The Boy (6yo) was in my bedroom watching the Olympics, making himself scarce while the rest of us cleaned up after dinner.He came down when he heard some discussion about ice cream sundaes.”Were you watching the Olympics?” I asked.”Yes.””What’s on? Are they showing that Michael Phelps race again?””No. It’s running. Women.””The marathon?””Yes! That’s it! The marathon.”Without saying a word, I shot off down the hall and raced up the stairs, with The Boy sprinting behind me, laughing at my unexpected response. I asked him, “Is it almost over?””I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe. Yes, I think it might be.”I’ve been reading Runner’s World for some time now, so even though I don’t run marathons, I wanted to see the race or at least see who won.He and I flopped onto the bed and started watching. It wasn’t even 30 minutes into the race, so it turned out we had plenty of time. I could relax.”I’m rooting for Great Britain,” he said as we settled down next to each other.”Really?” I replied. “Why not the United States?””I don’t know. I’m just rooting for anybody from Great Britain. The girl in front is from Great Britain.””Well,” I said, “I’m going to root for the United States because, well, I just am.”We lay there, watching them run that marathon faster than I could sprint 200 meters at this time in my life. After a few minutes, The Boy said, “Actually, I’m rooting for any girl with a ponytail.””Oh?””Yep.”We watched for a minute or so in silence. Then he said, “Actually, I’m rooting for any girl with blonde hair and a ponytail.””Hm…interesting,” I said. As far as we could see from the screen, that still kept it to the Brits who were in the lead at that time. I was just relieved he didn’t say that he was rooting for the girls in the tiniest bikini bottoms, because as one of my daughters pointed out, “Wow. Those runners sure aren’t wearing very much.”We took a break from watching because, well, the marathon is a long race and we needed to make those sundaes. As the kids were pouring on chocolate sauce, I slipped back upstairs to check on the state of the race. A Romanian woman had broken away from the thick lead pack.I came downstairs and reported to The Boy, “Well, a woman from Romania has pulled away from that pack of runners. And guess what?””What?””She has blonde hair and a ponytail.”He looked up from his spoon and grinned. “Perfect!” he exclaimed.He slurped up the bottom of his sundae and then announced he was heading upstairs, “to see for myself,” he said.”You’d better,” I said. “I might have gotten it wrong.”After checking it out, he came halfway down the stairs. “It’s kind of reddish-blonde, but…close enough!”Then he ran back upstairs and enjoyed the steady swish of several ponytails, as those tough marathon runners pounded out 26 grueling miles on the streets of Beijing.
My face can’t be symmetrical. In fact, I don’t even want it to be.
But am I inadvertently creating imbalance to some features through activities that could easily be adjusted? Are there ways to bring a little more balance to the teeth, eyebrows and smile?
Imbalanced vs Balanced Teeth
One time I was looking at a picture of Katie Couric. Here’s one that will suffice to illustrate my point. For some reason, when I glanced at the photo, my eye went to her teeth. I saw that one of her front teeth was “bigger” than the other—that the gum was worn higher on her left front tooth than her right.
I thought, “She must brush with her right hand and focus more attention on that one.” I’m not picking on Katie—it’s just that her photo was the first one to draw my attention to this. In fact, be sure to note that the photo I selected is from People magazine’s “Most Beautiful People 2007″ issue. Obviously her unbalanced teeth take nothing away—she’s stunning.
Anyway, I looked at my reflection in the mirror and saw that I’m doing the exact same thing! I leaned in, and sure enough—one tooth, bigger. I thought, “Whoa! I’ve got to go easy on the brushing!” I’ve got to ease up on my left one, for sure. In my morning fog, I’ve got to pay more attention to my ablutions.
So that’s the first tip—for more even gum-wear, pay more attention when brushing. Because the gum doesn’t grow back. And I don’t want people to point to me as illustrative of someone who is “long in the tooth.”
Okay, so the second is like it, only different.
Imbalance vs Balanced Eyebrows
One time I was talking with a friend of mine who is a tad older than I. She pointed to one of her eyebrows and said, “Look! One goes up higher than the other. See? The other hardly has any strength to lift at all!” And sure enough, she lifted one high and when she tried to lift the other, it was lethargic.
“Let that be a lesson to you, Ann.”
“What’s the lesson?” I asked.
“I think you should exercise both while you’re young,” she said. “Remember when your mom said your face would freeze that way? I think it kind of does.”
So I went home and looked in the mirror to compare my eyebrow lifting abilities. I’ve always been quite, um, expressive. When I make faces, they are big. I call my face “elasti-face” or “stage face,” as this post explains. So I can lift both eyebrows high. And I can isolate my left eyebrow while the right one stays down, doing sort of a quizzical Spock imitation.
But I can’t lift my right eyebrow on its own.
So at the advice of my friend with the weary eyebrow, I have practiced lifting just the one now and then.
To balance things out a little.
Balanced vs Imbalanced Smile
Oh, and the smile. Corner lifts are something to consider, as well. Does one side of the smile go up higher than the other? Maybe the muscles on the opposite side need a little exercise? When no one’s looking, I practice a one-sided grin. Or, well, I hope nobody’s looking—if they catch me “exercising,” they’ll think I’m smirking.
Keeping a Balanced Attitude about Balance
After 40 years of overzealous, unbalanced brushing, I won’t know if a tamer toothbrush regimen will really make a difference, or if I can one day lift each eyebrow individually, but I figure it can’t hurt.
As for the tooth, I just hope I can avoid using Sensodyne for a few more years.
Symmetry isn’t attainable; in fact, asymmetry offers some visual interest.
I guess this is more about balance.
Like rotating your tires.
I’ve been experimenting with how-to and helpful-tip posts for the past five days. If you’re curious:
* * *
If haven’t already subscribed to my blog’s RSS feed, submit your email via this subscription form. Then, as I publish new website content such as an article, story, or podcast, it’ll arrive in your inbox. You can unsubscribe at any time.
One major revelation I walked away with from the Festival is my need to improve my note-taking skills. I have only sparse, sketchy sentence fragments to work with. Normally I record interviews and messages so that I can review them later, but the organizers didn’t allow it.
So my final notes are from Katherine Paterson’s closing session. She said a few things that stood out to me as poetic or inspiring, but I barely took down a complete sentence.
Her topic was beauty.
Here’s a spattering of words on my page of notes:
brilliance–clarity, shed some light on the human experience
Hold onto your pencils, folks–coming up: a complete sentence or two, though even they maintain some mystery by being plucked from context. Also, you may find my parenthetical note puzzling:
Beauty is born of play (psychologically healthy).
Love and work achieve integration by creating….confusion of good with immobility.
Moral education by itself is not beautiful enough.
The Bible doesn’t shy away from truth-telling (through stories). In the truth-telling, there is great beauty.
Children need to be nourished on beauty as much as the four major food groups.
She read from one of her books in which one of the characters, an immigrant mother, was speaking about their children’s need for beauty in the classroom–that she wanted their beautiful children to benefit from the beauty of Puccini, say, or Michelangelo as part of their education. The novel’s character cried out about the need for beauty.
I don’t know that I agreed with all that Paterson presented, and it’s unfair to draw conclusions from these few notes scratched out during a 40-minute message in which she defined and developed the topic. But I wonder if you agree that we need beauty?
Do you feel that our children need to be nourished on beauty?
If so, what kind of beauty?
Do you do anything proactively to bring beauty into their lives?
Last night, I joined a small group of women from church for “Spa Night.”I must admit, I was reluctant. I’ve never had a manicure (well, I paid for a lame one before my wedding almost 17 years ago, but that’s it) nor a pedicure. I was afraid the evening would be centered on the application of glitzy red nail polish, and that scared me.As it turned out, I didn’t apply any nail polish. Not even natural pink or a clear top coat. I could have, but there was so much more available. I let the more experienced spa types lead the way and offer recommendations. Before long, I found myself standing in front of a gadget I’d never heard of before–a paraffin bath machine.As I was chatting with the ladies, I admitted that I don’t do much to pamper myself–no massages or even luxury hand lotions.”Why not?” someone asked. We were standing next to the hot wax; I was pondering it as they dipped in their hands and held them up, like surgeons that had just scrubbed in and donned gloves.”Why don’t I pamper myself?” I asked.”Yes, why don’t you pamper yourself.”I shrugged. “I’m not sure. It just doesn’t occur to me.” When I’m in the mood to treat myself, I don’t picture getting my heels scrubbed smooth or my cuticles pushed back. I picture myself curling up in an overstuffed chair with a great book and several uninterrupted hours alone.They urged me to dip my hands in the bath of wax. “Just do it. Go on. One…two……..three!”I dipped. My hands came out looking like something from a science fiction show–not quite human.”Do it two or three times, then peel it off.””This is weird,” I said, holding up my rather ghoulish, paraffin-coated hands. “I feel like the Bride of Frankenstein.”We peeled it off and played with the wax. I have to admit, my hands felt as smooth as one of Anita’s handbags, supple and buttery soft.Then we took turns sitting with our feet submerged in bubbling foot baths, the warm water enhanced with aromatherapy salts. One of the ladies went around with some kind of a foot scrubber that had people giggling uncontrollably. Some of us rubbed lotion onto each other’s hands and feet while chatting.The group was small; the conversation varied. We nibbled dainty mini-quiches and homemade turtle chocolates, and sipped herbal tea. In keeping with the spa theme, I selected one called “Calma.” Nice name…Calm-ahhh.An unexpected highlight was the free massage. Did you catch that? A free back massage. Boy, do I love this church.Yes, we were treated to a brief massage from a therapist who volunteered her services in exchange for meeting us and hopefully picking up new clients. She said my shoulders were tight. I said I was a writer, hunched in front of a computer much of the day. She worked on a knot and remarked again at how tight my left shoulder seemed to be. I stepped away from her chair slightly noodly and promised to perform her recommended shoulder shrugs and neck stretches. She said it could help the tightness. I hoped it might improve my writing, too, getting that blood flowing to my brain. I’ll do anything for a good turn of phrase. As I drove home, I marveled at how much is available to pamper one’s self at home. I even thought I might consider pampering myself a little more than I have in the past.And when it occurred to me that the only items I own that are remotely spa-like are these and these, I concluded that what I really need to pamper myself are a more gadgets. After this fascinating evening with new friends and plenty of pleasant-smelling skin-softening products, my vision of personal relaxation has expanded. There’s still the comfy chair, the great book, and uninterrupted hours alone. I’ve simply added to the scene one of those warm, vibrating foot baths. Well, that, and a cup of calm.