Character of a Woman. “Uncommon Beauty: 7 Qualities of a Beautiful Woman” by Cynthia Heald (Sept. 2010)

Susan's Thursday morning note September 30, 2010 
Uncommon Beauty: 7 Qualities of a Beautiful Woman by Cynthia Heald
Good morning!  If you’re not in Nebraska this morning, you actually are missing out.  The colors are why we love harvest…the gold right now outside with the long shadows…can’t beat this kind of morning no matter what I might type later in the year!  This truly defines the word beautiful.  Crisp.  The morning that you wish you could walk and walk and walk and walk.  Clear out your head from the summer.  Breathe.  But, since we can’t do that we’ll just have to read and clear our head with thoughts to help us take our lives up to a greater level than we were thinking of yesterday. 
I have read another book that will now go on “Susan’s Favorite Books on Her Own Bookshelf” section on our website.  Uncommon Beauty:  7 Qualities of a Beautiful Woman by Cynthia Heald.  If you’re not a woman reading this (grin), I truly believe we can easily change the title to 7 Qualities of an Excellent Human.  Each chapter includes definitions, examples of the character trait in women from present-day and history.  She also discussion examples of taking some of these traits negatively, out of balance.  I’ll include just a sampling of her book, with some of the quotes she gives.  This is a small, beautiful little paperback.  I will order and case today and hope that many of you find a place for this beside your bed.  Just looking at the cover as you get ready in the morning will give you encouragement to walk in the steps of the women you know are written of in the book.  Taking our lives up to the highest potentials of our creation.  Our choices.  Daily choices.  Letting these women be our example of who we truly can be.  How do we want to look back on our lives, whether we’re given 20 or 90 years?  Will we see these qualities in the pictures of ourselves?
Chapter 1.  Passion…(doing the ordinary well and unfailingly)
    Defined:  a: emotion  b: ardent affection  c: an intense desire, feeling, or conviction  d: fervor  e: zeal  f: ardor  g: enthusiasm
    Examples given: Christa McAuliffe, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones & Dorothea Lange (human rights leaders), Antigone (from Sophocles’ ancient play)
    Far away, there in the sunshine, are my highest aspirations.  I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow them.  Louisa May Alcott
    People that live deeply have no fear of death.  Anais Nin
    You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die.  Or when.  You can decide how you’re going to live now.  Joan Baez
    The world stands out on either side
    No wider than the heart is wide;
    Above the world is stretched the sky,
    No higher than the soul is high.   
                                        Edna St. Vincent Millay
Chapter 2.  Wisdom…(common sense, sound judgment, and discretion)
    Defined:  a. knowledge  b: insight  c: good sense  d: judgment   e: a wise attitude or course of action
    Examples given: Florence Nightingale, Scheherazade (character in fable Stories from the Thousand and One Nights), Queen of Sheba
   To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.  Marilyn Vos Savant
    Never walk away from Wisdom – she guards your life;
        love her – she keeps her eye on you.
    Above all and before all, do this:  Get Wisdom!
        Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!
    Throw your arms around her – believe me, you won’t regret it;
        never let her go – she’ll make your life glorious.
    She’ll garland your life with grace,
        she’ll festoon your days with beauty.     King Solomon
Chapter 3.  Integrity
    Defined.  a: honesty  b: firm adherence to a code of values  c: incorruptibility  d: state of being complete, undivided
    Examples given: Jane Eyre, Rosa Parks, Abigail (…she didn’t allow her circumstances to dictate her character.)
    Character contributes to beauty.  It fortifies a woman as her youth fades.  A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude and integrity can do a great idea to make a woman beautiful.  Jacqueline Bisset
    This above all – to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day
    Thou canst not then be false to any man.        Hamlet
    Don’t compromise yourself.   You are all you’ve got.   Janis Joplin
Chapter 4.  Selflessness
        Defined.  a: having  no concern for self   b: unselfish   c: acting with less concern for yourself than for the success of the joint activity  d: self-sacrificing
        Examples given:  Amy Carmichael, Henrietta Szold (transported Jews during Holocaust into Palestine), The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry story (wife sells her hair for husband’s watch chain…husband sells watch for wife’s combs), Helen Keller, Esther
    To give without any reward, or any notice, has a special quality of its own.  Anne Morrow Lindbergh
    If you are all wrapped up in yourself, you are overdressed.  Kate Halverson
    An ungiving person does not live; he breathes, he eats, he sleeps, he gratifies his needs, but only exists until he has discovered the cleverly interwoven secret of life, giving of oneself.  True giving is done without the slightest trace of expecting to receive.  Is it only in giving that we ever receive?  Perhaps in giving of oneself there is enough taken away to have room to receive.  Alice Pratt
Chapter 5.  Graciousness
        Defined:  a: quality of being kind and courteous  b: tact and delicacy  c: charm, good taste, generosity of spirit
        Examples given: Dolly Madison, Lydia
    The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.  Hada Bejar
    Grace was in all her steps, heav’n in her eye,
    In every gesture dignity and love.  John Milton
Chapter 6.  Contentment
        Defined:  a: the state or quality of being contented  b: satisfaction with one’s situation
        Examples given:  Ruth
    Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers, and are famous preservers of youthful looks, you may depend on it.  Charles Dickens
    No life is so hard that you can’t make it easier by the way you take it.  Ellen Glasgow
    Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.  Epictetus
Chapter 7.  Courage
        Defined:  a: mental or emotional strength to persevere and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty  b: ability to hold one’s own or keep up one’s morale when opposed or threatened  c: spirit and tenacity  d: ability to endure adversity
        Examples given:  Dolley Madison, Molly Hays, Gladys Aylward, Jehosheba, Susan B. Anthony
    Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.  Ambrose Redmoon
    A woman is like a tea bag.  You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.  Eleanor Roosevelt
    Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.  C.S. Lewis
Final quotes given on striving to live a life with these qualities:
    We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts; not breaths;
    In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
    We should count time by heart-throbs. he most lives
    Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.     Philip James Bailey
She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron (1788-1824) (a few of the lines from this poem)
    She walks in beauty, like the night
    Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
    And all that’s best of dark and bright
    Meet in her aspect and her eyes…
    And on that cheek and o’er that brow
    So soft, so calm yet eloquent,
    The smiles that win, the tints that glow
    But tell of days in goodness spent,
    A mind at peace with all below,
    A heart whose love is innocent.
Challenging.  Keeping in front of us the highest expectations for our lives, regardless of past mistakes.  Continual striving for setting goals and striving to achieve them daily, weekly, monthly, for our lifetime.  It can be overwhelming to see where all we have fallen short when we look at these qualities, but instead of looking at our mistakes asking, “Where are we right now?  Where can we be?”  One step at a time…but always stepping forward…new days.  New beginnings.  Included are many examples of these qualities under extreme situations, in tragedies, in grief, in fear…I believe any of us (regardless of our gender) can live lives of excellence.  I also believe that we will be more successful in this constant endeavor if we surround ourselves with examples of those that were leaders.  Those that were capable of inner (not necessarily outer) greatness.  The moment of our death, when we get to look into God’s eyes, will we be able to look and have Him give us a reciprocal look that He knows we deeply tried to use our days here to make Him proud of creating us? 
I would like to mention one woman that lives in Grand Island named Lois.  A woman now almost 90 that continuously shows me the greatest example in my life of what a woman of each of these qualities personifies.  A gentle, quiet woman with bright, eager eyes, always pursuing the next level in her life…regardless of illness, sadness, aging….She has shown me the meaning of passion, wisdom, integrity, selflessness, graciousness, contentment, courage.  When she does have the privilege of meeting God’s eyes I know He will look into hers and say, “Wow!” 
Thank you for letting me type so much for you again this morning.  I have no idea what to take out, so I’ll just leave it in & hope you find the same I did in the words from this book.  We can take our lives up to a greater level, regardless of any outer circumstances.  Our choice.  Our epitaph will be written tonight for our moments today.  Which qualities will be listed for our hours today (not any of the hours from the past – that doesn’t matter – our hours coming up!)  Have a great weekend!  Thank you so much for your constant encouragement & business.   If you had any idea how much that matters to us…..Susan
Latin for this week:
In imo animo stat pulchritudo - Beauty lies in the depths of ones soul.

Works Cited:
Heald, Cynthia.  Uncommon Beauty: 7 Qualities of a Beautiful Woman.  2007.  Carol Stream, IL.  Tyndale House.