Calm in “Little Women”

          The four (very different) sisters in Little Women are always getting into little fits of trouble and adventures together, being raised by their mother Marmee while their father is off at war. Jo (Josephine) March is actually the very opposite of calm. She is outspoken and loud, not afraid to speak her mind or take action to defend her opinion. There have been many accounts on where Jo rudely interferes with her sisters lives (and love lives) with her opinions. Her anger often gets the best of her. 

          When she ditches Amy to go to a play with her sister Meg and her love interest, Laurie, Amy becomes upset and burns Jo’s manuscript. Jo acts out, screaming and hurting Amy saying she will never forgive her, and doesn’t apologize even though her mother says to never sleep on her anger. The next day, while ice skating with Laurie, Jo tells Amy she can’t skate with them. In an attempt to fit in, Amy tries to catch up to them but ends up falling through the ice. Jo becomes nervous and fearful and instantly regrets not forgiving Amy the night before. 

Times like these are what bring the March sisters closer together and in a calm state. They are the most calm when caring for each other, their family, and tending to the community as well. 

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Candlelight

Candlelight is often associated with special occasions- gathering around a birthday cake, enjoying a meal with someone special, or reading a book by the fireplace. To me, there seems to be a sort of beauty of candlelight that is best enjoyed during moments of stillness and solitude, where the rest of the world is turned off for a little while.

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                Religiously, candles are incorporated through ceremonies and acts because it is said the flames soft illumination “touches the soul”. Often people find they can achieve a meditative state more easily by focusing on a candlelight rather than a mandala or mantra. The flame of a candle, to put it simply, is mesmerizing and soothing. “The calming effect of candlelight can be a simple yet sacred tool to help reduce stress and increase self-awareness” (Amstutz). Try to incorporate candles in your daily life and you will, without a doubt, develop a more tranquil state of mind.

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Incorporating candles to various aspects of your daily routine (sometimes during moments you wouldn’t expect) can really make a difference:

  • In the morning or evening: Spend a few moments each day (as soon as you wake up, or just before bedtime) sitting quietly in a space filled with a few candles, sitting quietly. If you sit and focus on the flames, breathe through your nose. “Turn your attention to the meltilng wax and imagine it as tension melting and dripping away (Ranch). You can include other objects that inspire or relax you, such as crystals, seashells, flowers, photographs, etc. that’ll help set the mood as well.
  • In the bathroom: Next time you plan to soak in the tub or take a shower, turn the lights out and turn to candles instead. By combining the stress-relieving activity of relaxing in warm water, with calming candlelight, you’re giving yourself a double dose of relaxation.
  • At work: Work can be very stressful, and lighting a candle on your desk or work space can help free your mind and release some of the stress of your job. Of course, never leave the candle unattended near paperwork or plants (although it may be stressful, you want to keep your job).
  • While exercisingThis is encouraged if you practice yoga, meditation, tai chi, or other similar activities at home. The calming effects can help you relax your mind and body, allowing for deeper stretches and better concentration. Sitting quietly or lying down in a candle lit room is a great way to unwind after an intense workout.

Look to my previous post for some scent ideas when picking out candles to further induce a calm state.

Sources:

http://www.mrwallpaper.com/wallpapers/Beach-Candlelight-Dinner.jpg

http://www.desktopaper.com/wp-content/uploads/simple-christmas-candlelight-hd-iphone-wallpaper.jpg

http://www.canyonranch.com/your-health/whole-beauty/nurture-yourself/your-home-spa/the-calming-effects-candlelight

Winter Night

               I shake off all of my cold wet clothes as I step inside my warm house. The smell of hot cider engulfs me and my cheeks turn rosy red after being outside in the snow for so long. I walk up my stairs eager to change into dry clothes and I hang my coat by the fireplace. I sprint to my room and throw on comfy sweats and fuzzy socks and wrap myself in a fleece blanket. With my cat at my heels, I finally curl up in the corner of my couch and my mom brings me some warm cider to sip and soothe my throat. The Polar Express is playing on the t.v., and the flames in the fireplace heat up the room and my body temperature begins to rise. The twinkly Christmas lights reflect off the window, and they blend in with the stars in the night sky.

The scene recreated above demonstrates calm without having to directly state it. The white twinkly christmas lights creates a soft glow in the room and paired with the warmth of the fireplace, gives off a relaxing and calming feel to the atmosphere. Finally being warm after a long day in the cold winter air is soothing in itself. The sense of being cozy and safe inside the home is reassuring, relieving any negative feelings, ultimately creating a sense of calm.

Sources:

http://www.trendecoration.com/wp-content/uploads/antique-christmas-decoration-in-the-living-room.jpg

Calm- Etymology

Late 14c., from Old French calme “tranquility, quiet,” traditionally from Old Italian calma, from Late Latin cauma “heat of the mid-day sun” (in Italy, a time when everything rests and is still), from Greek kauma “heat” (especially of the sun). Spelling influenced by Latin calere “to be hot.” Figurative application to social or mental conditions is 16c.

The word “Calm” originated in the late fourteenth century from the Old French word “calme, meaning “stillness, quiet, and tranquility”, and in Italy, the time of day when everything rests and is still. This is still a very pure and accurate description of the word today. Calm is often described or portrayed as a serene environment, and as a state of mind or being that is free from excitement or disturbance. 

 

I love the origin of calm in Italy, “A time when everything rests and is still”. To this day, the people of Italy take a break from their work and settle down a bit. They take a nap or just simply relax before returning to their activities. This time of day is typically mid-afternoon, after the “mid-day” meal, and is called a “riposo”. I love the idea and tradition of this- no matter how hectic life can be sometimes, they always make the time to forget their troubles and tend to personal matters. In my opinion, it is a healthy concept- personal business has been tended to, and you are able to return to your afternoon duties will full ambition. This idea also relates to the Greek origin of the word calm, meaning “heat (especially of the sun)”. When this mid-day nap/relaxing period takes place, it is typically very hot. Both origins work hand in hand in that aspect, which is pretty neat.

http://www.examiner.com/article/midday-breaks-european-countries