For some reason, “before and after” stories, especially with accompanying photos, pique our interest. The most common stories are of dramatic weight loss, usually linked to a fad or diet, and often stories about cosmetic surgical make-overs. But the kind of before and after stories that have intrigued me the most are the ones that are about people taking responsibility for how they are living, for making different choices – for making choices that are more self-loving, more nurturing. These changes are impulsed from within but still create an outer change.
These are the ultimate human-interest stories. I’ve been pondering on why they are so compelling. One possible reason is that we are all drawn to change. Scary as it may feel at times, change is inevitable and therefore necessary.
Photographs give us a visible and textural marker of evolution happening although we may not be able to see it in the minutiae of day to day changes. And if our very nature is to change, to evolve, then the “before and after” photos and stories confirm that we are doing what comes naturally and that we are succeeding.
When we look at old photos of ourselves, we are often appalled at the clothes we had on, we cringe at how we styled our hair, we laugh at the look on our face. But if we look at these old photos without judgment of “this was good, this was bad”, “these were the good old days and these were the terrible years”, then the photos become a way for us to observe ourselves.
The before and after changes tell us, in a pictorial way, of who we used to be and who we are now, and perhaps in looking at these photos we may even get a glimpse of why we have made these changes. On first blush it appears to be about better fashion sense, a better haircut, or perhaps a better job that bought better housing and better holidays. But if we look beyond these outer appearances and changes, what can we see by looking back at old photos?
Recently I have been inspired by the before and after photo stories that reflect an outer transformation that follows from a change in lifestyle. These stories moved me to dig back through my old photo albums to see what I could discover about myself, knowing that I had made many lifestyle changes in recent years. Yes, I went through all the comparisons mentioned above. But much to my surprise, I felt my own evolution through the style of glasses that I wore.
I got glasses in the 5th grade. My recollection of this time is that I was a good student and so I was seated at the back of the class. The teacher did not need to keep an eye on me, she did not need to tell me to settle down, and she did not need to tell me to get to work.
At some point I realised I couldn’t see the blackboard from the back of the room. I just thought this was a consequence of my desk being so far away, but upon mentioning this to either my mother, or my teacher, I was moved closer to the front. This was a real bonus as far as I was concerned because I liked my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Apple, very much. She was a kind and attentive teacher so I was happy to sit closer to the front.
Still my mother thought it time to get my eyes tested. Now whether I really needed glasses or whether I wanted to have glasses because Mrs. Apple did, I can’t really say. I do know I picked out some frames that looked as close to Mrs. Apple’s as I could find.
And thus began my life with glasses sitting on my nose and in front of my face; glasses that will sit between me and every image that I observe over the remaining years of my life. But in looking back, I realised those glasses served another, perhaps just as important purpose, although I didn’t know it at the time.
Here I am at 16…
And here I am in 1983 (age 33)…
Notice how much bigger the glasses have become. And notice that they are tinted so you can’t really see my eyes. For the next 25 years I did buy new frames and the lenses often needed strengthening, but the large frames and tint remained basically the same. They had become the perfect way to hide from the world. It was like “You can’t see me, I have my eyes closed” theory, only in my case it was “You can’t see me, because I have on my big tinted glasses”.
1987 (age 37)…
Christmas Day 1993 (age 43)…
I had no conscious awareness of these attempts to hide from the world, but when I looked back through the photo albums recently, it was immediately obvious to me that that was what I was doing… or rather attempting to do. Most of that time I was smoking pot so it was a good way to hide my bloodshot eyes. But I think it was also about trying to hide from myself. I didn’t want to see how I was living. I didn’t want to face myself in the mirror because I wasn’t living the truth of who I was. I was coping the best I could with a number of stressful situations and rather than addressing them head on and with clarity, I was withdrawn and trying to hide myself away from the next blowout, whatever it may look like. Smoking pot or chasing spiritual gurus was all the same – an escape.
Here I am in 2013 (age 63), still wearing glasses but long gone is the tint and not surprisingly, they are almost frameless!!
I now live a life that feels true to who I am and who I want to be. I am no longer hiding from myself, or the world. I wake up every day feeling good, feeling clear. I owe the clarity of mind to lifestyle and dietary changes.
I no longer ingest any substances that stimulate or alter my natural state of being. And I don’t just mean recreational drugs or alcohol. I’m also taking responsibility for not stimulating myself with caffeine, chocolate, sugar and certain other foods that bloat me and take me off centre. I owe the clarity of heart to learning how to live in my body (not my mind) and feeling what it is like to be living in a body, my body.
It is thanks to the great patience and great example of Serge Benhayon and his family that I have been able to make this evolutionary step. And it is thanks to my own desire to live from a soulful level that I am a woman who can see clearly who she is and where she fits in the sea of humanity, no longer trying to hide in plain sight.
By Gayle Cue
Further Inspirational Before & After Photos and Stories:
- True Beauty… Defying Age and Aging by Kylie Connors
- Being 60: A Mature Woman in the World by Ariana Ray
- Before and After Universal Medicine – Danielle’s Story by Danielle Pirera