Oh, dear, the resolutionistas have been at it again -- people encouraging us to make new year's resolutions. Ours is a culture of constant self improvement.
What if, this year, we forgot about all that? What if we accentuated the positive instead? In keeping with the 2011 theme of this column ("the power of one"), I asked a bunch of women this question, "What one thing do you love about yourself and wouldn't change for anything?"
Some of them talked about physical characteristics.
My uber-busy-lawyer sister, Elizabeth Moulden, shot back, "My freckles!"
Louise Walker, who's getting her Ph.D. and was enroute to Australia to deliver her first paper, wrote a considered reply from the airport lounge. "My nose is the kind of nose that no plastic surgeon has in his portfolio or framed on her wall. It's not an ugly nose mind you, but rather a nose with character, a noble nose. It forms a large arc in the middle of my face that makes profile shots a little more jarring than full frontals. It's the same arc that I love on my mother's face, so I suppose I associate my bold facial architecture with my mother's ferocious love for her children, her irrepressible sense of mischief and her formidable will. We are just not cute nose kind of girls. As I enter 2011, it is my distinctive proboscis that gets there first. I wouldn't change it for anything."
Some of my poll respondents talked about qualities that they love.
"I love the way I bring out the best in people," Julia Howell , a philanthropy consultant, said with a smile. "I think it's about empathy. Being able to move out of myself and put myself in someone else's shoes. When I'm parenting well, I just know what to do."
It was amazing how many of them mentioned a particular quality.
Rebecca Dempster wrote from Nairobi, "One thing that I love about myself is my insatiable curiosity about the world. I could never give up wanting to learn more about the world and everything and everyone in it."
Andrea Knight, Managing Editor of the Azrieli Foundation's Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program, put it this way, "I'm interested in almost everything (except Lindsay Lohan) and curious about everything: 'inquiring minds want to know', 'smart women thirst for knowledge' 'I'm not nosy, I just want to know'."
Of course, some of these gals ignored the rule (ahem, "one thing"!) and shared more.
Social media guru Gloria Roheim wrote, "It was a toss up between my curiosity or my honesty, but honesty is slightly ahead in this race. If I had to give up my honesty, or if I had to be inauthentic, or if I had to do something I didn't love, I would loose my 'self'. Not my ego, my true self. The same is true for curiosity, but since I only get one choice honesty prevails. That is, of course, unless I can invent a word called curi-honesty? Could I? :)."
And my sister added, "And having Emma!" (her daughter).
One of the great joys of passing 50 is that we love ourselves so much more than we did when we were younger (my new book explores this). So, while I'm tempted to fire off a dozen answers, but I'll stick to one.
I choose my smile. Oh, I wasn't always happy with it. As a teenager I hated my slight overbite and my oversized front teeth. Over the years, various dentists have tried to toy with it (bonding! whitening!), but I've always resisted. And, once, a business partner told me I show too much gum when I smile (need I add "former")?
But today I just love my grin - and especially because it says so much about me. I smile a lot because I love life (just check out the photo with my HuffPost bio and you'll see what I mean).
Now, over to you. How would you answer this question? "What one thing do you love about yourself and wouldn't change for anything?"
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