20 Mar 2013

Jane Austen Got It Right

It recently occurred to me how extraordinary women are…

I know you are thinking… ‘Of course we are’… ‘I know that’… ‘Is she really only understanding this now’…

I mean really amazing… Have you ever thought about all the different roles you play in one day? I had never thought about it until recently… I took our ability to be so many different personas for granted… it’s just who we are… But think about it…

Women are like a one man show… multiple characters on the stage of life… performing for a mostly appreciative audience… Swapping between characters faultlessly and with great compassion… being who they need to be when they are needed… and all the time our own selves are concealed underneath… waiting for the curtain to drop so we can just ‘be’ for a small moment…

In a day I can wake up as me… but within seconds of my eyes opening I have already assumed the mantle of wife and partner… A cup of tea later… back to me and I am writer and blogger thinking about what might amuse or interest us in our French Essence world… totally forgetting about the ‘other life’… When I am here on the blog… creating content or talking to you… it’s all me.. all consuming… I never think about the rest of life or the other roles I play…

Then the phone rings…  and I become a friend… a girlfriend… A listener, a counsellor… a co-conspirator in all things fun and feminine… me, but a different me…

The mother role is perhaps the broadest of them all… the greatest part in a lifetime of varied roles… As well as being protective, nurturing, fair and patient in any one day… we may even be personal assistant, wardrobe advisor, financial planner, housekeeper, travel consultant, chef and driver…We know our lines, our movements are well rehearsed… we don’t have the luxury of an understudy waiting in the wings to prompt us if we slip up…

We are aunts, great aunts and sisters… more varied parts to play… Being an aunt is not the same as being a great aunt… and being a sister is entirely different again… yet women can be all these people in the one moment… without missing a cue… Women understand the petite nuances of relationships intuitively… women instinctively play these multiple roles without being aware that a small miracle is taking place. For that is what it is… nothing short of miraculous…

We are daughters… the hardest transition of all, especially as our parents age. Always the child, basking in the warmth of parental love, yet sometimes the family ties unravel. Nature can be cruel… and life is never perfect… Our roles may reverse and our mothers and fathers will become childlike… and we women will be obliged to become parents all over again.

And all these scenarios can happen in a day, even in a few hours… and I haven’t even mentioned the complex cameos of grandmother, grand daughter… employer, employee…  Exhausting when you think about it… but in reality this just happens.

Is it the same for men? I don’t think so… Tell me if you disagree…

I am not so sure that men are as chameleon like as we are… I think they tend to be who they are most of the time… more one dimensional… more pragmatic… which is not to say they don’t deal with the same situations, face the same dilemmas or have the same compassion… they surely do… but I don’t believe they morph in and out of character as we do… Women take everything to heart… which is why they can give so fully and so selflessly of themselves…

Women… A unique, a remarkable and inspiring force… Take a bow… and listen to that applause… xv

 Quote from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen… here

 

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48 Comments

Pam@over50feeling40

Love the post…I am known for all of the different hats I wear and I would not have it any other way. Someday I want to take 24 hours of conversation between the high school teacher, wife, mom, grandmother, freelance writer, fashion blogger, friend, and sister and intermingle all the different paths I follow in one day!! Some days it is quite hiliarious when they cross over. But, we are made to multi-task…I just do not believe most men could pull it off. Good job…very inspirational post!

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Vicki

I will try and write the dialogue one day… now that would be an amusing read… great idea Pam… :)

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pve

Well done. Bravo. Yes, while I agree with you, I do think in all fairness to men, they do wear many hats as well and seem to be applauded more for the deeds they do than women. I am reading “Lean in” and I hope for my daughter that both men and women are able to stand on equal ground for all they do and say.
pve

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Vicki

yes… men do wear different hats but somehow I feel that they do it differently to us… which is of course, how it should be… :)

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Anita Rivera

Good morning Vicki! I missed your previous post yesterday…ahhh! I had to run out to school, speaking of which, requires putting on that ROLE of teacher!

First of all, thank you for taking the time to come to visit me and leave a comment. I truly appreciate your time, for like many others, I am sure you are extremely busy with all the roles you have to perform!

I am with you here; one of the things I am finding remarkable and actually EXCITING about growing “UP” (as opposed to growing “old”) is the wisdom and daily lessons about life. And someone might say, “She is barely learning that NOW?” But it is OK because I was never 55 before, I was never at this point in my life before until NOW. NOW is the time to learn about this new stage of life when you realize something very profound about the one and special life you have been accorded. Even though I have no children of my own, working with them as a teacher has forced me to play a role I never thought I would have the chance to play. Then another role has to be assumed as a wife, a friend, a blogger, a “writer.”

Men are fabulous. They are made up so differently than us. I always like to look at the animal kingdom to make interesting comparisons, observations. Take the lioness. She does all the “shopping” or rather, hunting, takes care of the cubs, etc. What does HE DO? teehee…he just waits for the kill and rules the kingdom. The mother rabbit makes the nest, determines the TERRITORY and kicks out the male who had no involvement in finding the location for setting up housekeeping! It is all so fascinating, the roles we play, but more impressive is the grace with which we all have to glide into our roles. All is a stage, isn’t it?

May you continue to enjoy the daily life lessons of this one, incredible life we have been so blessed to receive in one breath of divine inspiration. It is so good to chat with you!

Bonne journée, Anita

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Donna A.

Hear, hear!! Well said. This touched a chord with me as I prepare to return to my hometown next week, to become an aunt, great aunt, sister, friend, and daughter. I shall sit back and watch the play unfold.

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Vicki

It’s the going home that brings out all the reflections… enjoy your visit Donna…

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Liz Lasher

Men know better. Once you’re a multi-talented/multi-tasker it’s expected of you & you’re taken for granted. Men don’t venture into that realm and are “focused”. Society rewards them for being superior achievers. Go figure!

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Vicki

I suppose it is expected of women but I also feel that it is in our nature’s to be many different personas… Do men really know better? Or is it just the way they are? :)

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MJ

I think men morph because they have to, like you said, they are one dimensional. They do it because it’s what’s required. And women, we morph because we feel we have to, even when it is not necessary :) We always put feelings in everything we do.

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24/7 in France

The expectations of men and women in society is, of course, cultural but yes Vicki, I agree that women are more innately multi-task oriented and less rewarded, by society in general, than men. The times, they are a changin’ but not as fast as they should!

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Vicki

Women are rewarded in different ways… ways perhaps that don’t equate with financial success… but nevertheless equally as and at times more valuable.

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Vicki

They would make great small pictures to hang together… wouldn’t they? Different quotes… different fonts… like an inspiration board…

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La Contessa

WE understand what needs to get done and just do it.We are the “construction crew”of daily LIFE.Some days my husband will say to me , “what did you do today?”I don’t know where to start…….nor would he be that interested as for him its not that important.For example,yesterday I was driving back home from exercise class and he calls me.(he calls about 3 times a day,I know I’m lucky!)I tell him I’m headed home to have my second cup of coffee in the garden!He says its almost lunch time forget the coffee!I say, “don’t take that second cup away from me in the GARDEN!I ADORE THAT!Thats my time to reflect on what’s next and how many more white roses I need TO BUY!

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Vicki

“construction crew” … yes that’s us…
There will never be enough ‘me’ time… there is always another more pressing job… so you are right to hold on to those precious moments… :)

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lisa thomson

Great post and interesting comments! I don’t really believe multi tasking is the best way to showcase our talents. I think we miss enjoying the moment by trying to accomplish too much or please everyone else. More focus and less people pleasing = more happiness for us women. This opinion is based on my personal experience. All said, I’m proud to be a woman but it’s taken 4 decades to figure out balance and that it’s okay to put me or my needs before everyone else (sometimes).

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Vicki

I don’t see a woman’s role as multi tasking either… what we do is not ‘tasks’.. we take on different personas to live our lives on different levels. We change as our roles change… we are different women as mothers than we are as friends… different as sisters or as daughters…

People pleasing is always a trap for women… and I agree Lisa, balance is key…

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Michele Gavaletz

Couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said. I belong to the Jane Austen Society and love all things Jane. Her quotes are so spot on even in today’s world. How did she gain such wisdom at such a young age – it’s taken me a lot longer!!! Thank you for all your blogs – always relevant, interesting and take me out of my work-a-day world.

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Juli

I hadn’t really thought about all the roles we play until I read your post today. Six months ago I became a grandmother for the first time, and found it is completely different from being a mother. As a mother we get to make our own decisions about our child, but as grandmothers we take a step back, watching but also learning at the same time – babycare changes, methods move on, and it would be so easy to put our foot in it and say “We used to do it like this.” I am so lucky that my son’s partner is happy for me to take an active part in my granddaughter’s life. I am thoroughly enjoying the experience!

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Vicki

I am sure being a grandmother is totally different… but equally rewarding… Another role to look forward to … :)

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Kate Gumbley

So enjoyed your post on this subject Vicki and had to smile to myself as i had just sat down with my morning coffee to catch my breath and get my daily thrill reading your blog after yes wearing many hats all before 7.30am. It hadn’t occurred to me quite how good we women are at juggling so much until I read your list.

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Vicki

Thank you Kate… I know exactly what you mean… and juggling is a great analogy… :)

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Noelle

Well the heading got my interest right away, and yes you are so right. Vicki, you have a way of putting things down that is so heartful and so meaningful to me, and I am sure to everyone who posted a comment today. Yes, I think you are spot on with the different roles we play and we do it without thinking of it. The list would be too long to ever complete with all of the things that we jump into with all of our hearts each day. I like how you say we are concealed underneath.. yes.. so true.. thanks so much

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Katherine

The whole time I read this post I could hear Helen Reddy singing in the background…….’I am woman hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore, and I know too much to go back ‘an pretend’.

I think women shift gears a lot easier than men. I’m not belittling the wonderful things that men do, but if it was equal, God would have made it possible for men to give birth too.
I’m really proud of how well I manage ALL of it.

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Vicki

Thank goodness he didn’t… Can you imagine… :) :)

Men are amazingly resourceful too… but they handle things very differently… and that’s a good thing…

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Meg Veno

Wow Vicki! I have followed you for some time and I am inspired by what you write and observe. I have never commented though for being fairly new to this blogging world I am still managing my time, my new business and my family…thus taking on many different roles and the nuances of each role that are different is so many ways. “Multiple characters on the stage of life”, loved that line in your blog…as well as so many others! Truly accurate, inspirational and makes me love being a woman. I love being multi faceted and having multiple persona’s, although it can be exhausting at times, it is so very rewarding. I think a woman’s life is so very deep compared to the life of most men. We are problem solvers and doers…moving from one task to the next, however varied. Sometimes internalizing too much for we take much to heart.Having four sons and one daughter along with seven nephews has confirmed this! Thank you for your wisdom filled words Vicki!

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jeanne henriques

Vicki…we are on the same wave length..across the sea. Thinking on life and all that we do. I loved reading this post. You are so right, we are all remarkable and need to be reminded of it as often as we can. It is so easy to lose sight when you are dealing with life. Thank you for your comment…I left one for you too…
Jeanne xx PS…I think you are right about Whale Beach…I think that is the place to go too. :)

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Vicki

Thanks Jeanne… You must know Whale Beach by now from your time in Oz… but it’s a sentimental place for us… we have been going there for 28years!!

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Mia

I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts. A woman’s understanding of ideas and emotions extends far beyond that of a man, which makes it possible for us to balance several life roles. Thanks for the inspirational post!

~Mia
macaronhoarder.wordpress.com

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Millie

I think I’ve managed most of the roles you’ve listed in your lovely post OK Vicki, however, there are 2 others I’ve struggled with. The instruction book for being a good Stepmother & laterly, a good Mother-In-Law is pretty light on. I’ve struggled with both & there seems to be little dialogue much about either, except of course, the stereotypical stuff that surrounds both. Looking back I probably needed to ask the question outright – ‘How can we make this work successfully?’. Wish I’d been braver.
Millie xx

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Suzanne de Cornelia

Women are oceans, lakes and seas…we ebb and flow, we create, and cause things to grow; men are mountains, rock, they stand and oversee, guide and protect…

I worked in a male field for 20-years where only 2% of managers are women, so I was on their turf in a notoriously macho world. I held my own and then some. It made me stop thinking of the differences between men and women…because I realized that both sexes have equally helped or hurt me. Both have been equal friends.

I so admired Nora Ephron who said, ‘Be the heroine of your own life, not the victim.’ A regret that I have is that I was sitting at the next table to her in an otherwise empty Carmel-by-the-Sea cafe (I was waiting for someone and she was with a woman friend). With my hero sitting right there I said nothing because she was seated at a table. Now if she were standing at a cash register, I’d have thought ‘Fair game to say hello.’ Clearly I do not think like a man, don’t think any would hold back from speaking to a hero in that circumstance.

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Suzanne de Cornelia

BTW Nora Ephron’s next project that she was set to direct for Columbia Pictures was “Lost in Austen” when a New Yorker named Amanda embodies Elizabeth Bennet in what sounds a bit like Woody Allen’s “The Kugelmass Episode”….who’ll direct now I wonder. Nancy Meyers perhaps?

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Helen Tilston

Hello Jeanne

I’ve enjoyed reading this post, your thoughts and the varied comments.

I agree with you that the majority of women over 45 years fall into the roles you describe in this post. I question if the younger women have the same motivation or desire to do it all, like their older sisters.

Helenxx

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Vicki

Good point Helen… I am not sure either… although I hope they learn and follow by our lead… and that their behaviour becomes intuitive…

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Splendid Market

What a thought inspiring piece. It is so true, we morph through the day tending to so many people, notions, missions… I think men face similar complexities, but to your point I think they don’t take them to heart as much as women.

Love the lipstick review aussi! ebh

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