Volunteerism: a beautiful way to be empowered.

Position:Ask Emily

Beauty is a word often used to describe the external. Cosmetics companies and many other businesses use advertising that creates a sociological image of what beauty is. Today, the natural look is "in" with nicely tailored clothes, healthy skin and hair. Good health makes a person glow. This gives a self-confidence boost, which makes a person glow even more. It's a cyclical thing.

Beauty is also designated a "'Women's Issue," fitting particularly well with this issue of New Life Journal. Discussing the direction of this month's column. Erin (New Life Journal's editor) and I both agreed that despite the buzzword status of "Women's Empowerment." it is an issue close to our hearts. I began thinking about how beauty relates to empowerment. My initial reaction was that external beauty went hand-in-hand with empowerment, ability, and status. I believe women who garner the most attention (from their seats in high places) certainly are more "classically beautiful." However, the more I thought about the External Beauty. = Empowerment equation, the less weight it seemed to hold. Many powerful, well-known women aren't externally beautiful in the classic sense, but are the epitome of empowered.

Perhaps what was holding me back in finally "getting it" was my admittedly lacking definitions of beauty and empowerment. Beauty: that which pleases the visual sense. Empowered: anyone who can significantly affect the lives of many. Neither of these definitions address the one sense that women especially are defined by: the heart. I'm not a major politico, or a high-up executive in a large corporation. I am able to touch the lives of my husband, family, friends, and even strangers. When I lend an ear to a crying friend, warm my husband's clothes in the dryer on a cold morning or stop to help an old man with a flat tire, my true beauty extends beyond the external, cosmetic company version and comes from my heart. Acts of kindness and compassion towards one person can put a positive spin on their interactions with others. Being beautiful on the inside can lead to empowerment on the outside. It too is a cyclical thing.

Volunteering your time is an incredible way to affect people's lives. The upcoming holidays are the perfect time to give. Thousands of people have various circumstances that prevent them from having happy, healthy holidays. A truly beautiful gift is spending time with your spouse, children and friends, giving your time or donations to a worthy cause...

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