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Posts from the ‘Crones’ Category

She’s Got Style

She’s Got Style

By Paige Cooperstein

(Meet my guest, Paige, below)

Paige & Nana

Paige and her Nana

I’ve been thinking about my future a lot lately. I’m 21 years old, which means I’ve just had my last memorable birthday until I start counting by decades. And I’m about to start my final year of college. Life is nagging me with this question: What are you going to do now?

What I’ve been doing lately is thinking about what my Nana Viv, my mom’s mom, did with her various life changing moments. When my Nana was 21 she was already on her third of five children. She was married fresh out of high school, and family lore has it that when she and my Gaga moved into the first home that they owned together, my Nana cried. She didn’t know how they were going to afford an $80 a month mortgage on top of feeding three kids.

I knew my Gaga was a carpenter, but it never occurred to me to ask what my Nana did for a living. My mom always described her upbringing as a traditional breadbasket type of experience. Gaga was in the Wisconsin branch of a union and Nana raised my mom and my uncles. Turns out, my Nana did actually waitress at the local supper club. My mom joined her there when she was about sixteen. And later Nana was a secretary at an insurance office.

My Nana Viv was a creative woman. She didn’t have money for the big white wedding, but she had a pink dress that she absolutely adored. And even after shoveling $80 a month over to the mortgage company, she kept her kids taken care of and more. Fun could be free, like taking trips to the quarry or an imaginary trip in the airplane that was made by lining the dining room chairs up in rows in the living room while my Nana vacuumed.

But the best of my Nana’s accomplishments has to be the way she does everything in life with such style and grace. If you’re named something as provocative as Vivienne you’ve got to have a certain something about you. I remember seeing a picture of my Nana from when she was in high school. She’s in a bowling alley in her cheerleading uniform. She’s smiling ear to ear and her blonde hair is shining. We’re both blonde, which is one of our most prized commonalities since my feet grew too large to share our shoes anymore. She was the kind of girl and is the kind of woman that people want to be friends with. When she walks into a room, you imagine a wake of warm gold following in her wake. She makes you feel that warmth in every gesture and everything she says to you.

I’ve decided I want my Nana Viv’s style in whatever I do in life. My post college plans range anywhere from travelling to Argentina to getting my MFA to getting a job in communications. But I want to have that ease of motion as I move from experience to experience that my Nana Viv is known for. She is a beautiful woman inside and out. She taught me that everything you do matters, if you do it with care.

NOTE: Since I (Sylvia) write strong women, I have my Google Alerts set up to track any blog post that talks about strong women. A few weeks ago, I received such on the Penn State University PBS Radio Site, This I Believe. The article was written by Paige Cooperstein, our guest today. I was so impressed with the young woman’s article that I commented on it. Then, a few weeks later, she wrote and thanked me for the comment. As a result, Paige and I have become friends (at least I count her as one–even though she’s young and I’m old!) I ended up asking her to write a guest article for this blog–and that is the article above. Powerful, isn’t it? Want to know a little more about our young people today? Read her bio below, and you will see what I mean. 

“My name is Paige Cooperstein and I’ve known I would be a writer since the time I asked my mom how to spell “illustrated.” I was six and I was sure I was about to author an award-winning children’s series. I’ve always been resolute. I’ve got a Pennsylvania Dutch and a German streak of stubbornness feeding into me from each side of the family.

This isn’t a memory, just something I’ve been told about myself since I was old enough to remember things on my own, but “I do self” was my first complete sentence.

Apparently I liked the sound of it so much, I used it anytime I could: “What do you want for dinner, Paige?” “I do self.” “Time for a bath, Paige.” “I do self.”

But if 21 years of life have taught me anything, it’s that you’re lucky to have people in your life you can rely on. I’m currently a senior at Penn State University Park studying creative writing. I’m staring my thesis in the face and I just bought the poster board that will keep track of the statuses of all my post grad applications. I never would’ve come this far in my life without the eternal support of my family. And who else would’ve put up with my constant yapping about each new author obsession? I’m a lucky girl.”

Please feel free to comment, and celebrate with me, a super neat young woman. I say, she’s got style!

Women Steel wrapped in warm, loving flesh

Our guest blogger today is author, Vonnie Davis. I know you will enjoy her comments. Feel feee to ask her questions or leave your comments.

Women: Steel Wrapped in Warm, Loving Flesh

I love the typical alpha-male in romance, but what I love even more is when a strong female gets in his face and tells him what he can do with his alpha-nonsense. Don’t you? I mean, really…

In years past, heroines in many romances were frail, emotionally fragile, weepy things. When I’d read their stories, I’d grit my teeth and mumble remarks equivalent to the modern day slogan: Put on your big-girl panties and deal.

They weren’t reality. What is reality? Strong women.

Look around you; they’re everywhere. They’ve survived more of life’s storms than the Caribbean Islands have hurricanes. Yet women are still standing, still surviving and still struggling in this crazy world. Whether they’re corporate executives or stay-at-home moms or single mothers holding down two jobs to keep hearth and home together, they’ve all brought multi-tasking to an art form.

Women are steel wrapped in warm, loving flesh. We are the backbone of this country. Take us away and what do you have? A man, trying to maneuver the aisles in a grocery store with a screaming toddler in a dirty diaper, an energetic first grader with eight arms reaching for and tossing every sugar-laden product into the cart and a sullen teenager, whining that she’s bored. Said man is two heartbeats away from a nervous breakdown. The whole scene is just too much stress for him. But for a woman, this is her reality—and she deals.

So to honor women’s strength—whether innate or gleaned from the school of hard knocks—I create strong heroines in my books.

These are women, like you and me, who have turned adversities into advantages. Women, who like the old toy “weebles,” wobble under the weight and strain of life’s many problems, but they don’t fall down.

When I’m starting a new story, I try to create my characters from the inside out. First I decide on their points of pain. We all have them. Perhaps we feel our parents loved a sibling more than us. Or we have feelings of abandonment because our fathers were absent. Perhaps there’s a weight issue we’ve battled most of our lives, or fears of public speaking or heights or confining spaces. How have we been hurt in the past? These are our points of pain; things that make us act and react in a certain way to situations.

Then I decide on education levels and hobbies. I choose a favorite color and food cravings. Will my heroine crave chocolate or cheesecake? When she’s angry, will she grab a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or snatch an apple? What things pluck my characters’ last nerve? Lastly, I think about appearance. For what does it matter what they look like if I don’t have them nailed emotionally and mentally? They need to be complex, multi-layered women just like all of you.

Early today I received an email from the One Hundred Romances project. They’re on a quest to find the best one hundred romances of 2011, published by ePublishers. Since my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, publishes full-length novels in both paperback and eBook, I entered Storm’s Interlude. Imagine my shock when it was given a 5-Star rating and added to the list of the top romances for this year! I’d love to share the review:

“I’m in love with this book! Amazing! Storm was just so… Wow. And Rachel was just darling. Our hero was just a magnificent piece of man, and our heroine was a lovely complex woman who felt all the same things any other woman would have felt. What I enjoy the most was that even the secondary characters were amazingly well written and added a wonderful blend to the story as a whole.

Vonnie Davis wrote such wonderful real characters that once I started this book I finished it in hours! I’m disappointed with myself because I skipped over this book originally when it was on the list of books to review. This author is now on my auto-buy list. Please keep them coming Ms. Davis!”

Please drop by my blog to visit. http://www.vintagevonnie.blogspot.com.

My website is http://www.vonniedavis.com

 

NOTE: Feel free to share your example of how women are indeed steel wrapped in warm, loving flesh.

 

Crones Glass Slippers & Beautiful Old Women

NOTE:  The post this week is a continuation of last weeks post encouraging women to remember the crones. If you didn’t read it, go back and do so, then come back to Part Two.

“First off,” the beautiful crone said, “is to stop that infernal whining. You must let go of the idea that if the stupid glass slipper fit your big foot, your life would have been perfect. The shoe didn’t fit your big foot! What is, is. Get over it.” 

“Okay, Ms. Smarty Pants. Just tell me how in this world am I supposed to do that?”

“Stop thinking about what didn’t work. To dwell on anything we have no power to change is a useless exercise, and we end up getting more and more depressed, and we spend our days whining about what might have been. Not beneficial for crones.

“You see, the more you whine, the more stuck you are in the past—a past you can’t fix. The end result is you stay stuck right there at the moment the prince tried to put that silly glass shoe on your foot. That’s truly over and done with, but because you keep whining about losing out, you’re still caught at that moment in time. Which ends up helping you find even more to whine about. Which also makes you one of those ugly old crones.

“That was then—this is now. Whining makes you dry up into an old hag. Look in that mirror. Do you see one juicy thing about you?”

The whiney crone looked. She didn’t like what she saw. “You mean to tell me, if I stop whining, and stop worrying about not having glass slippers, these wrinkles might go away?”

“It won’t make the wrinkles go away, but they’ll soften. You’ll have more energy—a passion for life. Get involved—care about something. Get interested in something—take your mind off of yourself and put it on others. Find something funny to laugh about—every day, without fail. If you can’t find it, create it—go find a young lover or something.” She laughed.

“Yeah, right. Like that’s going to happen.”

“You never know—but this one thing I can guarantee—just being open to it’ll put a spring in your step.”

“So, that’s all I need do? Then I won’t be one of those old crones who no one wants to be around?”

“Goodness no. There’s a lot more to life than that. Grow something. Crones are good at pruning, weeding.”

“You mean like a garden? I can’t do that, for my back is too stiff and my joints, they ache like a son-of-a-gun. Every time I kneel, my—”

“There you go, whining again. Growing something doesn’t mean it has to be plants, my silly sister. It can be, but other things need to grow, too. Nurture something—whether it be a garden or people. Find something—or someone—vulnerable—like a child that’s lonely, or a young mother who can learn from your wisdom. For, despite your whining, you have learned a few things over the years—and that is the wisdom of the ages—otherwise known as Women’s Intuition. Trust what you know deep down in your bones. Let that wisdom bubble to the top. Share it with those open to receive it—those who look for the wisdom of the ages. Learn to practice patience—then teach it to the impatient.”

“Is that all?” Drizella wondered how in the world she could remember all these lessons, let alone do them. “I should’ve been taking notes.”

The wise, juicy old crone smiled, for she knew the secret of the HOW. “By finding your voice, my dear. For silence equals consent. Crones like you and me? We speak our minds. We tell ’em how the cow ate the cabbage—that the emperor’s running around outside nekked. That’s how. Find your voice, use the wisdom of the ages, grow something, let go of the past, stop your dang whining and laugh—and learn the beauty of having a big foot.”

 

“I can do that,” Drizella said, and smiled. “Thank you my dear sister.”

 

 

 

***Note: This tale was inspired by Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book, Crones Don’t Whine, published by Conart Press

WOMEN, RECLAIM THE CRONE!

In a far off land, east of the sun and west of the moon, a whiney old crone named Drizella

sits outside the golden gates of the Queen’s Palace, wailing over fate’s misfortune. Beautiful in her youth (according to her mother) she’d dreamed of slipping her foot into the glass slipper, marrying the prince and living happily ever after, raising perfect children, with a castle full of nannies to make sure, and of course wearing the finest of clothes.

But, alas, the slipper had been too short, and her foot too long. Her one consolation was that neither had the shoe fit her sister—that is her real sister.

The winey crone snivels, wipes her nose on the sleeve of her ragged garment and bemoans the cruelty of years. Whence came all the wrinkles and this thin mousey gray hair? Not to mention her ever-enlarging nose and ears, and the few scraggly hairs on her chin. Even the ‘widow-maker’ treats her unfairly, refusing to return her tiny waist regardless of how tight she pulls the laces. Her back aches. Her sister never calls and her sons come around no longer—the ungrateful lot.

One beautiful sunny day in the midst of her whining, an even older crone appears, a glow on her face and a spring in her step, her voice pleasant, melodic, even. “Why do you whine, my dear sister? Do you not know this is the best years of your life? Too bad you did not well prepare yourself, else your step would spring and your voice would sing.”

“Give me a break,” the whiney old crone exclaims. “What’s so great about getting old, ugly and feeble? My back hurts, no one calls or comes to visit, and should I venture out, men pass me by as if unseen.” Whine, whine, whine.

“It is because you spend your day in front of the mirror that you whine, my dear. For mirrors only reflect the outward you, not giving chance for inward reflection. You give insult to the name of crone. For a true crone does not whine. Instead, she fills her days with wisdom learned over the years, with purpose, humor, courage, compassion for others, and vitality.”

“Vitality?” the whiney crone spat. “I fight to get out of bed every morning. How in the queen’s name am I to find vitality?”

“It takes years of work, my dear, and you are way behind. You’ve wasted your years regretting each one. You fail to feel empathy or compassion, or to use your energy and power wisely. As a consequence of such, you have not earned the joy a wise crone discovers with the passing years.”

“Okay, smarty pants. You know so much. Tell me what you did that is so different than me. For you, too, longed to wear the glass slipper and failed. You, too, have aged, yet I see young men here at your feet, eager to learn what you know. Why is that—tell me, old crone.”

“Dry your eyes, wipe your nose, and lend me your ear.”

The whiney crone did just that.

 

 ***The story of the crone continues next Wednesday!        

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