May 20, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Beauty

This week's beauty is children's book author and illustrator Susan Beckhorn. Susan and I are second cousins and I believe we've only met each other once almost twenty years ago at her parent's house. I have very fond memories of her and the visit. Her parents home not only had an arts and crafts room, but also a dress-up room for children that I was very taken with. Not to mention their beautiful horses, right on a lake.

Susan has this to share about beauty:

"Beauty changes, fades, deepens, takes many forms. At fifty-seven, if my fingernails, hair, and body are clean and reasonably trim, I am quite content. I am the mother of Fern (27), a spiritual painter and passionate runner with a keen understanding of language and humor—my thunderstorm and rainbow girl, and the mother of Spring (25), ocean girl, lover of children, dogs, and all living things, who goes out on “Big Night” to rescue migrating salamanders, and whose smile lights the world. I am the wife of Fred (also 57) who brings me coffee every morning and makes me a home-grown salad every night, who tends our land, and who transforms wood into functional works of art. I have kind, and quirky family and friends. I have pets who give me joy. After thirty-one years here at “Toad Hill,” our home is beautiful and comfortable—so long as one can overlook some clutter and weeds.

As a children’s book author and illustrator, I have not yet been highly “successful” in my career—if you count success in dollars and Amazon numbers—but my books give me fulfillment. It is the worst of jobs when rejections pile up, the well of inspiration seems dry, life sucks away my writing time, books go out of print (small deaths that only the author fully mourns), and self doubt creeps in. It is also the best of jobs when an editor says yes, I get an advance check, my words appear in print, a good review comes along, a school visit leaves me elated—or I get a letter from a child who loved a story.

Susan's female Jack Russell, George.

I am still full of dreams. I dream that my daughters’dreams will come true, that my husband will find customers for his beautiful furniture line Natural Form Furniture, that our tomatoes will ripen, our apple trees set fruit, and our chickens lay eggs. I dream of writing that story which stays in print. I dream of seeing a trailing arbutus in bloom and a cerulean warbler, of being able to paint and draw the way I would like, of organizing my life. I dream of holding a grand-baby in my arms (no pressure girls . . .!).

I am blessed with a strong and good body, which I have finally learned to love. It has weathered well. I think of old trees that lose limbs, develop cavities, are sometimes even lightning struck, yet still sprout new leaves every spring. I have stopped coloring my hair, thanks to my daughter, Spring, and started wearing it in braids, because, if Willie Nelson can, so can I.

I walk, cross-country ski, garden, kayak, do yoga, play the guitar, sing, bird watch, and ride my little horse Katy, who at twenty still thinks a flat out gallop is the only way to go. I still see wonders every day. Am I beautiful? I don’t know. I do know that my life is full and very beautiful."

Susan also has a blog.

Thank you for being this week's beauty Susan. You are so beautiful.