MONTHLY ARCHIVES: November 2011
Its been a pretty busy month and unfortunately there hasn’t been many things I’ve loved this month because its just been madness!
I promise to change that in December.
A palliative care ward is the last place I expected to learn a lesson in beauty. Being a ward where people came to die, I expected lessons in love, lessons on the importance of family and on living a life well lived … but a lesson in beauty? Well, it seemed so irrelevant. Somehow banal. But sometimes you just have to take life lessons where they are offered to you and not ask too many questions.
In retrospect, twenty-four years old was atrociously young to be working in a palliative care ward as a therapist, but that’s where I found myself soon after I landed in London. It was a brand new ward and an exciting opportunity to build up a therapy practice from scratch. I couldn’t wait to start.
Many years on though, I still remember when Violet first arrived on the ward. Hushed tones explained that it had been decided that aggressive treatment was to cease and that now we were to make her last few days comfortable. She was 92 years old.
It was uncanny, but everyone on the ward used the adjective “beautiful” when describing Violet. While her colour palette had faded and the packaging was a little crinkly, you could see that in her day she would have been a heartbreaker. The kind of woman that made wives cling possessively to the arms of their husbands when she walked by. The yummy mummy who was the effortless envy of the school run. And boy, could she make you laugh. Wit as sharp as the needles she no longer had to endure and shrewd insights into the colourful collection of characters who inhabited her new, antiseptic scented home, still live with me today. She was beautiful, inside and out. And, it seemed, she had unfinished business.
Late one afternoon, Violet confided to me that her daughters had been warring for years and it was destroying her more than it could ever destroy either of them. She would not be able to find peace in the afterlife until her daughters found peace with each other. So after much deft negotiation, both daughters were brought to her bedside at the same time. It was the first time they had been in the same room together for 15 years. Violet showed the strength of a thousand oxes as she brought her daughters’ simmering pain to the surface, held them close while they wept, then gently washed away their hurt. It was hard to watch. But it would have been harder if she had passed away without giving her children a sense of peace. I know. I’d seen that happen too.
A few days later, I remember shaking the dew drops off my heavy winter coat as I arrived early at work… and I instantly felt it. Someone had died. It was simply a matter of who. Sure, death was an occupational hazard of working on a palliative care ward but still, every time it happened I felt a palpable jolt of shock. Every. Single. Time.
I walked tentatively to the nurses station and stared wordlessly at Jan, my favourite nurse of all time, who was pacing anxiously with the phone to her ear. She put her hand over the receiver and whispered “It’s Violet. I’m trying to get the Doctor. But she has already gone. Her family are on their way. Please go and be with her.”
I timidly opened the curtains to her cubicle, walked over and put my hand gently over her thin, soft fingers. I looked into her pale face and remembered thinking “you’re not beautiful anymore Violet.” And it was one of those moments where you are jolted by your own audacity. How could that be my first thought? At that moment? Surely there were a thousand other more appropriate, more transcendent thoughts that could have crossed my mind at exactly that instant. But it was true. Somehow, Violet wasn’t beautiful anymore. I had been wrong in my assumptions about what made everyone sigh wistfully about her breathtaking beauty. I suddenly realized it wasn’t just the aesthetic features of her face, because they were still there. It was the spirit that had left her only moments before, that had tricked our minds into thinking she was more “beautiful” than her physical attributes alone dictated. It was a disconcerting thought, on many levels.
As much as anyone else I know, I have, and still do, spend a fair amount of time kowtowing to the “gods of beauty”. I allow a personal trainer to mercilessly torture my body, I paint my face in pretty colours most mornings and I regularly bind my feet into sparkly, metatarsal breaking contraptions. To be beautiful. But the one thing I learned from Violet is that if I truly want the world to see me that way, then I have to show my soul just as much discipline, and nurturing, as my body. Because in a very confronting and tangible way, I learned that when we look at someone and label them as being beautiful, that sometimes it can be an optical illusion. One minute Violet was beautiful, the next minute, she wasn’t. Because the thing that had made her beautiful had peacefully slipped away just moments before I arrived. She had, in passing, proved that in life she had epitomized the proverb she had whispered to me on the day before she died: “Beauty without virtue is like a rose without scent.” Not the kind of lesson one would expect to learn on a palliative care ward, but one that has stayed with me since it left Violet.
WORDS: Misha at theblingbuoy.com
My all-time favourite beauty product has got to be a lipstick. All my friends know that my bright fuchsia pout is my signature look.
So you can imagine how my lips can get after applying lipstick throughout the day, lipliner and then having to deal with the weather as well.
Its very important to look after your lips to prevent chapping which leads to split skin and possibly infection.
Like all skin, it needs to be cared for and at least a couple of times a week must be exfoliated and then moisturised afterwards. After you’ve exfoliated your lips you’ve got to put a good lip conditioner to keep your lips hydrated because your lips don’t contain any glands that product the natural oils that skin needs to stay and look healthy. Because of this your lips are the quickest to dry out than the rest of your body and forget licking your lips for hydration – saliva dried extremely quickly and removed moisture from your lips which makes it even worse! Its especially important to keep your pout moisturised in the Winter, but as Australia is now going into Summer it still applies but with the added care of choosing a lip conditioner with SPF, because all skin will burn. Your lips included.
Here are my top 5 lip conditioning products that help look after your lips. READ MORE
I swear I feel like I just posted a Reese Raves. Time goes by far too quickly for my liking.
Anyway, here are things I liked in the month of