~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #176
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” . . . bring women to the front of their own stories, and make them the hero of their own stories.” —Reese Witherspoon at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards
~Spoiler Alert: The ending of Hallie Meyers-Shyer’s new film Home Again will be shared.
The power of a Hollywood script which makes it to the silver screen as well as to the small screen, better known as our television sets, is unconsciously more powerful than most viewers realize, especially younger viewers unaware of the biases, exigence and purpose of the writers and creators as well as the producers. Novels as well must be sold to a publishing house, and if the publishers do not believe they will be able to sell the plot to readers, the manuscript isn’t accepted. In other words what determines the plots that will eventually be published, produced and brought to consumers is what will sell. But the obvious flip-side is we need to become savvier consumers of entertainment.
The good news is producers will listen to noticeable shifts. For example, in 2016 movie ticket sales indicated that the largest growth in sales was taking place with Latino moviegoers, as a result (or possibly, due to) films began offering more diversity in their casting than in previous years.
I share this example because when Reese Witherspoon accepted the Emmy with the ensemble for Big Little Lies last weekend (she starred and was an executive producer of all seven episodes), I had to give her credit. She lives what she desires to be brought to the forefront in Hollywood films and series: women being the heroes in their own stories.
For example, she started her own production company Pacific Standard with Australian producer Bruna Papandrea (Wild & Gone Girl), branched out on her own with Hello Sunshine, a digital media company, and is bringing to the screen a few titles you might recognize Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Something in the Water.
And as I shared in episode #174 of the podcast in my review of Home Again, a film produced by Nancy Meyers and written and directed by her daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer, it was the ending of the movie which again revealed that Reese is indeed serious about changing the default in Hollywood that is long over-due for a change. Home Again, as she describes it in a recent interview with The New York Times, isn’t a romantic comedy, but rather a modern comedy. A comedy in which, in this case, a woman becomes the hero of her own story. She doesn’t end up with a man who saves her from a supposed life that is empty without one, rather her character Alice Witherspoon chooses to divorce her husband (not because he cheated and not because he was abusive) because their ways of living life, of making the most of the one journey they have the opportunity to live, had strayed into two completely different directions. The love, the fondness was there, but it had changed. Her character sets boundaries, enjoys herself, supports her daughters, chases her dreams and creates a life of everyday moments that she savors on her own terms, not Hollywood’s (well, in this case, yes, technically it is Hollywood, but she is now a part of Hollywood and so is Meyers-Shyer and they are changing what the definition of a happy ending).
Recently a good friend of mine who is nearing forty (as am I) shared that all was well in her life except the missing piece – a man. And having just stepping out of a relationship, that I can honestly say I wasn’t looking for but was delighted to have been in, a good life is determined by one and only one person, the person living it. I continue to urge readers and listeners to fall in love with their lives, to cultivate a life you enjoy living regardless of your relationship status because whether you are in a relationship or not, your issues, the hiccups you haven’t dealt with, will continue to bubble up, the stresses you haven’t figured out how to handle, will continue to exacerbate and hinder your ability to savor the everyday goodness and the relationship skills you still need to polish will continue to seek your attention until you heed them whether in a relationship with a lover or a friend.
I am not saying being loved and sharing love isn’t an extraordinary experience. It absolutely is, but believing that our hero is someone other than ourselves to assuage the conjured up emptiness is a lie that we have accepted (man or woman), and depending upon the known or unknown perpetuators of this life story line (Hollywood, novels, parents, church, school, etc.) we need to relinquish its/their “how life should unfold” belief from our mind. Because I wholeheartedly not only believe, but can say to know as truth, everyday can be truly breath-taking with or without a partner. And the key is to be the hero of your own story.
- Find an outlet for your love: begin with yourself, and then with what is leftover choose from the following: a hobby, a passion project, a cause you believe in to your core, your pets, your career, your friends, your family, the world.
- Strengthen your innate talents and deepen your passions.
- Find others whom you trust to fill the gaps where you are weak (i.e. – a financial advisor, a trusted CPA, a fitness trainer, etc.)
- Earn your own income
- Be proactive. Strive daily toward your dreams. Stop waiting for opportunity plop into your lap. It’s like a moving target, so get going.
- Save for retirement beginning yesterday
- Come to understand your limits and boundaries and speak up when they are crossed without apology and with civility
- Learn to communicate effectively
- Step up to the plate when needed and only 60%+ ready, not when everything is perfectly set up to do so (hint: it never will be and you will always be waiting)
- Build other women up
- Never judge another woman’s life decision. Follow Amy Poehler’s advice and simply quote when observing a life path taken by another woman that you wouldn’t have chosen, “Good for her! Not for me.”
- Refuse to be talked down to whether by names (girl, boy, little lady, son (when you’re not their son), sweetheart, etc.) or by limitations (assuming lack of knowledge or capability). Either address the issue if the relationship is necessary to keep or simply don’t respond and walk away. Change in what will be tolerated won’t change until we speak up in a manner that is calm and clear. If not for yourself, than for the women around you and those that will follow you.
- Understand that setbacks are part of the journey, so stand back up and keep going.
- Remember Billie Jean King’s quote, “Pressure is a privilege.” Do something with your opportunity when given the chance.
- Choose well and choose for you. As you come to trust your instincts, this will happen in small and big bursts throughout your journey, you will begin to know what is best for you. The better you know yourself, the quicker the decisions will be made.
- Be courageous. Say yes to something you’ve never done before but that is on the trajectory of the journey you wish to be on to help you reach your goal. No matter how trepidatious you may be. You will come out on the other side realizing there was nothing to be afraid of, just the unknown. And now it’s not unknown anymore.
“Once we belong thoroughly to ourselves and believe throughly in ourselves, true belonging is ours.” —Brené Brown, from Braving the Wilderness
I want to end with mentioning of Brené Brown’s new book because her book is a reminder of what type of courage is needed to be the hero of our own story. Stepping away from the city or place of comfort that is not serving us and toward the wilderness is terrifying initially, but as we step away from seeking the approval of others and head in the direction of the wilderness, the “first step will take your breath away”. And as writer, pastor, philanthropist and community leader Jen Hatmaker is quoted saying in the book, the loneliest steps are the in between, but if you “stay the course long enough to actually tunnel into the wilderness . . . you’ll be shocked by how many people already live out there —thriving, dancing, creating, celebrating, belonging.” Ultimately, if we can all just remember and live each day, who we are and what we can give to the world is our gift. “True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY FROM THE ARCHIVES:
~Why Not . . . Be Brave? (episode #83)
~A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability (episode #126)
~Growth is a Choice: 11 Ways to Grow Up (episode #101)
~French melon, Charentais, with paper-thin slices of prosciutto, sprinkled with a dash of flaky sea salt.
~click here for more pictures and details about the melon and the recipe.
Image from the 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards
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