March 27, 2015

The Grace and Confidence of Cinderella

I have been wanting to write something about the new, beautiful film Cinderella that everyone and their stepmother's cat has been blogging about and writing profound and insightful posts about, but I wasn't sure what to say that hadn't already been said before.  And then, I thought of something that I wanted to say, something that no one else to my knowledge has talked about yet.  So here we go.

We talk all about the time of the stereotypes of men in films - how they are either a) immature and rude b) sleazy and creepy or c) apathetic.  In any case they are all seen as never as good as the women they are paired with, and it is a step down for the leading lady to end up with them.  That's been covered a lot, and it has also been talked about how Prince Charming/Kit is a beautiful example of the opposite of all of that.  But that is not what I want to talk about here.

What I do want to bring attention to, is the fact that women in films have a stereotypes as well.  The slutty, bottle blond stereotype yes, but that is typically reserved for supporting characters.  Main actresses in films and television have a tendency, rather, to fall into the clumsy stereotype.  You know - awkward, says the wrong thing at the wrong time, thinks she's alone and does something weird or embarrassing and then turns around to find the romantic interest/everyone she knows is watching her.  She trips a lot, she falls, she is uncomfortable with herself.  Usually by the end of the film she has achieved enough grace to fulfill whatever plot element is required, but she is still clumsy and awkward enough to remind the audience that she is "a real woman."  This applies predominantly to romantic films, not  adventure or thriller films, which is the reason I bring it up.

Cinderella is not that woman.  It didn't hit me until almost the end of the film, that subconsciously I had been waiting for that stereotype to emerge in someway.  I had been waiting for her to fall off her horse when she met the Prince, I had been expecting her to trip or make a fool of herself in front of her stepsisters, I had thought she would act the awkward, uncertain country girl dressed as a princess when she went to the ball.  I was surprised when she never said anything odd or embarrassing to the prince in the garden.

Throughout the film, Cinderella was the picture of grace, and confidence.  Once I realized it, it was so refreshing to see her step out of the carriage, utterly sure of herself and her belonging there.  It was beautiful to see her enter the ballroom with as much grace as if she had been born to it, to see her pause on the staircase and curtsy to the crowd that was staring at her, and then walk with confidence right up to the Prince, without faltering or becoming flustered when she realized the man she thought was merely an apprentice was actually the heir to the throne.

She didn't murmur "Oh, but I don't know how to dance!" when the Prince asked her.  She didn't trip, she didn't fall.... she didn't do any of the things that we have come to expect from the leading lady in a romantic film.

We are growing used to being told that a woman must be clumsy or awkward in order to be "real".  We will probably mess up, or say the wrong thing at an important moment, or stutter, or generally look silly in the eyes of the person we are trying to make a good impression on.  We are forgetting that a lady can be full of grace and class and confidence.  We can walk into a room filled with people without having to feel apologetic for being there.  We can dance with all the beauty of royalty without feeling ashamed of our more humble origins.

Being graceful does not make us any less of a "real woman."  Yes, of course we'll all have our clumsy and awkward moments - after all, we are human.  What we cannot do, however, is let our humanness give an us excuse to stay within the safety net of being clumsy and awkward and keep us from venturing into the risky area of maintaining an air of poise and class.

Cinderella is a fairy tale princess, you might argue. Of course she is going to be filled with elegance and grace.  Yes, and no, is my answer.  Look at Ana, from Frozen.  Or Merida from Brave.  I'm not saying that I don't love them, but they were princesses who were anything but pictures of grace.  Princess does not equal being a lady, and a princess character being a lady does not mean it is an unrealistic goal for us "real women."  Look at Audrey Hepburn, or Grace Kelly.  We used to admire such elegance and beautiful confidence, we don't do so as much any more.

To have Cinderella possess all those qualities and not fall down into the stereotype of a clumsy and awkward girl was the element of the film that really captured my attention.  The cinematography and design of the film was breathtaking, and the execution of the story and the character development was superb to be sure.  But it was the depiction of Cinderella as a lady, as a woman of style and grace and such confidence that made me a fan, and is the reason I look forward to watching this film over and over again.  Let us hope Hollywood takes note, and gives us more women like her in the future.

March 26, 2015

Oh Brother

I think that at this point in my life, I've gotten the hang of living with four sisters pretty well.  I'm a girl so of course I know how we think, I'm the oldest so naturally that makes me the most perceptive and understanding of all my siblings, and I've had twenty-one years (yikes, that long?) of being a big sister to figure out how my sisters work and think.

What I'm discovering that I do not quite have the hang of yet... is living with brothers. It's really only hit me in the last six months or so that boys are totally different than girls.  I've had a younger brother for almost fifteen years now, but honestly when they are younger they really weren't that different from having little sisters.  Aside from burping and making other obnoxious bodily noises more and finding it hysterical, and running around making sound effects.

I don't know about y'all, but I think boys are confusing.  Maybe it's just teenage boys, because my Knight has not been that hard to figure out.  Maybe it's brothers that are confusing.  I'm not really sure.  But it is definitely different.

There are days when he can be the most arrogant jerk that ever walked the face of this earth.  Unlike my sisters and I, whatever mood he is in seems to be the mood that sticks with him all day long rather than changing by the hour, so when I am at home and he's on a jerk day, there is nothing I want to do more than punch his face through the wall.  I don't know how my mom and the sisters that are home more than I am put up with him.

When Brother #1 began developing the symptoms of being a teenage guy, we were told that this was normal and pretty much all boys are a pain in the rear at this stage in life and we should expect physical expressions of anger - something foreign to a bunch of girls who prefer using their tongues over their arms when they get ticked off.  We were warned that it is quite common for boys to punch a hole in the wall, or punch their brothers, or punch anything.

But then there are days where he's awesome and I remember why I kind of like having a brother more than having sisters. Because on a good day, he is more or less in a great mood all day long, he is very agreeable, he starts my car for me, he'll run into the other room to grab something, he is fun to talk to and be around, and did I mention he gives really great neck and shoulder rubs? His gentleness could use a little work, but I have perpetually chronically knotted shoulders so having someone with as strong of hands as he has rub my shoulders feels great.

I really don't understand brothers.  I don't understand how someone can be in a bad mood all day long, or how they can manage to be in a good mood all day long.  I don't understand why he can be so convicted of his own opinion sometimes that it would literally be easier to get a rock to talk to me.  I can't say that I understand why he does things the way he does sometimes, or what on earth his thought processes was when doing it.

Brothers are different, and I suppose that is okay.  Different is good, and decidedly not boring.  Unlike all my sisters, however, I only get two brothers to observe and try to comprehend.  We shall see how that goes!

March 20, 2015

Still Working on My Masterpiece

And there we have it... the end of another birthday.  I am twenty-three now, folks.  I can't decide if that makes me feel old, or still impossibly young.  This means that it has been ten years since I was thirteen, five years since I was eighteen and in two years I will be twenty-five and half-way through my twenties.


Twenty-two was a pretty good year.  In that year, I got a new job and realized that I love (and hate) working with people and being in a customer service industry.  I met some fantastic co-workers who quickly became my good friends.  I met one of the best teachers I've ever had (you're the always the best, of course mom!) and with each day of classes and each new learning experience, realized that Hospitality is where God wants me to be right now, and I am enjoying every step of the journey.

I've developed some new and wonderful friendships - new blogging friends, new work friends, a new friend that I've actually known for a large chunk of my life but we finally met, permanently, and became excellent friends this year.  I've strengthened old friendships, and made the choice to say good-bye to a friendship that was falling apart.

I've become even closer with my closer with my siblings, and grown closer with family members.  I've fallen more and more in love each day with the wonderful man I am blessed to call my boyfriend.  God certainly knew what He was doing when He brought the two of us together, and I don't know what I would ever do without my dear Knight.

I've messed up a bit too, and had to learn some lessons.  Nothing major - thankfully - but I've learned the hard way that I need to stand up to people, that not everyone is honest, that there are people out there that will put up a nice face and be kind and generous on the surface but below that they are just out to help themselves.  I can't always be quiet and agreeable, I need to communicate more and say what I am thinking instead of keeping it inside.  It's okay for me to have my own opinion, and give it a voice.

If anything, I've learned this year that I'm still a work in progress.  I like to think that I've made some steps forward, and become more kind, more patient, more compassionate, more generous, more loving.  But I know that there are many times when I am not these things, when I fail and stumble.

I think that's why Jessie J's "Masterpiece" struck such a chord with me when I listened to it for the first time the other day.  In the past 36 hours, it's become my theme song for 23, in a way.  It's not your typical "Hey, I'm awesome and I'm perfect the way I am" kind of song, but it admits that "I mess up... I hit and miss" but that's okay, because I'm not finished yet.

I still fall on my face sometimes, and I can't color inside the lines
You haven't seen the best of me, I'm still working on my masterpiece

So here's to another year.  To 365 more days of getting even better in the areas I've improved in, and starting to work on the areas that still need a lot of help.  To working some more on my masterpiece.

March 17, 2015

A Bit O' Green: Saint Patrick's Day Style Part II

Today we're doing a fashion post selfie style because a) I HAVE A SMARTPHONE and b) I'm going to be out and about all day with no one to take my picture for me.So I got creative with some window reflections and enjoyed the novelty of forward facing cameras. (Yes, I know I've been sadly behind the times)

Have a very happy and joyful Feast of St. Patrick!

Scarf // Apt 9 Khols
Shirt // Apt 9 Khols
Pants // metaphor Sears
Bracelet + Necklace // Gift
Earrings // Charming Charlies (posts) - Claires (Shamrocks)
Pumps //  JC Penny

March 15, 2015

A Bit O' Green: St. Patrick's Day Style Part I

 Goodness, it has been so long since I've done a style post!  I picked up a few new green things to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and the return of spring with, so I thought - what better time to do a new style blog?

My dad's side of the family has Irish heritage, and celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a big family meal is a long standing tradition.  Yesterday we celebrated at my aunt's house, and I broke out my new Kelly green top for the occasion.

I paired it with a black skirt I've had for eons, along with heels and a black shrug for Mass in the morning, and changed up into black jeans, pumps and a gray light sweater for dinner in the evening.

Because people I know tend to freak out about this ALL the time - that's a purity ring, not an engagement ring

Green Shirt - Khols
Black Shrug - Khols
Black Skirt - Christopher and Banks
Gray Sweater - Thrifted
Black Jeans  - Khols
Black Heels - Payless
Black Pumps - Payless
Bracelet and Earrings - Charming Charlie's
"Flaming Lava" Lipstick - Revlon

Coming.... sometime... this week.... hopefully.... what I wore actually on Saint Patrick's Day!

March 11, 2015

Why Yes, I Do Consider Myself a Feminist

And no, that does not mean that I hate men, or that I think women are better than guys who are all stupid idiots.  I don't think women must act like a man in order to get ahead in life.  I don't believe a woman’s "right to choose" what to do with her body includes choosing to kill an innocent unborn child, a child who from conception is its own person with its own DNA. I don't think women need to flaunt their skin and act in a provocative manner in the name of "female empowerment."  None of this is why I consider myself to be a feminist.

So why am I calling myself a feminist?  Isn't everything I said I didn't agree with about the movement the reasoning behind?

Well, yes and no.

Feminism started out as a movement to help society to realize women are equal in dignity and intelligence to men.  That is a movement that I can fully get behind, because it is the truth.  What feminism has morphed into, however, is a contest to prove that girls rule and boys drool and we need to remind them of it every single day and do whatever the heck we feel like because we are women damnit.  And that, I do not support.

Men and women are different - I fully accept that God created the genders with differences, and that there are certain roles that men are called to and women are not, just as there are roles that women are called to and men are not.  But just because we were created with differences does not make one sex better than the other.  God didn't create only men in the image and likeness of God and women kind of, but a little less than men, in His image and likeness.  He created us ALL in His image and likeness.

Women were created to be mothers - either in the spiritual or physical sense. But that doesn't mean a woman can't get an education, that she can't have a job and a career, that her ideas and opinions aren't as important or as valuable as a mans.  Men were created to be fathers, in either a physical or spiritual sense. But that doesn't mean they can't show care and compassion, they can't step into the role of a caretaker if they need to take care of their children, or they have to be all about sports and beating people up and being tough and dominating in order to "be a real man."  

I believe a woman can do anything a man can do, but when she does it, ought to do it as a woman.  It's alright to accept that women are inherently more sensitive and more emotional than men.  Having sensitivity and emotion doesn’t mean we can’t be tough, or resilient or intelligent or hard working.  If we do all the things that men do but we adapt ourselves to act just like the guys - tell me, where is the feminism in that?  
Yes, if a woman and a man are doing the same job, they should get paid the same.  Yes, women can be engineers and play sports and be scientists and mathematicians - I fail to see how those are fields that women cannot succeed in simply because of being a woman, nor do I see where any religious argument could find solid ground to say women should stay out of traditionally male dominated fields.  We can do these things and still be proud of the fact that we are women and that femininity is a beautiful thing.

The mentality that says: in order to be a feminist, we have to act like a man and stomp on men in the processes, has helped lead to a lot of the problems that are still in society.  We complain about the objectification of women, but we have done that to ourselves by one minute insisting it is anti-feminist to wear skirts and dresses and act like a lady, and then the next minute turning around and flaunting every inch of skin we can get away with in a desperate attempt to remind everyone that we are, in fact, still women.

At this point, I think both sides have done a pretty good job of royally messing everything up together.  It's not just the women’s fault... and it's not completely the men's fault either.

Because then, there is the whole huge issue of how women are sexually harassed and attacked and the deplorable fact that when a woman is raped or assaulted, far too often the blame is cast upon the victim or we brush it off as “drunken college sex”. Especially when celebrities are concerned we shy away from placing blame fully on the perpetrators, and rather imply that the woman must have encouraged the assault, or was asking to be raped based on what she was wearing the time and how she was acting.  Every day, women are on the receiving end of  lurid jokes, asked for sex in return for good grades or a job promotion, and touched in inappropriate ways and then told to take it as a compliment. Sexual harassment is massive, ugly ball that is too twisted for the blame to be easily handed off to either the men or the women.

There are legitimate problems in the way our society treats women, and in the way we as women treat ourselves.  And, I suppose, that is why I am a feminist.  

I am a feminist because, I love being a woman and everything that being a woman means.  I love guys too, and I think they are pretty awesome.  And yet I love the fact that I'm not a guy, that I was created to be different from a man, that I was created to be a woman.  So I will be a feminist until society realizes that women have the same dignity and value as men do, but we are not the same thing. We shouldn't be the same thing and we don't have to be the same thing in order for that value and dignity to be recognized. We have the same worth, but we are beautifully and gloriously different.

March 9, 2015

Got Someone Watching Out For Me

Last week, I wrote a post about how crazy life has been, how exhausted and stressed I've become from constantly running and running and running.  Even fun things like socializing with friends and hanging out were becoming a stress-source because it was just one. more. place. I had to go to.

I ended up taking the week off of one of my jobs, and the did help somewhat.  I got some homework done, found time to do a little cleaning in my room.   It was nice.  I got a little break, and started gearing myself to jump back into crazy life again this week.

And then I went to work Sunday morning at the hotel, got my new schedule and saw that I'm only scheduled for one day this week.  I'll be honest, my first thought was "Carp!  What did I do wrong? Did I mess up? Are they mad at me?"  Then I talked myself out of that by reminding myself that fortunately I have managers who would tell me if I do something wrong, not passive-aggressively punish me by giving me less hours. 

I texted my Knight, still a little "OhmygoshI'mnotworkingatALLLLL" and freaking out, and he texted me back with "Well.... isn't that what you wanted?"  And I was all "Oh.... yeah. You're right.  I did want that."

So I took a look at my schedule and it is blissfully - open.  On Monday, I only have two of my three classes and get out early.  Tuesday, I only have to work one job.  Wednesday, I have one out of two classes and will be done with everything for the day by 9:30 in the morning.  Thursday, I have one job.  Friday - abso-beautifully nothing.  Saturday, one job. Best off all - I don't have to work at ALL on Sunday, and I'll be able to go to Mass in the morning with my family for only the third time in the last two months.  (Yes, I HAVE been attending Mass - just on Saturday evenings, alone.)

My mom joked that maybe my boss read my blog and had pity on me.  I think God was taking care of me this week, because He knew I was reaching the point where I was handling as much as I could possibly handle.  It's little things like this that remind me that He does care about me.

Because best of all - I have a ton of free time, and it's going to be absolutely beautiful gorgeous finally spring weather all week long.

March 5, 2015

You Don't Know It's There Until It's Not

It's the little things, the things we don't even pay attention to half the time, that make the difference.  The things we don't notice that  play a big role in our decision making process and the forming of our personal preference.  This (absolutely hilarious) story from Eli's bog about  bad customer service inspired me to write a post about some of my experiences with good customer service.  (Also, if you don't follow Eli's blog already - what on earth is your problem?  It's the best blog out there.  Twice up the barrel, once down the side.)


Customer service isn't really a thing that you notice, not unless it's really bad, or above and beyond the call of duty.  I've always been the person who tries hard to care about the people providing me service... treating waiters and waitresses like they are human, being polite and friendly and patient, smiling at the person on the other side of the register and sincerely asking them how their day is.  They have a tough job, and I know what a smile can do to make someone's day a thousand times better.  I've made an effort to pay attention to the people, but never really thought that much about the actual service until this semester.

Last semester, I took a class in customer service, and it was so much fun.  I have an awesome job at my hotel with management that is very focused not only on providing excellent customer service to our guests, but giving good service to us, the employees, as well.  I would go into class and learn things, then go to work and get to see those same lessons in action. Since then, I have started to pay attention more.... and when you pay attention, it is interesting to see the things you otherwise would take for granted.

Most of the people employed in customer service are there just do their job, it's not bad, it's nothing extraordinary, it meets a need and that's that.   And that's perfectly fine because, really, that's the definition of good customer service - service that works so well that you don't even notice it happening.

I've wondered if maybe that is the reason why the hospitality industry is one of those "Surprise!" jobs, as one person put it.  The hospitality world is every where - every time you go out to eat, stay at a hotel, get on a plane, visit a conference, a meeting, a convention or attend a party, that is hospitality.  You can't have the hospitality industry without customer service, because customer service is the hospitality industry.  It's everywhere, but it it's one of those majors and career paths that you don't really think about until you run into it and go "Oh, I didn't even know this was a thing!"  The hospitality industry is like customer service... when it's good, you don't even realize it's there.

March 4, 2015

Trying to Slow Down

Guys, life is crazy.  It's good... but it's absolutely crazy.

I've been feeling very overwhelmed and stressed the past week or so and stretched way too thin. My room is a mess, I have a list of things I need to get done, I was falling behind on homework and kept forgetting about assignments because I never had time to do them.  There was no time for anything, and as I tried to figure out what I could cut out to give me some extra time, I realized there wasn't anything.  All I do is go to school, go to work afterwards, go to work the next day and go to work again once I'm done with that work - and repeat.

I realized today that for the past month I've been doing at least 12 - 15hr days, almost every day of the week.  Good grief, no wonder I've been stressed and on a Tylenol binge for headaches for the past week.

 This Monday I did have a bit of a meltdown when I realized that it was going to snow that night and add on an hour to my already hour long commute at 6:30am the next morning and that with my schedule for the upcoming week I wouldn't have a moment to stop and breathe, let alone do the assignments that had all suddenly snuck up on me. Heck, I barely even had time to shower or pack multiple meals.

After talking with my parents and my Knight... I decided I was going to call into Job #2 (the office job) and let my supervisor know that I just couldn't make it in this week. Technically it's an "internship" so they understood about needing to make time for my schoolwork.

I know next week I'll have to go back, but for this week it's been so good to have time to actually be at my house and sit down for a while.  I knocked out a good chunk of homework yesterday, and tomorrow I'll have the day off from both jobs so I'll be able to tackle the rest, finally get in my FAFSA paperwork for the next school year and do some much needed organizing and cleaning in my room.

It's hard to slow down when you don't have any way of putting on the breaks, because this is all stuff that I have to do.  But at least I have one job where I can call off for just one week... and thank goodness spring break is just around the corner.  I think I can make it!