Category Archives: people we like and wish we real

5 things i learned from josephine march

This post originally appeared on my old blog about a year ago. Emily suggested I repost it to But First, Coffee. Enjoy!

A girl’s life is tough when most of her heroes are that of fiction. I have realized recently that most women I look up to are heroines from movies or literature; they aren’t real.

But they are real to me.

My mother always read aloud to me books with spunky, outspoken, and “hopelessly flawed” heroines. There were books like “Anne of Green Gables,” and movies such as “Emma” and “Pollyanna.” I was fortunate enough to be subjected to shaped by the characters found within these various works of literature and cinema. Anne, Emma, Pollyanna, and Elizabeth Bennett have influenced who I have become and more importantly, who I strive to be.

If I had to point to one movie that I have desired to shape my life after it would be “Little Women.” Before my two youngest siblings were born, sometimes it felt like my family was the March family in more ways than one. I had three little sisters and many of our personality traits matched up to those of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Every holiday season, we would snuggle up by the fire and watch that movie at the request of my mother, who sometimes even called us her “little women.” My sister Kelli is Meg to a tee. I was always pegged as Jo.

Here are five things that I have learned from Jo March.

1. It is ok to stand too close to the fire.

Jo’s carelessness has become a metaphor for my entire life. Every dress that Jo March owned had burn marks on the back as a result of standing near the fireplace. She’s a hot mess. literally.

But she goes to the ball anyway.

2. Hold out on the German Professor.

Laurie (played by the dreamy Christian Bale) proposed to her and she turned him down. A sane woman does not turn down Christian Bale. Given, I’ll admit that I’m not fending off potential suitors left and right or anything, but my point is that Jo knew that they might be happy, but not “truly, madly, deeply in love” kind of happy.  So she waited. And waited…and saw her sisters marry…and waited some more.

I admire her patience.

But then someone better than she ever expected came along…someone perfect for her and her imperfection.

3. As a writer, satisfaction comes from writing what you know.

For most of her life, Jo always wrote loftily; what she though people wanted to hear: great, epic tales of forbidden romance and darkness. But Friedrich (the man she would eventually love) challenged her.

Friedrich: “You must write from life, from the depths of your soul!”

Jo: “Friedrich, this is what I write. My apologies if it fails to live up to your high standards.”

Friedrich: “Jo, there is more to you than this. If you have the courage to write it.”

If I ever become a writer, I desire to be known deeply by what I write.

4. Breaking down to your mother every once in awhile is perfectly acceptable.

After Jo refuses Laurie’s proposal and her little sister Amy is offered the ultimate Europe trip, she cries to her mother (Of course played by Susan Sarandon…the perefect mom figure.) and expresses feeling out of place and awkward.

Well, of course Aunt March prefers Amy over me. Why shouldn’t she? I’m ugly and awkward and I always say the wrong things. I fly around throwing away perfectly good marriage proposals. I love our home, but I’m just so fitful and I can’t stand being here! I’m sorry, I’m sorry Marmee. There’s just something really wrong with me. I want to change, but I – I can’t. And I just know I’ll never fit in anywhere.

I love this. And I love Marmee’s response:

Oh, Jo. Jo, you have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to lead an ordinary life? You’re ready to go out and – and find a good use for your talent. Tho’ I don’t know what I shall do without my Jo. Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it.

5. Always go to New York. Always.

So, she leaves. She leaves home, she leaves her family, and everything that is comfortable. But the most significant thing to note is that she comes back home…eventually. Even though the city feels “cold and strange” she finds her way there, and comes home to fulfill. Jo taught me that its all well and good to want to end up at home; where you started, but the act of leaving often changes us- changes us in the way that we are able to appreciate the things that before seemed tiresome and mundane.

This holiday season, my mom, my sisters and I will undoubtedly curl up by the fireplace and watch “Little Women.”

I can’t wait.


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Filed under katie, people we like and wish we real

“all girls are princesses” and other things I learned from Sara Crew

I saw “A Little Princess” when I was 8 and it was the first time I realized that a movie could make you cry. I knew movies could be funny or scary or even a little sad but I never realized they could make you cry full on tears. Yet, there I was, leaning of the armrest of our blue plaid couch weeping as tiny Sara Crew screamed “Papa please! Papa you’ve got to know me! It’s Sara, remember! Remember India and Emily and the locket with mama’s picture! Papa please!” (Full disclosure: I just watched a youtube clip of that scene and started crying.) To this day, whenever I’m feeling depressed or uninspired, I watch “A Little Princess” to be reminded that life is as magical as I decide to make it.

Here are some other things I learned from Sara.

Do good, you never know who’s watching
Even when the unthinkable happens to Sara, she never falters in treating others with kindness. When she stumbles across some extra cash while out running errands she buys herself a sticky bun, a rare and well-deserved treat. She leaves the shop and sees a woman with three children shivering in the cold and desperately trying to sell flowers. Without hesitation, she gives her food to the family prompting them to give a flower to “the little princess.” Her kindness pays off when she and Becky are locked in their attic room and forced to go a day without food. Even though they are scared, Sara consoles Becky and they fall asleep vividly imagining a better life. They wake up to a transformed room complete with a feast for breakfast courtesy of the magical Indian man across the street who has been looking for Sara the whole time. While we may not all have a magical Indian man looking out for us, others are taking note of our actions, for good or for bad, whether we’re aware of it or not.

Make the right kind of friends
Sara delights not only in loving people but in showing people that they are worthy of love. She chooses to befriend shy, insecure Ermmengard instead of snotty queen bee Lavinia. She pursues Becky, the servant girl, despite it being against the rules. She is a natural story teller and shares her gift freely, bringing a new sense of community to Miss Minchin’s School for Girls. Her imagination and exuberance bring out the best in those around her and inspire them to do great things. We should all hope to have and be friends like Sara.

One of my favorite scenes in the whole film is when Sara calms down Lottie, the littlest student who throws inconsolable tantrums. She doesn’t try to yell over her or tell her to stop but instead sits down to find out what the problem is. It turns out Lottie’s mother is dead and the fact that she will never see her again is too much for the small child to bear. Sara immediately opens up about the death of her own mother and paints a beautiful picture of Heaven where both of their mothers watch over them. Lottie is ashamed when Sara tells her that she won’t be able to hear the special messages her mother sends her if she continues to cry so loud but Sara is quick to tell her that the angels always try again. It is the perfect remedy to her tantrums and Sara’s calmness and openness shows a wisdom beyond her years.

All girls are princesses
No matter what happens to Sara, she never stops believing that she is a princess. Her philosophy is summed up nicely when she finally stands up to Miss Minchin, the evil headmistress. “I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses. All of us. Didn’t your father ever tell you that? DIDN’T HE?” To Sara, being a princess doesn’t mean she is entitled to things, it means that she has worth and should be treated with respect. It means you carry yourself gracefully and treat your fellow princesses kindly. This is the original girl power, my friends.

If you’ve never seen “A Little Princess” and are wondering what in the world I’m talking about then put this one of your Netflix Instant queue, you won’t be disappointed!


Filed under emily, people we like and wish we real