As yesterday was the first day of spring and there is still snow on the ground in Des Moines, we are longing for some beauty and color.  The Des Moines Botanical Center was the site of my photo expedition for the week. What beauty there is in creation!  What creation there is in beauty! 

What beauty there is in you!  The plaque in my counseling office that reads “be.YOU.tiful” is a favorite to many of my clients.  Why do we find it so difficult to be ourselves? 

Is there some end-expectation we have in mind?  Is it when we’re thin enough?  Smart enough?  Good enough?  Together enough?  Caught up enough?  Beautiful enough?  Mark Nepo, author of The Book of Awakening, says, “Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve learned, and still struggle with, is that I don’t have to be finished in order to be whole.”

Transformation.  Change.  Process.  It is the process of being ourselves that is the struggle.  My email signature line features varying perceptions, and yesterday’s was: “Looking at life through a ‘struggling is a strength’ perspective…”.  I know that I am not alone “struggling with struggling”.

So often we compare ourselves with others.  “Comparison is the seed of discontentment.”  -Anonymous. It is through the lens of our perspective that the seed of discontentment can grow or we can re-wire our thinking to value the beauty of who we are. 

As we take off the comparison glasses, we can choose to put on the lens of gratitude for who we are made to be.  A new lens and creativity is unleashed, anxiety is calmed, the “musts” and “shoulds” become “maybes” and “coulds.”

Can we value the “be” of be.YOU.tiful?  Notice that it reads, “be,” not “do,” as in dutiful.  We are often more comfortable with the “doing” than the “being.” 

Being ourselves requires courage and vulnerability.  And yet when we are able to be ourselves we are most radiant.  Seems like a bit of a juxtaposition, doesn’t it?  As with the flower, it is in the process of opening up and being vulnerable that we become real.  Then, we are be.YOU.tiful.

In the beloved children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams, the Skin Horse and the Rabbit are having a discussion.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room.  “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”  “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”  “Does it hurt?”  “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”  “Does it happen all at once,” He asked, “or bit by bit?” “It doesn’t happen all at once, “ said the Skin Horse.  “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But those things don’t matter at all, because once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

May you be encouraged to struggle against what is mechanical and sharp and struggle towards that which is lovely, what is true, what is be.YOU.tiful within you.