The Modern Accomplished Woman…Gets Her Work Done

This post is the fourth in a series dedicated to updating Jane Austen’s “accomplished woman” to create a definition more fitting for the modern world.  You can read the earlier posts here, here and here.

I’ve always been a hard worker.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, really.  I’m a classic firstborn child:  the self-starting, responsible type.

For years I thought this let’s-buckle-down-and-get-to-work attitude was good for two things:  getting good grades and doing well at my day job.  Because for years, that’s what “work” meant to me.  It took me years to realize that the ability to get the job done is much more than that:  it’s a life skill.

I grew up and it slowly dawned on me that my “work” wasn’t just limited to my school or my office job.  My whole life is comprised of millions of tasks that require choosing and planning and, in the end, just getting the job done.  And since it’s my life I’m talking about, I’d like those jobs to actually be done–and be done well.

And that’s why I’m going to say that the accomplished woman is successful in her work, because her “work” is whatever she’s gotta get done.  Noted productivity guru David Allen agrees, broadly labeling “work” as “anything that you want or need to be different than it currently is.”

I’ve been thinking about my work a lot these days.  I’ve been tinkering with my planner and plotting my time and noting the way I use it and thinking of what I want to get done–what’s important, what’s realistic, what’s just a pipe dream for this season.  Because I’m the one who ultimately chooses what my “work” is, and I want to choose wisely.

This plays out in countless ways in countless real lives, but ultimately, the modern accomplished woman knows what her work is.  And then she gets it done.

What’s the work that you’ve gotta get done?

photo credit: Mike Licht,

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7 Quick Takes Friday (or, How I Wish Anne Shirley and I Didn’t Have So Much in Common)

— 1 —

It’s been a great fall.  We’ve spent the month doing typical October things: hiking, raking, backyard campouts.  We’ve made s’mores and picked apples.  We even got our pumpkins this week!  I’m loving sweaters and jeans and pumpkin spice and hot tea.  October just might be my favorite.

— 2 —

But something unexpected happened this fall.  My life began to resemble that of Anne of Green Gables.  I’m not talking about taking a trip to gorgeous Prince Edward Island or naming my daughter Rilla.  Nope.  I got a bad dye job.

Or two of them, actually.  I recently had my hair professionally colored (back to natural, to correct for a summer of pool and ocean water) for the first time since I got highlights for my wedding 11 years ago.  It looked decent for about a week and then it seemed to fade overnight, so I decided to fix it at home.  (In hindsight, I can see the warning lights flashing at this junction.  Why didn’t I just call the stylist?  Good question.)

So then I took matters into my own hands and bought myself some hair color from the peddler on the road.  Or it might have been Target.  Either way, it didn’t turn out so well.  I’m blaming twitter.

— 3 —

Here’s how hair color works:  you put pigment-altering product on your hair, wait, and wash it out.  I got on twitter during the “wait” step, and lost track of time.  There is good stuff on twitter!  I am especially delighted by the random Jane Austen references:

And Anne of Green Gables too:

I left the color on just a few minutes too long, but the 10-minute process time didn’t leave me room for error.

So, I have a bad dye job.  Like Anne of Green Gables.  But I have much to be thankful for that Anne didn’t:   My hair’s not green.  It’s only semi-permanent (though I did take “lasts through 28 washes! to be more of a promise than a threat).  And I don’t have to hack it all off.

— 4 —

I used a hair color that touted itself as “natural” and “environmentally friendly.”  I’m an eco-conscious girl, but for once in my life, I am hoping that this “natural” product is vastly inferior to the hyper-chemicalized version and that it fades long before my 28 washes are up.

In the meantime, I’m using two natural, environmentally friendly treatments to hasten the process along:  baking soda, and vinegar.  Often.  My hair has never been cleaner!  Come to think of it, isn’t that how Simple Mom washes her hair?

— 5 —

So I’ll be wearing my hair in a messy bun for the next 28 days, or less if the vinegar and baking soda do their thing.

And please, if you know me in real life, don’t try and steal polite glances at my stripey, oddly-colored mane.  Just tell me you want to gawk and I’ll be glad to show you the hideousness that is the twitter-induced bad dye job.  But whatever you do, don’t try and be nice and call it “auburn.”

— 6 —

And since it is the weekend, I’ve gotta ask….what are you all doing for movies these days with all the insanity going on at Netflix?  We don’t watch too many movies, but there are a few I’d like to see that aren’t available at Redbox or my library.  Last weekend we used Amazon’s instant video to watch Away We Go, and it worked fine, but not great.  Any suggestions?

— 7 —

Have a great weekend!  (And if you have not had the pleasure of reading Anne of Green Gables, I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy this weekend.)

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Revisiting Rilla of Ingleside

Rilla of Ingleside Anne Shirley's daughter Gilbert BlytheRegular Modern Mrs Darcy readers know that I’m an Anne of Green Gables fan.  I greatly enjoyed re-reading the series this spring and writing the popular Life Lessons from Green Gables series.  But somehow, I always lose steam before making it to Rilla of Ingleside, the 8th and final book in the Anne series.  Well, not this year.  I opened my copy and thoroughly enjoyed re-reading Rilla for the first time in over 10 years.

Rilla of Ingleside tells the story of Anne’s youngest daughter Rilla (namesake of Marilla Cuthbert) and her coming of age during World War I in Canada.  Rilla is 15 when the book opens–giddy, giggly, and full of life–but her mother laments her lack of ambition.  Rilla’s sole purpose in life is to have a good time.

But then the war begins in a far-off land, and before long Canadian boys–including Rilla’s brother Jem and some dear family friends–are suiting up in khaki and shipping overseas to fight for the Allies.  The book chronicles the war from the perspective of the Canadian homefront.

Wartime brings its challenges, and young Rilla is stretched in ways unimaginable in peacetime.  But in wartime, a girl has to do what a girl has to do, and Rilla rises to meet challenges big and small–from disarming petty girlish feuds to raising an orphaned war-baby.   The war lasts four-and-a-half long years, and Rilla comes out the other side a strengthened, deepened woman.

There’s a lot to like about Rilla of Ingleside. L. M. Montgomery’s heart was in this book–published in 1921, when the battle was still fresh in the minds and hearts of her readers.  The female characters are strong and sympathetic–with lots of pluck, to boot!

But I have my reservations about Rilla.

L. M. Montgomery has woven a love story through this little novel–a satisfying one, on one level.  15-year-old Rilla is smitten with Ken Ford, the son of Anne’s dear friend Leslie (Moore) Ford of Anne’s House of Dreams.  There is something very fitting (and very romantic) about a Blythe girl falling for Ken–a circle being completed.

And completed it is.  Ken indeed loves Rilla–but why?  Because she’s pretty?  Mrs. Montgomery, surely you could have done better than this!

Now, we know the merits of Rilla Blythe–not the giddy and giggly 15-year-old, but the woman she becomes.  And I want to believe that Ken, who has known the Blythe family his entire life, loves her as she deserves, and not as just a pretty face.  But Montgomery doesn’t say that at all–she says he loved her because she was beautiful.

I don’t object to Rilla being pretty–a beautiful heroine does make for a good story.  But I do object to her winning the man of her dreams based on looks alone–a story line that’s far more Disney princess than Anne of Green Gables.  I’ve heard Rilla recommended as a great read-aloud for young girls, but I’m not sure I want my impressionable daughter hearing this story anytime soon–I don’t want her to think her future marital happiness depends on beauty alone.

Rilla had so much depth of character to plumb–if only L. M. Montgomery had done more with it!

Have you read Rilla of Ingleside?  What’s your take?  If you need to refresh your memory–or dive in for the first time–a free Kindle edition is available at

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Go After Your Girl Like Gilbert Blythe

Go after your girl like Gilbert Blythe (part of the Life Lessons from Green Gables series)

Gilbert Blythe would land near the top of any list of charming men of literature.  Many a girl has swooned over Gilbert, with his “curly brown hair, roguish hazel eyes, and a mouth twisted into a teasing smile.”  What would Anne of Green Gables be without her longtime rival and friend?

We cheer Gilbert as he chases Anne for three books before he finally gets the girl in Anne of the Island. (Finally!) Even if Gilbert is a fiction dreamed-up in Maud Montgomery’s head, it’s still fun to speculate on what his advice may be to other boys who were once in his shoes.  Here’s what I think he would say:

Gilbert Blythe Anne Shirley carrots Anne of Green Gables romance

1. If you make a terrible first impression, don’t despair. Gilbert reached across the aisle, picked up the end of Anne’s long red braid, held it out at arm’s length, and said in a piercing whisper: ‘Carrots!  Carrots!’….’You mean, hateful boy!’ [Anne] exclaimed passionately.  ‘How dare you!’  And then–Thwack!  Anne had brought her slate down on Gilbert’s head and cracked it–slate, not head–clear across.

2. Choose the right girl. There’s no use in getting the girl if she’s not the one meant for you!  But Gilbert and Anne “were made and meant for each other. It’s a fact.’  

3. Be your own man. Gilbert was a clever young fellow, with his own thoughts about things and a determination to get the best out of life and put the best into it.

4. Be her hero. Diana gasped: ‘Oh, Anne–we thought–you were–drowned…oh, Anne, how did you escape?’  ‘I climbed up on one of the piles,’ exclaimed Anne wearily, ‘and Gilbert Blythe came along in Mr. Andrews’s dory and brought me to land.’  ‘Oh, Anne, how splendid of him!  Why, it’s so romantic!’ 

5. Apologize when you do something stupid. ‘Anne,’ [Gilbert] said hurriedly, ‘look here.  Can’t we be good friends?  I’m awfully sorry I made fun of your hair that time….I think your hair is awfully pretty now–honest I do.  Let’s be friends.’

6. Be her friend. We are going to be the best of friends,’ said Gilbert.’We were born to be good friends, Anne.  You’ve thwarted destiny long enough.’

7. Be worthy of her love. [Gilbert] had made up his mind that his future must be worthy of its goddess….he meant to keep himself worthy of her friendship and some distant day her love; and he watched over word and thought and deed as jealously as if her clear eyes were to pass in judgment on it. 

8. Good looks don’t hurt. Anne thought Gilbert was a very handsome lad, even if he didn’t look at all like her ideal man.

9. Follow her lead. Don’t move too fast!  Gilbert made this mistake more than once before he wised up and became “exceedingly careful to give none [of the other boys] the advantage over him by any untimely display of his real feelings Anne-ward.  To her he had become again the boy-comrade of Avonlea days, and as such could hold his own against [anyone].”

10. Sometimes it’s not you; it’s her. Phil scolds Anne after she refuses Gilbert the first time:  “You are an idiot, Anne Shirley!  You don’t know love when you see it.’

11. Try, try, try again. ‘I asked you a question over two years ago, Anne.  If I ask it again today will you give me a different answer?’

I know you’re dying to see Gilbert in action after hearing his wise words about love, so enjoy this video of the scene where it all began.  As Gilbert said, “There was nobody else–there never could be anybody else for me but you.  I’ve loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school.”

This post is from the series Life Lessons from Green Gables. View the other posts here:

  1. Lessons in Tact from Rachel Lynde.
  2. Don’t Be a Drama Queen, and Other Lessons in Friendship from Anne Shirley.
  3. Learning to Mellow Like Marilla Cuthbert.
  4. Revisiting Rilla of Ingleside.

photo credit: Sullivan Entertainment
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