In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Community Service.”

butterfly-789837_640

you are beautiful
acknowledge your loveliness
know your strengths
defend their honour with your life
when the thief comes
to steal away your skills and abilities
with his belittling lies
accompanied by casual shrug
or red face and angry shouts
or sweetly, as if in kindness
with the addition of β€œuseful advice”
don’t let him erode your beauty
close your ears to his noise
for by merely listening
you give him the power to
take it all away and leave you crippled.

you are beautiful
you may be a sleepy eyed puppy, a butterfly
a fish swimming free in a pond, or a frog
you may be a blushing rose or a wild dock
a boy with low grades or a golden girl
you may work in a call centre or in law
sleep on the streets or between silk sheets
you may be loved by many or by none
but you are beautiful
you are beautiful

Β©Jane Paterson Basil

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65 thoughts on “You are beautiful

    1. Thank you. I try to be, but I don’t deserve the praise. When I was still achild the person I respected most in the world told me I wouldn’t be able todo the thing I wanted to do. Rather than believing the people who told me I could, I believed him and gave up my efforts. It had a lifetime effect on me, and I only accepted the truth of his crime a couple of days ago. I am devastated and angry, and my message is: Don’t listen to anyone who puts you down. You are beautiful.
      You, too, are beautiful.

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    1. If you knew what was behind this, and the names I’ve been calling my bastard dead bastard father you may feel differently. He inspired the poem. I’m so disgusted with him I couldn’t take the time to edit this, so it’s probably full of typow.

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  1. for by merely listening
    you give him the power to
    take it all away and leave you crippled.

    That is so true. I’m thinking especially of our own inner critics when writing. Of course they’re a compilation of so many voices of discouragement from out lives. They can wield a lot of power, as I know you know… Great poem. Deserves to be made into a post and passed around on Pinterest.

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        1. I can’t get past the idea that writing a novel is boring. I’m having too much fun with poetry these days.
          I need to figure out what it is that I really want to do. The book of poetry that I planned to write, cataloguing my childen’s addictions seems so heavy. Readers may get so depressed that they’ll top themselves before they’re half-way through!

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      1. Well don’t forget that the poems about addiction can be just one section of a book. Next time you stop by a bookstore, look at some of the books of poetry. You’ll see how a) varied some of the content and organization is, and b) that some books dedicated to a specific subject are quite small. I’m sitting here looking at a book of poems by Stephen Dunn called “Between Angels.” It has ONLY 50 poems and is divided into three sections: Leavings, Variations, and Urgencies. You can be as creative as you want to be. Promise! {{{Jane}}}

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        1. Thanks for that, it’s given me food for thought.

          How about three sections: Before, During and After? In other words:
          1. Innocent moments from childhood
          2. The hell of addiction
          3. The positive effects of recovery.

          Do you think that could work?

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  2. A great poem and a great sentiment. You’re so right. I’ve spent half my life believing I can’t do things, go places, achieve stuff, because people like me just don’t. I’m not sure I’ll ever truly get over it, but maybe in small ways. Thanks Jane for a powerful work

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    1. Thank you.
      Maybe I’m trying to make up for not always encouraging my daughter Laura as much as I should have.
      I did my best under difficult circumstances, but maybeI fell short of the mark.

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  3. As parents, we try our best and that’s all we can do. We praise our son, tell him how proud we are, how proud he should be of his own achievements, but there’s still a nugget of self doubt, of not feeling good enough inside him. I can see it, but I can’t crush it. You can’t change a person’e nature. πŸ™‚

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            1. My eldest Grandson was an unhappy baby. He became an unhappy toddler who made himself smile because he wanted to be happy, and he wanted to make those around him happy. He’s eighteen now, and I would say he has achieved his aims, although he has bouts of depression. Pretending and trying worked for him.

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              1. Oh, I think you’re right to a point. You can think yourself happier – focus on the good things you have, the positives in the world. Problem is, that’s tough if your nature or experience tell you life is crap and likely to stay that way. Totally believe in the power of positive thinking, though.

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                1. Some people have to work at it more than others. I know this is unfair, but certain actresses – such as Julia Roberts – who look as if they have never, in their whole lives, stopped smiling, really irritate me. Has nothing bad ever happened to them?

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                  1. I guess it’s part of her job to smile and she’d be blasted in the press if she was seen in public looking miserable. Maybe she’s been lucky and led a relatively unscathed life, but maybe when you see her on the red carpet she’s still acting

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                    1. There’s a level of depression where laughter and jokes are easy, and it helps. Once you dip below that level you’re in danger. It happens to me occasionally, but I’m not at risk of suicide – I love my family too much. When I decided to have children I took on the responsibility of trying to stay alive.
                      And I’m glad I did. I was watching my two older daughters and my five grandsons the other day, and I was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude and pride. I thought of my mum, and wished that she could see – at that moment – the legacy she has left.

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                    2. Yes, the people in your life can help get you through things – though they can hinder too. I remember reading a study that said people with GOOD relationships live longer and have lower stress levels. People with kids are simultaneously stressed and calmed/ made happier by their children. We all need pets, though apparently – they help your mental health a great deal.
                      Not sure why I started rabbitting on about that – just returned from three days at the Eden Project, so I think I’m a little sleep deprived πŸ™‚

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                    3. I mis-read ‘sleep deprived.’ I thought you’d written ‘sheep deprived’. Now that would have been interesting.
                      I must stop tapping away at this keyboard. About half-an-hour ago I told my eldest daughter that I was just leaving home to go and see her. see her

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                    4. She sometimes looks at me ruefully and says something about how we all turn into our mothers eventually. I remind her that she’s too sensible to ever be anything like me, and she agrees.
                      I love her sense of humour, and her calm acceptance of the past.

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                    5. Aha! I wouldn’t mind turning into my mum – and clearly, I am. She’s stoical, funny, resilient, despite a fair few knocks in life and suffering from osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. I’m sure your daughter feels the same about you – born survivors all πŸ™‚

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                    6. I always feel sorry for people who are disappointed in their mums, and it makes me happy to read what you say about yours. My mum was a positive influence in my life, and I try to emulate her. (apart from the alcoholism, which she covered up well for most of my life)
                      My eldest daughter is very different to me – more gentle and patient. Although it has never occurred to me until this moment, she has my mother’s qualities. I don’t want her to turn into me.

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                    7. Well, I realise my mum has her faults (as do all of us) but she produced three kids who are reasonably decent human beings, so she can’t have gone far wrong πŸ™‚
                      And she may be different from you, but I’m sure there are many parts of your character your daughter wouldn’t mind inheriting.

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                    8. Ok. I have compassion, but Sarah has that, and it’s tempered with common sense.
                      I learnt from most of my mistakes, but not until I was in my fifties. She learnt from hers when by the time she was 21.
                      I’m having a melt-down, and I don’t like myself today. I’ll try to keep away from my laptop until I’m in a more positive frame of mind.

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                    9. My natural inclination when I feel that way is to hide in a corner and play cards on the conputer until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer, or until the next morning; whichever comes first. But yesterday I forced myself to visit a friend instead, and spent the day laughing and shouting – it’s what we do after the serious talk.
                      It helped, but I woke up to the same truths today.

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                    10. I have learnt to make the most of every small scrap of wonder and of fun. Two years ago I used to nostalgically recall the feeling of laughter. I thought I’d never laugh again. Now it comes easy – it’s one of my major tools for survival.

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                    11. I laid in bed last night, unable to sleep, thinking of picking blackberries with my son, his lips and hands all purple from the juice, the sun shining on our backs. Such a warm, sunny memory – nothing much to tell, but a perfect moment. A nice way to drift off to sleep.
                      Yes, we must keep these things close.
                      And laughter really is the best medicine. Ever been to a laughter clinic? Apparently even merely pretending to laugh can have the same good affect on your brain. Something to bear in mind when stuck talking to a bore at a party, having to laugh at his lame jokes πŸ™‚

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                    12. I went to a laughter workshop once, at a festival. It was amazing! For ages afterwards, just remembering it made me laugh until I hurt.
                      One of the things which was recommended was looking in the mirror every day, and laughing at yourself.
                      Unfortunately, the stress of the last few years has brought about a rapid aging process. Five years ago I was 55 but looked about 45, if that. Two years ago, on a good day, I looked slightly younger than my age. I’m 60 now. People kindly deny this, but I look it. So I avoid mirrors – and photos – when I can.

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                    13. Ah, Jane I’m sure you’re bing very tough on yourself there. There was a time when I passed as younger than my years, though husband was even more fortunate – I felt like I was running with a toy boy, the amount of compliments he got. Now, through some stressful years of family illness, loss and sleepless nights, we’ve both aged a fair bit. Yes, unfortunately our bodies are betraying us. I put on a bit of mascara most days and check to make sure I don’t have food between my teeth, but I’ve never been a big one for mirrors and I think that’s a healthy thing. I know how ridiculous I can be, with or without a mirror!

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                    14. No food between your teeth? Surely you don’t throw it away? I save it untill I’ve got enough to make supper.
                      I’m getting more and more gross. I wonder; is it that these days I look for humour anywhere, or is it just a sign of the times?

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                    15. I just think that as we age, we realise these things aren’t that important, or at least not as important as we used to think they were.
                      One of the few things that keeps me looking respectable is working in a shop in the poshest part of town. If I stop that I’ll have a full beard and smell like three week old mozzarella in no time πŸ™‚

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                    16. It could be worse – have you ever tried Saint Agar on pizza? I did it last week, and the stink permiated every corner of the flat. It tasted good, but I didn’t dare go out until I’d aired myself and the flat overnight, in case the reek was still clinging to my clothes.
                      For your culinary information, I tipped the contents of the fridge onto the pizza, because I didn’t want to go shopping.I had some cheap cream cheese. (49p a tub from Lidl) It was that which made the pizza so delicious. Who’da thunk it? It made meals for three days.
                      I love living alone!

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                    17. What a great idea – Contents of Fridge Pizza. Or Clear Out Pizza? Is the smell still lingering? My other half cooks curries from scratch – wonderful, delicious, however … we have a clothes airer hanging over the stairwell (one of those woooden things that you hoiset up with a rope – marvellous invention) and when he cooks, all hot air – and smells!- are funnelled up there. I had a nightie that hadn’t long been out of the washer and smelt like Caribbean sweet potato, rice and peas!

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                    18. Worth keeping indeed, though there’s little chance of anything erotic happening when you’re stuffed to the gunnels with sweetcorn fritters and hot sauce – I could hardly breathe let alone do anything energetic. πŸ™‚

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                    19. It doesn’t matter how good the food is, I absolutely hate over-eating. It’s like “Buy now, pay later”, the pain after the pleasure. I would prefer to get the pain over with first, if there’s going to be any,but when your overstuffed, eating to make yourself more comfortable doesn’t work.

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                    20. You’re right – absolutely. But what you’re forgetting is, I’m a total pig and when husband has spent two hours sweating over a hot stove, it seems rude to leave any … I knew I could blame someone else for me not being the sylph-like size eight I was always destined to be.:)

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                    21. I was wrong about him. He’s a bad, bad man, who has deliberately overfed you so that now you can’t get through the front door, and even if you did, no other man would go near you! You need to get rid of him fast, and when you do, tell him that if he’s prepared to cook for me, he can have the sofa bed in my living room.

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