I spent the past weekend in Atlanta for the Mom 2.0 conference. Though it was not my first blogging conference, it was the first time I attended this particular event. I have tried to make it work in past years, but due to timing or location it just never came together. This year, I bought my ticket far in advance and went with an “all in” attitude.
The first night, however, I became very aware of myself. The welcome reception was a garden party at the most beautiful estate. The location was beautiful, the people were beautiful and I even had my hair done at the Drybar to kick it up a notch. I tried to project my A-game, but inside I was feeling very small.
I am not sure if you know much about blogging events, but like most professional conferences, they are a weekend of networking, meeting new people and generally living outside your comfort zone. I knew I would be walking up to strangers many times over. So when I was at this first party getting my feet wet, I was stunned when someone I have never met crossed the room to say hi to me. She introduced herself, we chatted for a few moments and then she walked away. I was certain she had just walked over with the intention of standing in line for a drink and was making small talk. But it became clear that she had just wanted to say hi and break the ice. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized this thought ran through my mind,
“Wow. A stranger talked to me. I must look pretty tonight.”
Friday morning, I sat reflecting on the idea of true beauty after spending some time hearing from various industry professionals on the panel. As I sat there, I realized one of the women on the panel was the one who talked to me the night before. I was stunned. I remembered my earlier thought and the truth of my upside-down values were shining at me like a neon sign.
Little did I know that I would spend the rest of the weekend opening my heart to the definition of true beauty and value and become so inspired that I was moved to tears. As I sat in the keynote on Friday morning, listening to Jen Bremner from Dove share about their award-winning #BeautyIs initiative to have real conversations about beauty, I knew I was in for an education. I watched painfully honest videos of little girls asking if they are beautiful and I wanted to scream YES. YES YOU ARE! More than you even know! I wanted to scream it.
I wanted to hear it.
I was sad to realize that inside I am that same little girl asking for that same outward validation. Beautiful is a seductive word. A word with so much power. Use it wisely and you will see women soar. Use it destructively and the effects are just as powerful. At 35 years old, I see beauty everywhere in others. But I am still fighting that struggle within myself, daily taking these destructive thoughts captive. Constantly battling the images of perfection no one prescribed for me. It is a humbling realization.
I am surrounded by beautiful people; people who all look different, people who aren’t like me, people who have different talents and gifts, people who truly carry beautiful with them. As I sat on the plane traveling home yesterday, I opened the book Made to Crave in my Kindle app. I love the way author Lysa Terkeurst describes her food journey as a spiritual one. Just as the idea of “beautiful” is seductive, so are the thoughts that come into my head that tell me I am not. The victory is in rejecting these thoughts as the lies they are and replacing them with the truth.
How many times do you hang onto the one negative comment you heard about yourself as the truth while brushing off compliments as pity comments? Be honest. Have you ever said, “oh you have to say that, you’re my friend (mom, husband etc.)?” I am so guilty of this it’s embarrassing. After several conversations this weekend, I know I am not alone.
It’s time to carry beautiful. It’s time to put down the old ugly baggage and pick up beautiful. Will you do it?
The best part? Beautiful is weightless.
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