What makes YOU beautiful?

Just a couple of days ago, I noticed one of my friends tagged in a post on Facebook where she was told to post 5 pictures of herself that made her feel beautiful. Slowly, my news feed has started to fill with more and more of these groups of 5 pictures posted by friends who have been tagged in this little "challenge" and I don't think I have ever enjoyed a little Facebook mini trend more than I am loving this one.

It's not much of a secret that I am my own worst critic. I can find the flaw in any good that I do and in a flood of compliments, the thing that tends to stick with me the longest is the one person who didn't think I did enough.

I honestly doubt that I'm alone.

It's easy to be hard on yourself. Social media is plastered with picture perfect images that have a tendency to make us focus on everyone else's awesomeness while we are sitting in our pajamas next to a massive pile of laundry. It's easy to look at someone's amazing vacation pictures and be jealous that you can't afford to go on vacation all of the time...never mind the fact that you just got back from your own vacation a week ago and you honestly don't know how many vacations that person has taken. You could be 15 vacations up on that chick, but you still are jealous. Let's face it, If you let it, Facebook can kinda make you feel like crap.

But something about this one just stood out to me.

Maybe it is the fact that I see so many moms posting pictures of themselves from when they were hugely pregnant, or while they are holding their brand new baby minutes after giving birth. Or maybe it's the pictures of people all full of mud and sweat and probably tears after completing the Tough Mudder. There have been wedding pictures, marathon finishes and moving days.

The vast differences in what each of my friends has been posting got me thinking - why stop at pictures? Although it isn't necessarily easy for people to just quickly pull up 5 pictures that make them feel beautiful, wouldn't it make it be kind of cool if people were asked to list 5 things that make them feel beautiful?

Maybe it is a moment that you captured on camera that makes you feel most beautiful...but maybe it isn't. Maybe it's part of the everyday grind that makes you beautiful. Maybe it's the fact that your a single parent. That your a working parent. That you haven't given up hope on becoming a parent.

Maybe you've lost 50 pounds but the pictures still don't make you feel beautiful but the work that you are putting into changing your lifestyle does. Maybe it's snuggling on the couch watching a movie in your sweats from 10 years ago. Or going for a solo jog. Or jamming out on your guitar in your garage.

If you are like me, you take more pictures than you even know what to do with...but you might just be missing the moments that make you truly feel the most beautiful.

I spend a lot of time beating myself up...but there's a lot more beauty than I give myself credit for.

I am beautiful when I work out. When I am disgusting and sweaty and swearing in my head at the chick on the tv telling me I can do anything for 60 seconds and I'm shaking and trying to remember to breathe - I am beautiful because I'm doing something for me.

I am beautiful when I write. I make myself laugh and I make myself cry and I struggle with writer's block. I'm always in some sort of attire that wouldn't be considered beautiful in anyone's opinion and I usually could use a shower...but I feel beautiful. I feel beautiful because I am doing something I love that impacts others and that is an amazing feeling.

I am beautiful because I care. I put other people before myself often (which isn't always a good thing) and I want nothing more than to see that the people who mean the most to me are happy. I love surprises and coming up with the most thought out gifts around the holidays and I love to see people smile. When people around me are hurting, I hurt for them and I hate to see people disappointed. It is beautiful to care.

I am beautiful because I am funny. I find the humor in situations that aren't obviously funny and I make fun of myself a lot. I laugh at inappropriate times and I laugh at my kids. I think smart humor is the best humor and stupid humor is a necessity. I am beautiful because I realize that sometimes I take myself way too seriously and that I need to make fun of myself for that.

I am beautiful because I try. I don't always succeed and I let people down...but I try. I juggle a schedule that would be a breeze for some and impossible for others and I'm not always sure of what I'm doing or if I'm even heading to the right place at the right time when I load the kids into the car. I try to be the best version of myself that I can be and I try harder at nothing than the way I try for these 3 guys I get to call my own. Sometimes I am exactly what people need and want me to be and sometimes I fall short...but I am beautiful because I try.

It would have been a lot easier for me to come up with a list of things that I don't love about myself than this list things that I consider beautiful. And since I am still pretty sure I am not alone in feeling that way, I ask of you this - whether it be a mannerism, a major accomplishment, an ability to overcome obstacles, or a seemingly "standard" trait that you possess, take a minute to appreciate those things that make you beautiful. Tell them to yourself. Post them here. Tag someone you know. Share this post with someone who doesn't give themselves enough credit and challenge them to find the beauty in the little things that they do...

Because while pictures are worth a thousand words, and can capture a moment that without them you may forget...sometimes they don't capture ALL of the beauty.

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