Quietly, in the Background

For over a year this blog has quietly sat here in its little corner of cyberspace. Visitors come and visitors go; a few comments here, a few emails there. I'm writing today to say The Fascinating Woman has served its time, for me. I stopped writing all those months ago because so many other interests crowded into my day. Since then my life has been brim full with acting school and violin lessons; learning to make pie and eating macaroons; there have been walks in the sunshine and bike rides in the rain; reading the novels of Dorothy Canfield Fisher and the plays of William Shakespeare. There have been new friends and old friends; lots of laughter and the release of tears. One sister married and three who announced pregnancies. Through all of this there has been my husband, my dear wonderful husband. A man who is perfect for me. Who listens. Who cares. Who is a whole lot of fun to be with.

Fascinating Womanhood gave me principles to build a strong marital relationship with. The Fascinating Woman helped me examine those principles in light of the realities of my life, my values. For both I am grateful.

This blog will, for now, continue sitting here quietly. On January 1st, in accordance with the copyright agreement with Fascinating Womanhood all posts originally written by Helen Andelin will be taken offline. You may still view her articles on the official Fascinating Womanhood website. All other posts here will remain up for your perusal and sharing. Hopefully they will act as aides in your marriages to bring you, as was brought me, a strong foundation of martial felicity.

Miss Liss


courtesy Marquette University

As you readers know I haven't been posting much this year because I've been putting up the words of, now departed, Helen Andelin. Switching gears today to direct you to the words of another woman- titling herself Laura_Elsewhere- who wrote a beautiful post on what, deep down, makes us women.

It begins thus:

When life is hard… we become Womankind…

What on earth am I on about this time?! I hear you ask?

Well, today is the ninth anniversary of 9/11 and that week was the most obvious example I have ever lived of how there is something about being a woman… I’m a fair feminist most of the time, and insist on my right to vote and my right to wear what clothes I like and my right to choose not to have children and all the other wonderful rights I have as a modern British woman.

BUT…. in the days following 9/11, several friends across the country and I found that we were spending as much of our time as possible in “traditional” woman’s pursuits. We were home-building – no, more than that we were battening down the hatches, we were stocking up for our families, even those of us who live alone. . .

Click to read the rest of the WomanKind post.

dear readers: how can one be fascinating when worn out?

The following is a query I recently received. My response below.
Feel free to add your comments.

Dear Fascinating Woman,

After following Fascinating Womanhood for over a year I've been forced back into working outside the home because my husband lost his job for over 3 months. Due to financial pressures, not to mention poor money decisions made in the past, we are forced to have both of us work outside the home until we either get completely out of debt or have a child (we both agree that a mother should stay home to raise the children.) But until that time comes, I'm stuck feeling in between worlds and I see the effect it's having on my home and marriage. My husband is not doing his part anymore, and I'm often so tired from work that I have let other aspects of our life slide (including housework, cooking, and definitely my appearance.) I am not feeling feminine at all.

Are there any specific baby steps I can take to still be a Fascinating Woman but still help my family in our time of need? We are already cutting the costs as much as possible and are working with our Church leaders and specialists to get our debt down as fast as possible, so not working right now is not an option.

Please help.

Thank you readers for any response. Please note that if you send a response via email I will post it in the comments section. This is the "official recommendation" I sent:

I think you need three things: a clear vision shared by your husband, more purpose, and some "girl" time.

For the first I think you need to have a series of conversations with your husband. Probably no more than 20 minutes. Where you have his undivided attention. I think the two of you need to come to a clear understanding of what your vision is for your family/marriage over the next 6 months - 2 years. Bring things out of the grandiose and down to specifics; such as, Who is doing what chores? Should we hire someone to clean house once a month? When do we budget? How do we keep ourselves to the budget? What are the actual numbers involved (incomes, debts, savings goals)? What sort of dates can we go on? What sort of activities are fun for the two of us? Do we need to plan times for intimacy? If so, when? Should we cut tv/video game/internet time? To how much? . . . and so on. I want to emphasize that this should be a shared vision. Not his vision, not your vision. Though I recommend having ideas to start the conversations with. (p.s. re-read through the information on being a "female counselor" and "responding with childlikeness" to help diffuse any defensiveness that may arise - or a kissing alarm may suffice.)

As to the second I think having a shared vision will help you feel that there is a purpose to your day-to-day activities. Still it is important to have a personal purpose and investment in what you are doing. Yes, you are working to help your family be financially solvent, but is there more to your work environment? Would you be less tired in a different field, or different environment? Do you want something where you show up, put in the time and go home with little supervision? If you did something where you weren't on your feet would you have more energy at home? . . . and so on. I'm not referring to just work purpose, what is your purpose in having your possessions? (and cleaning them, and organizing them, and so on) Maybe if you had fewer things you'd feel less stressed about housekeeping. Or, at least, if you knew their purpose you might feel less agitated. Anything you're feeling "ugh" about can have the "purpose" questions applied to it.

As to the third, "girl" time. This essentially means two things: you need time to be a girl; and you need time to be with girls. In specific terms I suggest "girl's night out (or in)" planned dates 1 - 3 times a month. Also plan time to be feminine: time to dress up for something, or to get a haircut, or wear your prettiest apron and make a new or favorite food, or watch a tender movie, or even time to just talk and share without trying to solve any of the problems. Just airing them out, so to speak. (more on this at the end of post "when my husband is wrong")

Hope that helps.
~Miss Liss

  1. I am grateful for youtube videos of a "roaring fire" you know the kind used in motel rooms. hee hee
  2. I am grateful for a trustworthy fishmonger.
  3. I am grateful for hazelnut chocolates.
  4. I am grateful the ayurvedic herbals are helping my body so much.
  5. I am grateful for prayer.

new for 2010: authorship changes

Exciting news, Readers - Renaissance Society, Inc. and Fascinating Womanhood has given permission for writings of Helen Andelin archived on the official Fascinating Womanhood site to be reprinted here on The Fascinating Woman. This permission is currently given from January 1, 2010 - January 1, 2012. A special thank you to Brian for making this happen.

These posts fit into three broad categories: articles, success stories, and questions. And will be reprinted in the month which the posts were originally printed in; allowing for all posts to be printed this year. As this will result in upwards of twenty posts some months my own posting will be diminished. Find all of these posts under the tag "in Helen's words".

Happy New Year!

  1. I am grateful for Christmas trees.
  2. I am grateful for my husband.
  3. I am grateful for chocolate.
  4. I am grateful for Christmas stories.
  5. I am grateful for prayer.

using the Fascinating Womanhood philosophy

When Helen Andelin was a young bride she had marital troubles.  It seemed to her that society was confused about what a woman's role ought or could be. This confusion was damaging her marriage and led her to seek out marital information. Once her own marriage was again happy she decided that the information she had ought to be made available to every woman, thus the Fascinating Womanhood philosophy was born, and a book of the same name written.

Wanting a Happy Marriage
The premise of Fascinating Womanhood is that there is a strong desire among women to have happy marriages; to feel that they are adored, cherished and deeply loved by their husbands; but that how to create such a marriage is a skill set that is not taught. These skills are outlined in the book under two general categories which Andelin divided into Angelic and Human. Angelic qualities are more about character and human qualities are more about femininity. In a nutshell, a woman's human qualities will attract a man and the angelic qualities will ensure that he is happy to stay.

As You Change, He'll Change
For me the best thing about these skills and principles was that it wasn't necessary for my husband to be aware that he was working on anything. However, this is precisely what irks most women about the philosophy; they feel that he ought to change, that she has done nothing wrong, and continues to do nothing wrong; or if wrong is justified by what he does or does not do. I agree that he ought to change. If a marriage is going to be a happy one he will have to change. But what if by changing her behavior she could induce his to follow? Since I can only change myself finding Fascinating Womanhood was such a load off my shoulders. No longer did I need to change him, which wasn't working anyway.

Eventually You Move On
Perhaps because Andelin covers so many topics in her book--being a domestic goddess, developing a worthy character, respecting masculine pride, the feminine appearance & manner, family finances, standing up for yourself--it is easy to forget that this book is about succeeding in marriage. It is not a book to cover all facets of one's life but to cover all facets of one's marriage. For many women this will be the primary focus of life; it won't be all. A happy woman has friends besides her husband. She has interests beyond sheltering her family. A happy woman will develop skills and abilities that are important to her. We may be inclined to censure a woman who sews for her family, or leads in the PTA, or mostly sings lullabies. We may be inclined to say that she is diminished and demeaned but why? If it is fulfilling to her, how does it hurt us? Of course there is a flip side and there are those who will censure a woman who sews couture, or leads in the city council, or mostly sings operas. We may be inclined to say that she is damaging society and going beyond her "womanly" roles. If her marriage is happy, how does it hurt us?

Fascinating Womanhood is about creating a happy marriage. If a marriage is in dire straits it may demand concentrated focus for a while. Even a long while. Eventually the skills necessary for a happy marriage will become habit and your concentrated focus will be free to work on something else --whether personal, familial, or global--knowing that should something marital go awry you have the skills necessary to set it right.

For more information on the philosophy of Fascinating Womanhood you may read posts "Angela Human" and "How to Get a Man". To begin learning the skills of Fascinating Womanhood check out the Assignments posts.

  1. I am grateful for a warm bowl of oatmeal on a chilly morning.
  2. I am grateful for Christmas movies.
  3. I am grateful for sister's phone calls.
  4. I am grateful for youtube.
  5. I am grateful the hot water pressure in the shower is fixed.

links I've loved

Some moments from my November web wanderings:

New York to California by Mat Kearney - I've been in a romantic mood the last six weeks or so. Keep having dreams that could be the jumping off point for a romantic comedy storyline and Mat Kearney's vocals could be the soundtrack. His sincerity keeps his songs from sounding trite. This song opens with a moment that could be from my own life:
Under the TV lights, you fell asleep again. . .
You woke up and said baby I, had one of those dreams again
The rain came down and I lost you, In the wind
You said something about don't leave, before you fell back asleep
Kearney's continuing sentiment is perfect for late-night dancing in the kitchen. Mmm.

The Letters Page - Brocante Home posting of letters in old women's magazine. Show much has changed and yet stayed the same. My favorite from R.C. talks about how she is getting so much work done since the television busted.

Magical Thinking - Jar of the cute sayings of children, by Inchmark. For those who prefer alternate modes of journaling.

A Proposal Story - Danni of oh, hello friend is now engaged, which means she crossed another thing off her 101 in 1001 list. This proposal was definitely blog-worthy involving a "spur of the moment" trip to Danni's favorite city, "stalker" photographers, and a handmade ring. Perhaps Nick figured a girl who'll put in hours and hours on love notes (here and here) deserves some effort in being proposed to. Or maybe he's just romantic like that. You'll have to ask Danni.

Make Your Marriage a Priority and Your Kids Will Benefit - Corey from Simple Marriage wrote this guest post on Zen Family Habits blog. Like most posts on this blog (or the sister site Zen Habits) it includes a list of possible actions. My favorite is #3 Do things as a family, but for your marriage; though the most helpful for me might be #5 Give up the tv (or joint laptop time).

got my skate on... and miscellaneous - The portion of this post that interested me is in the miscellaneous section - pictures of headbands made for Blythe dolls (none of those pictures allowed posting on separate post though, so this picture doesn't have a headband). Apparently there's a large subculture of women who purchase dolls and endlessly dress and undress them, and using them in photo shoots. There's nearly 200,000 pictures of these dolls to be found on flickr. I looked at only a few thousand, these were among the best: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 [Image "Little Sneaker" by axelsrose]

Lastly this beautiful image: "Her Curly Hair and my Fatherly Instinct" by Carlo Nicora. His Street Photography set is striking.

  1. I am grateful for November sunshine.
  2. I am grateful for the women's suffrage movement.
  3. I am grateful for the knowledge & ability to make my own food.
  4. I am grateful for The Book of Mormon.
  5. I am grateful for the Emancipation Proclamation.

parenting philosophies

Recently I've thought a lot on the why of having children and by extension the why of parenting. The viewpoint expressed by Helen Andelin in Fascinating Womanhood deals more with the day-to-day than an overall philosophy:
"The feminine woman", writes Andelin, "is moved by an instinctive concern for [her children's] physical welfare, she sees that they are properly fed, bathed, and free of danger. She would  never allow them to go hungry, cold, or unprotected, if within her power to prevent it. She takes pride in their appearance by keeping them clean, well-groomed, and attractively dressed. She is gentle, loving, and understanding. She teaches them how to be happy, and gives them praise and encouragement." [Ch. 17 "The Domestic Goddess", pp. 258-259][image "Focusing on the Important Things in Life" by Carlo Nicora]
Most individuals desire to be good parents; how they define good parenting is varied. On the blog, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, the author affirms that her purpose in parenting is to "[raise her] children to be warriors for God's kingdom, to know how to face the battle and to stand strong for God." Simple Marriage author, Corey Allan, writes, "After your kids are grown and out of school, ask yourself this: are they taxpayers? . . If you can answer this with a yes, you did a great job." In 100 Promises to My Baby, Mallika Chopra identifies two parenting choices; the first, that she desires to give her children a childhood "filled with wonder, magic, adventure, and mystery"; secondly, she hopes to teach her children "love, respect, honor, and acceptance [in an effort to create] a safer, more secure, and more nurturing world" [pp. xvi - xvii]. Like others, these determinations likely were influenced by the choices of her parents. Mallika's father, Deepak Chopra, writes that as his children were growing he felt the most important thing he could do for them was "to give them the self-esteem, self-assurance, and security that comes from a direct experience of the essence of one's soul." [pp. x]

dear readers: agreeing in principle disagreeing in practice

Readers, here's a conundrum that doesn't seem to fall under any principle of Fascinating Womanhood. What do you think a woman should do in the following situation?

Dear Readers,

What should a woman do when, in compromise between husband and wife, a husband agrees to x thing but then when x thing occurs becomes upset. On the woman's side this is a "but you promised" situation, on the man's side it is a "yes, but that was before" situation.

For example, suppose Jerry asks his wife, Nancy, if it's okay for him to go on an optional business conference. In the course of making the decision Jerry agrees that Nancy may go to a retreat she wants to attend later in the year. As the time approaches to finalize plans for Nancy's trip another business conference comes up. Jerry would love to go, it's an amazing chance for his career, much better than the business conference he went to earlier in the year. Unfortunately, they can only pay for one of the trips. Now Nancy is torn because if she allows Jerry to go to this business conference she will be resentful. On the other hand, Jerry is very upset about not going to this business conference which is making life unpleasant for Nancy - and may continue to do so once she returns.

Keeping in mind that Nancy really wants both her and Jerry to be pleased, what should Nancy do?

Thank you readers, male or female, for your comments.

~ Miss Liss
Disclaimer: this example is a piece of fiction, a hypothetical example.

  1. I am grateful for my readers.
  2. I am grateful for the colors of fall - here in my temperate climate.
  3. I am grateful for crunchy leaves.
  4. I am grateful my husband will run errands for me.
  5. I am grateful for hugs.

when my husband is wrong

 ["Couple Fighting Love" by hyperscholar]

My husband is NOT always, or even usually, wrong. Mostly he is just different than me. Figuring out this distinction took some time but we've worked it out on most things; I've learned "his" way to put in the toilet paper roll and squeeze the toothpaste; he arranges the sheets/bedding/lights/blinds "my" way.

However, every once in a while, my husband is wrong. The vast majority of us in relationships are going to occasionally come up against this dilemma: I'm right and he's wrong. [As we will also come across the reverse "I'm wrong and he's right" but this post isn't about that one.]

Perhaps he forgot something important. Or said he'd do something and didn't. Maybe he took out stress with other things on me. In such cases, I'm right to feel hurt. I'm right that he "should've . . ." or "could've. . ." I'm right that what he did was mean or inconsiderate. I'm right and he's wrong. Some of these times that I'm right and he's wrong I'm not in the mood to respond in a childlike way. I want to lay into him, make him hurt as much as me and then hurt him a wee bit more. Even though I know that is wrong. I'll regret it later. Even though I know it's petulant. It is still what I want.

What to do when in that situation? It boils down to a simple phrase: choose to be right or choose to be happy. The first time I heard that concept I scoffed - then mulled it over and decided it made sense. The first two hundred times I tried to implement the concept I caught myself in an outraged feedback loop: "but I'm right! What does this mean, no consequences? There have to be consequences. The consequence is that I'm upset. He needs to know it. Gosh darn it! I'm justified; I'm right!" I just could not see myself choosing happiness without there being a strong undercurrent of resentment.

At last, on the two-hundredth-and-first try I managed to choose to be happy instead of choosing to be right. I called a time-out and went and read a favorite magazine. For several days I politely avoided my husband to instead do things I enjoy. My husband is a smart man; he noticed that I had stopped yelling and smashing things and decided he wouldn't jinx anything by interfering with the new operations. All this time that feedback loop in my brain was quietly seething: "but I'm right! I'm right! *bad words, bad words* I'm right!" After a few days I sat down with my husband, I calmly looked him in the eye and I told him how hurt I felt by his actions and why they hurt me. Instead of yelling, my voice near-quivered and the hurt poured out. How unloved and insignificant I felt. How it brought up completely unrelated insecurities (Am I unattractive to him? Am I boring? Does my new shampoo leave an unpleasant odor?). What did my husband do? He wrapped his wonderful arms around me and listened and cared. It was heaven.

Three days later he had done the same wrong something-or-other.

links I've loved

September I was on the internet less than during the summer. Still, I came across interesting whatnots.

We Will Not Grow Old by Lenka - I became a fan of Anthropologie on Facebook. There on the sidebar is music. What luck! Little Toy Gun by honeyhoney is darkly amusing [the video more dark than amusing, but what can you expect when Jack Bauer makes a cameo?]. The video above is We Will Not Grow Old by Lenka, my other favorite by Lenka is Anything I'm Not. [oh, and by the way, for some music videos that incorporate paper craft check out I Don't Know and Lille by Lisa Hannigan.]

Seven Spoons - If I subscribed to only one food blog, this would be it. Gorgeous photography, a story behind each recipe, yummy food. The recent gnocchi escapade (part 1; part 2) means I've earmarked two recipes to try in the ensuing weeks.

At the River - Note to husband: Let's show these to Annaliese before we have our next portraits done; as inspiration; what do you think? Me thinks beautiful.

Dosha Quiz - One of the most useful self-diagnostic tools; this quiz forumlated by the [Deepak] Chopra Center asks questions relating to each dosha (the make-up of all beings according to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian health philosophy). Discover your Dosha and discover how to balance yourself.

Pillow Talk - Jia from Color Me Untypical has some of the most amusing between husband and wife conversations. This one centers on what to do about her itching mosquito bite - that's where it starts anyway. Brighten up your day with more interchanges here and here.