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Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Iconic. Beloved. Unforgettable. Missed. All words describing Jane Austen: the writer and her profound collection of work.
Flowery language, romantic notions and fancy, lavish clothes are just a few of the ingredients that make Jane Austen's fiction entertaining and compelling. Lively characters and complicated relationships which live in your mind and stay with your senses long past reading the last pages of Pride and Prejudice or Northanger Abbey. 
I love spending the weekend reading her stories. Mulling over the musings and ideology, cultural customs and societal acceptances of her era and its people. What girl doesn’t love the idea of dressing up in pretty ruffles or silky material every once in a while? I’m not saying I’d want to be walking around in all that tight fitting stuff every day, but for a romantic meal or long walk with sweet talk? A guy who listens and wraps his arm around my shoulder when I need to be consoled or simply want to be comforted…those are all very good things, indeed.
Given that I’ve identified the things I most love about her work, now it’s time to check out the flip side of what accepting all that emotional, romantic stuff as necessary everyday reality brings you.
Believing that the best thing the world has to offer you is dating a cute or funny or sexy guy and hopefully, eventually working your way into a relationship with him, is settling for less than you deserve. It’s good and it’s fun and certainly deserves some of your attention, some of the time, when and if you feel like it. But figuring out who you are all by yourself, as a person with unique taste and ideas anchors you in your innate, much deserved fabulousness.
Engaging down a path of your own likes and dislikes, truths ingrained in the realities of who you naturally are (your instincts), helps you understand why you think the way you do. People like to say “follow your heart.” But then they fail to clarify that that doesn’t always mean letting your feelings completely dictate the way you behave or the choices you make.
Don’t get me wrong, interacting with boys is fun. I love it! But I love it, after I’ve focused on the stuff in my life that is important to me growing into the person I dream I can be. Whether that be school and college or sports or acting and dancing or any number of other cool hobbies that can easily turn into lifelong journeys that offer awesomeness and interesting experiences that allow you to keep growing until being who you are becomes something that you don’t have to think into happening. It becomes second nature. A daily subconscious habit.
Think of yourself, first. The same people who say, “follow your heart,” should follow that sentiment up with, “but don’t forget to consider your own well-being before fully immersing yourself in the decision or situation currently testing you.
I know that Jane Austen wrote about love and guys, like it and they were the best, most important thing in the world for girls to care about. Keep in mind though, that while Ms. Austen was writing about love and fancy dances and long, sumptuous meals, that what she was actually doing was WORK. Her work. Her career. Being a writer allowed her to support herself (financially and emotionally) and create a life that she personally wanted and thrived in.
I bet that if we were still lucky enough to have her around today, she’d say, going out into the world and taking care of yourself as much as you take care of other people, is a worthy life endeavor. A solid, thoughtful use of your time and energy. Love yourself first. Love boys and being in love second. As long as you live, you’ll never spend as much time with any other human being more than you do yourself.
          Guys do not define you. You define you. Who do you want to be?
Honor Jane’s birthday by showing reverence to her independence and fiery spirit.
Chart your own path. Make a plan to reach your goals and be as kind to yourself as you are to other people—guys—by “following your heart” to your own dreams.
          Destiny’s calling. Your fate wants you to be happy, successful and confident.

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