El-D took me out on a date last night. I got all decked out and then asked him who he thought I was going as.  He dubbed my look Spunky Spice; I dubbed his Incognito. 

Pockets of free time are bursting open in my world – time for dates and other joys – a welcomed gift following a frenzied semester that is nearly over.

Here’s what I love most about December: all the busy-busy of autumn finally finds its way back to stillness. It’s Nature’s time for sleep and dreams.

Only four days in to December, but sleep and dream, I have.  Strange dreams go on and on across years of life, a parallel universe transversed in a single night.

December means time to catch up with old friends, which brings to me to the story of beauty secrets that inspires this post.  The other day I saw a friend I’ve known for many years.  About six months have passed since our last visit. On this occasion she surprised and delighted me by speaking the words every woman wants to hear.  She said,

“Everytime I see you, you look younger and more beautiful! What is your secret?”

Never being one to accept compliments gracefully, I laughed in her face at the absurdity of the remark.

Afterall, I do keep mirrors around the house and I can see Time’s lines etching across my face.  And let me assure you, I know the number of wayward silver hairs wildly weaving through my tresses: sixteen.

Having more social grace than I, she persisted, “No, seriously, what’s your secret? Do you use Oil of O’lay or what?”

I should also explain that my friend and I were in a pretty dark room, so her projection of beauty was  clearly being cast by her own inner light.

Her sweet words got me thinking about the many magazine and internet pages we have devoted to sharing beauty secrets.  So much “beauty” is out there being sold and prescribed: pills, products, lotions, serums, and surgeries. Take your pick.  From eyelashes to fingernails — you can find your beauty fix.  Adornment at these fringes, is that beauty?

Perhaps beauty isn’t in the products we add, but in what we take away or avoid.

Let me tell you another little story.  Around age 8 I began painting my nails – fingers and toes. I collected a rainbow of colors and at least an hour each week was devoted to removing polish, filing, and repainting. This strange obsession of mine went on for a quarter of a century! It wasn’t until my 30s when my nails beneath the paint had turned brittle and yellow that it finally occurred to me I was putting toxic chemicals on my body – and wasting  a lot of time and money in the process. In the elegant words of Sweet Brown,

“Ain’t nobody got time for dat!”

So I stopped.  Without the distraction of the poisoning Mint Candy Apple polish at my fingertips,  I had more time to think about and do other things. Time has to be filled somehow. Shortly thereafter, I also quit eating meat. My conscience could no longer abide the behavior. I’ve never made the connection between these two decisions before now, but I was doing a bit of thinking at that time about the environment and consumption and how I wanted my existence to contribute to the world.  Life went on. My nails grew back healthy and natural. It took awhile to get used to seeing them all naked and unpainted, but eventually I came to realize naked is pretty sexy.

As I write this, I realize how often beautiful and famous celebrities choke the airwaves with their beauty secrets. Why should they get all the attention? We ALL have beauty.  And sometimes our best kept beauty secrets are hidden even from ourselves.  Let’s own up to it.

So what’s my beauty secret?

Beauty comes from prioritizing radiant health and a clear conscience.

What are your beauty secrets?  Please share them.

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