Monday, February 29, 2016

What is "Natural Beauty"?

The other day I learned a way to prove that every person is beautiful. I am in a communications class called Iconomy. The class focuses on the visual world and the significance behind images, especially iconic symbols, like the Nike swoosh or the Apple logo. It is taught by an unusual professor, who doesn't believe in cell phones, is obsessed with Marshall McLuhan and has 9 children. This professor's classes may have been an influence behind this post about unplugging and this other post about reading more. But most importantly we have been talking about physical beauty recently.

We have been talking about The Golden Mean or the Fibonacci Ratio. This is the most pleasing and beautiful proportion known to man. It is found in many natural phenomena, but it is also replicated int eh most famous works of art. It is why we position the focal points of our photos in the two-thirds area of the frame. Learn more about it here. Recently Dr. Schuchardt had us measure our own bodies from navel to head in order to calculate whether we had perfectly Fibonacci bodily proportions. This involved a complex math thing, which, if you have read this post or this one, you know math is not something I am good at. Each person in the class was only about 5% off of a perfect 100% Fibonacci score--meaning that our bodies are wonderfully proportionate. The point of the exercise was a way to celebrate the way that God has designed our bodies so perfectly. I myself got a 95% score. I am not perfect, but I would definitely receive an A in Fibonacci! 

I thought of this today in class as something I should share with you all. It is encouraging to think about this when I get down on my body. I do a lot of comparing of my body with other people's. I look to see if I have skinnier calves or a smaller waist. My eye is sharply attuned to notice these little critical details, but I often forget the larger picture. My body was designed by God. It is a piece of masterful craftsmanship. I hope this is an uplifting reminder for you as well. Do I still feel like a dumpy wad of chewing gum sometimes? Yes. But that's not the point! I need to look at my body through a design point of view sometimes in order to survive. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

What Do Men Think About Beauty?

I wrote Sheldon an email in which I expressed my thoughts about feeling beautiful. Sheldon took a long time tor reply to it, because he wanted to give it a lot of thought. This is one of the things I find most attractive about him--he thinks long and hard before he responds to things. I love how careful he is. Of course, this is also one of the things that gets on my nerves the most, because I am a snappy talker and thinker. I like a quick-witted response that chops along. I think that is one reason why I loved Improv so much. But I can sometimes be impatient with the way that he takes a few moments to gather his thoughts and answer a question. I have got better over time. Or maybe I am getting worse...hmmm...

This is an excerpt from his email:

Dear LucyRose,

Thank you for writing this thoughtful and deep message to me. I've been turning it over in my mind for a while now. I didn't feel up to writing a response right away. You wrote about an assumption that we have control or responsibility over our beauty. Theres's an obvious sense in which this is true (See your own blog post about my hair). And I think you are smart to recognize the role appearances play in our ability to live well in our society. I think it's worthwhile to enjoy managing or appearance. 

But, as you predicted, it upsets me to hear you say that you can only feel beautiful if you perform in certain ways. I recognize that you were writing descriptively about how you feel. But I think we both know that it is not true.

At this point I have a dozen thoughts that I want to cram into this email. I want to try to explain beauty and attractiveness, though I don't understand them. I want to argue for beauty which is free from bondage to our inhumane visual culture, But my ideas are half-baked, and probably wouldn't be very helpful here.

What I can speak of with confidence is my own perception of you. I'm delighted by your beauty. I do care what you wear, how you do your hair, etc. I want to see your beauty shining it's brightest. But I don't see these things as the measure of your beauty. We both know that your beauty is not the measure of your value. There is so much more about you that is good, lovely, attractive, admirable. To name a few things, I love your thoughtfulness, talent, humour, and sincerity of faith.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Three Things: What Makes You Feel Beautiful?

Like I said in my last post there are times when I feel beautiful. I wish that these times didn’t directly relate to the amount of make-up products that are on my face, or the coolness clothing I am wearing, or admiring looks from guys. I wish that my feelings of beauty and peace with who I am stemmed from a well-spring of joy within myself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. There are so many external factors that can tip me into feeling like a total babe or a complete frump in seconds. So I want to list three things that make me feel beautiful, without having to do with clothing or make-up. Basically they are totally natural products! 

1. When My Body is Strong: 
The first thing that makes me feel beautiful is when I feel that my body is strong and healthy. When I feel strong and I move well and watch my muscles work I feel powerful and beautiful. Even if I am sweaty and my hair is a mess, I still feel beautiful because I know that my body is doing what it was designed to do well. This is often when I am running or doing yoga or ballroom dancing. 

2. When My Hair is Freshly Washed: 
I feel beautiful when my hair is freshly washed. I love it especially when it has been allowed to air-dry in the warm sun. My curls are happiest and coil-iest when they have been treated to a nice long air-dry. My hair smells good and has a coppery play of colour in the light. This always makes me feel like a fairy princess. 

3. When Sheldon Tells Me: 

I also feel beautiful because of how Sheldon loves me and tells me how he finds me beautiful. He loves to tell me I am beautiful. Sometimes he surprises me and tells me at a time when I feel disgusting. I am like: “Really? You think I look beautiful now?! But I just got off a 10 hour flight!” The worst is when he tells me he thinks I am beautiful, but I can’t believe him. This happens occasionally. I was surprised when we started dating, that he didn’t cure me of feeling bad about my appearance. I thought it dating a man who loved everything about me would eradicate all of my insecurities. But it doesn’t. It helps. Believe me it helps. But it is up to me and God to feel true peace about it. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

How to Feel Beautiful

Do you feel beautiful? The moments when I do are rare. More often I feel unkempt or frumpy. Sometimes I feel downright homely. If on that day someone tells me that I look nice I don't believe them. These feelings have been a part of my life for so long that I feel like I need to talk about them here. I spend a lot of time thinking about appearances: mine and everyone else's. I also have a suspicion that I am not the only person who does. So for the next couple days let's talk about beauty. 

The topic came up recently in a conversation that I had with Sheldon. He told me I looked beautiful one day and my response was frustration rather than delight. I was frustrated because I didn't agree that I looked beautiful and I wanted him to quantify why he thought I was beautiful on that day. Later I felt bad that I had not been more gracious about his compliment. I wrote him an email in which I tried to explain some of the feelings that the word beautiful triggered in me. Although this email is very personal I feel confident sharing it with you, because I know I am not the only one who feels this way. 

Dear Sheldon,

Sometimes I don't even understand how you can think that I am beautiful, because I think that I am only beautiful when I think that I am. I get confused with compliments like, "You're so beautiful." They make me feel good but sometimes they irritate me. I don't know why. Maybe because I have a very complex relationship with my appearance. I don't think that you have anywhere near the sort of relationship with your appearance that I do, merely because you are a man. I am not blaming you. That's reality. So when you, the person who is the most important in my life, make assessments about my appearance I sort of panic internally.

I think that I am beautiful. But I do not think I am beautiful when my hair is greasy, my face has no makeup on, my clothes are boring and I have acne. I do not think I am beautiful because my teeth are yellow, splotchy and stick out. When I wear glasses no one can see my eyes. My eyebrows are too bushy. When I hunch I look gross--narrow shouldered and fat. 

I believe that I can only be beautiful if my eyebrows are combed, my glasses are off, my hair is purposeful, my teeth are brushed and hidden, my acne is covered by make-up and I am sitting straight so that my shoulders don't look to narrow and my belly doesn't stick out.

However confident I am compared to some other women, this is something I will be working on for my entire life. I wish I didn't have to. I wish that when you called me beautiful I could accept it. But I can't. It is a battle to even feel pretty. I desperately crave someone to tell me that I am even as I desperately crave that no one care. 

Lucy Rose

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Romantic Walk


Today I texted Sheldon, "Let's go do something." It was a gorgeous day of sixty degrees Fahrenheit. The sun shone. Wind rattled the grey paper leaves that still dangle off the twiggy trees. We decided to do one of our favourite things: take a walk. We love ambling about together. We chat, look around ourselves and sometimes instate a quiet time and just walk in silence. I wanted to go somewhere we had never yet been. We often drive past patches of nature or forest preserves when we are out in the car. One of us will point to the other and say, "Wow! Look over there. We should go there sometime." We have quite a collection of such places around Wheaton. We went to one of them today--a manmade lake surrounded by hills and a wide path.  Here are a few sketches I made of our time. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Three Things: Pet Peeves

I have been a bit cranky this week. No particular reason. Unless you think this might have something to do with it. You know that state in which everything around you gets your goat? Not your real-live goat--your metaphorical goat. I have been having trouble with goat-getting this week. I have been trying to keep my outbursts to a minimum, in order to show love to my fellow humans, but it has been a struggle. It all came to a head this afternoon in the newspaper office. I stayed late and we started to talk about The Stupe. The Stupe is the greasy little school burger joint in the basement of our school. As we talked about it I began to rant about my hatred of The Stupe Smell. The guys I was talking to were alarmed at the level of passion I displayed on this topic. That is what made me think that I need to spend this week telling you Three of My Pet Peeves. I think of this as a therapeutic way of venting. Isn't that what the internet is for? 

1. Pet Peeve #1: The Stupe Smell
The Stupe serves hamburgers and chicken sandwiches and fries. You pick up your food in a white styrofoam container and walk through a line choosing fries, lettuce and condiments. Then you take your food to your favorite spot. You eat the warm salt encrusted fries dipped in ketchup and mayonnaise. You lick your fingers from the chicken grease. You mop up the juices with your white bread bun and then you throw away your white container. All done. NOT! You are not all done, because the smell of the food you just ate will linger on your fingertips for the next 48 hours. The smell is a combination of fry grease--that vat of liquid fat in which the potatoes are soaked, mayonnaise and sour pickle. I do not know why one must bear with this smell for 48 hours. It is the punishment of eating unhealthily. I have tried everything to get it off: soap, rubbing alcohol, air freshener etc. Nothing works. It is like the time we tried to cover up the smell of my littlest brother's vomit in our car by using a Sage and Lemon Yankee Candle Air Freshener. All you get is the smell of Sage and Lemon and Vomit layered on top of each-other.

2. Pet Peeve #2: Sheldon Stumbling
This one is tough, because it has to do with a flaw in my beloved fiance. I hate to admit that he is not perfect, but he has a significant character flaw, that, if I am in the wrong mood, drives me bonkers: Sheldon trips over everything. He trips over the legs of chairs, the edge of the carpet, a crack in the sidewalk, an ant walking across the same sidewalk, his own shoes, a small disturbance in the air currents around his feet...Everything!
OK. I can hear what you are saying to me. "Lucy Rose. You are a complete monster. How dare you complain about this "flaw", when the truth is that you are engaged to marry a godly, upright, handsome, intelligent and caring young man like Sheldon?! You cannot be serious."
You are right. But...I find it so difficult to have patience with Sheldon's tripping especially if we are in a hurry and trying to get out the door!
"Lucy Rose, stop being a jerk. Leave the poor man alone." This is what my mother would say to me.
"Ok, Ok! Soooo-reee!"

3. Pet Peeve #3: Sweaty Socks
This one doesn't need much explanation, does it? Upon reading the words "Sweaty Socks" I imagine that you automatically cringed and a shiver went down your spine. We all hate this. This happens to me a lot in the winter time because I wear thick wool socks in tight boots for most of the day. When I get home at the end of the day I take off the socks and let my damp dogs breathe. It is one of the happiest times of the day. It is tied for first with taking off my foundational undergarment, as my mother calls it. Sometimes I like to return to my apartment between classes in order to brush my teeth and put on a fresh pair of socks. Then I like to slip into my house shoes. House shoes are a must for walking around the apartment. They keep my feet warm and I don't step in sink puddles.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Why Should You Read?



I don't think I would have gotten into my current college if I hadn't been a bookworm. I realise that is a big statement. Let me explain myself: When I turned twelve my family moved to the Czech Republic. I didn't speak the language at all, but on the second day of our move I was enrolled in the local public school. For a year I couldn't understand anything. I sat in school for hours and hours not "learning" any content. Yes, I was implicitly learning the language and the culture, but it didn't always feel like learning, because it was so gradual. I turned to reading as a way to exercise my mind. I read so much that my fifth grade teacher was worried I was spending so much time reading that I was neglecting human contact. Because I wasn't challenged academically I challenged myself to read difficult books. 

I read through Dune, Les Miserables, Fahrenheit 451, Great Expectations and Jane Eyre. I read Wuthering Heights, Vanity Fair, Portrait of a Lady and A Passage to India. I read all 13 of the Series of Unfortunate Events, all 3 of the Emily of New Moon trilogy and all 7 Harry Potter books. I read the Twilight series in a Czech translation, but skimmed the last two, which were baggy and long-winded. I read whatever I could find in our family's English language library.

Through my books I kept growing my skill in my mother language. By the time I had to take the SATs I got a very good score in the reading and writing sections. That is the reason I say that I think reading got me into my college. I got a horrendous Maths score, but I like to think that my reading and writing made up for it.

One of the main reasons I read so many challenging books in middle school was pride. I wasn't able to show off intellectually in classes, because, for the first couple of years my language skills were very limited. The other kids didn't think of me as very intelligent. So by reading these books I felt like I could cling to some shreds of dignity. I could think to myself, "If you knew what all I have read, then you wouldn't think I was so stupid." I am not entirely proud of this sentiment, but that was truly how I felt.

In conclusion you can read for any reason. If you are like me then you begin reading in order to feel close to and comforted by a culture that is very far away. Maybe you read to impress other people. Maybe you read so that you can feel like your brain is alive and not rotting. Whatever the reason: Keep on!

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Dilemma: How to Read More Books Part II

Yesterday I talked about how I feel like I don't really read books anymore. Today you must be wondering; "What do you do to fix that, Lucy Rose? Is there anything we poor folks can do about this epidemic of de-literacy?" Well, I do think that reading is going down the tubes globally, but I will deign to tell you what I have been doing about it in my own life.

1. Designate a Reading Time
At the beginning of the school year I gave myself the treat of waking up at 7 and eating breakfast while reading a "free reading" book. In the third grade we called the time immediately after class D.E.A.R or Drop Everything And Read. We would have the lights dimmed and we would lounge around all over the classroom and read whatever we wanted. It was my absolute favourite part of the day. I designated my breakfast time as Non-School Book Time. N.S.B.T is the college-level version of D.E.A.R. College students like to distance themselves from babyish acronyms that spell out words of endearment and prefer more grown-up letter combos like B.G.C. (Billy Graham Center) or O.M.D (Office of Multicultural Development) or D.T.R (Define The Relationship).

2. Take a Book Everywhere You Go
I have also been carrying my books around with me again, like I used to do before college. I slip my NSB into my bag and take it out in at lunch in the dining hall or while I am waiting for class to start.

3. Minimise Phone Time and TV
Now that I no longer use a smart phone I have found that I reach for a book more often. I used to reach for my phone in the bathroom or while waiting in line, but now I don't have that time filler available to me. I also have more time now that I don't have Netflix.

4. Read on the Toilet
I put non-school books is the bathroom. I leave more light-hearted ones in there like this one that I received as a gift from a dear friend's mother. I can easily dip in and out of books like that without loosing my place in the narrative. Earlier in the year I actually read the entirety of this book by only reading it during bathroom sessions. Impressive, I know.

5. Read For Fun
I have given myself permission to read froufrou books. That means books that won't impress anyone in my literature classes or the fancy dinner parties Sheldon and I are always getting invited to. I have also given myself permission to reread old favourites. In moments of quiet I have been taking lovely sips of Middlemarch, which I read in high school. Sheldon and I have also been reading some of our childhood favourites like The Series of Unfortunate Events, Finn Family Moomintroll and The Trolls. This helps if reading has become a chore, like with me and school readings.

The gist of all this is that I have been surrounding myself with more books lately. I have purposefully been putting them into parts of my life. By making them easily accessible I have made myself more likely to dip into them. I hope these help you. I hold a deep belief in the good of reading. I believe it was what kept me sane during my years of the Czech post-communist school system. I also believe it is what helped me get into college!

But more on that later...

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Dilemma: How to Read More Books

The young man in front of me was checking out at 15 books about extinct animal and plant species in North America. I had to stand for several minutes as the librarian scanned and stamped each one. Then she took my one DVD and Sheldon and I left the library. As we were leaving I told Sheldon: "I know that boy is not going to read one fourth of those books. The more books you check out the less you read." Sheldon asked me to explain my reasoning. What follows is Lucy Rose's Book Theory.

If Reader A checks out 2 books and Reader B checks out 4 books, then Reader A will end up reading more. Reader B will go home and open up Book 1. He will read only the first chapter or so before he decides that it is not quite the thing. So he will pick up Book 2 and read halfway through the introduction. A few hours later he will mosey on over to Book 3 and read the back summary and a few random pages. He won't even get to Book 4.

But Reader A who only has two books will open Book 1 and get partway through the first chapter. He will be a bit bored so he will try out Book 2. This one is also not super engaging. He will go off and fiddle about with the dishes and eat a sandwich. Then he will return to Book 1 and give it another try even though he originally thought it was boring. He will do that because he only has two books to choose form, so it is easier for him to make a commitment.

So my theory is that he who has less to read will always read more. An example of this is how before I went to college I had very little mandatory reading. So I read a lot of books. I would plow through a novel every two weeks or so, because I had little to distract me from finishing it. But when I got to college I was given a dozen reading assignments per week. Instead of reading and concentrating on one thing, my attention has been split between many books, essays, poems and treatises. I feel like I don't actually read anything anymore, even though many words technically pass before my eyes.

To be continued...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Three Things: Engagement Photos By Claire

You guys know that I am engaged. I posted about it in this two part piece. I drew several illustrations to depict the event. But I know that sometimes people want to see actual photos. I get it. I often think, "I wish I knew how to picture these people in reality..." Today I have the great joy of being able to share three beautiful engagement photos with you. My friend Claire is a professional photographer (as well as blogger!). She came down on the train from Chicago to shoot with us on a Saturday afternoon. I loved our photoshoot, because it felt natural instead of awkward and staged. Claire had recommended that we be photographed doing an activity together so that we would feel comfortable. So Sheldon and I chose that day for him to begin teaching me to use the pottery wheel. Claire was a fly on the wall and took these three gems. If you want to see more of her work, or hire her go to her site

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I want to take this blog post to honour Dr. Larycia Hawkins. I have held deep respect for her since my very first day at Wheaton College when she gave our Freshman orientation address. Her intelligence and wisdom made me proud and excited to attend Wheaton College. I promised myself that I would take her Political Science course before graduating. I will not have the chance to do that now. She is leaving our school.

I have honoured her and the solidarity she wishes to embody through my artwork in the past weeks. My drawing of her face and her words appeared on the cover of our school newspaper. I felt that to be my own way of showing solidarity. Tonight she said goodbye to our campus. Our chaplain asked us to refrain from applause or other verbal signs, but we all stood up in respect as she took her place behind the microphone. It was a silent demonstration of deepest respect.

Here is my small sketch of Dr. Hawkins that I made during her farewell speech. Here also is my cover for the paper. I do not wish to make my blog into a political platform by addressing this issue. But I don't want to pretend as though this has not touched my life and those of my community.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Cutting Sheldon's Hair

I hate it when Sheldon's hair grows out. His sideburns get long and for some reason begin to form a points on either side of his delicate cheekbones. These pointy sideburns in tandem with his delicate features make him look like an elf. Now, I must make it clear that I love Sheldon even when he looks li▽ke an overgrown elf. But it helps me to love Sheldon better when his hair is trimmed and he looks like a lovely handsome man, not someone from the cast of Lord of the Rings.

Sheldon and I used to have a great deal of trouble over this topic, because I always wanted him to get a haircut, but he never had the time and he hated to spend the $17 on it. It felt like a lot of money to him to spend on something that only lasts a few weeks. So I told him to buy some clippers and I would learn how to do it myself. He did.

I have now cut his hair 2 and a half times. The first time I did it in my apartment with all my roommates watching. At one point in the process I had cut all of the bottom half of his hair, but left the top very long and scraggly. My roommate Hannah came up behind us and asked, "Lucy Rose, what are you trying to do?" Her tone was one of complete skepticism that the job was going to come off without extreme misfortune.

I managed it in the end, even if Sheldon looked like he was joining the Navy or a bare knuckle fighting ring like the guy in the movie Rust and Bone. The other night I cut Sheldon's hair again. I sat him down in his tiny grotty bathroom. His short dark hair covered his arms and made him look like a hairy gorilla man. In the end we made a notch on the clipper's box to tally up how much money we have saved so far. we have currently saved about $51.