Be gentle with yourself

Many times, people in the facial difference community might be told to “tough it out” or “suck it up” when things get tough.

I’m here to tell you a little something different.

Be gentle with yourself.

No, this thought doesn’t originally come from me. I’ve taken it from one of my life’s mentors along the path.

This sentiment, though, is as true as day.

The minute you are gentle with yourself, then others will notice and almost become attracted to you.

If you are feeling down on yourself or afraid because, well, life, then let me give you a word or encouragement.

Simply be gentle and kind to yourself, your mind, your body, your heart, and your soul.

It all will make a difference.



You are loved …

Sure, sometimes it is hard to even fathom those three little words. Many of us put our hands over our faces because of the looks we get. Others have grown out of this phase and simply let the world know that “I’m just fine like I am so get over it.”

Yet when it comes to feeling loved, nurtured and guided all of the time, many of us find the ditch off the road and veer off life’s course.

Look, we ALL go through s–t in our lives. Everyone does. Especially those of us in the cleft, craniofacial and facial difference community around the world.

But you are loved. Yes, YOU are loved just like you are.

Take a couple of minutes and simply let that idea, that concept, soak into yourself. This is not woo-woo stuff, friends.

It is as real as the sunshine upon your eyes and the stars in the skies.

Grace and peace,

You Are An Inspiration …

Heartfelt Smiles

candlelight for inspiration

Inspiration … just the word itself might cause two internal reactions.

One: “Ah man, inspiration is so overrated. People talk about it all the stinking time. Yap, yap, yap … inspiration. Yeah, they don’t know how it is to walk through life with this face and body of mine and have people stare at me, make comments, or worse … having people in my own family shun me. Inspiration my butt. Take that inspiration and shove it.”

Two: “Inspiration is just what makes me feel better inside. It brings out the best in me and lets me stand up, be strong and move through life each day the best that I can do. Sure, I know I have limitations with my face and body … yet the limitations are (in some cases) what I put on myself. Not always. It helps to be an inspiration to others and feel inspired…

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Surrender Your Fear About Your Looks … You Look Wonderful

surrender fear for love heartfelt smiles blog post image

Digging deep within ourselves, what is truly there but love? Actually, there is a whole lot more for those of us in the facial difference community.

Fears, anger, resentments, doubt and even a lack of faith in ourselves and others pop up and take us out of the present moment. What if you and I made a commitment to return to love on a daily basis and surrendered our fears?

One of the big ones is how we look to others or how others see us. Many children and young adults might have grown up with the other people’s voices asking about their looks, what happened to them, etc. Not many heard, “Ah, what a beautiful child you have, sir or ma’am.” The words, cutting and biting at the same time, leave deep emotional wounds that are carried around like a huge bag of shame.

Your looks. My looks. My nose is a little off center. My lips are a little bit off center. Screw that! I look great. You do, too. The pesky fears over my outer looks hardly compare to what my deepest insides look like … and that is (for the most part) a beautiful place.

In the facial difference community, we do have a bit of a right to be scared – at times – about what others say about our looks. Yet allowing these ill-informed people to dominate our thoughts, feelings and actions becomes totally paralyzing and is unhealthy for our souls.

May I invite you to surrender your fears about your looks? You do look fantastic. Yes, you do “look mah-velous” as comedian Billy Crystal would say in his Fernando Lamas impression.

Today, just for this moment in time, I hope you allow your hearts to not be filled with fear and troubles. You do look beautiful and have a beautiful face. Now go show the world that our facial differences do not define us as people. You are worth it.

Love and peace,



Keep on smiling …

Hello friends,

Yes, it has been quite a while since I have posted anything on here and I apologize. Life is throwing curveballs and fastballs my way, and I’m doing my best to smile and carry on through it all.

I do believe that our common struggles in the facial difference community bring us closer together and not further apart. We all have our own journeys and pathways for sure.

Yet maybe we can smile our way through it all. Now I don’t mean to discount any painful experience you or I go through. No. I am simply suggesting that we find an easier way to move through the discomfort. Trust me, this is not an easy piece for me to write. I’m pretty much calling myself out.

May you and I do our best to keep on smiling.

Blessings and peace,


‘Survivor’s Remorse’ needs some awareness, like, now …

survivors remorse image

Recently “Survivor’s Remorse,” a show that airs on the STARZ TV network, had some dialogue which was quite belittling of anyone with a cleft lip and cleft palate.

The terms “fucked-up mouth” and “snaggleteeth” and “weird lips” were used to describe people like me.


I’m not sure what the point behind the writer’s words were. If they were trying to do their best “shock jock” type of vignette, then they succeeded.

Yes, you want to see the clip don’t you?

This comes via Facebook as posted by Rya Medassist:

There, you can see it for yourself.

I do want to let the producers and actors in “Survivor’s Remorse,” as well as those in charge at STARZ, that people like me with cleft lips and cleft palates have overcome a lot in our lives. We are brave, talented and gifted people. In fact, one of the stage and screen’s best actors ever — Stacy Keach — was himself born with a cleft lip or cleft palate or both. He’s done pretty damn well in front of the screen and in front of live audiences for a long, long time.

My intention in writing this post is to raise awareness, though. I am not writing this to wag my finger in your faces. I just want you all to know that there are people, real people, who have come a long way to simply live and, yes, breathe.

I make an open offer to any producer or actor involved with “Survivor’s Remorse” to reach out to me and have a conversation. Of course, I realize it is simply television and you are just doing a show for entertainment purposes. Take a minute … like, one minute … and consider what words you do write into the show. As a writer myself, I can appreciate the creative process … but at the detriment of 1 in 600 children who are born with a cleft lip or cleft palate daily?


Thanks for reading this.

To the international cleft and craniofacial community … just know that you are loved right where you are as you read this. Every minute counts, and you are loved.


Joe Rutland

Host, “CleftCast”