Little women grow up

I have just returned from the cinema where I saw Greta Gerwig’s version of Little Women. As a child, Louisa May Alcott’s book Little women was one of my favourites and I read it many times over. My husband suprised me with a ticket for tonight after it was sold out when we tried to watch it at the weekend.

Watching it transported me straight back to reading my dog-eared copy by torchlight under my duvet. I allowed the loving March family to take my hand and bring me with them on their tale of love, betrayals, family, strife, hardship and sisterhood. As an only child myself, I was always drawn to the tight bond between the four sisters.

I desperately wanted to be a writer, so I understood Jo’s passion and admired her gumption. I also wanted to be kind and good, like poor sweet Beth was. I was a little prissy and overly dramatic, like Amy, and I wanted to marry for love, like Meg. I longed, in my idyllic country childhood, to struggle through war and sickness and turmoil, just like they did. Coming through well-rounded, full of wisdom and tall tales! (I told you I was dramatic…)

When you stop to think about it, they were the Sex & The City girls or Spice Girls of their time. I know, a fairly horrifying thought, but each character possessing a trait you can identify with personally, so you can see yourself as one of them, or even parts of yourself in all of them.

The book has love stories and shows love in many different forms, but it’s not a romance to me. It is about learning how to become a woman and where you fit in, and about the bonds of family. Greta’s version places feminism and choice at the forefront and perhaps she saw in the story something I connected with before I had words for it.

Now as an adult I still have fondness for Little Women, though in my real life I know I would have less patience for the foiballs and drama of the heroines. I have enough of my own very real troubles to wish myself anything as deadly as war, famine and life on the bread line. I’ve grown up. I’ve lost touch with that feisty Little Woman I once was and perhaps it is time I remembered her a little.

A promise I have made myself is that I will write more this year. When I was reading about ink-stained Jo in this novel, I was so sure that I would have books published by the time I was 30. I’m pushing 40 now and finding the blog hard enough to keep up with! But Jo’s furiously scribbled pages, the plays she writes for her family and her sheer determination are calling from the backroom of my childhood memories. They are reminding me we are all Little Women, even when we grow up.

I am thankful I did marry for love, and that he is the kind of man who can give me a thoughtful gift like a night with myself and this treasured childhood memory. I am thankful to live in a world where even though I’m sickly like Beth, I likely won’t die from it. I am thankful I live in a world where I don’t have to fight to publish my stories or pretend to be a man. I can write and be heard as me and I should use that privilege. I am sad that we don’t yet live in a world where the stories of Little Women are always treated as equally, or given as much prominence, as men. And where Little Women of Colour are fighting to be heard and represented still. But I’m thankful I see the fire of change in so many Little Women’s eyes and I am it, is pushing it’s way through.

If this story tells us anything, it is that we should love our sisters – even when we don’t understand them or don’t like them in that moment. It tells us our stories are powerful, no matter how ordinary or how dramatic, they all have a place.

Exercise and a diet that’s wise.

I’ve neglected the blog of late. One of my new year’s resolutions was to do more with my writing so I’ve set myself a mini challenge. For the next 7 days I’m going to blog a minimum of one thing a day. Just to ‘re start’ the habit and flex the creative muscle.

I firmly believe creativity is like fitness. It needs to be fed well, preferably with wholesome foods but a little bit of trash as a treat does no one too much harm. It needs to be used ‘use it or loose it. It can help keep your mental health in check, increase energy and sexual appetite and generally keep you healthy. But, like exercise, too much of it can lead to addiction or make you unwell.

So eat well, exercise, write, paint, make, draw, create and live.

Not giving an EXPLETIVE!

Image

I am entering my thirty second year of life this year. It’s come around pretty quick! When I was 29 I spent a majority of the time worrying about turning 30. I told anyone who asked my age that I was 30, just so I’d have time to get used to it…I know. I felt like leaving my twenties behind was some kind of death knell of not only youth but the essence of my life. I’ve always gone to gigs, had a touch of punk sensibility, had tattoos and piercings, dressed and dated inappropriately. In my late twenties however my mother took these things as signs I was having an early mid life crisis and struggling to accept my age. She was right in one way, I was struggling, but actually the only constant was my ‘alternativeness’.
There was a small period where I tried to not be these things, tried to be the image of me I thought my job and friends and status needed. But that person was not me and that made me very unhappy. Then 30 happened, I embraced it with a grim smile and an 80’s themed birthday party. It was drunken fun and my family made the night superb. Good costumes by all too!

LIFE BEGINS AT 30

It really does. Suddenly I found myself transformed. I was there, I hadn’t died and nothing massive had changed. A calm descended upon me as I finally grew in to myself. My life started to take direction, I moved away from the faltering bad choices of my youth to clear and self assured life decisions.

I decided to move away, a fresh start perhaps but also as work in my area was scarce. First came a relationship, a non toxic, safe and sensible relationship with a really nice guy. Then came the decision to move to his city, as I already have friends here. Finally I found myself in a new job, a few pay grades lower than I’d like but enough, in an entirely new industry. My health both started to improve but also was treated and diagnosed properly so now I am able to move past previous issues. New but good friends have come into my life and strong bonds have been formed, the distance has tested the bonds of older friends but those that remain I know are true and real and the people that deserve space in my life. I got engaged (something I’d previously thought I’d never do and didn’t want!) and am happily planning a wedding for next year. I guess good things come to those who wait! I am careful to remind myself every day how lucky I am. Work wise I have gained confidence again and gone from strength to strength, learning lots and being promoted until I have landed myself an excellent job. I couldn’t be any happier.

These days I find I cut a more confident swathe through a crowd. I know who I am and I don’t care what you think. When I wore ripped tights, safety pins and caked black eye liner I thought I was punk. I thought I got it. I thought I was free. But now I work for the man, technically the government, because I genuinely believe I can make a difference from within. I wear what I want to wear, some times it’s rockabilly or rock chick, sometimes I wear suits, sometimes I wear hoodies and jeans. I listen to music from every genre with an open ear and absorb art from every artform with an open eye. I’m both more selfish and yet inclusive than I have ever been. I do what is best for me and if something is making me sad or uncomfortable or angry I let it go. I realise how short life can be and I don’t want to waste it. But conversely I am more tolerant of others and accepting of their faults and quirks. I listen to every side of the story and look to compromises when there is no right or wrong. I live my life for me and I try to make it a better place for all those who come along for the ride with me.

I genuinely couldn’t care more if I tried and what could be more punk than that?!

A Call to Pens!

Hi! As you may know I have a magazine with a few friends, we are seeking some new helpers. Below is a call to arms, please feel free to send it around!
 
It’s festival season & we have so much work we don’t know what to do with it! Writers & good photographers needed – we need reviews, articles, interviews etc and WE NEED YOU. Email editor@thebitemag.co.uk if you fancy having a go with a sample of your work. No pay, but FREE Gig tickets, Albums, Festi Tickets and the chance to meet your idols are among the benefits. What are you waiting for?!! We really need some Londoners and those from ‘up north’ so get in touch…

Top Deck

Sat on the top deck of the bus, like a big girl. Only because there was no room downstairs. Despite the view I hate it up here. The embarrassing stumble up the stairs as the bus lurches forward from the stop. The feeling of eyes judging your every move. Then the wait begins…the wait until you have to alight. You know it won’t be pretty! Slipping and tripping down the steps, facing certain death if you fall. Wish me luck 😉

Zombie

There’s a hunger deep within calling me,
a voice I can’t quite hear.
My desire for something that isn’t free
is binding me to my need.

There’s a need I have that can’t be satiated,
it calls to you I know.
It tricks me because it needs to be fed,
it tells you I want you.

There’s a want in me that cannot be seen,
a lust that can’t be tamed.
It doesn’t care for truth or what has or hasn’t been.
its just starving for flesh.

Feed me.

Drowning

Poem twenty four http://napowrimo.com

Vacant, disconnected, removed.
Grief washes over you in waves
And I can but watch.
You are floating further away from me,
Barely enough strength to keep yourself going.
I reach out to catch you but
You cannot open your eyes long enough to see me.
I throw you a life raft but I miss.
I knew I would.
You’re drowning now and no one can save you.
My hope is just keeping you afloat.
Swim.

Medicated

Poem twenty three http://napowrimo.com

Constrained and bound,
Beholden,
Held at ransom.

Every decision governed,
Free will removed,
Choices stolen.

It’s ‘for the best’
‘The only way’
‘My best chance’

I’m suffocating,
Suffering,
Rejecting the truth.

And in time I breathe,
The air is clear,
The chains unwind.