HumankindNESS-The Other Side of the Mirror

By Jennifer Richardson
Many months ago, I was following my normal morning routine getting ready to leave the house for my day.

It was one of those rare mornings in which things were going smoothly, I had plenty of time, and I even savored a cup of hot tea as I pulled together the materials I would need for the next several hours. Once I rounded up my small makeup bag, I sat down to put on my face for the day.

My family chuckles at my beauty routine due to the speed with which it can be accomplished. I am generally done within three minutes, and I have even been known to hang my head out of the car window on the way to somewhere to finish drying my hair.

However, with three beautiful daughters who have had varied cosmetic routines, my husband could sometimes be heard muttering about how many hours he has cumulatively waited in the driveway while his household full of women decided they were prettied up enough to leave the house.

I have occasionally reminded my husband how lucky he is to be married to a woman who can be ready to walk out the door within minutes. He of course reminds me that I am already beautiful, so I don’t need much work. The remarkable part is he really believes this, and I love him for it.

The small round makeup mirror I use in the mornings has a mirrored surface on each side, one regular and one with increased magnification. One has to use the magnified side with caution, as a close up look at your face in the morning is not always the best way to start your day.

But on this day I had plenty of time so I plunged forward with a brave heart to look myself over with the power of 5X magnification.

I really saw myself, up close and personal. There were the beginnings of skin darkening and age spots, puffy skin under my lower eyelids, little wrinkles around my eyes and running across my forehead. I felt a few breakouts and loosening skin as I ran a hand along my face. Looking this close allowed me to see all the gray roots of the hair around my temples. I was really aware of my age, and my aging. 

I went on with my routine and soon finished up my attempt at beautification. I flipped the mirror back to the normal magnification side, and I instantly looked much better. My flaws were far less noticeable when I changed my perspective from one who was magnifying in search of problem pieces, to one who had stepped back to look at myself as a whole.

I looked again at myself, and this time with an eye toward finding the good.

I saw the wrinkles and lines and I understood that they represented years of smiling, talking, and connecting with people. I thought back over the times I had laughed so hard I could barely breathe, and I recollected many of the stories I tell that require comical facial expressions.

The faint circles under my eyes reminded of late nights with loved ones, hard work accomplished, and the time I was barely able to open my eyes for the tears as I touched my grandmother’s cheek after she left this life for the next. And the wisdom that lingered from that moment, about cherishing life and the time we have on earth.

I saw skin that has been through hours of being outdoors with my family at the beach, watching my children in every kind of weather as they cheered, played in the band, or danced. I saw hair that has turned a beautiful blend of gray and white, that has been pulled by grandchildren as I enjoyed holding them close to my heart.

More than anything, I saw more wisdom and love in my expression than was there a decade ago. When I stopped looking for flaws, I could see almost fifty years of living, loving and being loved, forgiving and being forgiven. I just needed to find the right perspective to understand what my mirror was telling me. On the other side of the mirror I saw the reflection of a joyful life, which gives a beauty that is impossible to find otherwise.

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