To celebrate my birthday this year, and to share some love with my reading and writing community, I’m honored to be participating in the 4th annual Beauty of a Woman BlogFest
From February 23-March 1, bloggers from all over the globe will join to celebrate women, and to share their views on some aspect of “Beauty.”
What does it mean? How do we define it? How do we achieve it? Should we even try? Is beauty really only skin deep?
From personal stories of triumph, to sharing posts on beauty in all its forms, bloggers will cover the gamut of topics surrounding this idea of “beauty” and “womanhood.” There will be fabulous prizes, giveaways, and plenty of fun. In addition, you’ll no doubt find inspiration and encouragement through interaction with readers, writers, and authors as you hop from one blog to the next, checking out individual posts and visiting each site for chances to win even more giveaways! Stop by the Events Page and enter to win.
In keeping faithful to my young adult readership, I thought I’d share a letter from me to my teen self…lessons in beauty.
Dear Teen Me,
Once upon a time, I was you. I didn’t feel pretty, or popular, or important. I was plain and tomboyish, and didn’t feel like I fit in. It didn’t seem like my opinion mattered, or even that my voice was heard most days. There were times I felt invisible.
You know what it was like growing up in the chaos of a house filled with kids–the youngest of seven, and living in the shadow of four older sisters and two big brothers, all vying for the spotlight in whatever crazy ways they found to stand out in the crowd. You fought to overcome the ugliness of your parents’ addictions, the familial history of mental illness, and the deaths that would rob you of a childhood far too soon.
Like most teenagers, you rebelled–crawling inside yourself in an effort to escape–to find some kind of solid ground or safehaven. But life shifted at every turn. The choices you made led you to dark, dangerous places. At times, you feared you might not survive. Still you persevered. You kept looking up…taking one more step…trying to find your way out of the pit and back to sanity. And each step brought you closer to discovering the truth of who you were…a beautiful child of God.
Despite the chaos and all those obstacles, you discovered a light in the darkness–something special in yourself to believe in. I’m so glad you did.
Soaring across the ice set you free. You learned to set goals for yourself, took risks and got back up when you fell, growing stronger each time. You realized that talent wasn’t a substitute for hard work. And you found the courage to be true to yourself, even when it meant standing and fighting for what you wanted. In spite of the struggles, you found the strength and courage to persevere. At last, you accepted your own beauty and the power of being you.
Maybe you wouldn’t be a famous figure skater, or a rich supermodel, but it didn’t matter. There was always tomorrow and a new adventure awaited at every turn. As you came to see yourself with new eyes and embraced the beautiful child within, it became clear that you were smart first, and beautiful second–and of the two, you knew that being smart would get you closer to your goals every time.
As you grew through young adulthood, you were known to be kind, generous, and a person that others could count on. The light that shone from deep inside your heart and soul radiated and touched everyone around you, making their lives that much brighter. You intuitively understood the healing power of love, and as you would later come to see, it would lead you to your true purpose in life–to share the gift of healing with others.
The death of your mother when you were sixteen taught you so much. Mostly, that beauty was as fleeting a thing as morning dew. But also that even in death, there is healing. With compassion comes forgiveness, and with letting go comes peace. At such a young age, you saw that life was precious and learned that time was an unbeatable foe, out to steal beauty right out from under you. But you knew that nothing and no one could steal your integrity, your will to not only survive, but to thrive and be a beacon to others.
At seventeen, you accepted the challenges of motherhood with grace and maturity beyond your years. Your choice to love, support, and raise a child on your own took more courage and selfless determination than any one person should be capable of. A testament to human resilience and I’m sure you’d agree, the power of faith. That “believing what you cannot see will come to pass” kind of faith that can overcome any fear.
I want to tell you now, how proud I am of you for pushing past your fear, facing the darkness head on, and reaching beyond it to touch the stars.
Never forget that you are loved for exactly who you are, and that you are beautiful, inside and out.
With deep and abiding love,
What advice would you give to your teen self?
Leave a comment to be entered to win a signed copy of my YA novel, ON THIN ICE. You might recognize Teen Me in some of this story.
Seventeen year old figure skater Penny Trudeau is a liar. She knows it, hates it, and can’t help herself. The truth is too hard and ugly. Her mother is dying of cancer, her father treats her as if she’s invisible, and she is starving—for food, for love, for acceptance, and mostly for the perfection that is just beyond her reach. When she finds comfort in the arms of Carter McCray, a hockey hunk a few years too old for her, the lies begin a chain of events that have dire consequences, not the least of which are a rape she can’t remember and a pregnancy she can’t ignore. If she reveals her secrets, will the shock and disappointment mean the end for her mother? Or has her mother been keeping the biggest secret of all?
Don’t forget to pop over to the Beauty of a Woman Events Page, enter to win prizes, and visit other authors for more inspiring posts. And here are some great tips to help you feel beautiful from our lovely hostess August McLaughlin and stylist Rayne Halgstrom.
Please share this event with others! #BOAW15
Awesome post, Paula! You can tell your teen self that I think you’re a pretty amazing woman as well. Hugs and love!
Thanks, Rhonda! Love you back, girlfriend…and right back at you on the “amazing woman” part:-)
Happy birthday, Paula! I’m so thrilled that you decided to join us — and what a lovely post!
This gave me chills: “I want to tell you now, how proud I am of you for pushing past your fear, facing the darkness head on, and reaching beyond it to touch the stars.” <3 Thanks for participating!
Hi August, thank you for organizing and offering such an amazing opportunity to share with readers! I’ll be sure to jump in again next year:-)
Oh, my, this post takes every reader back to the teens…what a time that was. I agree that your teen self has a big grin across her face for in enduring, a woman emerged who is not just living but thriving. Good on both of you. Really enjoyed this poignant post. Thank you.
Thanks for stopping in KM! Oh, those teen years, huh?
My teen self did not have anywhere near the trials that you did. I’m proud of you, and I don’t even know you!
Wow…thanks Amy. I’ve come a long way, that’s true. But knowing I wasn’t ever really alone gave me the strength. #thankGod!
Beautiful post, Paula. Such a vulnerable act of forgiveness and love. Just beautiful!
Thanks, Kate. Forgiveness is really what it’s all about, isn’t it?
That is a sweet letter. It has me thinking what I would write to my teenage self.
Hi, Amary. It’s definitely a great exercise for healing those old wounds we tend to bury. Glad you found it thought provoking:-)
Awesome post Paula. it is truly a gift to be able to look back and see all the right choices we made, the strength we showed and the love we shared. well done.
Hi Louise! great to see you here. Thanks for stopping in. Funny how we learn the best lessons from the “wrong’ choices, and how they help us to figure out the right ones:-)
Love this post, Paula! You’ve got me thinking about my teen self. She was a sad case, but she hung in there. And I definitely thank her for that! I think it’s wonderful that you are using your experiences to write for young adults, and show them that the feelings and experiences they are having are not unique and they are not alone in the world.
Thank you, Kassandra!
Love this. You were cute as a button, PJ! I guess i’d tell my teen self the familiar refrain from Tim Gunn: “It gets better. A lot better. You’ll be really happy someday. Hang in there, and don’t get another perm.” ; )
Hahaha! Perfect advice, Kristan. Thanks for stopping by.
Paula, it doesn’t get better than this post. I wish I had had it for my teen self. So encouraging, and to see you grow up into the beautiful, talented woman of today. Love that ice skate position, free–free to be who you are. My words to young women, be honest, study hard, remember to laugh at yourself, but then have faith in yourself. Oh yes, take good care of your body and your skin, you will reap the benefits. Clinique, has a magical acne product.
Thank you, Gail. I so appreciate your love and support. Also, great advice about the skin care!
What a clever idea to write a letter to your teen self. I loved the gentleness, compassion and ultimate pride that came from this letter. In a word, beautiful!
Thank you so much, Jan. I’ve seen others do this exercise and I knew i needed to do it for myself as well as share it with others. I so wish I’d done it years ago. It makes me think we should have high schoolers do it!
Paula great post. I too lost my mom at a young age (not 16, but young enough). I felt lost and so very depressed. For several months she would visit in my dreams every night and we’d talk about my kids and things going on in my life. I could hardly wait for bedtime because I knew she would be there. Then, when it stopped I realize I was ready to tackle my world on my own. Things really do work out if we just hang on. BTW, I already have On Thin Ice so don’t draw my name. Loved the book and so will the lucky winner.
Thank you, Kathye. It’s always amazing how we manage to cope and overcome adversity. Thank God for the resilience of the human spirit.
Beautiful post PJ. What a heartfelt and genuine letter to your teen self. The honesty and emotion leap off the page.
Hi Kourtney! thanks for stopping in:-)
A testament to human resilience and I’m sure you’d agree, the power of faith. That “believing what you cannot see will come to pass” kind of faith that can overcome any fear. LOVE…your words are like candy to the ears. LOVE THIS!
And your praise is like candy to mine, Rayne. Thanks darlin’!
Wow, what a powerful letter and powerful story. If your book is anything like the letter, it will be an amazing read. It can be so hard to have tenderness and compassion for the person one used to be. That is an accomplishment in itself.
Thanks, Audrey. Penny’s story is different from mine in many ways, but I definitely drew from my experience and the emotions behind it come through for sure. Thanks for sharing!
Life experiences change you at the core, to be sure…and also help to shape a new version of beautiful as your world view changes. Thanks for sharing your letter to your younger self with us!
what a poignant post. and what good advice to the teen you. At 17 I was engaged and I got married a few weeks after my 18th birthday. He was the perfect choice for a teenager, but sadly not so great for a mature woman. His love gave me the freedom to become who I was – a strong, independent woman, able to move forward in her world, confront her past and enjoy the present. God bless him and his new family. thanks for the reminder
To see the winners of the blogfest raffle prizes, pop over to the BOAW Wrap-up page: https://augustmclaughlin.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/beauty-of-a-woman-blogfest-iv-wrap-up-prize-winners-boaw2015/
Thanks to everyone who stopped by. Don’t ever forget how beautiful you truly are!
The randomly chosen winner of ON THIN ICE is Audrey Kalman! Thanks Audrey and all who stopped by to share their thoughts! I apologize for any glitches in leaving comments. I was away at a conference and unable to access my moderator status to approve comments during the hop, but here they all are in their wonderfully supportive measure! Blessings to all!