There’s a thing I began a few years ago…
just a little something to share a moment from my day. I’d take a picture of anything that caught my eye and made my heart warm, and then I’d post it on social media with the heading:
“#TodaysMomentOfBeauty brought to you by…”
…and describe whatever it was that had caught my attention in the photo (“my cat finding her sunshine spot” for instance).
I didn’t necessarily start doing it for others, though I do hope I’m bringing some joy into the world with it. Nor did I begin doing it for the artistry of it, though I did begin taking more creative photos and focused on things that had some kind of photogenic merit.
I began doing it for my own mental and emotional health.
At the time I was going through one of life’s scarier sessions: breast cancer. As I faced the Big C-Word and the awareness of my own mortality it brings with it, I found myself looking at the world around me with new eyes.
I began to notice the little details in it. I began to appreciate small things and large things in a deeper way. What was once a mundane meal took on a unique flavor and tone. What was once passed by without a glance suddenly jumped out at me with joyful harmony. What was once taken for granted suddenly became of greatest importance. And what was once something that would have bothered me greatly became of no consequence whatsoever.
I saw how much I loved it all, being alive, every part of it.
It was in the small moments that I especially fell in love with life. Seeing that flower catching the light on its petals, or the lacy outlines of that tree against a deep blue sky. Experiencing the feeling of a soft breeze on my cheek and the sand under my feet, or the sweeping motion of a child’s swing in a playground. Hearing the voice of a Nightingale trilling with lust in the middle of the night, or the tiny mewl of my cat insisting upon dinner. These were the seconds and minutes within each day that left a mark in my mind with their deliciousness.
And so I began to create posts to remind myself of those moments of joy, when I was caught up in a day where I couldn’t find any.
#TodaysMomentOfBeauty brought to you by… my life.
I needed these reminders. Because, of course, going through my treatments and the entire process of that Big C-Word brought with it many days when it was hard for me to find joy. Heck, it brought many days when it was hard for me to find my shoes because I was just so dang tired and sick, much less finding any joy.
But I found something happening as I began posting my Moments of Beauty.
I found myself noticing more and more of them.
That’s the thing about beauty – once you see it in one place, you begin to see it everywhere. Because whether we notice it or not, it is all around us. A tiny gem just waiting for us to pick it up, put it in our pocket, and carry it with us forever. The moment you find one, you start searching for more.
When we think of the word “beauty” we tend to think in terms of a well-formed person or flower. Yet beauty arrives in not just the well-formed, but in forms of every size and shape. It comes in the smile of that grandmother who sees herself in her newest granddaughter. It comes in the way a dog rolls with joy in the grass. It comes in the calm voice of the one who is giving you comfort.
I Don’t Feel Beautiful, Not Even in the Slightest. Read it Here
Every single day brings us another moment of beauty, and it is in the times when we are going through the awareness of our own mortality that we need to see and appreciate them most.
So as my life became more intense with pressures and concerns, my moments of beauty became a more regular thing. It was like I was pushing out against the fear or frustrations, pushing away the negativity by posting about something positive and uplifting. I was combating the darkness trying to surround me by sharing the light.
But something I never posted was how some of the most beautiful moments were actually brought to me by… the Big C-word itself.
After all, how could I post gratitude for something that was killing so many others? How could I post appreciation for something that was causing hundreds of thousands to be ill and frightening millions more? Even if I myself had it and had gone through it, it seemed like it would be dishonoring to them to speak about it as a blessing to me.
And yet… there it was.
In so many ways, I was grateful for my Big C-Word, and for all it had to teach me. I appreciated the many moments of beauty it brought into my life.
And I thought; should this thing take me away, would I want those around me to wallow in pain, to spend the time still given them in anger, fear and sorrow because I’d left this earth? Would I want them to no longer notice the beauty just because I wasn’t there to enjoy it with them anymore? Or more to the point, to not learn lessons and have gratitude for the beauty of the moments this thing that took me from them had created for them? In short, would I want them to not enjoy their own lives and be grateful for all it has to offer, but to stay in a space of suffering?
The answer was simple: No. Of course not.
I’ve come to realize not acknowledging the beauty in life, in whatever form it takes, not allowing oneself to appreciate and bless the lessons learned and sharing those with others, not letting oneself feel the joy and bliss and happiness and laughter in the midst of the pain, wasn’t honoring those who’d passed from it or still suffered from it. In fact, it was the opposite. It held us back from honoring them.
I’ve lost people in the past, and more people recently. I’ve lost them from a variety of causes, some after a long life well lived, others at an unseemingly time when there was still so much they had to do. Those ones hurt the most. Those ones I miss the most.
But one thing I know without a doubt about all of them: they’d want me to live well, to live fully, and to be happy, no matter what. In fact, if for no other reason, they’d want me to do it on their behalf. Because they loved living, they didn’t want to die even if they didn’t fear it. And if they could still be here, I know for a fact they’d want to see and experience every single moment of beauty, and take it with them.
And they’d want me to do the same.
5 Feel Good News Stories From Around the World. Read it Here
So I am finally going to recognize some of those Moments of Beauty that my Big C-word gave me to me… in honor of those who no longer can.
There was the moment that I first heard I had it, and my husband held my hand as the doctor talked to us about it, and I realized in his grip just how much he loved me and wanted so much to take this from me.
There was the moment when we held each other close at home together, both of us worried and concerned, scared of the future… and suddenly I relaxed as I smelled his hair and felt his arms around me and just knew no matter what happened, that moment right then was perfect. Simply because I was in his arms and felt his heart beating and we were alive, together, happy, in love… and at that moment all was well.
There was the moment when I realized I was learning so much about myself, and my own inner strength, and wrote in my diary about some of my insights.
There was the moment when I suddenly knew that I could handle it, whatever it was, that I was strong enough.
There was the moment when I was being prepped for one of my surgeries and made myself laugh as I wrote something on a whiteboard and tried to pop a wheelie with the wheelchair I was in (I couldn’t, but I tried).
There was the moment I woke from surgery under heavy drugs feeling in love with everyone and everything and insisted on having the entire surgical team come visit me so I could thank them personally, and tell them I loved them all. (Yes, I was super high on meds at the time. But at least I know now I’m a happy drunk.)
There was the moment my surgeon told me that as I went under I began to sing to the radio she had on and telling jokes (I don’t remember this). And how I apparently saw her grandfather at the end of the bed guiding her hand. Well… that wouldn’t surprise me. She was an excellent surgeon, and later told me he was her inspiration.
There was the moment I found myself having a hard time staying still under the radiation beam because a song had just come on the station they played for me during my treatments that I absolutely loved, and I really just needed to dance. Try dancing with one finger sometime. It isn’t easy.
There was the moment when I discovered my mantra for those radiation treatments that helped me get through them even as my hair and skin sloughed off and it became painful.
“… I am literally being healed by the light as it passes through me.”
There was the moment when I discovered that as tired as I was while going through treatments, I had the strength to still work, and was glad for it as it distracted me from what I was going through.
There was the moment I found a park I could walk to at lunch, and did so every day as per the doctor’s orders, to try and help move the medications and radiations through my body and out of my cells as quickly as possible, and keep myself healthy.
There was the moment a woman I met during treatments made me laugh as she told me where her cancer was (“in a not-so-ladylike place honey!”) and I saw in her the wonderful personality I hoped to have when I got to be her age.
There was that brilliant moment when it was my last day of treatments and I brought the entire nursing staff Porto’s for breakfast, and as I opened up the boxes one of them said; “I see somebody’s graduating today! Congratulations!”
There was the moment the attending physician checking the healing of my scars and skin exclaimed in surprise; “This is a beautiful scar! Look how well it’s healing! Who did this work? I need to show my intern.” And proceeded to call in his intern and another doctor to take a look, giving instruction on what healthy progress looks like for my type of procedures. This made me both proud and relieved to the core.
And five years later, there was the Moment of Beauty when my surgeon said to me; “Well, it’s officially been five years with no recurrence. You are in complete remission.”
That’s one I’ll never forget.
I’m grateful for every Moment of Beauty that my Big C-Word brought to me. They each helped me to heal. And to grow.
Not that I ever want to go through it or anything like it again in order to have them. Just because I can find the beauty and the lessons and the growth in a situation of pain doesn’t mean I believe it requires that pain to experience those kinds of moments.
I certainly believe a person can and should find their Moments of Beauty through happy times. I’d much rather find my moments by watching the sunset on the beach or walking through a garden filled with roses or simply sitting on my patio in the sunshine from now on, thank you very much.
But my point is, moments of beauty are not only brought to you by sunshine and flowers. There can be and are many moments of beauty during a storm, even in a hurricane.
It’s up to us to begin looking for them so we don’t miss them when they appear.
We are now collectively going through our own Big C-Word on a global scale.
And as before, I’ve been noticing those Moments of Beauty within it, if for no other reason than to keep my mind and spirit sane.
I write them down to honor those who have been lost because of it, and those who are still fighting it.
I write them down that I may remember them on days when I find it hard to feel any joy. Because, like before, there are days when it is hard enough to find my slippers, much less my joy.
But I choose to look for it anyway. So I write them down, that I might heal.
Getting Over Getting Older. How To Love & Accept Your Aging Body. Read it Here
There was the moment I first noticed the chalk-art children left on our sidewalks as we walked, all with messages of hope, hearts, rainbows and love.
I stopped dead when I came across the first one, struck by the truth of the verse; “God ordains strength out of the mouths of babes…” My eyes welled up as their simple, sweet innocent words to the world touched my heart in a deep way.
There was the moment I walked our neighborhood for the umpteenth time and waved to neighbors I’d never met and from whom I still remained at a safe distance, but who now greeted me with a smile.
The moment I read the notes one of my neighbors would leave on a board near their window greeting everyone, simply to send out some encouragement.
The moment I saw Christmas lights on a Stop sign and other odd places, put there to cheer up the neighborhood in the middle of a Spring like no other.
The moment I sat in the peace and silence of the night and realized it was only 8pm, yet it was as quiet and calm as if I was camping in the woods rather than living in the middle of a large city. Somehow knowing that everyone was feeling hushed together comforted me.
There was the moment I raised my arms up to embrace the bigness of the intensely blue Los Angeles skies, made clean and clear for the first time in decades by the lack of cars, planes and industry.
The moment my husband and I stood for over half an hour simply observing a hawk as it tore through a meal in a tree, watching with a mixture of awe and unease as one animal’s death gave life to another. We were glad for the hawk. We were sad for the small bird that became its’ dinner.
There was the moment my sister sent an Easter video of my mother in lockdown saying hello through the window. And my sweet mom, her memory now a memory, when prompted to say Happy Easter to everyone smiled and said; “Happy Birthday!”
The moments on my birthday when my dearest friends called, texted, Facetimed, and had a Zoom Cocktail and Cake Celebration with me. Though alone at home with my husband, my day was a party filled with friends.
The moments of laughter I’ve had as I watched my cats chase one another around the house and I realized now I know exactly how they feel.
The moments of delight I’ve had as I walked past yards so filled with flowers I felt I was walking through Descanso Gardens rather than three blocks from my home.
The moments of meditation on my patio when I realized I didn’t need to set an alarm, I could simply sit and be.
The moments of understanding, growth, awareness and learning I’ve had as a result of this time.
The moment (oh this one I’ll never forget) my husband stood on the stairs on our anniversary and played “My One and Only Love” on his sax for me and me alone.
And the tears took both of us as the immensity and intensity of our love and sacredness of it all hit home.
The moment I stayed up for literally two days straight to edit a memorial video for the online funeral of my friend’s mother who had died from this global Big C-word, and I cried my way through it. It was a bittersweet beauty, because I got to know her as I crafted her story, I came to love her myself, and I realized I’d never have the chance to speak to her face to face now.
The moment that memorial video went live, and I saw the comments of all the people who loved this woman and missed her so terribly spread like healing waters on the internet to my friend and her family.
The moment I found out another friend who’d been sick tested negative and could go home.
The moment each morning when I wake up and breathe in deeply, knowing I am well right now, and can enjoy another day of life.
The moment when I realized I am strong enough to handle it this time as well.
There was the Moment of Beauty when I understood I needed to Trust, and to Love, and that this is all there is.
In every breath, that is all there is.
I do not pretend to have answers for times such as these, especially this worldwide situation which is so unprecedented. I do not pretend to know what to say or how to help anyone around me deal with it. I do not pretend that there are not those for whom these moments will be few and far between, and this storm a tornado that rips through their homes.
But I do know that as I walk through this portal we are all journeying through right now, looking around me in awareness and expectation, that being open to the idea of beauty has helped me to move through it with greater ease and with less of a burden.
I do know that by allowing myself to pick up these moments and treasure them, I am building a wealth in my soul that outweighs the concerns over my bank account.
I do know that by softening my heart so that it’s able to receive the beauty as it unfolds along the way, I am finding more meaning in my life.
I do know that the moment I stopped judging – myself, others, the world, all that is happening – and instead focused on the beauty that still exists in each of those, I felt a great tension release inside of me, and a glorious calm gently fill me.
And in this way, I hope to help ease others’ burdens by showing that though #TodaysMomentOfBeauty may be brought to you by: the World’s Big C-Word… it still can actually bring you to peace.
May you discover your own Moments Of Beauty.
And may they help you to heal.
By JEANETTE DUBOIS
Jeanette is a film & tv editor, writer, director and producer who’s worked on Emmy & Telly Award winning shows, movies, and music videos for a variety of networks. She’s also a trained operatic who mostly sings to her cats now, though sometimes she expands her audience to her family & friends. She loves gardening, good books, good wine, and good conversations, preferably all at the same time.
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