|mom in her Mary Kay director's suit|
me & my brother Craig
make-up set up in the background, ready to sell
Knowing me now, mom of 2 with a few sorted tattoos and a fairly consistent yoga practice, it might be a stretch to picture me growing up a conservative young lady in Dallas, Texas in the 80’s, where big hair and glamour were the norm. My mom, a career Mary Kay Cosmetics saleswoman, impressed upon me at a young age that she felt beauty was valuable. Every Monday night, she held sales meetings and makeovers in our one story marigold-yellow home with a white picket fence. 10 to 20 women would gather to “have their colors done” followed by a complete facial. (Are you a winter or spring? If you’re not sure what I mean, ask your mom, or if you’re too impatient for that, Google it.) The highlight of the night: a new hair-do. That’s right, every week from about as early as my memory holds until I was well into high school, a hair dresser (they were not called stylists back then) came to our home to cut, perm, and dye hair. I could have a new “do” every week, if I wanted it. And, about once a month or so, I experimented with new looks.
Needless to say, I was the first girl in school to wear make up. First to have a spiral perm, and perhaps the first to… well, I was going to say wear glasses… I was a very late bloomer for bras and boys.
Beauty and image were pivotal in my growing up years. While I never felt the pressure from my mom to dress or look a certain way, I did get the impression from years and years of observing Monday night makeovers that I would be more accepted or loved by others if I did things like win a beauty contest (I was “Miss. Owl”, thank you very much) or become a dancer (I tried very hard at but never quite achieved anything more than a trophy for “15 years of achievement” from Toby’s school of dance).
The principal lesson from my mother’s seemingly obsession with beauty is that we are all striking in our own way. I listened as my mom told some of the most homely women I’d ever seen how smart they were or how cleaver their children were as a result of their parenting. My mom could find the good in the Devil if she had to. Even if it had a bit of exaggeration to it, I knew that she believed every word of it. She saw the magnificence in everyone. And why not? We are all magnificent, if we just observe a little deeper.
Today as I unrolled my mat in front of a huge mirror. I stopped short. What I saw was a woman who felt she needed to see her movements in order to sculpt them into her idea of a pose. While I do feel using a mirror will often bring to light the smallest misalignments, it can get in the way of feeling the pose for what it is. The grace of yoga for me is allowing the splendor hidden inside the student to be revealed. I turned my mat away from the mirror, sat down and closed my eyes. For the next hour, I allowed my body to sense it’s way into shapes with no thought of perfecting my image in the mirror, exploring the inner landscape. Softly smiling when I finished, I heard my mom’s “mantra” whisper, “darling, you are magnificent.”