Where do you find beauty?

Happy Anniversary!

It’s been a year this week since my book “Round Trip: How I found Myself on Three Wheels” was released. It was such an honour to cross Canada and meet so many people – if you haven’t read it yet – please pick up a copy.


I like to pull Oracle cards and see what messages are written on them. They always inspire me to look at whatever I am pondering from a different angle.  Today I pulled one that said “Dream a beautiful dream”. And it prompted me to consider the word beauty. I find myself looking up words frequently now and I’m sometimes surprised by the official the definition. Often times, I revise my vocabulary and gain a new perspective.

Beauty is defined, in the Meriam Webster dictionary as “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit : LOVELINESS

I have to begrudgingly admit that my first flash when I hear the word beauty is of a person and almost always a woman. Typically, someone exceptionally attractive and doing some beautiful thing like walking on a beach at sunset. When I searched the word beauty and went to the images – there is nothing but close-ups of women who culture would consider “beautiful” and makeup. Who designs these algorithms to place those particular images? Regardless, they are almost exclusively heads shot of beautiful young women and most probably air brushed. In my opinion,  this represents a slim, almost miniscule slice of what real beauty exists in the world. Yet there it is – we’re being shown what we should consider beautiful. Not really evidence but what we are conditioned to believe as a culture. After all – it‘s  subjective. Remember that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”


Out of curiosity, I used the Microsoft Bing search tool to check out “ugly” and up came more images. The definition from the same dictionary states that it is “offensive to the sight HIDEOUS”. Interestingly enough, the first few images were of men that had to work be ugly by making contorted faces. There were also animals. Few were women when I used the bing search tool. Using Google resulted in more pictures of women sprinkled into the mix.  Many appeared to be digitally distorted and “creations” as opposed to simply photos. Likes the one of beauty, I suspect that they were all enhanced and almost none of these offend me. Although – that’s 5 minutes that I’ll never get back.

Those definitions really are quite subjective. What makes us think that attractive women represent all beauty? How on earth did some of those images get categorized as ugly? There may have been more at play here as I did not recognize many of the people in the images. And it is said, that beauty is skin deep but ugly goes right to the bone.

Real Beauty

For me, real beauty is guided by the much broader definition. A beautiful person is not categorized as such because of the physical structure of their face. Rather, beauty glows from the way that they carry themselves in the world and interact with others. I see beauty in the wrinkles of my mother’s countenance that represent a lifetime of loving and carrying for the people around her – a culmination of doing her best while she tended to others. I see beauty in my old dog’s eyes every time he looks at me and the tail starts to wag at the sheer joy of just being around me.

I see beauty in the freshly exposed grass as the snow melts and winter gives way to spring. I hear beauty on the telephone as I speak with people who have a passion to help others and want to turn that burning desire into action as they learn to coach. I see the beauty of my tribe as I chat with loved ones on a Zoom screen.

I feel enveloped in beauty as I cross country ski or walk along the shore with the waves pounding against my bare feet and the smell of the salt air refreshed with every breath. And with the rumble of Bullwinkle’s engine as I ride along the backroads of Québec, twisting and turning with a grin that grows bigger with every turn.

I see the beauty of a life fully lived when I look through photographs of my father with my children when they were little. The love that shines from each face epitomizes beauty. The memories that are carried in their hearts keep that beauty alive and well and reminds me that life is an incredible gift.

Louis Armstrong had it right “And so I think to myself, what a wonderful, beautiful world.” 

Where can you find beauty? How can you create opportunities to spend time on the beauty and less on the ugly?

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