Thursday, March 7, 2013

Simplicity Goes to Oz

Growing up, The Wizard of Oz, was one of my favorite stories.  The movie was enchanting and the characters had personalities that you could just fall in love with.  I remember picking up one of the original copies of the books in my third grade classroom and pouring over the pages at home, taking it all in.  My favorite was the small town of porcelain figurines, not featured in the movie.  Dorothy was also significantly younger than the portrayal that Judy Garland was cast to, and it originally was supposed to be played by Shirley Temple.  Regardless, her vocal talents were embodied in the song, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and she is a film icon. 

I'm excited to see Oz, the Great and Powerful, because I'm hoping to see more of those original characters.  I was able to catch a special E!News feature on the movie and how it was all created on stages, nothing was filmed outdoors.  I would love to be a part of any project like that (maybe someday).  I think it has such a stellar cast and will bring a true brilliance and imaginative quality to the cinematography.

I watched the original movie numerous times as a kid and I remember getting the VHS (yeah remember those) for one of my birthdays.  I was overjoyed with a grin missing a few teeth and it was frequently played in our household.  I even remember an issue of the American Girl Magazine featuring a Wizard of Oz birthday party.  How cool is that?  I loved everything, from the details to the story.  The Wizard of Oz is just one of those stories that you grew up with and you are so familiar with the characters, their challenges, and how they overcome them.

It made me think of how fairytales and stories assist children in developing who they are.  I've taken courses on the subject and read several articles and I'm always fascinated by it.  As a child, you're caught up in Dorothy's magical ruby slippers and the fact that monkeys are flying at you by the command of a green, scary lady. As an adult, you seem to catch all of the symbolism.

Young Kimberly, traveling through the life lessons of Oz, is something that I'm sure many readers out there could relate to, not just bloggers who are striving for creative content ;)

 Dorothy's mission throughout the story is to get back to Kansas.  She doesn't truly appreciate all of the people in her life, until she is forced out of her lifestyle.  She is put into a completely different place, with unfamiliar faces and customs.  Not just that, but she is also threatened and welcomed- a dynamic that is both hot and cold.  What's important to remember is that Dorothy is a little girl, taking this all in for the first time.  She doesn't have an adult to "hold her hand" and she is guided by her dog and a path known as the yellow brick road.  I don't know about you, but that also kind of reminds me of Autumn's road trip across America...but I digress.

This part of the story reminded me a lot of going to college and then getting married.  Ever since I was 18, I was put into a situation in which I needed to grow up very quickly.  Not just in terms of becoming an adult and being independent, but I was financially responsible for myself.  I know I'm not the only one, but I also feel like it wasn't the best way to learn that life lesson.  My parents were put in between a rock and a hard place, and as an adult I needed to learn how to handle that on my own.  This included understanding the FAFSA process, paying for room and board, building credit, choosing to fund an opportunity to be a part of the Greek system, if I wanted clothes, shoes, etc. -all of that was on me.  Regardless of how I learned, I'm happy that I did go through college that way because it created an appreciation for the work of other students and what it means to be an adult.  I rarely could ask my parents for help and that's not saying that I never asked, because I did.  That doesn't mean that they could help me out which also forced me to get creative in many situations.  When you're 18 and that's put on your shoulders, you learn things quickly and also became a workaholic.  I first started in food services at the University and knew I couldn't stand the job.  I continued to apply and was a part of jobs that I loved. 

The one regret that I have from that method of learning is that I became very focused on looking out for myself, to the point where I rarely contacted my parents.  It's something that carries on today.  It sounds depressing and terrible, but I have to think and plan to call my parents.  I love them so much, and I hope that doesn't feel like a reflection on my lack of being a faithful daughter.  However, I definitely had that "Kansas" moment when I probably became a little too independent and was more than willing to make decisions without them, including getting married.

When Dorothy lands in Oz and is greeted by the Wicked Witch and Glinda, I thought of my character while going through college.  Last year as a senior, I reflected on my choices as a freshman student at Wisconsin.  At different points in my college career, I saw things as being too "uptight" or "stuck-up."  I just wanted to have fun.  It's amazing how much you change in a few years.  Freshman year involved a lot of general education classes and adjusting to life on my own.  It involved a lot of shallow decisions and making comments that I would later cringe at.  Looking through old Facebook pictures, you can see the transformation.  There's less reliance on feeling that gratification of alcohol as a liquid courage combined with a fleeting college relationship, and then the development of exploring different classes that seemed like they had nothing to do with my major but in reality, taught me the most.  This analogy may be closer to the concept of Wicked, but how I see it is that everything is based on perspective: the good and the bad.

The characters of the Scarecrow, Tin man, and Cowardly Lion all are on a quest to complete themselves.  I think that's something that every person goes through.  They think they're missing a piece in their lives and that, to them, determines their self-worth. 

The UW is not an easy school by any means.  Its academic curriculum is incredibly rigorous.  So coming out of the school, I knew the concept of hard work when it came to getting things done.  That still didn't prepare me for my technical school for the military.  My classmates, from all the classes, were (and still are) very smart and talented people.  The standard from day one was perfection.  For the first few units, I was doing really well like getting 100% marks on my quizzes and major exams.  Then it started to change.  I had to work my ass off in order to get by and it was really wearing me down.  I didn't feel smart or really capable.  I would know the material like the back of my hand, but then I would doubt myself when it came to exams or even just remarking on a question.  It still happens today, regardless of the hours I spent on the material.  I would be up early in the morning and leaving when it was dark.  We had a joke that we only saw darkness, never the daytime.  

One of my instructors said to me right before I left, "don't doubt yourself, you are really really smart."  

I was taken aback by that comment.  I talk out loud all of the time and move my hands along with it in order to express my thoughts, whether it's chatting with girlfriends or solving complex problems.  Apparently this made some type of influence on my instructors.  Whatever it was, that comment was a really great way to end training.  Training had been so frustrating and I had been wishing for a more science/math/numbers/engineering- oriented mind.  At the end of the day though, I'm still very capable of what I am doing now and it might not be my forte but I work my ass off at it.  That's how I, and everyone else that I work with, knows that I know what I'm doing.  Sometimes it takes a little courage to be able to speak your mind, believe in yourself, and not doubt what you know.

With the heart component that comes from the beloved Tinman, my favorite character, there is a lot that I have learned from this.  The one that comes to mind as I write, is my need to be more compassionate towards my husband because marriage an ever-developing process.  Sometimes I'm a ball buster and I can just be flat-out mean to him. Usually that comes around a time when I'm frustrated, cannot communicate effectively with him, and his mind-reading capabilities are short-circuiting.  But in all seriousness, we're young and there is still much we need to learn.  I'm still adjusting to not focusing solely on my welfare.  I have a family now, with two furkids (one of them is making off with one of my TOMS slippers as I type this).  It's not just me anymore.  Marriage is hardwork and like Ben Affleck said in his Oscars award acceptance speech, there is no one he would rather do that with than his wife.  I trust Ryan so much and part of that trust is accepting that we both have to mature and adjust to each others' needs.  For me this also includes that marriage isn't a Nicholas Sparks' novel (well at least, not all of the time).  I hate that I have a book/makeup/clothes/whatevershitIfeellikebuying budget.  Never in my life have I done that, but then again, I've never been married to anyone else.  It's a work in progress, emphasis on the work.

I also think there's a needed balance between understanding what is realistic and what is just something you're lusting after.  I read a really great article today about Mormon Mommy Bloggers.  We all know them.  They seem perfect with beautiful kids, closets with vintage dresses, and homes that look straight out of an Anthropologie catalog.  If your life is seriously that wonderful and perfect, kudos to you.  My house doesn't have decorations up yet.  The last new outfit piece I got was a winter coat or maybe workout shorts.  I don't know when we'll be able to add a vintage dress that above mentioned budget, but I haven't felt really pretty in weeks.  But what I do appreciate about those bloggers is that they celebrate life and that marriage can be a beautiful, wonderful, and happy thing.  I love being married to Ryan.  Are there rough patches? Absolutely, but there is still so much to celebrate.

I could probably go on and on about this subject but I just can't wait to catch Oz in theaters.  Life, like those stories, has the capability of being adapted and's just all up to the reader.  

How has your childhood favorites, whether books or movies, influenced or became a reflection of your life?

Thanks for Reading!

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  1. One of your best posts yet!!! I love this... mainly because I can 98% relate to it! The Wizard of Oz was my absolute favorite movie as a child, I had to learn to live on my own during college, and my marriage is far from perfect! Thank you for sharing!!! It was nice to learn Im not the only one :)

    1. Thank you Lauran! I had a lot of fun conceptualizing this post and there is something so enchanting about the Wizard of Oz, you just can fall in love with it. I am so glad you enjoyed the post :)

  2. This makes me wonder what kid books I read that I could re-read as an adult and pick up more symbolism from...Also, I LOVED AG magazine. I'm eagerly awaiting my nieces to grow up to the age where they like it so I can peek over their shoulder =)