her blog anyway, have a look around…Jill is an AMAZING photographer…I hope to be just half as awesome as her some day!)
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