I started to read classic novels when I was 11 years old, beginning with Little Women and Good Wives. As I grew into my teens my reading progressed and I discovered the novels of Jane Austen and the wonderful Bronte sisters. Being a Yorkshire lass I will always prefer the Brontes' books as the landscape they describe is familiar to me. If they were alive today I have no doubt that Jane, Charlotte, Emily and Anne would be blogging away, which is why I love this picture on the left!
One of the things I most love about these romantic novels is the notion of an accomplished lady. I like the idea that women were far from merely decorative during this period of history, as some would have us believe; nor were they idle while waiting for their turn in the marriage market. Writing, needle craft, equestrianism, reading, art, debating, dancing and so on were all deemed to add to a lady's charm. Yes, admittedly some of these accomplishments are pretty time-wasting activities; I never could see the attraction of decoupage myself, although I am sure there are those who find their bliss in this traditional craft. I do like the idea of a woman who is well read; intelligent; graceful; strong in body, mind and spirit and who can turn her hand to many tasks -that to me is an accomplished lady, and being an impressionable teenager at the time, I decided that I wanted to make myself as accomplished as I could possibly manage.
I have ridden horses since childhood; it is one of my greatest accomplishments & I take pride in the fact that I can handle difficult mounts. I make my living as a writer. I also read a great deal, and I have been a bookworm ever since I can remember. For me the wonderful thing about books is that they teach us to see the magic in the mundane. I can often be found working on a tapestry in the evenings and my large mahogany tapestry frame is one of my prize possessions.
I have always enjoyed singing and dancing; but I had to wait until adulthood to really pursue these achievements to any degree; now I am fortunate to be able to record and share the songs I write, and I am busy studying music too. I love being at my piano, though I cannot yet play anywhere near as well as I would like, but I am working on it! Again, my piano is one of my prize possessions and something I dreamed of owning since I was a little girl. It was such a thrill when I was able to achieve this dream.
For the past three and a half years I have had ice-skating lessons and made time to get down to the rink for regular practice sessions. I love the freedom of gliding on the ice, and the balance and grace this skill has given me. I dance regularly too, especially ballet and belly dancing. Of course, I don't do all of this, all the time; when I hit a wall with something, I take a break for a few weeks or months, then pick it up again with a clear head and fresh enthusiasm. But I do enjoy learning new things and the sense of achievement it gives to me. At 38 years old I am also living proof that it is never too late to take up a new hobby, or to make a childhood ambition a reality.
It always saddens me when women somehow lose themselves in marriage and motherhood - of course you should enjoy your kids, but remember to give time to yourself too, and do some of the things you always dreamed of doing. Your kids will be even more proud of you for it. I know that some hobbies don't come cheap - this is why I choose to ride for someone else rather than owning a horse myself! But there are plenty of books, CD's and DVDs available so that you can teach yourself in your own time and work around your family commitments. If I can't get to dance class for whatever reason, I'll pop on a belly or ballet dance workout DVD and still get the dance experience and put the training hours in. I also have a Bodi-Tek Equi Trainer which I use when I can't get to the stables, if the weather is really bad. So there are ways to bring your dreams alive, that need not cost the earth.
I feel very fortunate to do all that I do and I try to live the gentle life of a lady. I know that it will be more difficult for some of you to follow your dreams, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a try. I hope this post has inspired you to take up a new, or an old, hobby and work towards your personal accomplishment.
Do I consider myself to be an accomplished lady? Lets just say that I consider myself to be a work in progress! BB Marie x