See Your Inner Beauty: Sage Advice from Grandma

I was fortunate to have a wonderful mother-in-law who called every Sunday, without fail. One Sunday, when we spoke, I invited her to visit us in Pennsylvania. Her response?

“Andrea, do you know what I look like? Yes? Well, I know what you look like too!”

And that was the end of discussion about a visit.

Mind you, our relationship was excellent and she said this with great affection. I understood that she had no need to visit, not because she didn’t love us, but because she loved us so well that she knew what we looked like in a way far deeper than her mere eyes could ever convey!

Grandma Carla knew what we looked like better than we did. She saw in us what was under the surface and that is, I believe, the essence of being seen.

Do You Know What You Look Like?

Do you look in the mirror while you brush your teeth? Do you catch glimpses of yourself in windows as you walk past a storefront?

Looking in the mirror provides an inaccurate reflection. You look for, and see, the very things you don’t like in yourself. The extra pounds, the eye bags and wrinkles, the forced expression, the lousy posture.

Mirror, mirror on the wall… the fairest of them all?

I think not.

More often when we consult a mirror, we see… the faultiest of them all!

I never took the opportunity to ask Grandma Carla what we looked like to her — but if I had, I think she would have described our energy and our characters and our temperaments.

I’m quite sure that what we looked like that day or the next was not what she meant when she told me that “she knew what we looked like.” Grandma Carla was able to see our inner beauty! (I wonder if that was easier for her to do from a distance!)

What do people see when they look at you?

And what do you see in them?

TryTry ThisThis

Describe a friend

Think of a friend. Make a list of 10 characteristics you notice in that person and star the ones you think are important. What characteristics would you like to see on a list that describes you?

If you are feeling courageous, ask a friend how they would describe you.

In the comments, tell me what words you might use to describe a friend.

  • gailperry

    Love this Andrea! When we are fundraising, we need to be really aware of our energy and what people might notice about us.

    • Andrea Kihlstedt

      Yes. Thanks Gail! Here are some qualities I’d attribute to you…energetic, courageous, warm, smart, heart-felt, polite in that oh so southern way, encouraging, generous, and yes…..great looking too!

      • gailperry

        Wow Andrea, you are so kind. Let’s see: here are YOUR qualities: brilliant, warm, playful, incisive, high energy, kind, and cute!

  • Steven L. Meyers

    Kindred Spirits, all –

    This post reminded me of a song that I always associate with a friend who died years ago. Her name was Harriet, and the song is Harriet’s song. It always brings her back to me in a way beyond the visual. Remembering is a kind of accomplishment. Thanks, Andrea.

    • Andrea Kihlstedt

      Thanks so much, Steven, for sharing this. Noticing leads to remembering. And yes, remembering is a wonderful accomplishment!

  • Shanon Solava-Reid

    Earlier this week I over heard a conversation in the gym locker room. A woman was sharing that she had lost 180 lbs but when she looked in the mirror she still felt bad about herself. The woman she was speaking to chimed in and said, I know what you mean, I’ve lost 100lbs and hate looking in the mirror. In retrospect I should have chimed in, you are beautiful embrace it but instead I only thought it. Hopefully they still benefitted from my thoughts. I think most people could use a little help in this area.

  • Andrea Kihlstedt

    Thanks for this story, Shanon. I wonder why it’s so often difficult to share the nice things we are thinking about other people. So often they go unspoken. Perhaps that’s a good topic for another post.