September 27, 2004

the beauty we love

tweeky little flowers, Canon 300D

"Let the beauty we love be what we do." Rumi

I saw this on a bumper sticker yesterday and stopped to wonder... It made me think of all the sweet folks who email me and ask for advice and inspiration for starting their own businesses. I feel like I never truly have the answer and I am always left asking the same question: How can we create our lives so that we are spending more and more time doing things that move us, inspire us, serve others and bring us joy?

I have fantasies about how other people have it figured out. The chiropractor down the street, my friend who is a photographer, another who is a teacher. Somehow their lives seem more simple, grounded, less chaotic than my own. {Of course, each and every one of these people would probably argue that they are just as confused as I am}

A few years ago, I was riding a bus down Polk Street. I remember being worried about something embarrassing {like my thigh being way to plump as it peeked out of my skirt} and the familiar clenching of disapproval in my stomach.

Suddenly a man in a suit stepped onto the bus. You might not believe me when I tell you this, but he had a hole in his head. A real life hole! I don't recall how I could tell because he was all bandaged up. There were layers of blood-soaked gauze wrapped around his forehead that contrasted sharply with his navy blue jacket and tie. I could only imagine that he had been shot or hit with something heavy... I could feel the tension in the bus, how everyone tried not to look, leaving only little kids to stare.

I felt so ashamed, so ridiculous, so ungracious to the blessings in my life. It sounds almost trite to say, but it amazes me how we often need these moments to wake up to the truth of our lives. The truth that most of what we worry about is such crap.

We waste so much time.

But it's hard to love the parts we don't like. I was at a dharma talk last week and my teacher said, "Love the parts that don't work in your life." He explained that this didn't mean that we had to like them, but love them like a verb. Give them attention, invite them over, listen to them, care for them like a dear friend. Love those parts that aren't working.


One of the most awesome events I've been to in a long time was last Saturday night. It was a one-woman show by an "inspirational humorist" named Terri Tate.

From her website: "A nationally recognized speaker, successful therapist, hypnotherapist and consultant, Terri was silenced by oral cancer in 1991. Doctor’s said she had a 2% chance of surviving the disease that cost her more than half of her tongue and lower jaw, as well as a variety of significant body parts used in failed reconstructions attempts. Not only has she survived cancer and reclaimed her voice, Terri has honed her storytelling skills and brims with passion to inspire others with her stories. Her keynotes and performances offer profound wisdom packaged in warm wit. Audiences are moved to tears and laughter, hope and healing by her powerful presence."

If you ever have the good fortune to see Terri perform {or you can order her Cd featuring her stories} you will know why I {and everyone else} falls in love with her. She is one of those truly alive souls. She has waken up to the beauty in her life and has learned to heal herself and others through humor and storytelling. That whole thing about letting the beauty we love be what we do? Terri has figured it out. And she is a gift to us all.

Posted on September 27, 2004 10:39 AM

How true!! It seems we all worry about how we look, how well we are doing in life, etc....Most of the time, all the negative self talk really is,a bunch of crap. It usually takes a big kick in the ass, to be our wake up call, and make us see what is really important in the bigger scheme of things. Luckily, I got my wake up call a couple of years back in the form of a nearly fatal attack. After getting through that...I appreciate each moment so much more and I'm more able to let go of all the bullshit. Don't get me's not like I have it all figured out or anything. Far from it!!! I just like to think I'm well on my way there. Thanks so much for the link to Terri Tate. She is inspiring. For another wonderful story about survival and really finding out what is important,... Read the new book by Geralyn Lucas, called "Why I wore my mastectomy" It will make you laugh, cry and really feel the power of healing and the triumph of the human spirit. Proof positive that words and humor really can heal.

Posted by: Julia at September 28, 2004 06:37 PM

as one of those folks who has asked your advice & perceives you as one who has it all figured out, i am reminded that we all have questions, we're all searching.
it's funny how easily we forget that.
and just as funny how we all look at one another thinking the other's got it all together...
when we all have holes in our heads!

the parts that aren't working that i'm trying to love right now:
*my full time job that isnt what i want to be doing with myself for 40 hours a week.
*not knowing

Posted by: Cheryn at September 28, 2004 04:23 PM

Sometimes I feel very ungrateful and afraid that I will lose things because I don't appreciate them out loud enough. I know that I appreciate them, but when the "crap" gets in the way, it obscures your vision.

Sometimes it's hard to live aware, and still be able to shut out the things that we are sensitive too; hard to dull our senses to those things yet still stay aware of the things we ought to stay aware of. Opening up makes us sensitive, but closing up -- is it worth the dullness of our senses.

It's funny that you say you admire other people who have "figured it out" -- to me, you look like you have figured it out. I guess we all do that in some way.

Thanks for the thoughts.

Posted by: Laura at September 28, 2004 11:21 AM

just yesterday i was noticing the "flaws" in those around me and then realizing how those flaws made each of them more beautiful.

i turned the looking glass on myself and thought about the flaws in myself and how unforgiving i am of them. we are human and it is humanistic to be scarred, challenged, imperfect. i thought about how my refusal to accept my shortcomings is a flaw and one that i must ferret out and work to correct. we must all strive to achieve a state of grace. the state of grace is not a fixed mark but a moving i will pursue for many years to come, but hopefully one day touch for a moment and feel the beauty from within.

andrea, thank you for continuing to challenge us.

Posted by: heidi at September 28, 2004 07:18 AM

as my life ensues i notice that what i see in others often lies dormant within (which explains why i see it). depending on its content-positive or negative-i act upon the dormant thing animating it. as i focus on the beauty i love all things opposite fade.
i suspect this is the case with everyone.

Posted by: mr andrea lewis at September 28, 2004 06:31 AM

Oh, that is one of my favorite Rumi quotes - I used to have the whole thing on my bathroom mirror - 'Put down your book and pick up a musical instrument...' and now I need it again!

and as always, the photo is lovely. Thanks for the illumination.

Posted by: samantha at September 28, 2004 06:00 AM

"Let the beauty we love be what we do." Rumi
now THAT's a bumper sticker... a RUMI bs? :)

i've always wanted to make one that says...
"rubenesque... yes!"

and the dark.... you gotta loves it hard... real hard... or it keeps standing in the way of that light...

humor and storytelling is the path out of it all... for everyone...i believe humor and storytelling saved me over the last year of my life... GOTS TO KEEP LAUGHIN..


i work with blind kids as a "real" job...
they teach you the value of life... of truly SEEING life and embracing it ... even thru difficulty... dark.. they don't see their thighs

but... they show you what you can imagine.. what you can dream.. what you can do... when you stop perseverating on the little stuffs

"Let the beauty we love be what we do." Rumi

and let the beauty we are OOZE ALL OVAH THE PLACE

you rock girl...

Posted by: denise at September 28, 2004 04:10 AM


It seems to be a human characteristic to compare ourselves to people who have more, not less.

Just a few weeks back i read a book, one episode was about a young woman fighting cancer and a sentence got stuck in my head: "A healthy body is always beautiful."
So true. We tend to forget this in a world were tv and movies etc. tell you what's beautiful. I tend to forget it when I try to force myself into a jeans that fit when I was 14. :-)

But I remember when I think about my uncle who is terminally ill or my father-in-law who had a stroke early this year and lost the ability to speak.

Go outside, see natures beauty, create beauty and spread the joy.

Posted by: Anke at September 28, 2004 02:48 AM

Oh, I almost forgot to add...

Stunningly Beautiful Picture!

99% of the time, I feel like a tweeky little flower.

Now I will remember that it's OK.

Perhaps even delightful.

We all feel tweeky.

We all have such beauty.

Thank you again Super One.

Posted by: Donavan at September 27, 2004 06:54 PM

Thank you a thousandfold Andrea.

This entry has illuminated a part of me that I didn't realize was so dark.

I am more open and less afraid from reading it.

Words heal.

Mystery is magic.

You rock.

Posted by: Donavan at September 27, 2004 06:50 PM

ha ha, i think we all have the idea that others have it "figured out" and are doing it better than we are, (whatever that means). when really we are all just making it up as we go.

i love knowing that really there are no rules.

(but sometimes I forget that and slip into the "she/he's doing better than i am.")

today I will give love to... broken plumbing debt that is growing because of my broken plumbing procrastination
...and my feeling overwhelmed by my workload (which i am procrastinating)

Posted by: Keri Smith at September 27, 2004 12:02 PM

Thank you for sharing this piece. It is a constant negotiation of yielding to the crap, getting rid of the crap, and embracing our goodness.

Posted by: JC at September 27, 2004 11:31 AM