A BUSY PLACE

A human mind is a busy place. When daydreaming about a way to record how much data permeates one’s mind minute to minute, electrifying is the only word that wishes for recognition.

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Nevertheless, the mind and its ability to produce thought is an absolute element of wonder with both delightful and displeasing effects. Ironically, each person is accountable for the internal and external impact of this unique human characteristic. However, this beautiful space is arduous to navigate, making it understood why displeasing effects exist.

At the same time, this is what living is. Choices and consequences with the mind like a supreme being at the center of it all. A master of the universe within. Subjectively speaking, this caliber of divinity longs to encourage conscious living. Likewise, the human body, as a whole wears this same intention. For instance, when infection compromises normal bodily function, it responds. Several organs and cells assume warrior-like roles and a battle for victory ensues. However, for some humans, defeat is the outcome. This defeat correlates with the displeasing effects of thought.

When defeat comes, curative treatment takes priority. When the displeasing thoughts come, change usually relies on positive thinking, meditative practices, and even communication. For some, a pharmaceutical drug is a common remedy and in certain circumstances plays a vital role in remedying a mind diseased with deeply displeasing thoughts and the effects thereof. Personal preference leans toward less reliance on pharmaceuticals, but that seems like an impossible expectation. Another often overlooked treatment is self-growth, as some minds rely on maturity - gaining that wisdom that comes with age as the saying goes. Generally speaking, some souls are more tolerable than others, some humans are actually better with positive thinking as a daily regimen, while some rely on self-growth, at times even relying on experience to trigger the act of change.

Differences right? They exist even in nature, space, and time.

However, the common denominator is, the mind is an essential human characteristic, one who holds so much power, that can either create significant growth or destruction.

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Deep immersion into this topic commenced after stumbling upon this archived newspaper clipping. An image of a wholesome, twenty-something-year-old self, posing at the end of a catwalk surrounded by un-pictured onlookers, photographers, and other beautiful models. A favorite with a short but enlightening back story.

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The warmth of the sun matched the heat of the people. Music blasted while spectators settled into their seats for a fashion show. Tea parties and fashion shows were trendy around that time. Several weeks earlier, a representative of Peter Elias, a highly revered Trinidadian beauty-queen maker, telephoned with a request to seek out my services as a model for this show.

On that sunny day, other more recognized models and beauty queens filled the backstage\dressing room area. They mingled with friends of equal stature and heartily conversed with the local designers displaying pieces at the show. As eyes perused the happenings, a sense of doubt and insecurity crept in. Self-criticism thrived, as thoughts ran amok with fear and polluted a previously calm mind. Comfort within one's skin seemed futile as a body fell victim to this debauchery. The comparison of their beauty and popularity to mine along with negative assumptions about public opinion and particularly fear of being harshly criticized led a mind into the displeasing state described above.

The strength of the mind. It is comparable to standing in the presence of a tranquil sea turning into a furious tsunami.

Crippling in a way, because although the body is poised to react, the initiation of necessary, safety-related actions comes a few seconds after. Likewise with the mind. Displeasing thoughts flood in, supportive habits such as positive thinking, wait in the wings, then storm in to eradicate the threat. However, sometimes, the aid is too late, and like the tsunami, those displeasing thoughts retreat, leaving only carnage behind.

Sitting comfortably and supported by a brown leather couch, this pleasure comes with a tangible sense of safety. The possibility of dropping to the ground remains non-existent unless of course, the sofa magically disappears. In comparison, sitting in the backstage area before walking down the runway, a sense of mental betrayal filled a sensitive body. Support was non-existent, and the collapse into unappealing thoughts became a reality. The notable thing is that all of this internal chaos went unseen by the surrounding bodies flitting around. Sometimes that lack of awareness sends a mind plummeting deeper into fear; as it expects recognition for all its strenuous exertion.

Truthfully, recognition should exist internally as a means of clarifying and resolving its effects. Easy to say, but challenging to execute, especially when the stakes are very high.

Walking down the runway claims a spot on the high stakes list. Why? Because of the staring eyes, uttered or unuttered criticisms, and expectations from the designer and the audience. In turn, this raises the model's expectations and at times, make them their worst critic. Consequences of the former come with devastating effects, which the relatively recent rise of disguising truths about the modeling industry clearly illustrates. Yes, one may contend that any profession open to public view validates their opinion. However, these opinions, at times, tend to dwell in low places and disregard common courtesy.

Nevertheless, even within the ridiculing and belittling world of some branches of public opinion, one must remain grounded in truth and sentiments about oneself. More than that, one must heal those inner wounds, set them free by releasing fear and proudly walk down a runway or share themselves with the public amidst the known truth that someone will most likely use their discourteous tongue. Unfortunately, opinion comes in several forms such as those that are civil and constructive, and those meant to rip holes in one's soul. Wishful thinking hopes to see civil and constructive opinions as the only existing form, but until the entire collective awakens to and honors the value of civility even within the expression of opinion that is in disagreement or against the general view, then discourtesy will co-exist. As previously mentioned, differences exist in nature, space, and time. That said, one should consider how these differences are embraced and expressed without the need for discourteous expression.

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Now ask, why use a beautiful thing like words against another? Why use a beautiful thing like words against oneself? After contemplation of those questions and their respective answer, it lends awareness about why many, myself included, nurture fear within and of others, and gives more in-depth insight into why fear invaded my mind on that day, years prior and after; not only as it relates to walking down a runway but other facets of life.

Ironically, as eyes peruse the above image, past criticism seems like an evil illusion. However, maybe that way of being had a role to play.

Each person's journey through this life differs. Struggles and sense of self, change from person to person. Additionally, upbringing and experience vary as well, all of which contributes to the person each of us are at this moment. The defining thing is how one decides to move forward, either using their past as a catalyst for healing and continued growth or stagnation of self-love, which only perpetuates cycles of displeasing effects.

Today, as a thirty-something-year-old woman, the existence of every single self-sabotaging thought is embraced, not for what they invoked at the moment but for the lessons they provided. For the enlightenment they shared. It is effortless to accept the superficial layers of those thoughts and believe in that. Nonetheless, it is so much more to look beyond the surface and understand the why's. To realize that a storm is not only meant to destroy but to cleanse and that awareness has an impact on a personal and collective level.

As that newspaper clipping fades, the memory remains as a reminder of past and present, then and now and all else to come in the future.

No longer negatively triggered in mind but empowered, the over thinking and displeasing thoughts come, but the ability to decipher their messages and allow instigation of conscious, slightly higher conscious choices is the defining change. Additionally, the realization that feelings express themselves through thoughts and those thoughts express themselves through words. This knowledge allowed an understanding of the significant inner work needed to be at peace within oneself and share that peace with others. It also nurtured conscious awareness of personal opinions which influenced, over time, a strong sense of consideration and responsibility to cultivate and exercise civil and constructive views about things, situations, others, and their individual opinions.

That last sentence revisits the statement that each person is accountable for the internal and external impact of their mind. One's best self lives within, and if hidden, then that finding it needs to be a priority. Remember, each of us is the treasurer of one's history and the writer one's future and personal opinions about something, or someone, when shared in the collective space can either encourage others to adopt and engage in civility or discourteousness.

Considering this and the storm analogy from an earlier point in this post, when a storm has come and gone, do you sit in mourning over the loss it left, or do you sit in gratitude over the opportunity to rebuild using the broken bits of the past and the sense of strength turmoil brought your way?

UNADORNED FACES

As a twin, questions about life - as a twin, perpetually loop like the refrain from a modern-day pop musical composition, with the only practical answer to many of these questions being - twin life is like any other, the only thing that makes it different is the oddities others know little about.

For the sake of providing a more definite answer, life as a twin has many benefits such as constant companionship, someone with the same odd tendencies, that secret twin language and a continual stream of support. Apart from that, another obvious benefit is some form of recognition, which, for some twins, comes with the territory. 

As life would have it and as a result of this twin recognition, the chance to share a little about twin-life proudly danced into grasp like a Latin dancer into the arms of a dance partner. This opportunity was a feature story in one of the more popular Trinidadian newspapers - the Trinidad Guardian. The interview was on a school day, after school of course and mummy, like any other, exhibited such exhilaration about the makeup and styling for the shoot.

With a dab of lipstick and some blush for that rosy cheek look, this was the first of many experiences with this form of cosmetics.

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As the article says, "You can't help but see the beautiful vein of simplicity on their unadorned faces" - truth in its purest form.

From attire to entertainment, preference, demeanor, and otherwise, unadorned is the best adjective one can use. Vibrant shades of lipstick segregated themselves from lips, and pretty, powdery shades of eyeshadow never held eyelids in a warm embrace. Cheeks wore natural blush instead of an applied shade, and though teenage self-esteem quandaries, acne, and issues with diet paraded like a beauty queen on stage, something about the simplicity of being simplistic kept one grounded and sincere. It was a comfortable time of life with a fuss saved for other things like homework, coordinating sleepovers and movie dates with friends, swimming competitions, and artistic ventures than appearance and all the work and worry involved. Getting dressed was uncomplicated, and so too was looking at oneself in the mirror without judgment.

In those days, having pictures taken at the photo studio was a trend. These pictures were given to significant others, friends, or put in a frame and hung on a bedroom wall. Recall brings to mind images with a bare face and sometimes lacking jewelry. Compliments on natural looks were often received, and flattery from these compliments came rushing like a younger sibling into the bed of an older sibling after having a bad dream. An opinion of self was favorable, and thoughts of beauty were healthy and supportive. Peer pressure to have a made-up face never existed, and although friends were dabbling in simple forms of makeup such as translucent powders and color tinted lip gloss, personal yearning for purity made their efforts seem questionable.

Once the modeling and beauty pageants began, then makeup application became something one had to learn, and expeditiously. In these industries, evasion seemed unavoidable, because beauty, in a sense, relied on it. A bare face, bushy eyebrows, wind-blown hair, uncolored lips and so on were frowned upon, especially in the fashion and beauty industry in Trinidad and Tobago. Makeup artists covered up every single imperfection and comments about better skin care regimes consumed an already overwhelmed mind. At this time of life, acne was a struggle. Photographers made the most ungracious comments about the blemished skin they had to photograph, and so foundation and concealers became a way of suppressing the truth.

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As life moved on, an incremental need for it attached like vines to an old house and became a heavy burden. Having been a beauty queen and having endured constant criticism for deplorable skin, insecurity about such things was a flamboyantly obvious crutch, further affirming constant makeup use and heavy makeup at that. Specific vocations pursued in early adulthood also claimed a made-up face as mandatory, at times even being scrutinized and assessed for it, so for a while, an uneven skin tone, puffy eyes, open pores, and other imperfections made one feel like a prisoner to an array of beauty products. That was a different time of life and a challenging one in its own right - a time when hiding things under body camouflage, concealers, and multiple layers of foundation became an unavoidable preference. Heavy eyeliner became a tool for distraction, the thought being; make the eyes look pretty so the focus would be on the beauty of them, not the bedding of bags and dark circles which circumvented them.

Most girls fancy all of those things.

As a child, peeking at mummy applying cosmetics exuded feelings of ecstasy and jealousy. The conception of becoming an adult "makeup wearing" woman was refreshing. However, when that time came, the reason for its use was quickly deluded. Previously mentioned imperfections created inadequacies with bare skin, though, during this time, overcrowded with blemishes is a fitting description. Therefore beauty came with coverage, colors, and the right type of product and not merely enhanced by the use of these products instead created. Harsh analysis of oneself, but truthful. Then, many years later,  as the acne and life in the fashion and beauty industry started to fade, gradual disconnection from this involute and layered world commenced bringing with it a sense of profound renewal and rejuvenation. Life changes like occupation, place of residence, significant other, friends, eating habits, diet, and overall experiences also played a part in this switch as it sanctioned individuality to seek out and embrace a deeper connection with subconscious beauty.  This journey allowed for a drastic shift, and ever since, the reason for makeup use has shifted. Nowadays, these products are generally not sought after. A little coconut oil, warmed from the friction created by rubbing palms, is lovingly applied to the skin one once struggled to embrace. Even on those more formal days, makeup still holds very little reign. Fresh, dewy skin with that allusion of shine on the T-zone, freckles, open pores, forehead wrinkles, acne scars, skin discoloration, dark circles and the current polka dot pattern of pimples lining cheeks are all welcomed. Forehead wrinkles and freckles bring memories of childhood days with crazy sunburnt bodies and ridiculous squinting in photographs - dearly beloved defining characteristics that were once covered up and hidden under layers of chemical-based products for the sake of being and feeling beautiful. 

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As a large, full, and unused makeup case sits atop a wardrobe, a little white box stands proudly next to it, with only a handful of items inside - a reminder of the shedding of both self-doubt and the dependency. Yes, it is still worn but minimally and boastfully so. A dab of this and that used not as a substitute to hiding anything but merely for enhancement. A made-up face no longer holds that much power or worth. Now, the power lies within those perfect imperfections, and today it is lovely to once again feel like the girl whose enchanting vein of simplicity shined through an unadorned face. In a way, it feels empowering. Maybe liberating is a more accurate description. The pressure of covering up imperfections has left. 

As a woman who felt this attachment to an array of cosmetic products and brands for many years, truth in saying that many others feel the same exists. Experience tells of ease of losing oneself in the disorienting world of beauty as one becomes consumed with hiding things rather than embracing them and even at times feeling like one cannot leave home without having a made-up face - a woeful reality.

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Society outlines the way women should act, dress, and look. Part of this same society is also made up of the voices of women, who at times, deliver the harshest judgments and criticisms when someone, especially in power or in the spotlight, embraces the appeal of an unadorned face. However, if anyone should understand how enabling and releasing that is - it is women, yet still, self-doubts hide under layers of makeup and harsh critiques are lashed out at others who lack the same amount of layers. Perhaps if this enthusiasm instead strengthens and supports the empowerment of subconscious beauty and all of its complexities and layers, then possibly one day, beauty can be dissociated from superficiality resulting in a more grounded and holistic idea of it all.