[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvG1iVw8IjQ[/youtube]I was feeling a little lonely the other night so I went into a restaurant, sat down at the bar and ordered dinner. Not being one to strike up a conversation with strangers, I sat  alone, lost in my own thoughts, and ate my dinner in solitude. When I asked for the bill, the bartender said it had already been paid. My first thought was to look around for some man trying to hit on me, but the bartender told me not to bother to look, because the man who had paid for my dinner had already left.

I obviously looked quite surprised, so he added, “It was simply a random act of kindness.” I couldn’t believe it. I mean I had done things like that myself before, but I had never had anyone do it for me. I wanted to thank him–to tell him that he had made me feel a lot better and somehow less alone, but then I realized I didn’t have to. He already knew and that was the point. Even though I hadn’t seen him, I knew he was a beautiful man.

From the moment puberty changed my body, I was a “pretty girl,” not that I ever felt pretty, but many people formed their opinions of me by my looks instead of who I was inside. The lost and broken little girl who tried to please everyone finally found a venue for acceptance and, over time I began to believe that my looks were the only significant quality I possessed–but looks fade and my already poor self-image just got worse as I got older–especially after pregnancy stretched my stomach and a few wrinkles and lines began to show on my face–until I realized who I am–and the real meaning of true beauty.

Writing my story unraveled more than just my past. It helped me to put so many aspects of life in perspective. One of the most remarkable realizations I discovered was that my self-worth should never be associated with a nebulous or fleeting source. I believe that who I am–who we all are–is defined by our inside, not our outside. It’s about the things we do every day–we are all significant not in what we look like, own, or accomplish, but in who we are on the inside, how we live, how much we love and how we touch the lives of others.

Beyond that, one of the greatest ways I’ve found to feel truly beautiful is to perform random acts of kindness. When we reach out to others, we can touch their lives in profound ways. Random acts of kindness help us to pay-it-forward to total strangers never expecting anything in return–but the funny thing is, I have found that the rewards come back in ways I  never expect. True beauty comes from within and when we share it with others, our own beauty radiates all around us.

Casi

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