Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Some thoughts I have had over the past year or so:

You see
not so long ago
I decided...
that instead of wishing my nose were straighter
or my neck were more slender
Instead of wishing that my shoulders were narrower
or that my body were more 'proportionate'
[by someone else's standards of preferable ratios]
Instead of wishing my stomach were flatter and my legs were longer
I would be grateful
that my physical features tie me very concretely to my family.
To my parents
and to my grandparents
and to generations beyond that.

If I were taller I might feel more elegant.
But Grandma was about 5'3" or 5'4" like I am.
I guess I don't mind it so much after all.

My quirky eyebrows?
Those are my Mom's.

And that very light brown birthmark on my side
matches the one my Dad has in the same place.

My Grandaddy once told me with a twinkle in his eye,
"A girl without broad shoulders just doesn't have that special something."
Of course, I got those broad shoulders from him,
so he's biased,
but I don't mind.

I got my wide feet from him too, and from my Mom.
They tell me that those feet are our "firm foundation" in life.

My dark brown eyes are my Mom's,
and they remind me of my Dad lovingly calling her his "Big Brown Eyes" for 32 years now.

My teeth are straight and never needed braces.
[I'm not sure who I got that from, but thank you.]
And people tell me that my smile is beautiful
[because all smiles are beautiful, of course.]

My brown hair is not as dark as my Mom's
or my sister Emily's or my brother Jonathan's...
it's more like my Dad's and my brother Christopher's.

My eyes squint when I smile - not as much as Mom's or Jonathan's - but some.
I've actually been asked - more than once - if I'm part Chinese.
Nope! I'm part Sawtelle - my Mom's side of the family.

My sense of humor is a combination of both my parents I suppose
with some of Grandpa mixed in, too
and my siblings and I love to joke around together...
we are a family that loves to laugh.

And you know
even the weird brown spot on my left underarm...
Well, that is my Dad's too,
and when I think of it that way
I don't mind it so much anymore.

When I look at my hands, I see both my Mom's hands and my Dad's hands in them.
I'll never forget the way those two sets of hands look;
I suppose because I've watched them used in selfless service -
for each other,
for me,
and for my siblings -
for so many years.
May my own hands become so quick to help others.
And when I use them to prepare meals,
to clean up messes,
or to squeeze someone else's hands in my own,
I guess it doesn't matter so much that my fingers are short.
When I put my hands to good use,
I think of my parents' hands:
Dad's hands guiding mine when he taught me to use power tools,
and Mom's hands over mine on a rolling pin as we made pie crust together.
Dad's hands scribbling equations when he helped me with math homework,
and Mom's hands giving me my first piano lessons.

I guess the point is,
I love my family
and I decided to love the fact that I am connected with them.
in the kind of person I am
in my character
and my way of talking
and the things that make me laugh
and in the way I look.

I like knowing that I carry their genes.
It's cool.
Amazing, really.

So a while ago,
I decided to try to stop complaining about these things about myself -
the things that sometimes make me insecure -
and instead, to start remembering that they connect me to people I love.

You see,
this is me.
I'm not Natalie Portman or Penelope Cruz.
They are beautiful, for sure.
But I am Sarah...
I am my mother's daughter
and my father's daughter
and my grandparents' granddaughter.
I am my siblings' sister.
I am my nephews' aunt.
This is me in all my genetic quirky me-ness.

I am myself,
but I come from a long line of people I love
and I owe my birthmarks and freckles and squinty eyes and funny-shaped eyebrows
to people who came before me.

These inextricable links that tie us together
are pretty special.

So next time you look in the mirror,
instead of thinking
"I hate that bulge"
"my nose is crooked"
or maybe
"I wish I had curves in certain places"

You can think
"Hey, I look a little bit like so many of the people that I love."

And that
is really something.


  1. Sarah, this is beautiful. I love it.

    (Also? I love the way you dress. You have this STYLE that is so perfectly you!)

  2. We think you are nigh unto perfect, exactly as you are!