Latter-day Jane

A happy diversion of life, love and sisterly advice for Jane Austen fans everywhere. [There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart. -Jane Austen]

1 Comment

We’re either helping to STOP or ENABLE domestic violence. How will we use our voices?

Seven weeks ago, I shared a very personal experience involving domestic violence. Hours after posting it, I felt consumed with REGRET. It felt as though I had emotionally stripped down in front of everyone. When I went to bed that evening, the flood gates opened and the tears poured out. I felt raw and exposed, and I wanted to hide my feelings from everyone, including myself. My husband was there to help me through it. I know it is difficult for him when this ghost of the past unexpectedly resurfaces. It doesn’t come back often these days. But when we write and recall, a part of us re-lives what we’re writing, and that’s what I experienced. [Here’s the original post: “I can understand why some men abuse their wives…”]

break the silence

I’m posting this again as we close out Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I hadn’t planned to say anything. All month long, I have avoided acknowledging it, hoping I could slip quietly into November. But here we are at the end of the month, and I’m realizing that I’ve been trying to spread the rug over the mess rather than spreading awareness, and that’s exactly what we have to STOP DOING. 

So today, I remember, and I hope that you will also remember. There are women (and men) out there who need us. Today, I also give thanks. I give thanks for a kind husband with a generous spirit. He loves me, he believes in me, and we do our best to lift each other up. He opens my eyes to things I might not otherwise notice — including an awesome Taylor Swift song with a powerful message that I hadn’t considered. And comic relief in the form of a Spanish-language variety show called Sabado Gigante. He is a beautiful man and I know that I am a lucky woman.

I also give thanks for incredibly supportive parents. They were there to help carry me through when I needed help standing. They still do. My husband and parents, along with my siblings and their families, aunt and uncle, cousins, and a handful of best friends, formed a team of support that proved essential.

Never doubt the difference you might make in the life of another person. If you know someone who may need a listening ear, or a word of encouragement, don’t let this moment slip by. Do something.

Sometimes, it’s enough to say “I’m here.” 

Leave a comment

Renée Zellweger and how she outclassed the red carpet hate

renee zellweger how she outclassed the red carpet hate

As it turns out, Mean Girls isn’t just a movie. It’s a real thing. Right now, its pouty-lipped, hip-swinging, card-carrying members are unleashing a quiver of designer darts in the direction of Renée Zellweger. When Renée walked down the red carpet at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards, people noticed she looked a little different. And that’s when the music and fanfare came to a screeching halt. How dare she! How dare she look different without consulting us!

What has happened to her face? was the predominant question, reiterated in dozens of different ways, each new headline slightly more damning than the one preceding it. The plasticated experts were called in to analyze and pick apart everything about her, concluding that Renée just didn’t look like herself. Her eyes haven’t always been that wide, have they? Clearly she’s had work done. Maybe a chemical peel. Or perhaps the lighter, fuller eyebrows are throwing everyone off. Has her hairline shifted? On and on they went, in a dizzying, amateur game of facial analytics that would have likely amused the FBI and the CIA.

Holy Hunger Games! This is not an Effie Trinket-infused blockbuster. This is real life and we’re talking about a real person. We’re not picking Renée Zellweger apart like Katniss Everdeen only to make her over again and have her fight to the death. Are we?

The Hunger Games / Lions Gate Entertainment Inc.

The Hunger Games/Lions Gate Entertainment

Do you remember the last time someone scrutinized your appearance? They may not have said anything. The criticism may have been as simple as a slow, up-and-down look, coupled with raised eyebrows. I know you remember. We all do. Although we do our best to shrug it off, at one point or another, that doubt-inducing banter finds a way inside our heads and we start to wonder as we look in the mirror. What is it that other people see? Are my eyes okay? My cheekbones? My teeth? My body? The deeper foundational question is: is this version of me really okay? Am I acceptable the way I am? 

Thankfully, Renée seems confident of her own truth, and confident in her own skin. With poise reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, she responded to the barbs about her appearance with an easy, unaffected grace.

“I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows,” she told People Magazine. “It seems the folks who come digging around for some nefarious truth which doesn’t exist won’t get off my porch until I answer the door.”

Here’s the thing about Renée Zellweger’s front porch: it’s hers. (I don’t know if she used front porch as a euphemism for face, but it fits the bill wonderfully.) Sure, we pay money to see her latest work from time to time, but that doesn’t buy us stock in the Renée Corporation. And whether she’s walking the red carpet, or pounding the pavement in support of ALS, that face of hers is beautiful in its uniqueness. I don’t know if her “new look” is the result of graceful aging, a medical procedure, or a simple exfoliant. It doesn’t really matter, because again, it’s her face. It’s not a difficult concept, really.

Whether or not you like what you see when you look at Renée Zellweger’s face is up to you. Being nasty about it is also up to you.

For what it’s worth, I’ll tell you what I see. I see a strong, graceful, 45-year-old woman, who largely chooses to stay out of the spotlight these days. I see a woman who looks a little different than she did a few years ago, as we all do. I see little creases near her eyes, and curved lines around her mouth. Those creases and curves tell me she values smiles and laughter more than she values perfectly smooth skin. I see, bright, expressive eyes that seem to notice far more than an imaginary two-inch bubble around her. I see personality when I look at that face. I see sass and strength. I see a woman who developed a passion for acting in her high school drama club, and went on to hone her craft, surpassing her own wildest dreams. I see a woman whose performances have earned her an Academy Award, a BAFTA, and an armful of Golden Globes.

I see a force to be reckoned with.

While talking about Los Angeles some time ago, Renée was quoted as saying:

“It opens your eyes in this town, it’s amazing. It’s taught me who I don’t want to be.”

Preach on, Renée, Preach on.

Sarah Elizabeth is a wife and mother residing in a small Southern town filled with rolling green hills and thousands of beautiful faces, most of which are beautifully real, and consequently, not Hollywood-approved. She once enjoyed a life with a slightly faster pace as an award-winning television journalist, and marketing professional, but these days, her life is much more quiet. She writes about her daily observations, experiences with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, chronic illness, and occasionally, her love of Jane Austen. Latter-day Jane is her blog. Click here to follow her on Facebook. 

Leave a comment

My four-o’clock-in-the-morning prayer of gratitude

Four o’clock this morning seemed like the right time to offer up a prayer of gratitude. And so I did. Half an hour before, little feet came padding into my room, followed by a quiet, plaintive voice.

“Mom? I had a nightmare.”

I sat up and pulled my little one close for a moment, keeping my arms wrapped around him as the fragments of his dream dissipated into the chill of the morning air. Then we got up, and I tucked him back into his bed with an extra blanket on top. Within a minute or two, he was fast asleep again. I, however, was not.

Back in my own room, I curled up under the covers and waited for sleep to come. And as I did, I felt enveloped with a warm sense of gratitude. Gratitude that my little boy knows he can always come to me. Gratitude that even in the middle of the night, he knows that Momma’s arms will be arms of refuge. And gratitude that my Heavenly Father has entrusted me to care for this gentle, yet exuberant spirit. Today, I am grateful to be a mother.

{These are the kinds of thoughts I’ll be sharing on facebook (but not generally on the blog). Would love to see you there!}

Sarah Elizabeth enjoys being a wife and mother. She resides in a small Southern town filled with rolling green hills and hospitable people. She once enjoyed a life with a slightly faster pace as an award-winning television journalist, and marketing professional, but these days, her life is much more quiet. She writes about her daily observations, experiences with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, chronic illness, and occasionally, her love of Jane Austen. Latter-day Jane is her blog. Click here to follow her on Facebook.