I visited my grandmother Elly this past week. She’s 95 years old and one of the most beautiful women in the world. She doesn’t have washboard abs or sculpted arms. She has never graced the cover of People magazine’s Worlds Most Beautiful issue or been included on Esquire’s list of the Sexiest Women Alive. Her legs don’t fit into skinny jeans and her feet will never again wear high heels. No one whistles in appreciation when she walks out of a room.
My grandmother’s hair is a soft gray and her hands are spotted with age. Her clothes are not by a brand name and her shoes are a pair of comfort sandals. She’s nursed five children and buried one. Her skin is wrinkled and heavy. But I don’t see any of this. I see how her eyes light up when she looks at me and how they dance when she laughs. I feel the kindness in her embrace, the softness of her skin and the love in her heart as she holds my hand. I know the wisdom of her soul and the passion she still has for life. That’s what I see, and it’s beautiful.
I suspect that no matter who we are, and no matter our age, we all have someone in the world who thinks we are the most beautiful. What others notice about us is usually not our physical appearance, but how we make them feel. Think about the people in your life that you find the most beautiful. They’re probably not the friends with perfect physical beauty, but the friends who light up a room — or a moment — when you’re in their presence.
The month of July is not going to be Sweden With Love‘s Most Beautiful issue, don’t worry! But lately I’ve been thinking about how we perceive ourselves. It’s good to be reminded that our beauty goes beyond the mirror and extends to the energy we exude when we’re in the presence of others. For myself, that means it’s time to regain the little sparkle in my eye that I’ve lately lost. If my grandmother’s eyes can still sparkle, why can’t mine?
With the Fourth of July holiday cutting this week short, I’m publishing the July cover story — a surprise! — on Monday after the long weekend. I hope you will like what I have in store for this month, including features with famed designer Kathryn R. Ireland and former Yoga Journal Editor-In-Chief Kaitlin Quistgaard. I’ll see you back here after the Fourth of July weekend!
Photograph by Elizabeth Messina © 2013.