Posts Tagged ‘Integrate Retreat’

I’ve been thinking about labels lately – particularly “good girl” and “bad girl.”

At the Integrate Retreat, among other things, we talked a lot about being “good” and “bad,” and what that means. We saw Wicked together (and if you don’t know, this show completely flips your assumptions about “good” and “bad” upside down and backwards). We also talked about owning the “good” and “bad” parts of ourselves – the parts that are presentable, the roles we put on with a smile, and also the hidden parts, the ways we act or wish we could act when nobody’s looking.

“You might find it easier to own the bad girl than the good girl [or the other way around], but they both have something that you need,” Jen told us. I’m still mulling over that one.

I usually find it easier to own the good girls, actually. All my life, I’ve been the smart, capable one who has her stuff together; the reliable one; the “glue person.” I am an oldest child; I am driven; I am responsible; I am a detail person; I am compassionate. In a lot of people’s eyes, this equates to “good.”

As I’ve kept thinking of this, I’ve made two lists (surprise!): my favorite good girls and bad girls. Of course, all my greatest heroines are complicated – a messy mix of good and bad, mistakes and triumphs – but here are some who are seen as good. (There’s some overlap here with my literary heroines, but I think that makes perfect sense.)

1. Anne Shirley. I know she was a hot-tempered orphan to begin with, but she’s so sweet and pure and hard-working, and she sees beauty everywhere, which is my favorite thing about her. She is eternally optimistic and joyful, without being saccharine, and she never stops believing in dreams.

2. Meg March. Now, Jo is my favorite March girl, but Meg is responsible, good-hearted, hard-working, and takes care of everyone. She’s the glue that holds them together when Marmee is gone. I love her for that, even if I have a sneaking sympathy with Jo.

3. Kathleen Kelly from You’ve Got Mail. One of my favorite characters in one of my favorite movies. She fights so hard for her little bookstore, and bounces back from some hard knocks with the help of optimism, good friends and daisies. (“Don’t you think daisies are the friendliest flower?”) She does learn to let herself grieve, though, and accepts an entirely new life with grace.

4. Rory Gilmore. I love, love, love Gilmore Girls, and Rory and I share a love of books, high academic ambitions, and the desire to be peacemakers. Rory’s always trying to talk someone off the ledge – be it her best friend Lane, her neurotic friend Paris or her rebellious mom. Yet she’s courageous, smart and funny, and a loyal friend. And she eventually learns to go after what she wants.

5. Betsy Ray. Like me, Betsy wants to be a writer – is a writer – and also like me, she’s lucky. She’s got a wonderful family and a big crowd of warmhearted friends, and a peaceful childhood in Deep Valley. However, she grows into a woman who can travel Europe on her own (sound familiar?) and meet the challenges of adulthood, career, marriage and even war with grace and creativity.

6. Hermione Granger. She’s such a rule-follower and a book-nerd – and I totally sympathize with both traits – but she learns when friends (and, you know, the fate of the wizarding world) are more important than rules. She really grows into her own through the Harry Potter series, and she always has the right facts at hand when Harry and Ron need them.

7. Nancy Drew. She’s always so put together – chic cardigan sets and a cute blue roadster, anyone? – but she can also change a tire, stare down a bad guy and solve a mystery. Serious girl power, before girl power was cool.

8. Lena Kaligaris from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Like me, she’s shy and reluctant to show her truest self, and it’s hard for her to go against what people expect of her. But she learns to do that, and does a lot of growing along the way, without losing her sense of compassion.

9. Iris Simpkins from The Holiday. My heart breaks for Iris (played perfectly by Kate Winslet) when we meet her, but she charms everyone she meets in L.A., and helps her elderly neighbor regain his strength, and her friend Miles find the courage to go after what he really wants. And she finds her own voice in the process. Love her.

10. Maria from The Sound of Music. This has been my favorite movie since I was a child. I love Maria’s singing voice, the way she wins over the children (and the Captain), her courage and her deep zest for life.

Who are your iconic good girls (or guys)? What do they have that you need? (Bad-girl list coming soon.)


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As you know, I had a fabulous time “integrating” with nine fabulous women in Brooklyn, a few weeks ago. I’ve been holding that experience close to my heart, and unpacking it bit by bit.

For a Love Thursday and a list post, I wanted to introduce you to the lovelies I met, and point you to some of their blog homes:

1. Jen is the reason we all came together – all of us knew her either via blogland or in real life, though as I read on Emily’s site recently, those distinctions are starting to blur. Anyway, it was so lovely to hug her at last, and her words were pure magic all weekend.

2. Phyllis has been Jen’s friend for years, and runs Voca Femina, an online magazine for women’s voices. She’s a therapist, a life coach and just completely amazing.

3. Amelia was on my flight from DFW to NYC, so we connected in the airport, then roomed together all weekend, and wound up by waiting together at LaGuardia for our return flights. She is so many things…a teacher, a writer, a photographer, a mother of five, a runner, a creative soul and an inspiration. She blogs at Notes From the Edge.

4. Julie is trying to get us all back to Cincinnati, where she lives, for a reunion in October. She made us all beaded bookmarks (or “magic wands” as Crystal calls them) to take home, and she shares my love for chocolate and snail-mail.

5. Crystal went to The Chocolate Room three times in one day – and had a bit of a chocolate hangover the next day. She’s a hoot.

6. Beth also lives in Cincy, and shares my love for Rachel Austin’s paintings, photos of flowers and Wicked. (Here’s a photo from our “cake time” on Monday night – from left, Julie, Crystal, Beth, Jenna and Amelia. What great faces!!)

7. Jenna blogs at The Word Cellar; we’d been Twitter friends for some time before the retreat. She’s even more delightful in person, and a fabulous writer.

8. Sandra was our lone Canadian, a joyful spirit, a sweet heart and a lovely accent.

9. Annette hails from Maryland, and is just full of joy and hope and honesty. I’ll never forget jamming out with her to the Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice” in the kitchen on our last night. (Here she is with Jenna, Phyllis and Jen.)

Happy Love Thursday…go read some of these ladies’ blogs, and have a wonderful day.

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Seen on the side of a building, along 5th or 6th Avenue.

The whole city was blooming. Mmmmmm.

The Chocolate Room is as delectable as it sounds, and (from left) here are Annette, myself,  Amelia, Crystal and Julie, with hot chocolate (both frozen and hot), white chocolate-raspberry ice cream, and all sorts of yumminess.

We spent a great deal of time in this, the kitchen on the “garden floor,” right next to Amelia’s and my room. Felt like old times in the basement kitchen in Oxford.

This is Amelia, my travel buddy, roommate and new dear friend.

I love this silly, happy photo of Jen (“Yoda pigtails” and all) – it embodies the spirit of our time together. Such joy.

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I met these lovelies at the Integrate Retreat last weekend in NYC. Jen (in the front, with the curls) hosted us at the Sofia Inn in Brooklyn, and oh my, the whole weekend was magical. We talked, wrote, laughed, sang, drank tea, ate chocolate, saw Wicked together, did yoga, explored Brooklyn, cried and laughed some more. And that’s just the beginning.

This week I am missing Beth, Sandra, Crystal, Phyllis, Jenna, Annette, Julie, Jen and Amelia. What lovely souls, and what a fabulous time we had together. Until we “reintegrate,” I’ll be thinking of them.

More photos and stories to come…

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