The Beauty of Different

the beauty of differentSome days beat me up. Ever feel that way? Sometimes I see, hear or read so much craziness that my heart hurts. Yesterday was one of those days. The bright spot, however, was that I got to have dinner with one of my favorite people in the world (my bestie Erin Margolin) and unload on her all the ways that people had disappointed me that day.

We talked about the Twitter bullying of Candy Crowley during the presidential debates and the book that our friend Jenny Rapson featured on her blog that tore apart working moms, but which was sent home to a family with a working mom from their child’s daycare. We talked about bullying and the fact that it’s becoming an epidemic, as well as about people treating other people disrespectfully and the need for more kindness and compassion. After two hours, as always, I felt better. Girlfriends do so rock. Guy friends do, too. Especially mine—you know who you are. And if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you are one. Thank you.

So where does The Beauty of Different come in? I don’t know about you, but I find that when I’m feeling the most down about people and how self-absorbed and worse, how uncaring and unkind they can often be, that something inevitably happens that changes everything. Which is awesome, because I’m the kind of person that’s continually looking for the happy, and the good in things and in people. Call me crazy, but a life lived looking for the good just seems to logically be the best path.

And so today, life gave me this. This beautiful video created by Karen Walrond, featuring many women I’m lucky to know, love and admire, with a message to all women and girls. And it’s about the beauty in being different. There are really no words for how much I loved this video and how much truth there is in the words shared there. Go on, see for yourself. Then come back. I’m not finished with you yet.

Wasn’t it stupendous? And didn’t you just immediately fall in love with Karen Walrond? And in case you want a written reminder, to print off and staple to your forehead (oh wait, that might hurt), here’s the message that Karen so eloquently articulated–for all women:

  1. Remember there are differences, but there are no flaws.
  2. There’s only 1 fashion rule: if it makes you feel awesome, wear it.
  3. Be willing to be vulnerable, so you can also fully experience joy.
  4. Control your own perspective, perspective is everything.
  5. Another word for sexy? Confident.
  6. Breathe deeply and every day.
  7. Express yourself. Often, kindly and without apology.
  8. The adventure is in the attempt. Embrace possibility.
  9. To remain youthful, never stop looking for wonderful.
  10. And finally: create your own story. Never let others create it for you.

Because no matter what anyone says, there is an underlying truth:

You are different. And you’re beautiful, so go be amazing.

Now you see why starting my day with this gift instantly erased all the frustrations of the previous day? And seeing the beautiful faces of so many of my friends, Rachel Matthews, Kelly “MochaMomma” Wickham, Alli Worthington, Maya Bisineer, Anissa Mayhew, Nirasha “Mommi Niri” Jaganath and so many others that I might not know well, but who I know from sharing conference rooms and experiences with the women featured here. Women who are beautiful inside and out and doing amazing things every single day. Women who are beautiful because of what they think, what they do, what they give, who they help, what they share and the adventures they undertake and share with the world. There really are no words.

And Karen Walrond, she’s fantastic. Like so many of us, she’s many things–wife, mom, engineer, attorney, dog-lover, writer, photographer (and so much more) also known as @chookooloonks on Twitter.

Karen’s book The Beauty of Different, a photographic journey that includes not only amazing photography but also wonderful essays about women and what makes each of us unique, beautiful and different is nothing short of spectacular. She’s not only a talented photographer, she’s a fantastic writer as well, so the book is a truly a treasure to cherish. What’s that you say? Oh yes, it will make a perfect holiday gift — you can buy The Beauty of Different right here.

And I’m not the only one who thinks this book is spectacular, I’ll have you know. The book was and is so amazing that it inspired BlogHer’s initiative called Own Your Beauty, which was also part of USA Today’s Ownit campaign. I can’t say it enough, even at the risk of redundancy. Karen is nothing short of amazing. Naturally. And she’s a writer, consultant, sought-after speaker and has appeared on Oprah, CNN, PBS and many more. In fact, you should hire her—she’s that good.

I don’t know about you other parents out there, but these are the things I care about. And the words so elegantly crafted and those images so perfectly captured by Karen—that’s what I want to remember to hold close to my heart. These are the words I want to teach my four daughters to hold close to their hearts. And I want to share this message with my girlfriends, my neighbors, my husband, my guy friends–and every man who has a daughter or a woman he loves. Because this? This is what matters. Not being skinny or having great hair or thighs without cellulite, and faces without wrinkles. It’s not about being a size two and being perfectly dressed or having a house that’s perfectly clean. In fact, it’s not about being perfect at all. And it’s most certainly not what the media shows us women (and our daughters), every direction we turn.

What matters is just being yourself. Because each and every one of us is amazing. Just as we are.

And so, my day today started with amazement, delight, awe and conviction. What more can I possibly ask? And maybe this message, this video and this book will resonate with you as much as it did with me. If so, share it with the world.

Image via Karen Walrond

  • AmyMccTobin

    Some days beat me up to. Thank you for this…. it really means a lot.

  • http://twitter.com/teedubya Travis Wright

    I feel all goose-pimply. :-) You should go give the Chiefs a pep-talk.

  • http://pegfitzpatrick.com/ Peg Fitzpatrick

    Wonderful! “What matters is just being yourself. Because each and every one of us is amazing. Just as we are.” Best thing I read all day. Hands down.

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Peggy. That just made me smile.

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks T. That made me laugh, too. The image of you, all goose-pimply :)))

  • ShellyKramer

    You are welcome. And never alone, m’dear. Thanks for the kind words.

  • http://twitter.com/Michele_Welch Michele Welch

    That was a beautiful video Kelly. Really loved it. And “looking for the happy”? One of my new favorite lines. ;-)

  • ShellyKramer

    Me too!!!! So glad you enjoyed!

  • http://twitter.com/ITJil Jil Wright

    @shellykramer, yesterday beat me up too…and this is great. Thank God for good folks in the world (of which you are one). I didn’t know Kelly before this post, so thanks….the world can’t have too many kick ass chicks.

  • ShellyKramer

    No. The world can’t have too many kickass chicks. And you, my friend, are most def one of them!

  • http://twitter.com/Mr_Madness Amar Trivedi

    Hi Shelly, this is powerful content. You are a gifted writer. Not getting all goose-pimply like Travis :) but for sure, I am inspired by your passionate writing style.

  • ShellyKramer

    Thank you so much, Amar. You’ve officially made my day!

  • http://www.facebook.com/deannie Deanna McNeil

    Ms Shelley, how have I not read your blog before? What an awesome introduction. Hi! Thank you for sharing this as well as your feelings. I felt like I was reading something a close friend would say to me or I would say myself. It has taken me many years to give myself permission to just be myself. I LOVE IT. Hugs!

  • ShellyKramer

    Ohhhhh, what a lovely comment. Thank you! And I’m thinking that what you are is probably pretty wicked amazing! Thanks Deanna … for being a “new” friend!! I look forward to more. Much more.

  • http://www.craigmcbreen.com/ Craig McBreen

    Hi Shelly,

    “Call me crazy, but a life lived looking for the good just seems to logically be the best path.”
    –I certainly won’t! … :) I try to do that every day as well. About a year a ago I was a news junkie, but the more I let that stuff go the happier I become. Funny that, huh?

    One of my favorite things in the world is to treat mean people with kindness. Sounds cliché, but it’s always fun especially with a grumpy cashier. Never really know what’s going on in their world anyway.

    “What matters is just being yourself. Because each and every one of us is amazing. Just as we are.”
    –Couldn’t agree more. Love to write about this at my place.

    Nice, uplifting post … um for women and men ;)

  • ShellyKramer

    Funny that. For sure. (linking arms, preparing to skip away in solidarity)

  • http://twitter.com/mickeygomez Mickey Gomez

    I love looking for the happy (when I remember to do it, that is). Lovely, gorgeous, spectacular reminder, Shelly. This week left me feeling like a splatted bug on a windshield. This? Exactly what I needed to get out of my own way and breathe. Thank you!

  • ShellyKramer

    Great. That’s how I felt when I watched the video and discovered Karen’s work. I think those of us who look for the good, and the happy, are often most really affected by the negativity we experience. Like you, I needed these reminders. So happy you enjoyed the post!

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Well said – in a world that rewards conformity (even if it costs people their souls) and fails to embrace differences fully, we need more people banging the drum on this subject. It also raises the issue of being judgemental about others which, I think, is all part of the same problem. As a mother of an 8yr old who has been bullied because a certain “element” decided he was different and therefore “fair game” I feel really strongly that it is time for us all to stand up and be counted – especially in the way parents, schools and society influence our young peoples mindsets..

  • http://twitter.com/Soulati Jayme Soulati

    What a lovely greeting to find upon sitting down on a sunny Sunday after soccer tourney at 8 a.m. in the 38 degree, fog and frost clime. Just last night, my 10yo said, mom, I want to be skinny like those other girls at school.

    Right now, here…must teach #1 as I experience #3 myself as challenging as it may be.

    Those smiles? Astonishingly gorgeous, and you know 88% of these beautiful women…sorry you weren’t included in here in all your own glory.

    Will be buying that book for my BFF and me. Peace, Girlfriend.

  • ShellyKramer

    Ahhh, but your words made me smile my friend. And I’m so very glad you enjoyed it :))
    Let’s do our best to teach our girls the lessons here – and to remember them ourselves, no matter how difficult that might be.

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