Joan of Arc, The Maid of Orléans (Women’s History Month Post #3)

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For my third entry for Cupcakes & Machetes’ Women’s History Month Blog Event I’ve decided to go with none other than Joan of Arc. (Be sure, if you haven’t already, to check out C&M’s posts here and here to see all the amazing posts about women people have been posting for the month!)

Joan of Arc is a woman who became many things despite her life ultimately being cut so short. She was born a French peasant, but would go on to become a military leader and a hero to her people. Sadly, she also ended up becoming a martyr. Eventually she would be deemed a saint and go down in history, her name and her legend living on for centuries.

Joan outlined military strategies for the French army against the English during the Hundred Years’ War, and directed troops in several victories, including breaking the siege the English had been holding over the city of Orléans for months. She became a hero to her country, and helped lead Charles VII of France to the crown.

Reputation has always been something of importance, and it was Joan’s very reputation in 1429, upon her victory at Orléans, that inspired what is known as the Bloodless March. This historic military campaign was one that stretched through English occupied territory from Gien to the Reims Cathedral (where Joan would witness the coronation of Charles VII). Along the way, Joan captured every English occupied city and fortress that barred the road, and she did it all without shedding a single drop of blood and relying only on her reputation.

Although she ultimately met a tragic end, being burned at the stake for multiple charges including witchcraft, heresy, and wearing men’s clothing, her strength and courage still lives on and inspires others to this day.

JOAN OF ARC QUOTES:

“I am not afraid… I was born to do this.”

“All battles are first won or lost, in the mind.

“The poor folk gladly came to me, for I did them no unkindness, but helped them as much as I could.”

 

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Marie Curie (Women’s History Month Post #1)

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For my first illustration for Women’s History Month I’ve decided to go with groundbreaking chemist and physicist, Marie Curie. Above is my drawing (I’ve packed up 99% of my art supplies for an upcoming move, so it’s pretty bare-bones and not done with the best tools. I didn’t even have any pencils left out to sketch it out, so it’s all pen and dry erase marker. lol) Anywhoo, let’s get to it and talk about some of the reasons I chose this particular woman to shine the spotlight on.  And rest assured, there are plenty of other awesome ladies I’ll be posting about throughout the month, so this is simply the first. 😉

Born on November 7, 1867, Madame Marie Curie was a French-Polish force to be reckoned with who went down in history as the first woman to win a Nobel Prize (1903) in physics, and later in chemistry. She also has the honor of being the first person (man or woman) to obtain Nobel honors twice. In other words, she was a genius bad ass.

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A pioneer in the study of radioactivity, Marie Curie along with her husband and BFF Pierre discovered two new chemical elements, radium and polonium (named after Marie’s birthplace, Poland) and helped advance therapeutic medicine and the use of X-rays with their tireless work. Can we say Science Power Couple? 😛

Marie was also fearless in the face of war, devoting her time and resources, as well as risking her life, by helping wounded soldiers in France during the First World War by forming mobile X-ray teams driving vehicles nicknamed “Little Curies”.

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She overcame many obstacles in her life, including refusing to be held down by gender-based education restrictions. Unable to attend the men’s-only University of Warsaw, Marie and her sister did whatever it was going to take to get their educations, including taking turns supporting one another, and Marie attended what was known as a “floating university” in Warsaw, which was basically an underground set of classes done in secrecy. Eventually she was able to study abroad, but her desire for the necessary schooling needed to chase her dreams didn’t come cheap, and she often had to choose her education over her own nutrition, frequently living on only bread and tea. Her sacrifices and determination paid off though, and she was able to pursue her passion in life. Not to mention the countless lives that have been saved over the years thanks to her discoveries and life’s work. Sadly, it is believed to be her very work that ended up costing Marie Curie her own life. Due to prolonged exposure to radiation both in her studies and while providing X-rays to wounded soldiers in field hospitals, she passed away from aplastic anemia on July 4, 1934 at the age of 66. Known by some as a martyr to science, she left behind one hell of a legacy and continues to inspire others to this day.

MARIE CURIE QUOTES:

“Nothing in this world is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so we fear less.

“We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.

“A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales.”

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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“Tale as old as time . . . Song as old as rhyme . . . Beauty and the Beast.”

Beauty and the Beast (1991) is definitely a favorite among many Disney fans. So when the new live action version of the film opened in theaters this past weekend, hopes were high to say the least. I think a lot of people had their torches and pitchforks at the ready just in case.

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I, for one, LOVED it. The film was visually stunning. Emma Watson made a fantastic Belle, and the rest of the cast shined in their roles as well. The movie really stayed true to the animated version, but also added in more backstory and expanded on the relationships (friendships included) of so many of the characters. One of the characters I found much more fleshed out and enjoyable in this version was Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou, a character who has recently stirred a lot of controversy due to *MILDEST OF SPOILERS* his character being Disney’s first openly gay character in one of their films. Kudos to Disney for finally taking this important step in the right direction. To any of the theaters that refused to play this movie due to it having a gay character in it I simply say “Shame on you” and also “Your loss. Because LeFou is the shit.” ❤

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The characters were awesome, but so was the music. The film included all of your favorite Beauty and the Beast songs as well as a few new ones. Nearly 24 hours later I still have the songs stuck in my head. And I am NOT complaining. 😉

I just want to gush and gush about this movie, but I will only say one more thing before I end this. If you think you enjoyed the library scene in the original, baby, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

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The Nightingale- No Spoiler Book Review

As Book lovers, many of us are well acquainted with those nights when we know we should get to bed, but we just can’t put down the book we’re reading until we’ve finished it. This was me last night while reading the last quarter of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

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I don’t even know how to do this book justice in a review, but I’m going to try my best just the same. This novel is a great example of what historical fiction as a genre can accomplish. It takes what we know of history but gives us as readers the ability to step into the shoes of the characters who are living through the events that happened before many of us were even born. It shows us parts of day to day life that we might otherwise not consider while reading about the overall big picture presented in our history books.

The Nightingale follows the lives of two very different sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, as they do what they must to survive in France during WWII. Vianne is the older of the two, a wife whose husband is being held prisoner in a Nazi war camp, but also a mother who wants more than anything to keep her daughter as safe as she can while struggling just to keep them fed. Isabelle is the young and impulsive sister with a rebel’s spirit, a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. In German occupied France, these are dangerous times. Throughout the story the two sisters are forced to make choices time and time again that could be the difference between life and death, not only for themselves, but for those around them.

Several times while reading this I thought back to people I’ve met and cared for who were there in the thick of things during WWII. In previous jobs I’ve had I have taken care of people from different walks of life, born in different countries, but who all had lived during the same war. Soldiers, civilians, holocaust survivors. I’ve seen firsthand the numbers that were forcibly tattooed onto a person’s arm in their youth that they had to carry with them into their old age long after the war was over. I’ve seen how something seemingly as simple as helping someone to undress and take a shower even decades later can trigger a horrible flashback that mentally takes them right back to the horrors of life in a concentration camp. As I read The Nightingale I couldn’t help but be reminded of these people I once knew. I was moved to tears several times as I read this book.

There is a quote from the book that I think is very relevant now, much as it would have been back then. “What good is safety if she has to grow up in a world where people disappear without a trace because they pray to a different God?” Wars like WWII don’t happen overnight, and I think this book illustrates that very point. Hate, ignorance, and intolerance are all ugly things that can only build in momentum if we let them. This happened then, and one can’t help but feel it happening now. It makes another, older quote come to mind: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. It is a disturbing thing to consider, but we as people have to learn from the mistakes of the past if there is ever to be any hope of us moving forward. As another quote from the book explains, “love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.”

The Nightingale shines a light on the ugliest parts of humanity as well as the beauty and compassion we are capable of if only we choose to do the right thing and be there for one another. It shows that love comes in many forms, not all of them perfect or easy.  This book gets a solid 5/5 stars from me.