Applying a Lesson from ‘Anne of Green Gables’ in My life

As I was reading “Anne of Green Gables,” a part stuck out to me. It is not included in the movies because I think producers chose to take it out afraid that its contents would offend someone.

In Anne’s first few days at Green Gables, Marilla asks her to go upstairs and retrieve her card with a prayer on it so she could memorize it.  Anne has been a long time and Marilla comes to find her standing on the stairs looking at the picture of “Christ Blessing Little Children” hanging on the wall.

Anne imagined she was one of the children.

“I was the little girl in the blue dress standing off by herself.  She looks lonely and sad.  She crept shyly, hoping Christ would notice her. He would look at her and put His hand on her hair and oh, such a thrill of joy as would run over her!” (p. 56)

I love the imagery of this! Dear Anne had felt unwanted since she was a baby. Her parents died of fevers when she was just three months old, then a neighbor took her in until she was eight. Then she went to another home where the woman had three sets of twins all under the age of six.  She looked after them for three years until she was finally to the orphanage in Nova Scotia. Her story tugs on your heart strings. You feel sad for the little girl who had not known love.  I love that she felt drawn to the painting and could imagine herself in the photo.

I feel it is a lesson for me and important that I do the same. I need to picture myself standing next to Jesus Christ. I believe he will put his arms around me and hug me and “such a thrill will run over me.”   I do believe in Jesus Christ. I do know that He came to earth and suffered for my sins, but also for my “physical pains and anguish, my weaknesses and shortcomings, my fears and frustrations, my disappointments and discouragement, my regrets and remorse, my despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities I experience, and the emotional distresses that beset me.” (Elder David A. Bednar,  “Bear up Their Burdens with Ease”, Ensign, May, 2014.)

I know this is true.

 

Are you more like Marilla or Anne?

marilla
Colleen Dewhurst stars as Marilla Cuthbert in the 1985 movie version of Anne of Green Gables.

As I talked about in a previous post, I have been going through a bit of a midlife crisis the last six months. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

In October, I noticed that an entrepreneur, author, and counselor, Carol Tuttle made her program “Dressing Your Truth” free for everyone. The course is the idea that a person should dress according to their natural personality or “nature.”  It is very interesting. The program suggests clothing, hair, and accessories for Tuttle’s four personality “types.” They are Type 1-animated, upward, Type 2- soft and subtle, Type 3- edgy and driven, Type 4- bold and analytical. You can find the course here.

I took the course two years ago and decided I was a Type 3, very similar to Marilla Cuthbert’s personality in “Anne of Green Gables.” We are first introduced to Marilla from the point of view of Rachel Lynde. Rachel walks down the lone lane to Green Gables. It is hidden by many trees. Rachel says “living in a house away from the road was not living at all.” However, we see that Marilla likes her privacy.  Rachel notices how the lawn is clear of any debris and notes how Marilla spends hours raking the yard.

When Rachel meets Marilla. Montgomery describes her as “tall, and thin with  angles and not curves.  She wore her hair in a hard knot at the back of her head with two wire hairpins stuck aggressively through it.”

We know right away that Marilla neat, orderly, and likes to have control. As Marilla watch Rachel approach, she thinks “sunshine is too dancing and irresponsible a thing for a world which is meant to be taken seriously.”

Little does she know that in a few hours her brother will bring home a little redheaded full of sunshine and life.

anne arriving
Megan Follows as Anne of Green Gables in 1985 PBS movie.

We know Anne is vivacious and quirky from the moment she greets Matthew at the White Sands train station. She says, “I figured if you didn’t come for me tonight that I would crawl up and sleep in the cherry tree. It would be so romantic to sleep in a cherry tree all silvery in the moonlight, don’t you think?”  She talks the whole way to Green Gables and names common place things like an orchard “The White Way of Delight” and a pond “The Lake of Shining Waters.” We know by the time she gets to Green Gables that Matthew is completely won over and there is going to major conflict with Marilla.

I believe that I was more like “Anne” as a child. When I took the “Dressing Your Truth” course again in October, I decided I IMG_4727 was a “Type 1.” Animated and spunky,  constantly singing, pretending I was a heroine from my favorite story with my friends, or drawing pictures. I was happy “as a bird” my mother would say. In fact, she called me “Kare-Bear” because she thought I was sweet like the Care bears on television. (Wasn’t I a cute girl? I mean look at that yellow, fun, animated shirt!)

As I grew, I became more of a “Marilla.”  One night, I saw my mother crying in the kitchen. My brothers and I had scarfed down dinner then scattered, leaving her to clean up the mess. She begged me to stay with her and help dry the dishes. I didn’t want to at first, but I wanted her to be happy so I stayed. After that day, I never wanted to see my mother weeping again on account of me. However, I went above and beyond what was needed and forced myself to grow up too quickly.

I’ve never made it back to that “care free” person I was and I want to be. I tried to be the “perfect daughter” then I tried to be the “perfect student,” and eventually the “perfect wife and mother.”  Over time, I have shoved unrealistic expectations for myself like Marilla stuffed the long hairpins into her bun. It is time that I loosen my hair and find that animated, happy girl that I knows lives deep inside me.

I recently bought a songbook to a musical I love. I sat down at the piano and sang my heart out, not caring if I bothered anyone. I was singing for me. For that little girl who used to get up at the crack of dawn with a song in her heart and a bounce in her step. I am excited to explore my “Anne” side more. I know it will help me not only be happy in my daily life, but it will help me create better characters in my own books.

I wrote my first novel last year and the editor and beta readers said the story my characters were not developed well enough. I completely agree. I tried to make my characters too perfect. The reason “Anne of Green Gables” is timeless is because of the weaknesses the characters have. Anne loses her temper and has to apologize to Rachel Lynde, she breaks her slate over Gilbet Blythe’s head, she dyes her red hair because she wants it to be a “beautiful raven black” but it turns green instead.   Her troubles and wild ways annoy Marilla and yet she loves Anne all the more for them.

I was trying to make my characters without weaknesses because I thought that would turn readers off, when it is exactly just the opposite. As a reader, I like characters to have weaknesses. It is their weaknesses that make them come alive because everyone has weaknesses and strengths. How we deal with our weaknesses and the circumstances that are thrown at us, is what makes an amazing story.

In conclusion, I believe that I am a great combination of Anne and Marilla.

 

Anne says,

“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” Anne of Green Gables, p. 161

I might be a lot of different Karens, but that is alright. If I was just one Karen, then life wouldn’t be very interesting. I am nurturing my “Anne” side now, but it is alright to be a Marilla too. What do you think? Which character are you more like?

Anne of Green Gables is my Bosom Friend

I recently re-read Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables.” I first read it when I was twelve, again at 14, then again at 16. I have watched the PBS movie many times since, but it had been twenty-two years since I had read it last. That is a lifetime ago! I have been struggling to find out who I am again after all my children are now in school full-time and there is no children to stay at home with me.

I thought I needed to get a formal education. You can read more about that here. (http://bit.ly/2BS8eWs) However, I have realized you can learn so much from reading and I love this classic book.

A few facts about the book I did not know before, Maud wrote the book while she was looking after her sick grandmother in 1906. It was first published in 1908 by L,C. Page & Company. Maud had published many poems and short stories before but this was her first novel. Maud’s mother passed when she was young (like Anne’s) and her father moved several provinces away.  Maud was raised by her maternal grandparents who were very strict and did not have time to show any love or affection on a little girl.

Anne has always appealed to me because she is a dreamer. As a child, I also lived in my own dreamworld. I loved to pick up anything from toothbrushes, markers, or silverware and they suddenly had names, friends, family, and stories. I know that in fifth grade when I didn’t have any friends, my imaginative friends became very important to me.  As I read the book in sixth grade through all of my awkwardness as I was trying to figure out who I was, it was comforting to read about a character that was also always making mistakes but learning and growing as I was. I also struggled to find any good friends. I had a few acquaintances at school, but as I entered seventh grade, I became more  confident in myself and my ability to make friends.  Eventually, I found a “bosom” friend like Anne’s Diana in an amazing girl but that is a story for another time.

As a writer, I admired Montgomery’s writing style. Her descriptions are poetic and her characters are certainly memorable. From the first moment in the book we know who Rachel Lynde is. Montomgery writes

“not even a brook could urn past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum. She would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores if anything was odd or out of place.” 

It is descriptive, yet short. The reader knows Rachel Lynde is. I love the word “ferreting” Montgomery uses. I had to look it up. Ferreting is “to drive out of a lurking place as a ferret does the rabbit”  or “searching tenaciously for and find something.”

I love the imagery of Rachel Lynde as a ferret trying to dig up any information about the townspeople of Avonlea.  Montgomery says Lynde was “capable of managing her affairs and those of others.”

rachel lynde
Patricia Hamilton portrays Rachel Lynde in 1985 version of “Anne of Green Gables”

We see shy Matthew Cuthbert leave dressed in his best suit with the sorrel mare and buggy. Rachel says she “won’t get a minute’s peace until she knows” what Matthew is up to.  Already we wonder what is Matthew doing and where is he doing?

Rachel must know what is going on so she goes to see Marilla, Matthew’s sister.  As she walks down the lane to the Cuthbert’s place set back from the road Montgomery writes, “living in a house away from the road was not living at all for Rachel.”

There are so many wonderful descriptions and characters in “Anne of Green Gables.” I could go on and on, but I think tomorrow I will discuss Marilla and her character arch through the story.

So good-bye my kindred spirits until tomorrow when the sun, the moon, and the stars endure.

 

 

Midlife Crisis Leads Me Back to Classics

element-of-confusion-tee

For the last fourteen years I have been a stay-at-home mom. There has always been someone here with me to look after, but in August, my youngest went to school full time. At first I loved the new freedom that came with my days. I went hiking on trails I had never explored, I went places the kids would never want to go with me, and I spent some time doing charity work. However, as the weeks went on, I started down a spiral that lead me to what I could only describe as a midlife crisis (I am not even forty yet)! I started to feel lonely. Things I liked to do didn’t make me happy anymore.

As snow fell on the mountains and the ground became more muddy, I didn’t want to hike anymore. I thought maybe now it was time to look to the future. “What am I going to do now that my kids are in school?” I thought I really needed to find a job. Doesn’t everyone who has kids in school all day have a job? I looked at part time jobs and applied for a few, but when the call came for an interview, I realized that it wasn’t what I really wanted to do.

Then I I thought maybe I needed to go back to school to get some additional training. The problem is I don’t really know what training I want and I don’t want to waste time and money. I thought about it for weeks and thought I really didn’t know who I was anymore.

I reached out a community on Facebook and many helpful people suggested I read a book written for teenagers to help them discover their mission in life. It is funny, but it is really helping me. I am on a new path in my life and it is nice to get back to my roots. One of the suggestions in this book is for teenagers to read classics, then to talk about them with someone, then to write about them. There is a list of 100 classic books to read.

I decided that I didn’t really need to go back to school to get an education. I had only ready about ten books on the list. The first book on the list in the suggestions for twelve-year old girls was Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables.”  You can read my review and experience reading it again here.

I had read the book when I was twelve and loved it. I remember watching the PBS movie as a child with my mother and grandmother. We would watch eight hours to see the kiss between her and Gilbert Blythe at the end, but it was always worth it. Here is the list of novels I will be reading over the next year. Feel free to read along and discuss them with me. How many have you read?

Level One:

  1. ‘Little Women -Louisa May Alcott
  2. Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
  3. The Wizard of Oz- L. Frank Baum
  4. Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe-C. S. Lewis
  5. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes– Edith Hamilton
  6. Little House in the Big Woods– Laura Ingalls Wilder
  7. The Phantom Tool Booth –Norton Juster
  8. Ender’s Game- Orson Scott Card

Level Two:

  1. Pollyanna-Eleanor H. Porter
  2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream–William Shakespeare
  3. All’s Well that End’s Well- William Shakespeare
  4. The Tempest- William Shakespeare
  5. Prince Caspian– C. S. Lewis
  6. Aesop’s Fables
  7. Tom Sawyer- Mark Twain
  8. Flatland- Edwin Abbott
  9. Saint Joan- Mark Twain
  10. Huckleberry Finn-Mark Twain
  11. Little House on the Prairie- Laura Ingalls Wilder
  12. Best Loved Poems of the American People– Hazel Felleman and Frank Allen
  13. Sonnets, William Shakespeare
  14. The Jungle Book- Rudyard Kipling
  15. The Real Thomas Jefferson- Andrew M. Allison
  16. Asimov on Numbers- Issac Asimov
  17. Love Languages- Gary Chapman
  18. The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny -by William Strauss and Neil Howe
  19. The Walking Drum, Louis L’Amour
  20. Say, Go, Be, Do- Tiffany Rhoades Earl
  21. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People- Steven R. Covey
  22. The One Minute Manager-Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D and Spencer Johnson, M.D.
  23. The Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki
  24. A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink
  25. Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick

There is also a level three, level four, and level five by I think for now thirty seven books on a list is a good start! Happy Reading!