Truth be told, a love affair gave me the name of Winsomebella.
It was after I discovered how beautiful feels and why pretty is deep, scrubbed-clean to the pores of the soul and without any mascara. I finally noticed that lovely is simple and raw—-best with just a dab of what makes the mouth turn up at the corners, a small touch of that which makes the eyes light up and a slight tint of the added shimmer of wrinkles.
Around age five, I remember wearing an orange pouf skirt and tiara and twirling so the layers of my skirt would rise like a hula hoop over my hips. I didn’t worry about who might see or what they might say. I was beautiful and remarkable—I knew that.
I was not yet carrying my parcel of nasties.
If I remember correctly, it was not long after the skirt and tiara that I earnestly began my collection. I spied all sorts of nasty things. The tinier, the better, I picked up what I chose, held it in close grasp and examined it over and over and over. I added till my accumulations became quite heavy, a little here as my parents parented, a little there while my teachers graded, a whole lot more while my coaches pushed, plenty more when friends moved on. And then I filled it to overflowing when my husband strayed.
As luck would have it, a dear man showed up when the formerly beautiful and remarkable me was vastly overworked from carrying a boatload of uncertainty. He was smart and strong and kind and gentle and he wore his self assuredly. He called me Winsomebella and he took me to Montana.
When I first arrived, I was three states north and half a lifetime from where I intended to be. I avoided mirrors and photographs and spoke softly and didn’t sing much, even to myself. And I certainly didn’t dance. I never left the top button of my blouse undone or let my hair grow out. And I didn’t wander by myself because I did not know how to operate my internal GPS.
I re-learned those things in Montana.
I was wrapped by buttes and prairies and peaks and the vast space above horizon and I warmed.
Love and the land etched across me, like the glaciers that changed this part of the world. Ever-so-slowly, I began to change.
I started to feel charming and Winsomebella-like.
Winsomebella, it seemed, deserved it all. She had earned her cache of curiosity, her angling toward adventure, her passel of possibilities. She quit avoiding mirrors and photographs, her voice spoke up, she sang loudly with the radio, she danced by herself, unbuttoned her blouse and let her hair go wild. She was not afraid to wander alone. And she realized that raw and without makeup was most beautiful and remarkable.
I came to Montana again this week to write and to wander, to shoot pictures and to see. And what I learned this time is that all along it had been my voice, and only mine, that had caused all the fuss and the bother after age five. Not parents, or teachers, or coaches, or peers or an ex-husband.
Surrounded again by the beauty of this place and the love of true voices, I knew again what being Winsomebella means.
It means I can wander and find my way, scrubbed clean.
Truth be told, it’s about a love affair with me.
Thank you to best selling author and wondrously kind Laura Munson and the loving and wise women that went out of their way to retreat in Montana. You cleared my voice. So much so, I may whistle as I walk, loudly.