A Room of My Own

room 4a

My summer is full of “projects”– tasks I simply don’t have time for during the school year. This summer is no different. However, one such project was multi-purposed: for me to create a room of my own.

room 7

As my children grew, physically bigger, the space in my house seemed shrinking and mine seemingly obsolete. When my 22 year old son announced he was moving across the country, I really thought about his room. Should I leave it completely in tact? Just in case? Completely closed off– a shrine of sorts. I discussed the choices that lay before me; he wasn’t happy he’d be losing stock, but it was his decision, after all, to leave the nest. After serious contemplation, I decided to reclaim my space. The room that had been mine before he became restless and independent wanting his own space outside of his shared room with his brother would become mine again. I’d sacrificed that and so much more. Making it clear that he’d always have a home in our home to return to, I set about the task of closure and new beginnings.

room 1a

I went with a black & white theme, thoroughly inspired by Pinterest. I decided I’d do three white walls and one blackboard wall (black chalk board paint which comes in an array of colors, but I chose black). Being the quote collecter that I am, a graffiti chalkboard wall made sense to me. On it, I wrote quotes and drew symbols that are important or inspiring to me.

room 2a room 3a

Because I already had a daybed, I just needed the dressing to make it look pretty. I needed a desk and a cabinet, too, so I set about my shopping spree.

room 6a

Here’s my list if you like what you see:

blackboard paint- Home Depot

whiteboard paint pens & chalks- Staples

bed linens & pillow cases- Wal-Mart

throw pillows- Overstock.com

valance- Kangaroo Closet

desk, white bookshelf/storage cabinet & white arm chair- Ikea

room 5a

This is my place to write– not a shared office space where I have to vie for time or a portion of the dining room where I can be distracted constantly. This is a room that inspires me because it’s mine. Only mine. It reflects all of who I am. And the best part– I can close the door.

When I see my life…

I see a series of photographs. What I always try to figure out is if these are, in fact, memories, or if they exist solely because the moment was captured as a tangible image.

And I wonder how much of the memory the photograph conjures up is actual experience  or an idealized version of reality. Virginia Woolf claims, “I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past. ” She writes three vignettes entitled “Three Pictures” which, in the first, describes an image the narrator witnesses as a picture that now lives in the narrator’s mind (young lovers caught in an intimate moment). In the second, she hears a sound in the middle of the night which causes her to recall the earlier image and fill in the gaps w/ her own fictionalized version of how the sound relates to the image. In the third, she is an observer to the result (the death of one of the young lovers)– an additional experience which adds a layer to the first. When reading the whole of these vignettes, it is apparent that Woolf’s message is how one creates reality based on what is or exists. But the conclusion is that reality only exists in our perception of it. So, then, a photograph captures what IS, but memory allows us to fill in the gaps (part fiction as an extension of reality), which in turn becomes our morphed reality.

Erik Johansen is a photographer who takes photographs and morphs them to create a shared reality. Really, this is an abstract extension of Woolf’s point– that the only reality that exists is our perception of it. If we can conceive of it, it becomes reality. It lives on paper as a concrete image, but lives in our memories as layers of abstractions (image, experience, perception) = REALITY (which is never static because as we change, so does our reality).

In essence, photographs are the only tangible evidence of what IS.

        Ten Photographs: Creating Reality One Photograph at a Time

First photograph:

Standing on my front lawn, maybe 3 (on the cusp of 4, perhaps)dressed in a leopard skin bikini, the sun casting a beam on me, but I’m smiling. My friend, Mary’s house is in the background, so is our tan Plymouth station wagon. Off to the edge of the photograph is a plastic, blue kiddy pool with brightly colored fish adorning the edges.

The feelings I associate w/ this photograph are all good– warm, secure, happy. Simplicity. My yard seemed vast, and I loved playing there w/ my siblings and my friends. My mother was always there watching over us, lovingly.

Second photograph:

Full-faced, smiling wide– one tooth missing in the front of my mouth. I’m holding it up between my fingers for the camera to see. I’m wearing a blue terry-cloth top. Feeling proud, I worked and worked to twist that tooth and yank it until it came out. I was first to lose my tooth. I liked being first.

Third photograph:

My sweet sixteen birthday party. I’m looking down, very thoughtful and introspective. My hair, shoulder length, is curled back on the sides, framing my face. My mother is in the foreground of the picture, a side view of her face. She’s young and beautiful, and very intent on pinning a carnation on my blue, sleeveless, eye-lit blouse.

I remember being completely surprised by my family and all of my friends who filled my backyard. I can recall the details of the day. I’d slept at Lori’s house who made an excuse to come to my house when we were suppose to be going to the beach that day. I was kind of annoyed at Lori for changing plans for what seemed a silly reason. I didn’t suspect a thing until I walked up the driveway and saw Ben front and center in my yard, with, what seemed at the time, a blur of people behind him. Everyone I knew and loved was there. I felt this incredible sense of being special and loved. I was also very impressed they all pulled off a surprise on me (because that wasn’t/isn’t easy to do). My Aunt & Uncle were there fromCaliforniaand my grandparents, my cousins and all my really good friends. I don’t recall much else. But the moment my mother placed the carnation on me, I felt very loved by her– unconditionally (which was different than how I usually felt).

Looking back on that moment, there is a sense of melancholy attached to it– that didn’t exist in the moment. It was one of the last good memories I had of my family as a unit together at the home I’d grown up in. Right around the corner, unknowingly to me at the time, was my parent’s divorce when everything would change irreversibly. Also, my very good friend, Ben, would later take his own life– and that day is still one of my fondest memories of him.

Fourth Photograph:

This one exists in my mind, not on paper. It is of me & Dave in a field of overgrown grass up high on a hill– off of a windy street,Spruce Bank Road, where we walked a lot. I am sitting up on top of a rock and he is sitting beside me. There is an old tree up there where we carved our initials and an old, white colonial house in the distance (one we used to say we’d own together one day). It’s sunny and warm and innocent.

It is the moment I fell in love w/ love.

Fifth Photograph:

Graduation. Mine. Anthony, w/ his arm around me, smiling, and me, in my yellow gown, unzipped wearing a white and pastel blouse beneath it. I’m caught in a laugh.

Reminiscent of this photograph is one taken exactly one year before & the opposite. Anthony in his unzipped, green gown at his graduation and me holding his hand. I am full of pride that I graduated and enjoyed high school so completely and successfully. I am happy to have Anthony by my side. I felt like this day marked the beginning of the next chapter in my life and I was ready for it (w/ Anthony holding my hand). It was a very grown-up feeling day.

Sixth Photograph:

This one is not an actual photograph, either, it lives only in my mind and I’m not in it. I’m only an observer, but it’s the point in my life– the very moment that I learned to live outside myself.

My grandfather, sitting on the edge of his bed. His head is bowed down, his body, weak, slouched, his bare feet pressing against the floor to secure him. White t’shirt and black sweat pants (he never wore sweatpants until he became sick). His hair, thinned, slicked back. I could see the bones and veins beneath his loose, tissue skin. I’m holding a plastic bowl waiting for him to purge again. He looks up to me, his eyes moving, not his face, and says, “Thank you.”

Seventh Photograph:

On theCape, on the beach, vast, waves in the back ground and the sailboats at the Yacht club, sun shining bright in the blue sky. My grandmother is wearing a black and white top and black shorts. On her head, she’s wearing that hat– sun, wide-rimmed hat– the one she always wore to the beach because she said she couldn’t have the sun on her face. She’s laughing, arms outstretched. She’s posing for me.

I remember laughing too and thinking how happy I am that she is happy. I knew the moment I snapped the photo, it was one that would live in my memory. Perhaps the most influential person on my life, if I had to name just one.

I miss her so much.

Eighth Photograph:

My boys. Both of them. Ryan’s first day of school. Out on the front lawn. He looks like such a little man, backpack slung over his shoulder.Tyleris hugging his waist so tight; it’s evident he doesn’t want him to go to school. And Ryan looks so proud; he is ready. Looking down at his brother looking up, lovingly at him, I think– I pray– they will be each other’s best friends one day.

Ninth Photograph:

Sitting in her rocking chair, my old rocking chair (from when I was a baby) that I painted for her to match her room, she’s wearing thermal long john’s (that belonged toTyler) and an overall denim dress– no socks. She’s cradling her baby doll in her arms, feeding her a bottle, unaware that I’m snapping her picture.

And isn’t that just Alexa– the caretaker, the one who doesn’t need or crave the spotlight, the one who is a cross between a lady and one tough girl. Someone, I admire and cherish.

Tenth Photograph:

A series of photos, really, taken in the back year at my Dad’s house (the one I grew up in) in the back yard. It’s our annual Christmas card photo shoot on Thanksgiving day. It’s a grey day, trees are bare; it’s damp outside. My three children move around throughout the yard using the pond as the first backdrop, then the archway, then the empty garden– they are playing w/ each other and laughing, making faces and whining how many more photos I’m going to shoot. I’m not responding to them– just trying to capture them in the moment. Ryan and Tyler are looking so manly w/ their unshaven faces and Alexa is so grown up. They change positions, at one point picking her up–Tyler holding beneath her arms, Ryan grasping her feet. The way they interact w/ one another so easy and unmeasured. I see the whole series of photographs in my mind (there must have been 25 of them), filling in the gaps w/ the memory– the laughter (which I can audibly hear) and the love (that I can feel emulating from them).

How could I ask for anything more?

It would be interesting to take a photograph that MANY people are in and ask them to write about it. I believe you’d have as many different stories as you have people in the picture.

Reading Territories

“Books are the mirrors of the soul.”
― Virginia WoolfBetween the Acts

Reading. It is literally like breathing; you NEED to do it to survive, to learn and grow, to become enriched, to move forward, to enjoy life… I wasn’t always a reader. It has been a learned pleasure for me, and now I can’t live w/ out it. I ask my students to make a list of theirReadingTerritories, the properties of the mind they own by having read a book that touched them. This act of collecting one’s territories is adopted by Nancy Atwell, an inspirational (albeit Utopian) educator who has changed the thinking of many (myself included). So I show my students my list, not complete, but the highlighted version, and I encourage them to keep their lists going well beyond my classroom — to make it complete like a map of their lives as readers. Some students, years after graduated, have told me their territories are alive and flourishing! According to the Woolf quote above, I do believe each and every one of these selections speaks, somehow, to my soul. Know what I read; know me.

MY Reading Territories

Books that make you THINK

Handmaids Tale, Margaret Atwood

The Reader, Bernhard Schlink

The Red Tent, Anita Diamond

The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver

Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

The Green Mile, Stephen King

Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

Davinci Code, Dan Brown

Ghostwalk, Rebecca Scott

Beach Reads

Summer Sisters, Judy Blume

Cat’s Eye, Margaret Atwood

First Born & Rightfully Mine, Doris Mortman

Little Altars Everywhere, Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya  Sisterhood, Ya Yas in Bloom, Rebecca Wells

One True Thing, Blessings, Black & Blue, Anna Quinlan

Cape Cod, Richard Russo

Lace, Lace II, Shirley Conran

Love Story & Oliver’s Story, Eric Segal

The Way We Were, Arthur Laurents

The Gift, Remembrance, Mixed Blessing, Family Album …Danielle Steele

The Rainmaker, The Pelican Brief, A Time to Kill, The Firm… John Grisham

The Classics

WutheringHeights, Emily Bronte

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

David Copperfield, Great Expectation, A Tale ofTwoCities& A Christmas Carol,  Charles Dickens

Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austin

Mrs. Dalloway & A Room of Her Own, Virginia Woolf

Gone with The Wind, Margaret Mitchell

The Catcher in theRye, J.D. Salinger

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

East of Eden, John Steinbeck

TheCanterburyTales, Geoffrey Chaucer

The Awakening, Kate Chopin

Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway

Huck Finn, Mark Twain

King Lear, Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Tempest, A Winter’s Tale, Taming of the Shrew (& probably more) William Shakespeare

Non-fiction/Memoir/Biography/Fictional Biography

Night, Elie Weisel

Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom

Running With Scissors, Augusten Burroughs

In the Middle, Nancy Atwell

Lives on the Boundary, Mike Rose

Everyone can Write, Peter Elbow

Unquiet Pedagogy, Eleanor Kutz & Hephzibah Roskell

Unschooled Mind, Howard Gardener

Composition Studies as a Creative Art, Lynn Z. Bloom

Dickens and the Dream of Cinema, Grahame Smith

Rainbow, Christopher Flinch

Goddess, Anthony Summers

Dianna, Andrew Morton

A Woman Named Jackie, C. David Heymann

DearAmerica, Letters Home fromVietnam, Ed. Bernard Edelman

Freedom Writers, Erin Gruwell

Teacher Man, Frank McCourt

Composing Ourselves as Writer-Teacher Writers

(& anything else) by Wendy Bishop

Drive, Daniel Pink

Charlotte & Emily, Jude Morgan

The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory

The Virgin’s Lover, Philippa Gregory

The Bronte Project, Jennifer Vandever

Ghostwalk, Rebecca Scott

Children’s Books

Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Clement C. Moore

Love You Forever, Robert N. Munsch

Made by God, So I must be Special

The Jester Lost His Jingle, David Saltzman

The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Oh, The Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss

Ship of Dreams,

The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg

The Little Match Girl, Hans Christian Anderson

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznik

Teen/Young-Adult Books

A Separate Peace, John Knowles

Go AskAlice, Unknown

Pigman, Paul Zindal

The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton

Lord of the Flies, William Golding

Brian’s Song, William Blinn

Pollyanna, Eleanor Porter

ASecretGarden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

Girl Interupted, Susanna Kaysen

The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Mother, Daughter Book Club, Heather Vogel Frederick

Speak,  Laurie Halse Anderson

Girly Books

Summer Sisters, Judy Blume

Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, Rebecca Wells

Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

Little Children, Tom Perotta

Abstinence Teacher, Tom Perotta

One Day, David Nicholls

While I was Gone, Sue Miller

Lost in theForest, Sue Miller

Before Women Had Wings, Connie May Fowler

The Book of Ruth, Jane Hamilton

Are You there God, It’s me Margaret, Judy Blume

Endless Love, Scott Spencer

Scarlett, Alexandra Ripley

A Woman of Substance, Barbara Taylor Bradford

Beloved, Toni Morrison

The Color Purple,  Alice Walker

All He Ever Wanted, Anita Shreve

A Wedding in December, Anita Shreve

Skylight Confessions, Alice Hoffman

Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver

Blessings, Anna Quinlan

Black & Blue, Anna Quinlan

Books I would save in a fire

The Bible

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Rainbow, Christopher Flinch

WutheringHeights, Emily Bronte

Are you there God, It’s me Margaret, Judy Blume

Pollyanna, Eleanor Porter

Read-agains

WutheringHeights, Emily Bronte

The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom

Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, Rebecca Wells,

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

Book-Club Books

Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

The Hours, Michael Cunningham

Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

The Red Tent, Anita Diamond

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini

London, Edward Rutherford

The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett

Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer

Novels that inspire me to write

Little Altars Everywhere, Rebecca Wells

ImaginedLondon, Anna Quinlan

The Bronte Project, Jennifer Vandever

The Morgesons, Elizabeth Stoddard

Blackbird House, Alice Hoffman

All-time Faves

The Red Tent, Anita Diamond

WutheringHeights, Emily Bronte

Favorite Authors

Emily Bronte

Charles Dickens

William Shakespeare

Virginia Woolf

Tom Perotta

Anna Quinlan

Doris Mortman

Rebecca Wells

Sue Miller

Barbara Kingsolver

John Grisham

Danielle Steel

Judy Blume

… And once students are done w/ their Territory list, I ask them to write a narrative about themselves as readers, sharing my own as a model.

Although my mother swears that I learned how to read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by the time I was two, I would not have classified myself as a reader when I was young. It wasn’t until I saw the movie Love Story on television that I went out and bought the book so I could read it. I found when I fell in love with characters or the plotline of a film that I didn’t want to end, I’d buy the book to make them come alive again. Now, I am exactly the opposite. I refuse to see a film until after I’ve read the book because, in my experience, the book is always better than the movie. This is much how I would classify myself as a reader: one evolving through stages.

In elementary school, my reading skills were not strong. In fact, I’ll never forget a read aloud we had with our weekly reader in second grade. It was my turn. I began relatively fluent, but then I came upon a word I had not seen. Nearby. I pronounced it ”ner-bee” and the class roared with laughter. I learned from that experience that I didn’t like reading aloud very much. Instead, I read silently and in solitude whenever possible. At about the age of 10, one of my friends referred me to the book, Are you there God, It’s me Margaret. Margaret, the same age as me, was going through some very similar experiences as I was. Somehow reading that book on the cusp of puberty made me not feel so alone. It also prompted me to seek out other books that I could relate to.

During my teenage years, I was more concerned with social activities than I was with school and reading. I didn’t hate reading, but I didn’t love it, either and the only time I made time for reading was during the summer or over school vacations when I was bored. But it was at this time that I discovered romance (appropriately so) and I also discovered that I enjoyed reading the same books by one author; her name was Danielle Steele. I think I bought every book she wrote for a couple of years. Her books were part escape/part fantasy for me and they all had happy endings.

In school, I always attempted the begin the assigned readings, but I found myself intolerant of books I didn’t understand or those I was bored by, so I’d quit & simply pay extra attention to the teacher who inevitably reviewed the previous night’s reading in monotonous detail. My appreciation for classic literature was born when I took a Women’s Lit class taught by a teacher who had a reputation for teaching at the college level instead of the high school level. It was after reading The Awakening in her class that my awakening to literature began. Out of that experience also grew the desire to learn more about the context of culture & history during which a particular book was written.

When I first decided to major in English at college, I was primarily interested in making a career in writing. Literature wasn’t even a consideration, but it was an interest. That interest grew into a passion that was ignited by several college professors whose knowledge for and appreciation of literature was infectious. My first course was called Literature of the New Testament, a course taught by a blind, Yale graduate. There was no end to his knowledge and I learned more about religion and my own beliefs in that course than I had during 6 years of Bible school. Another professor taught Shakespeare, a playwright I didn’t understand or appreciate in high school, none-the-less it was a requirement, so I had to get through it. On the first day of class, the professor announced we’d be reading a play a week and writing papers bi-weekly. I learned not only to love reading Shakespeare in that course, but I learned how to become a faster, more efficient reader, too. In fact, British Literature is where I found my niche. There was not a piece of British Literature that I was bored by; some pieces I liked more than others, but I found myself comparing it to American Literature, which for me, for the most part was dry and didn’t hold my attention. It was then that I learned to analyze a piece of writing against another and begin to distinguish the nuances I appreciated from those I could not tolerate.

Aside from reading magazines, non-fiction had not much been on my radar until I entered grad school. I was, by this time, a skilled enough reader that I could read material that I didn’t necessarily like and still understand it, but I would have never chosen to do so without it being assigned. I came to realize that I enjoyed reading about theory because it helped me to define where I stood. For instance, I had always been good teacher of writing, not because I was taught to but because it came instinctively. It was only after reading a host of books on composition and creative writing that I learned how closely the two were connected; as a result, I began to identify myself as a teacher and my teaching strategies from the words on the pages.

Moreover, the teaching of literature, allows me to revisit old friends in the characters of David Copperfield, Catherine & Heathcliff, Holden Caulfield and Gatsby, to name a few. I learn more about them every time I read about their journeys, and even more so through discussion in class. Not only do I enjoy reading literature aloud to my students (particularly my favorite passages), but I love to share my passion for it. When literature and socialization collide, only good things come of it. Take for example, the Harry Potter phenomenon and books clubs; these were virtually non-existent in my youth.

My own children are responsible for re-awakening my love & appreciation for children’s literature. When I was young, I remember loving the lyrical rhythm, the pretty colors on the pages and the characters who were a lot like me.  Yet reading children’s literature at this different stage in my life helps me to realize that children’s books are not just for children, their messages dig deep into the core of humanity.

I have certainly evolved as a reader.Readinghas been a different kind of vehicle through different stages in my life. I have learned that reading allows me to see through the eyes of others, but more importantly, it allows me to see myself more clearly. It is also an escape that takes me to places and time periods I could not otherwise visit. I have not only fully developed my reading skills, but I have developed an appreciation for many kinds of texts. Finally, it is the basis of not only my education but the education I share with others. My intent is not only to enjoy reading and learn from it, but also to pay it forward.

I urge you to THINK about yourself as reader. Define yourself. Make a list of books. KNOW yourself. Allow reading to reflect your soul.

Dinner Date [evolved]

After a long day & an even longer meeting at the end of the day, I need something to help me to relax.  Often (but not often enough), I go out to dinner w/ my friends. Usually, it’s at the end of a long day, much like today, and it’s usually the last thing my tired self wants to do, but I force myself because I know once I’m there I’ll just BE in the moment (leaving everything behind) and simply enjoy the experience.

I assign journal entries to my Writers’ Workshop students. Really, it’s one of my favorite things about the course– coming up w/ inventive ideas to spark their imagination. Not to mention, writing in my journal is one of the best forms of relaxation for me. So this week, I asked them, “If you could choose 5 people to go out to dinner w/, whom would you choose and what would you discuss?” Here’s my response…

For this dinner, I think I’d choose 5 women: Emily Bronte, Virginia Woolf, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and Hilary Clinton ( and if I had a sixth, it was most definitely be Oprah Winfrey). We’d choose a seaside location, a luncheon under umbrellas, sipping mimosas and bloody Mary’s on a sunny afternoon– perhaps Jackie’s childhood home at Hammersmith Farm in Newport, Rhode Island. It’s picturesque and peaceful while symbolizing character and legacy.

The topic of discussion would be resilience. In the face of adversity, each one of these women has demonstrated immeasurable strenth– I admire them all.

Eleanor Roosevelt sits at the head of the table, the matriarch among us. Her broad shoulders bear the life experiences of woman burdened with many obstacles. To her left is Hilary Clinton, whom she acknowledges as she places her cold hand atop Hilary’s resting on the imported lace cloth from France– a gift to Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, who sits on Eleanor’s right. Jackie is utterly enthralled by Eleanor’s presence, as she had been hired by John to oversee a committee that was sure to thrust feminism into the focus of the media. Jackie, while raised with a silver spoon, was not a woman who rested upon her family’s legacy but was determined to carve her own path. Beside Jackie sat a somewhat shy Emily Bronte wearing all white, linen dress and gothic Victorian hat to shield her pale skin from the sun. Once in a while, she’d tip her tea cup and let out the hint of a shy giggle in response to what the others, those who intimidated her just a little, were saying. They were talking about the state of women given their ages– a timeless conversation no matter the era. Across from Emily was Virginia Woolf, who was much more actively engaged in the conversation. Not the least bit intimidated, she pointed out bits of history as contributing factors to the treatment of women extolling her own visions of what the future would look like. Wiping the crumbs of the scone from the crease in her lips, Virginia looked quite pleased at how far we’d come.

… to be continued…

[So, I’d begun writing this, and, after I left it, as I normally do, I got to thinking, editing in my head, really. I was trying to begin a short story imagining the conversation these five women would have if they were all put into one setting ( having come from their own eras). Interesting idea– something I may pursue in the future, but not now, I thought.

Instead, I began to consider why I think each of them resilient. Certainly, having been mothers makes them resilient (but only 3 of them are mothers). Eleanor, I imagine to be stoic, yet warm, and strict– disciplined, self-disciplined and passing that trait onto her children would be very important to her. Hilary, on the contrary, seems very laid back in her approach to mothering, but having high expectations. I imagine her more as a friend toChelseathan a mother, though that may be, in part, due toChelseabeing an only child and the time/focus that would be afforded to Hilary. In her work, though, she appears steadfast and determined.  Jackie seems to be the most doting of the moms– the quintessential Martha Stewart of motherhood and homemaking. But I wonder how much of that was for media sake; never mind, I refuse to believe Jackie as being anything other than the perfect mother. When I was a child, I wanted to be one of her children. She seemed to have the perfect combination of love and grace.

But what about Virginia and Emily? Neither of them had children, nor desired to be according to my knowledge. Both of them led emotionally difficult lives: Emily in literal isolation from society andVirginiain the isolation of her mind. Yet, I see them both as incredibly resilient.Virginiahad such a strong influence on feminism in her time, simply because she refused to be prohibited by the standards set for women by her male counterparts. Having such incredible intellect and talent drove her to create a room of not only her own but pave the path for all women to have rooms of their own. Emily, living at an earlier time, carved out her own identity, though more of the silent, secret kind… while she and her sisters created pseudonyms for themselves to make their mark on society– a mark that wasn’t even realized during her lifetime.

Eleanor is an icon of feminism inAmerica… so is that it? Is that what defines resilience– the ability to lead by example for womankind? Hilary has certainly exemplified this quality, as well,  overtly so, and she has been met w/ disdain by many. She withstood all of the backlash from her husband’s infidelities, and, yet has managed to rise above by creating a legacy for herself quite separate from her husband. None-the-less, Jackie is also an icon more of femininity than feminism, but one cannot rebuke the mark she has made for women– the ability to do it all: be a feminine woman, an admirable mother, and have a career in her own right.

So, is it motherhood, or feminism, or femininity? Is it the ability to overcome obstacles, stand in the face of adversity, battle demons, thrive in isolation and still possess the ability to rise above?

Virginia Woolf coined the Stream-of-Consciousness writing style– a style whereby one tries to capture the thought process of one’s mind, which is what I’ve just done. It the fluidity of the style that reflects the female experience. She’s written whole novels in this style. Perhaps, it’s in each of these women’s ability to BE fluid that makes them resilient. And what I would give to have one fluid conversation w/ each of them…]