Turn out the Lights and Be Beautiful

An 1889 Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painting of ...

An 1889 Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painting of a woman applying cosmetics to her face (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, dressed in spandex capris and an oversized orange “VOLUNTEER” T-shirt, I bumped into an acquaintance of mine.  I was gob-smacked when she said, “Wow! You look terrific. It’s like you’re ten years younger!” I was taken aback. I’d been up since 6am, and out in the sun all day encouraging 160KM GranFondo cyclists  just after the 100km mark. I even went so far as to massage one rider’s cramping gams.

My eye make-up had settled into the laugh lines around my eyes, and I’d skipped my foundation and rouge altogether. We remarked it was likely dumping the 170 lbs of baggage of my last relationship, laughed, and carried on our way to sit next to a team of very handsome, very lithe and muscular cyclists. Seeing as her compliment gave me a confidence boost, I wiggled in between two of the cutest, and started a very engaging conversation about the ’cause’ we were there to support. I certainly wasn’t in a hurry to go anywhere, and I lingered, enjoying the conversation and the view.

You see, Sundays are usually my newspaper days, but this weekend was different. Saturday my volunteer duties were pretty light.   That meant that I had time to read the newspaper. On a Saturday. Imagine that.   The Globe is my weekend paramour. So much my sweetheart, that if I were a man, she would definitely be my Saturday night girl.  I would buy her sparkling jewels and make love to her into the wee hours of the morning….

Alas, the Globe is simply a newsrag, so there is no lovemaking. I settled in on my little patio with the Arts section and a nice glass of a new Scottish Ginger Beer that’s struck my fancy of late.  An article about the new Sarah Polley film, “Take This Waltz” caught my eye. A large photo of starlet Michelle Williams centred the article.  It was a well written piece in which Williams waxes philosophical about the deeper meaning of her acting, discussing how romantic love has replaced spiritual love in our life and times. But let’s not discuss that. I’m sure my wee little double x chromosome brain would become overwhelmed, and I would succumb to a case of the vapours.

In “Take This Waltz”, Williams’s character Margot is a woman, “…in the midst of realizing that the person she once was is not the person she wants to be.” No kidding. Really? Don’t we all arrive at that barren crossroads at least once or twice in our adult lives? I know I’ve arrived at the corner of  Where-the-heck-am-I and How-on-earth-did-I-get-Here, at least twice.

Isn’t it just when we realize we are alone at this crossroads, that we have a feeling of both physical and emotional nakedness? Don’t we feel vulnerable, a bit shabby, and insecure? Say yes ladies. You know it, and the big bad consumer munching wolf knows it, hence, the Style section of the newspaper.

I almost choked on my Crabbies reading about  Lise Watier’s nod to the boomer generation who may be needing some extra ‘illumination’ at this crossroads.  They are marketing (very brilliantly I might add) nail polish and lip gloss complete with built-in lighting.   Playing right into the hands of all of the women out there who, despite being, “…in the midst of realizing that the person she once was is not the person she wants to be” still want to hussy up the gifts that the good lord gave them and be perceived as a woman who is exactly who she wants to be.

I can’t waggle my finger and look over the top of my glasses at women who want to look their best. After all, I rarely leave the house without make-up, and my wild hair is often the worst part of my day. I like to go out feeling confident too, but being confident, truly confident, is tangled up pretty tightly with  being happy.

So, today when my gal-pal gave me that compliment, it wasn’t because my hair was freshly salon coiffed, or I was sporting a coveted logo. I believe my joie de vivre morphed into something that has become part of my physicality. Simply put, when she saw me today,I was happy.   

This morning I left my house at 6:45am, and arrived home finally just after 8:30pm. Laundry on, my teenager scrubbing the dust of practice off, and lunches yet to be packed, I scrambled into my running gear and did a quick 5km. Nazareth came on, reminding me of my university days when my roommate used to get up early and drive me to the varsity gym to do my daily circuit workouts. A picture of me from our last Christmas together as roommates flashed through my mind; long, strong legs in a pair of shorts and my hair wrapped in a towel in front of our Christmas tree striking a silly pose. I looked young, healthy, strong and beautiful. I was all of those things then, but I didn’t feel them. 

Time works a strange magic though. Although my legs are still strong, they’re not as shapely as they once were. My face has filled out, as has every other part of my body. My skin isn’t as radiant, but I feel, at this age more strong and more beautiful than I did  16 years ago.  Still, my friend’s  compliment today perked me up. Just think, today I didn’t even need to use my emergency make-up lighting.

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