I had cataract surgery earlier this year. It fixed my nearsightedness but no surgeon’s scalpel can truly reverse age. I still need “cheaters” (old folk’s name for reading glasses). Before my cataract surgery, I would hold small stuff right at the tip of my nose and see it just fine. This included my makeup mirror. The mirror was so close, it actually got a coat of mascara as I brushed the black magic onto my lashes. Post surgery, that trick no longer works. I obviously can’t wear glasses while applying makeup. Without the cheaters, anything within arm’s length is just a blur… including the reflection of my face.

Before surgery, I could fake out a beauty queen on this wrinkled old skin. Post op looked more like a three-year-old’s sad attempt at creating Bozo. I couldn’t see my eyelashes, or lip line, or… ummm… little unwanted hairs. I guessed at where my eyebrows were. I spread eyeshadow over my lids and most of the bridge of my nose. Mascara was an absolute fail – every single time. I had been nearsighted for over 40 years. I had no idea how to navigate this new eyesight that robbed me of my eyesight. And then I realized… aha! The magnifying mirror! That’s why all those gals use that thing! 

I expected the magnifying mirror to be an easy fix. I was wrong. I couldn’t find just the right distance to hold it. Everyday was a new guessing game of pin the mascara on the eyelash. I started out with a little travel size compact mirror but it was too small to hold far away and too magnified to hold close up. So I turned to the one who has all the answers: The Wizard of Amazon. That’s where I hit the magnification motherload… a vanity sized 20x mirror that was so powerful it came with a warning! It arrived in two days because of the free $129.00 prime membership priority shipping. I couldn’t wait to see the results of my good old reliable makeup regimen. Except the mirror was more cosmic than cosmetic. Turns out the warning was necessary. I nearly poked my eye out when I moved that thing just a bit further from my face and the entire image turned upside down. At this point, I wasn’t above standing on my head to put on a face.

Back to Oz I went. I put my cheaters on and settled in for a long night of reading Amazon reviews and finally chose a tri-fold 0x-5x-10x magnifying mirror. Again I got my $129.00 worth of free shipping and approached the training with determination. The 5x was perfect… I just needed to find the right distance. Everyday I would maneuver that thing like I was playing an accordion with my chin. I hit the right spot for eyeshadow but my mascara continued to look like I’d just come from a 1970’s teen night at the neighborhood pool. You didn’t show up to teen night without full face makeup, but “waterproof” mascara had not yet been offered as the perfect accent to frosted blue eyeshadow. 

I’ve finally found a manageable distance with mid-magnify. It has me feeling less like a pre-teen and more like a “woman of maturity” when painting my face. I also found the perfect use for the more powerful 10x magnifier… the invasion of unmentionables on my upper lip has been contained and the score is in my favor. Rude children squinting their eyes at my mouth: zero. Magnificent magnifier: one. 

Sometimes beauty is seen best at arm’s length. Sometimes it needs to be magnified. I’m thankful for my magnifying mirror. I’m thankful for my cataract surgery and the perspective it gave me on my own vanity. I went to a lot of trouble to just wear makeup but there are things I need to see that are far more important than my eyelashes. I have students who are shy and need to know from a distance that they are seen and cared for. Friends and family have character and talent that I take for granted. I need to put their beauty under a magnifying glass so that it is recognized and appreciated. Unmentionable invasions of sin need to be scrutinized and plucked from my foundation of faith.

What are you seeing in the mirror? Is it blurry? Is it recognizable? Do you need to see clearly the beauty in and around you? Is there a microscopic danger that needs to be removed? The challenge I give is to take pause and take a look from a distance or through the magnifying glass. Acknowledge, embrace, and appreciate the beauty and remove the ugliness before it is seen with the naked eye. 

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