Beyond Representation

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. But, it isn’t worth a thousand feelings.

Yesterday was my bridal shower. Today I’m feeling melancholy, which is a sentiment I’ve very used to after big events. When I was a child, I used to cry after weddings or birthdays because I was so distraught over the thought that this huge occasion that I spent so much time looking forward to was over. I have that same feeling today. I didn’t plan any aspect of the shower – my amazing parents and my incredible Man of Honour, my brother, took care of everything – but I knew that it was going to be an awesome day, and although I tried my very hardest to soak up every single moment, today I’m left with the sensation that it passed me by too quickly. I know the wedding (less than 3 months away now!) will pass in much the same way and the thought terrifies me. I’m trying to figure out ways to really focus on how I feel in my dress, on how wonderful it is to have my best friends and closest family around me, on how remarkable it is that such a good and kind man has chosen to make me his wife…but I already know that so many of the little moments will go unnoticed.

I just wish a photo could capture a feeling, or transport you back in time. I have no doubt whatsoever that our talented wedding photographer is going to get some perfect snaps of the day and each special moment, but when I look at those photos months or even years later, won’t my memory of the moment still be hazy? Will I ever be able to get the exact feelings back? Probably not. I know this because yesterday, I tried so hard to take one photo that would capture exactly how excited and loved and supported I felt on my bridal shower day, and all I got was this…

Although it’s an okay photo and reflects the room where we had afternoon tea, at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto, quite well, it still doesn’t capture my overwhelming emotions. At the moment when I took the photo, I was alone in the high tea room, music from the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack playing around me, and I was just quietly reflecting on the fact that so many people loved me enough to celebrate my upcoming wedding with me…and also that one man loved me enough to want to give me this absolute dream life. And yet, when I look at this photo now, it just seems so inadequate. It shows a very happy girl in a beautiful place…but it can never show just how happy she is or how beautiful her life has become.

What’s worse is that this is the only photo I took the entire day. Of course, my bridesmaids took some wonderful photos and my family members and friends are excitedly posting photos on social media, but none of them are photos seen through my eyes. None of them reflect what I was thinking or feeling in that moment, and no photo is really powerful enough to do that anyway.

As I wrote in my Instagram post when I uploaded my lone bridal shower photo, the emotions I felt yesterday are beyond representation. The love I feel for my family members, my best friends and my fiancé is too big for this world, let alone a single photo or even a lengthy blog post. And, now that I think of it, I would rather be living in the moment, seeing the event through my own eyes rather than through the filter of a lens…so I have determined that if on the wedding day I don’t get a single photo, at least I can use my eyes and my green heart to try to soak up every last detail.

xox,

JNG

Girl with a Green (and Very Full) Heart

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My Literary Maidens

Apologies are in order…big time!

I am so so sorry that I have been MIA on the blog for almost a month. Trust me, I get it – this is no way to show my appreciation for all you lovely readers!

However, allow me to promise you that a giant, mammoth of a book review is on its way VERY soon. If you follow along with me on Goodreads, or if you read my last blog post, you’ll know that I’ve been buried deep in the world of Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series for quite a while now. That’s the reason for my lack of posts – I’ve been so enthralled with my reading, so eager to delve into my book and not put it down for the entire night, that I haven’t actually had anything else to review (although I know this is no excuse, considering I could’ve offered you some lifestyle posts in the meantime – massive apologies again!). I even chose to skip right past writing a review for the second novel in the series, A Court of Mist and Fury, because I just wanted to blaze right into the third book instead. And, I did exactly that – I am about two hundred pages away from completing A Court of Wings and Ruin, and my heart is already breaking at the thought. I have so enjoyed living in this world, with Feyre and all of her friends, and I simply do not want it to end. Hence why I have been reading extremely slooowly, savoring every last sentence and image and adventure.

Anyway, that’s a discussion for another time – and I swear, a book review of the entire ACOTAR series is on its way.

Having said that, when I realized a few days ago that I haven’t posted anything here in almost a month, I was horrified! I knew I had to get something out to you, and I also knew that I needed to exercise my writing muscles again, lest they get out of practice. So, on to a bit of a different topic… Here is another wedding-related post for you all…

“You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking, and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated.”

~ Pygmalion

Left to right: Lady Camille, JNG, Lady Courtney and Lady Kailah ❥

I count myself well and truly lucky to have some of the most wonderful friends a girl could ask for. My three best friends, my maidens, my bridesmaids, are among the most inspiring, beautiful and kind women I have ever known, and not only are they a constant source of pride for me, they also treat me with this unwavering respect and love. At times it is overwhelming to fully comprehend how loyal and dedicated they are to me and to our friendships, and they have each been the most incredible helpers throughout my wedding planning experience so far. To borrow from the idea presented in the quote above, my bridesmaids treat me like an absolute queen and make me feel so remarkably special, and I will forever be grateful for that. I cannot wait to return the favour at each of their own weddings! (Note: You can read a detailed post introducing and describing each one of my bridesmaids here.)

Not a single thing in the world could persuade me to change the three women I selected as my bridesmaids because they are the most perfect women that ever walked the planet. Having said that, there is one thing that could persuade me to increase their number – to add a few more ladies to my maiden fold – and that would be if my three favourite females from literature could jump out of the pages of their individual works and become real-life women. I recently found myself thinking about this, wondering which three heroines I would select to join myself and my bridesmaids in all of the wedding planning and events. And, there was absolutely no question – three literary heroines popped into my mind without hesitation, and I truly believe each of these women would fit in so well with my three best friends because they are all quite alike. I like to think I keep very good company, and I believe that even these women of the fictional world would adore my real-life bridesmaids instantly, and vice versa.

~ So, here we have it, my selections for My Literary Maidens (in no particular order, of course). ~

Jane Eyre

“Reader, I forgave him at the moment and on the spot. There was such deep remorse in his eye, such true pity in his tone, such manly energy in his manner; and besides, there was such unchanged love in his whole look and mien—I forgave him all…”

Was there any doubt that Jane Eyre was going to be on this list? Well, there shouldn’t have been. Jane Eyre is the one literary character that I will always owe so much of my personality, my morals and my convictions to. If I wasn’t such a chicken, I’d already have this Charlotte Brontë inspired tattoo on my skin that I’ve been dreaming up for years now, because that authoress is someone I will forever be indebted to. Jane Eyre, and the novel named after her, taught me so much about love, about soul mates, and about sacrifice. She presented a strong and dignified example to me at the most critical time in my life, when I was just leaving high school, and her story emphasized to me that it is possible to find an all-encompassing love that consumes but does not overcome you. Jane Eyre taught me that love is not an easy road, that there are countless obstacles on the way to finding it and also within a relationship, but that True Love means forgiveness, it means being strong enough to stand up for your love, to fight for it. To have Jane Eyre stand beside me on my wedding day would mean having a true role model in my midst, it would mean acknowledging that fortitude is an aspect of True Love that I will always apply in my own life.

Clare Abshire

“I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I’m tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that’s been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by absence?”

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a novel that I also read when I was finishing up high school, and it is without doubt on par with Jane Eyre in my green heart. Clare Abshire is a source of undeniable inspiration in that novel, if only because she is constantly waiting for her love (time traveler, Henry DeTamble) to come home to her. Clare puts up with a lot of turmoil and tragedy in her relationship with Henry, and she faces every obstacle with unfailing resolve and impenetrable will. She is the very definition of a strong woman, and she has always been a model for me of how to overcome jealousy, uncertainty and insecurity. Clare is so confident in Henry’s love for her that she doesn’t let the little things, like ex-girlfriends in his life, or even the big things, like his regular absence, to get to her. She has a lot to face and get through in loving Henry, but she tackles each situation with a calm that is utterly remarkable. Clare Abshire taught me that love means being patient, it means waiting for The One and then hanging onto him through thick and thin, being his rock, his anchor. To have Clare Abshire stand beside me on my wedding day would mean acknowledging that True Love really can conquer all, and that the right love will survive all obstacles of time and distance.

Eliza Doolittle

“Aha! Now I know how to deal with you. What a fool I was not to think of it before! You can’t take away the knowledge you gave me….Oh, when I think of myself crawling under your feet and being trampled on and called names, when all the time I had only to lift up my finger to be as good as you, I could just kick myself.”

I admit, it was a bit trickier for me to come up with my third literary bridesmaid…but only for about two seconds. Then, it dawned on me, what better bridesmaid to have than the original flower girl, Eliza Doolittle of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Eliza isn’t your classic romantic heroine whatsoever, and that’s what makes her a character that taught me so very much about love and relationships. I read Pygmalion for the first time after starting university, but I’ve been a fan of My Fair Lady since I was something like 6 years old, so Eliza Doolittle has always been a mentor to me. And what a remarkable and unique woman she is – Eliza Doolittle is a woman who does not stand down, who is not flattened or trampled on by any of the men around her. Although she is fond of her professor Henry Higgins, she refuses to have her personality muddled or diluted by him, and she is an absolute force to be reckoned with. Her main objective throughout the entire play is to better herself, to lift herself up in society, and while her pseudo-partner Higgins assists her on her journey and gives her the tools to be a better version of herself, she is the one who gets down and dirty, who battles every day with society’s expectations and uses her indomitable will and strength to get ahead and make a name for herself. Eliza Doolittle is one of the strongest female characters that exists in literature, and that comes from her defiance of societal norms and her desire to question and interrogate the social structures around her. To have Eliza Doolittle stand beside me on my wedding day would mean acknowledging that True Love does NOT mean losing your identity or becoming a mere domestic goddess. It would mean acknowledging that being a woman in love, being a wife, does NOT mean giving up on your dreams or stifling your passions. It would mean proclaiming that the right husband, the right partner, will give you wings to fly and build your own name, for yourself.

With friends like these, how could a girl go wrong? My three real-life best friends and my three fictional ones are the pillars of my personality, the puzzle pieces that go together perfectly to make me into the woman I am today, the one that my fiancé fell in love with. Without each of them, I would be nowhere close to who I am at this moment, and I am so honoured that each of them will play a part in my Big Day…because believe me, I plan to make Jane and Clare and Eliza a real presence on my wedding day, even if they can’t be there in person…so stay tuned for posts about that in the future!

See you all again very soon, I promise!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

MIA

Hello dear Readers ~ it’s been a long time!

This is going to be a very quick Wednesday note to let you all know what I’ve been up to recently and to apologize profusely for not writing a post in such a long time.

I’ve been very busy recently, which isn’t really an excuse for not writing any posts.  However, I’m hoping that once you all know the reasons for my absence, and the fun posts I have lined up for the near future, you’ll consider forgiving me.

My weekends have been hectic, to say the least, and for very good reason.  My wedding day is just over a year away (YAY!), and so SS and I recently decided to get some modelling practice and shoot our engagement photos with our wonderful photographer.  I cannot wait for you to see them, and I’m hoping to post as many photos as I can on the blog and tell you all about the incredible artist (there really is no other word for her!) we’ve chosen to work with.  I should have something to show you very soon, and all I want to say to entice your interest at the moment is that there was definitely a very distinct Christmas theme and feel to the whole photoshoot.  Things will definitely be getting festive on the blog!

To that point, I have two glorious weeks of holiday vacation coming up, and I am super excited to write a whole bunch of posts in that time.  A few of these I’ve already got planned, so look forward to another yearly post about the awesome Christmas decorations I’ve encountered around the city, as well as one about my dream home.

Amidst all these lifestyle posts will also be more book reviews, I promise!  I’m deep in my current read, Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan (Goodreads says I’m about 74% of the way through it), and I think I’ll be finishing it in the next few days.  I’m actually really enjoying it so far, and although it’s not as festive as I had hoped, it’s turned out to be less fun and silly than I expected and much more intricate and meaningful.  A full review is on the way soon!

So, I think that’s just about all for now.  I wanted to update you all and convey that I have not forgotten about this blog that I have grown so fond of and attached to!  I have big and exciting plans for it over the holidays and into the New Year, so stay tuned!

Janille N G

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

What’s In A Ring?

I have always been attached to objects.

It started when I was a newborn and I was given a soft and inviting blanket by one of my grandmother’s friends. While a newborn will naturally receive many blankets in her day, this one became my absolute favourite, and it stayed wrapped around me for years while I was in my crib. When I progressed to a “big girl” bed, my beloved blanket slept in my arms, and he (yes, I do refer to my blanket as a “he”) evolved into Blankie. Blankie became one of my most trusted companions, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I talked to him every night. Some kids have imaginary friends, but I had something much better – an actual, physical object to hold in my arms while I chatted away to him, silently and in my mind of course. I’m also not embarrassed to say that Blankie slept in my bed all throughout high school, and to this day, he rests on my pillow beside me every night. Introducing my fiancé SS to Blankie when we first started dating was a bit of an ordeal, but I decided to share the secret of my constant bedfellow with him about a month into our relationship, and rather than finding it weird, SS decided to curl up for a little nap with Blankie. They’ve been friends ever since.

Is it possible that becoming so attached to an inanimate object was strange behaviour for a young girl? Sure. But think about who my favourite fictional character was at the time: a soon-to-be princess who lived in an enchanted castle and enjoyed living in the world of literature more than any other. With a friend like Belle, how could I not have a blanket as my closest confidante?

blankies-wofmygh-debut

With Belle as my idol, how could I not be attached to inanimate objects?

Okay, so we’ve established that I’m somewhat unhealthily attached to items and things. Well, imagine how great my attachment has been to each gift that SS has given me. Having a boyfriend for the first time is one source of excitement…but receiving a piece of jewelry from that boyfriend is quite another. I’m not overly superficial and I’m not jewelry obsessed, but having a physical token of my boyfriend’s love, something that I can wear and show to the world, something to give me reassurance and joy every time I look at it…that is quite magical. And an engagement ring…I think there can be no more incredible token than that. You wear it on this finger that everyone knows is so significant, and it sparkles in the sunlight and even (although it seems impossible) on the rainy days, and it gives you butterflies every time you catch a glimpse of it in your peripheral vision. Needless to say, I’ve grown so very attached to my engagement ring, my custom-made rose gold ring and the gorgeous (green, green, GREEN!) emerald that it harbours. There has been no greater joy in my life than slipping it on my finger each morning – it is the absolute best start to my day.

my-ring-with-the-knot-magazine

One of my favourite photos of my emerald, rose gold engagement ring.

But engagement rings, as with anything else, need care. Every now and then, they need some TLC, a spa getaway, to come back glistening and new. And because SS has remarkable foresight and did an admirable amount of research before having my ring made, he purchased a lifetime warranty from the jeweler that allows me to have my glorious emerald ring polished and buffed and inspected every six months.

Fantastic! Except for the fact that I have to give my ring to the jeweler for two to three weeks. They have to take it from me, literally remove it from my finger, and send it off to some faraway land where engagement rings get pampered and hopefully treated like royalty. For someone who’s attached to inanimate objects, that whole ordeal is daunting.

But, today, my six months were up (Sidenote: It has been six months since I got engaged which is amazing to think of!) and I had to take my ring in. There was no avoiding it, and to be honest his (yes, my ring is a boy like Blankie!) band was a little scuffed and scratched. I of course want him to feel loved and well taken care of…but two to three weeks of absence won’t just make the heart grow fonder, it’s likely to make me crazy!

This post is coming to you late at night, and that’s because I can’t sleep without thinking of my ring, sleeping somewhere that isn’t beside me in my room. It’s a terrible thought, but totally unavoidable. So, here we are, me writing away to ease my anxiety while my ring hopefully rests peacefully elsewhere.

Here’s hoping he comes home to me SOON!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

“I want a wife…” – #JNGReads and #JNGWatches

“Jane, I want a wife. I want a wife, not a nursemaid to look after me. I want a wife to share my bed every night. All day if we wish. If I can’t have that, I’d rather die. We’re not the platonic sort, Jane.”

– Jane Eyre, 2006 BBC Miniseries

“Her entire world ceased to exist except to study Richard’s face…”

“She reached deep into herself for her control.”

The Three Colonels, Jack Caldwell

the-three-colonels-2

Soon enough, I will be finished my current read, my rescue book, The Three Colonels by Jack Caldwell. Given the fact that I unexpectedly stumbled across the book in the Dollar Store, I wasn’t at all anticipating that I would become quite so attached to the story and the characters. My expectations were not at all lifted by the fact that the plot centers on three rather unpopular female characters from Jane Austen’s novels, Caroline Bingley and Anne de Bourgh of Pride and Prejudice and Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility. I haven’t read Sense and Sensibility (it’s the only Austen novel I have left to conquer), but my own experience of Pride and Prejudice and my discussion of it with several other readers have made me convinced that no one really likes or is at all interested in Caroline Bingley or Anne de Bourgh. If anything, the presence of these two women in the plot is mostly just a nuisance to the main, beloved characters.

Having said that, I have grown to really like and enjoy my time with Caroline, Anne and Marianne (who I admittedly don’t know very much about). I have found Caldwell’s story to be very lovely, peaceful and calming to read. I have become thoroughly engrossed in it during my lunch breaks and my long bus rides home, and I have found myself looking forward to reading it throughout my day. I am dreading finishing these next 50 or so pages (hence the fact that I’m writing this post rather than reading) because I don’t want to give up living in the comfortable and warm world that Caldwell, with much help from Miss Austen, has created. This world has been a source of solace and escape for me.

More than that though, I have been taken in by the marital and domestic bliss that Caldwell portrays in his Austen adaptation. As you all know already, especially since I can’t seem to stop talking about it, I am recently engaged. I am also in the midst of planning a Christmas wedding inspired by my favourite literary characters and Victorian time period. This is undoubtedly the most exciting, fun and wonderful time of my life, and I cannot wait until my wedding day in just under 15 months. However, wedding someone is so much more than having a party, feasting for hours and dancing the night away. There are vows to be said and promises to be made, and these precious moments cannot be overlooked.

For me specifically, wedding my fiancé SS means becoming a wife. This is something that I have always fantasized and dreamed of. The concept of being a wife first started to truly intrigue me in high school, when I opened the pages of Jane Eyre and beheld a love unlike any other. A love between two equals who lived and breathed entirely for each other, this romance began to serve as a guideline for me, as a goal for what I hoped to achieve in my own life. At the same time as I wanted passionate love, I also craved the comfort and security that Jane felt with her Rochester. When I watched the 2006 BBC miniseries adaptation for the first time, and heard Edward Rochester declare in the final scene that he wanted a wife to be his companion and helpmate as well as his passionate romantic partner, I was immediately swept up by the idea. Being a wife would mean, I began to understand, desiring someone, wanting them, but also supporting and encouraging them under all circumstances. It would mean giving my life for them in all capacities.

Now that I am a fiancée, this idea of being a wife has taken on new meaning and significance. What will it mean for me to become SS’s wife? Will it mean losing my identity? Certainly not – my Victorian role models would never allow that. But, it will mean taking on a new identity, among the many identities I now possess. It will mean becoming the person (even more than I am now) on whom SS consistently relies. That is a thought that makes my heart soar.

I have many examples of happily married couples all around me, starting with my own parents. I am a reader, though, and so I always like to look to literature to present models for my every day life. And, this is the very reason I have grown so fond of Jack Caldwell’s The Three Colonels. In it, I have found three models for being a wife, and they have provided me with an image of married life that is at once exhilarating and safe.

In The Three Colonels

Being a wife means loving and idolizing and respecting your partner above all others. Anne de Bourgh is taken by Richard Fitzwilliam, although society may not find him conventionally handsome or extraordinary. She is overcome by his intelligence, his kindness and his impressive work ethic. She is proud of his military accomplishments and his reputation. She is attracted to his personality, his manner of speaking to her, his inclination to ask for her advice and give her the power to form her own opinions. She grows to love how he looks because of who he is, and he becomes the most handsome man in the world to her. Her eyes look on him with love, and he becomes the only person she can ever imagine being with. She is devoted only to him.

Being a wife means being strong and supporting your partner, despite your own fears and anxieties. I have learned, particularly recently, that being part of a couple means facing stressful situations together. Sometimes it also means staying firm and having the confidence that your partner lacks. Marianne, Caroline and Anne must each watch as their beloved men go off to fight a war against Napoleon. They must wait at home as their men work diligently to protect not just their loved ones, but their entire country. It is not easy to be the one sitting at home, or to be the one who supports from the sidelines, but it is one of the most important functions that a wife (or any partner for that matter) has. Being a constant source of strength is essential, and these three women are able to dispel their husbands’ fears even when their own hearts and minds are racing. They put their own nervousness aside and bear so much burden so that the men they love can have but a little relief from their anxieties. They are the pillars that hold their husbands up.

Being a wife means never, ever losing your own identity and sense of self. Caroline Bingley becomes Caroline Buford, but she never stops being the woman she always was. She is far too feisty for that. Anne de Bourgh is the mistress of Rosings; it is her property and her relationship with Fitzwilliam does not call that into question, but rather encourages her to be even more forceful about her powers and her responsibilities. She takes on the finances and the politics with class and intellect, and she is truly a match for her politically-inclined beloved. Rather than becoming quiet through her love for him, she becomes louder and more confident in herself. She is anything but sickly and silent.

Being a wife sometimes means being a mother. It means creating a family, a home base. It means creating a life for your husband that will be mutually pleasurable and peaceful.

Of course, being a husband has its own challenges and responsibilities too…but I’ll leave that to SS to discover! 😉

I am hesitating to finish The Three Colonels because I have so enjoyed witnessing three women become accustomed to married life. I have easily identified with all three women, in their different stages of marital bliss, and I have recognized aspects of myself in them and traits that I would like to assume and apply to my own life.

I would highly recommend Caldwell’s novel to any reader that enjoys becoming a part of Miss Austen’s world. You will get sucked into the story, I promise you that!

The Future Wife,

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart