Little Women

I recently watched Little Women – the 1994 movie with Winona Ryder. It reminded me how much I loved the novel and the movie – it was adapted really well. The protagonist, Josephine ‘Jo’ March, is a woman before her time. The story takes place in the 1860 time-frame. So think Civil War times, women are to be seen not heard and certainly not able to be independent. Jo wants to push back on this as much as she can. She wants to tell the stories that swirl around in her head and also make the world a better place. She hates all of the pomp and circumstance of the time – what a girl should or shouldn’t do, how a girl should dress and act. She is raised with 3 sisters and an amazing mother – her father is away at war through most of the story. Marmie, her mother, lets Jo and her sisters express themselves as they wish – tussling about in the yard, having plays in the attic, going to school. Jo blazed a path and was not ashamed to go after what she wanted.

I was raised around women that were generous and kind. I loved them with everything I had, but I never wanted to be them. I never pictured myself as them – stay at home mom, doing laundry, cooking dinner every night. Let me say there is NOTHING wrong with that. I just never dreamed that life for myself, I would be terrible at it. I admire the ones that can be in this role and rock it, just like the women in my life did. It just wasn’t for me, it still isn’t. Their roles also involved being the leader of the family, the one keeping it all together and running, fixing the broken, the one everyone relied on for advice and comfort. I couldn’t be that for myself, let alone trying to imagine being that for other people. I saw how important they were to everyone around them after two of the three passed away. The crumble of the family structures. The divides. No more family holidays. Gone with them. That is probably why I never dreamed to be just like them, parts? Certainly, but have everyone depend on you? That is an amount of pressure I couldn’t withstand. This pushed me in a different direction, towards a different goal.

My goal was to be fiercely independent and help others as much as I could along the way, a little like Jo. I would not need to rely on anyone for my basic needs. I wanted to be able to support myself, but also do most of what I wanted, when I wanted. I promised myself I would not get married until I had purchased a car on my own and owned or house or could. I wanted to be different. I wanted to be me. So I set out to do just that, one step at a time. What I didn’t realize then is how many steps it would take, but also I didn’t realize the change and growth that comes with each stage of life. Each stage of life brings different lessons, good and bad experiences, change, hopefully growth, and wants and needs begin to evolve as well. My goal to be independent remained throughout, especially after my dad passed away. The drive to reach this goal was stronger than ever. For both my stability, but also the need to help others grew with him leaving the way he did. So suddenly. Seemingly out of the blue. I found out in that moment how truly short life is and that just because I have a goal to reach does not mean that I have to ignore life happening around me.

Watching Little Women reminded me of that girl that was hell bent on not needing anyone. I actually chuckled and related more to Jo’s sister, Amy in that moment. Amy is the baby and quite dramatic at times. I was naive to think that I would be able to accomplish such a goal without others. There is no way, that I am aware of, to become independent without the help and support of others. If I sat and tried to make of list of the people in my life that have helped get me to where I am today, or made an impact on me – whether they know or not, we would be here for days. I fully believe that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. They can have a large or small impact, but each leave you with a lesson or something you needed.

I am still fiercely independent, but I have softened a little as I age. I will let people know when I can’t add anything more to my plate. Better is that I have even learned to ask for help. To understand and know that I can, but I don’t have to do it on my own. I couldn’t imagine having to grow up during the times with Jo March. I’m thankful to have many more “freedoms” than she would have been able to experience. Not to mention the corsets! I would have fainted from being so constricted. Definitely a plus on the change in fashion from the Civil War era until now. I also am fully aware of the sacrifices the women in my life made so that I could be me. So that I could walk on my “own” for a while.

I’m taking what the three main ladies, as well as all of the other females in my life, have taught me and putting them into practice. I have 3 nieces now! I love each of them and want to be my best for them. I want to be the strong role model, but also the one they come to for anything – questions, laughs, driving lessons (AGM), to bitch about their parents, whatever they may need. I want to be the one they go to. I want to be their support – to show them they can chase any dream or goal and achieve it – just like I had. Just like I still do with the wickedly amazing women in my life. I’ve lost a few along the way, but I have also be extremely blessed to add a few as well. I treasure the relationship that I have with each of them. I’m still learning each and every day, I hope I continue for the rest of my life to learn something new each day – I’ve learned a lot about myself lately. I am realizing that I am finally that strong, independent woman I always wanted to be growing up. I have achieved this goal, and that is exciting. But this isn’t over, not yet. I’m going to extend this goal. I’m going to keep adding to it and racing to achieve it again. I’m still figuring out how that will look exactly in this stage of my life, but I’m excited to see what happens next……..

Magic Button

It’s funny how something like a smell or place or even a person can transport you back in time. How a certain smell can flash a memory from long ago you have to blink to be back in the present. I can’t wear perfume, but I have a bottle on my dresser. The perfume was the one my grandmother wore and every once in a while if I need a reminder I’ll spritz some in the air.

Facebook now logs memories from each day in previous years and shows you pictures and posts. Some of these memories are happy and funny, some I have no clue what they mean anymore or what I was referencing. Some are sad. Some send me down a rabbit hole. The rabbit hole of trying to remember the people and places and what was going on in that moment.

Trying to remember the 18 year old girl about it head to college. Trying to remember all the moving pieces and people during that strange time of my life. The no longer a girl, certainly not a woman, leaving her hometown and all she had known for a “big city” and endless opportunities and her chance to express her true self. I don’t remember a lot of it, but I think that’s normal. I remember certain things with such detail, even down to how I was feeling in that moment. Then there are others that I don’t recall at all if someone mentions it. What if there was a magic button that we could press that would transport us back to that moment and feeling?

The magic button could only be used for one moment or feeling. It can only be used once and then it is gone forever. But you could use the button as many times as you wish after you push it but only that one moment or feeling would be your experience. There would be time limits as well. You can only press the button 4 times a year. And the button will only work during that one press for 4 days to be able to see or feel. Would you want this magic button? Would you press the magic button? If you press the magic button, what moment and feeling are you selecting? Would you tell anyone what you picked? Would it be your secret? How would you feel if you were able to know if you were part of someone else’s moment or feeling? Would you want to know? Would you keep it to yourself or tell others?

I think if we could filter on a feeling or subject or place that I would want to know. This way I have some control of knowing what others are selecting that I might be involved. There should also be a block feature so you could control if you allow people to know if that are in your selection. If all of this could be in place, I’d want the button. I would also use the button. I know the exact moment and feeling I would want to relive the rest of my life. Do you?

“Friendship takes work. Finding friends, nurturing friendships, scheduling face time, it all take a tremendous amount of work. But it’s worth it. If you put in the effort, you’ll see the rewards of positive friends who will make your life extraordinary.” – Maya Angelou

I struggle with letting my friends know when my feelings are hurt by their actions, or lack there of….why? I started thinking about this more because of two points raised during my research on friendships – read as talking to my friends about friendships: 1 – when friendships are no longer fulfilling you/the friendship feels one sided and 2 – reevaluating friendships and removing those that are “toxic.”

Friendships are relationships that also need work, some more than others. From our friends we look for validation, but ultimately it is their support we need the most. To know, despite disagreements, they are in our corner. We need to be honest with our friends, but mostly ourselves, on what it is we need from our friendships: Acceptance, to feel seen, to be included, to feel as if they care and you matter, corny jokes, the weather, life advice, memories…

Dani* told me that she is tired because she has realized recently that a few of her friendships are taking more than they give. <Well Emma, isn’t that how relationships go? You would be right, some of the time – and that is OK.> If a relationship (or person) is constantly taking more than he/she is putting into it on a REGULAR basis, the scales will ultimately tip. You see my friend is feeling this. She is a giver by nature, always has been and does not require a lot. But damn, is it too much to ask for her friends (the ones she is referencing) to ask how she is doing? Call or text for the SOLE purpose to say hi and check on HER? She needs to know that she is not just a “friend” because of what she does and can do to help. Just because she is a “Low Maintenance” friend does not mean she doesn’t deserve the same attention given to the “High Maintenance” friends.

Anna Grace*, a friend in a different group, said that she has started evaluating the relationships in her life as well. She is removing the people that she feels are “toxic” and not part of her new, positive life changes. Good for you! This is not easy to do and often an unpopular opinion. It is OK to walk AWAY from people in your life if they are toxic or bring constant negativity to your life.

Anna Grace* understood the assignment y’all. When we were discussing friendships she said, “different friend groups bring a different purpose for me – not anyone better or worse or more fulfilling than the other.” YES! I knew this, I guess the ah-ha moment for me is realizing that despite grouping our friends, that does not mean they can’t surprise you with what they bring to the table. I should know this better, because I have friends that are in more than one group or have crossed from one group to another.

I realized that just because something is important to me, does not mean that it will be important to my friends. The support I thought – hoped – that I would receive from one friend group – an Adult friendship group – has actually come from another – Work Friends. That is OK too!

I’ve had to not only evaluate my own friendships, but also the type of friend that I am for these posts. Just like with all other things in life there was some good – things I want to keep doing, and some bad – things that have to change or be fixed. Almost everyone, that took time to discuss friendships with me, said that time would be the thing they would like to change about friendships. The amount of time we have to spend with friends is limited, for various reasons and excuses. The amount of time we have is limited, PERIOD. So are we, myself included, going to continue to say “we need to do dinner soon” or are we actually going to plan the damn dinner and go? Spend time with the people you enjoy, and those that bring positivity to your life. Life is too short otherwise!

*Names have been changed – stories have not.

This is Part 2 of TBD on Adult Friendships. Part 1: https://emmaswarmestregards.com/2022/01/06/many-people-will-walk-in-and-out-of-your-life-but-only-true-friends-will-leave-footprints-in-your-heart-eleanor-roosevelt/.

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