I glanced in the mirror today and did a double take. I saw beauty.

At 48 years old.

I haven’t lost weight. I don’t have a fab new haircut. I’m not trying a new skin-care routine. Quite the opposite. I bear a few extra pounds, a handful of wiry gray hairs, self-cut bangs and a collection of ever-deepening wrinkles.

Classic beauty? Not me.

Light brown hair. Narrow shoulders. Thin lips. Chipmunk cheeks.

Average.

Cute, at best.

But when I saw my face in that sheet of reflective glass this morning, I smiled. For the first time in memory, I saw the whole picture and loved what I saw. There was no special event. No fancy makeup or soft lighting. Just a middle-aged woman, standing alone in her bathroom, surprised to find herself admiring her imperfect reflection.

Remarkable.

As I approach the half-century mark, many would consider me past my prime.

And maybe that’s the point. I never have been a clothes and makeup girl. Beauty, to me, is on the inside. Appearance never has mattered much to me. But perhaps somewhere deep down, I felt that it should.

Until now.

Now?

I see a woman who doesn’t need a cookbook for banana bread. A world traveler who is equally comfortable touring museums in foreign lands and camping 30 minutes from home. An angler who baits the hooks and takes off the fish for the whole boat. A wine lover who enjoys tastings at vineyards, but often pours from a box in her fridge. A mom who loves having piles of kids at her house, as long as they are kind. An orchid whisperer who can’t keep any other plant alive.

I could spend the rest of my life trying to look like I did in my 20s. But you know what? I’m not in my 20s. I have earned each of these lines on my face and grays on my head  working late nights as a reporter, sitting by parents and grandparents in hospital beds, praying that my 1½-pound firstborn would survive.

The people in my life these days? I choose each of them and somehow I am blessed enough that they choose me.

The work I do? I choose that, too.

So maybe today when I look at my face, I see more than a face.

I see the gold flecks in my hazel eyes. The freckles and moles that have decorated my skin since childhood. The moments of joy and anxiety and sadness that have made me who I am.

I see a whole life. My life.

I see beauty.

I see me.

beauty

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