Archive for March, 2011

Praying for Japan

My most sincere thoughts and most heartfelt prayers go out to the sweet people of Japan this morning. My once hometown of Tokyo is 186 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter, but the area was still badly shaken.

Though Facebook and Twitter I have learned that my friends and their families in the Tokyo area are safe, but I am still waiting to hear from those who have family in Sendai.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to develop ties to this fascinating place and these wonderful people. May they be blessed.

My Ferrari

Today I bought a Ferrari. Well, a piece of one.
Last night I plugged my electric pink Hot Tools blow dryer into the wall, expecting to hear a strong, steady stream of hot air. (My mother bought me earplugs to wear when I dry my hair because she’s convinced my frequent use of this styling tool will be the reason I go deaf at 30. She’s probably right, but I still haven’t brought myself to stuff them in my ears.)
Instead of a dangerously high-decibel wind, though, all I got was a timid whir. A whisper, really. A kitten’s meow likely has more momentum behind it.
After plugging it into multiple sockets and giving it a few solid taps with the heel of my hand, I came to grips with the utterly untimely death of my dryer. I say untimely because I’ve been budgeting my money so well recently, and I’ve enjoyed seeing the numbers in my account increase — by tiny increments, mind you, but increase nonetheless. I knew the purchase of a tool robust enough to dry my unbelievably water-absorbent hair would not be good for my wallet.
So, I did plan on making a significant purchase when I walked into Classy Chassis tonight. I did not, however, plan on purchasing a piece of a car. But the sweet, well-trained salesperson and an “incredible deal” had me leaving the store with a “high performance luxury dryer.”
Under this bad boy’s sleek hood is a 2,000-watt, Ferrari-designed V12 engine. It also has a nano titanium-infused grill and several other features that I’m sure would have car lovers doing cartwheels. Actually, they’d probably just think it’s crazy — as in ridiculous — that anyone even bothered spending time putting such fine feats of engineering into something designed to style hair.
The odds that it’s actually as amazing as the box makes it sound? Slim. The likelihood that I’ll take it for a spin tomorrow and find that it does a decent job of drying hair? I guess we’ll see.
Even if it’s not all that effective now, perhaps it will come in handy one day when my husband has a midlife crisis and decides he wants a fancy car. I’ll just hand him my dryer and tell him he can even keep it in the garage if he’d like.

Pretty vs. beautiful

As an editor by profession and an avid reader by choice, I frequently find sentences that inspire me, but remembering later exactly which source those sentences came from is tricky.

For example, I read something a week or two ago about beauty. It was just a short sentence, but it got me thinking. So, I apologize for not being able to cite my sources, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about what I read.

The quote I’m rummaging through the recesses of my mind to find said something to this effect: There is a difference between the words “pretty” and “beautiful,” and there is a difference between the items we assign those labels to.

After reading this, I immediately thought of an entry I made in my journal five years ago as my family was preparing to leave Tokyo, Japan, after having lived there for three years.

In this entry, I mentioned looking out my bedroom window down the narrow street, which was pinched on either side by old homes squeezed onto tiny pieces of land and blanketed by a canopy of telephone wires. This claustrophobia-inducing concrete scene is definitely not something I’d call pretty. But as I tried to capture it in my mind on our final day in Japan, I decided there was something beautiful about it.

You could look beyond the asphalt and attribute that beauty to the neatly pruned bushes and absolutely spotless sidewalks, but it was something more that inspired me to label it “beautiful.”

So here’s a thought: Pretty things have an obvious appeal. We can spot a dress, a tropical sunset or a piece of decor and easily say, “That’s pretty.” But true beauty is initially concealed. To me, beauty connotes an appeal that the observer has to work to discover. But once it’s found, it’s eternal.

Perhaps this applies to people, too. Pick up any fashion or fitness magazine, and you’ll find the word “pretty” (among others that are harmful to your self-esteem) popping into your mind every five seconds as you are bombarded with images of air-brushed perfection.

If, however, you close the magazine and think about the most beautiful people you know, the images are likely very different.

You probably don’t think of the skinniest girl at work or the woman you saw at the salon last week. If you’re like me, you think of people whose humility, determination, poise and confidence shine from within. And I think it’s interesting how that confidence starts to show up in the gentle wrinkles at the corner of their eyes or in the exuberance of their hand gestures.

Once you discover it, beauty is undeniable.

With this in mind, I gave myself a challenge recently to spend more time looking for beautiful things — and I found them. I found beauty in an overcast, smoggy sky. I found it in the barren tree branches lining a city street. I found it in a little girl’s unkempt hair twisting in the wind as she ran along a street in my neighborhood.

And I found it in the photo above. Yes, in that frozen drop of water on a bush outside my house I saw beauty.

It turns out the world is bursting at the seams with beauty. It just takes a bit of time and an open mind to see it.