Life Lessons from Charlotte Vale

Think about it: Charlotte Vale is such an inspiring character.  It doesn’t matter if your male or female – her journey seen in Now, Voyager (1942) can inspire us all to take care of ourselves and be aware of our physical and emotional well-being.

When you’re at rock-bottom, the only place to go is up (how cliche, but true).

When we first meet Charlotte in the film, she is the epitome of what an “old maid” of thirty should be.  She is “frumpy” because she is not allowed to diet, sports some furry eyebrows behind a pair of glasses, and can only wear “sensible shoes.”  Her spirit has been broken by her battle ax of a mother.  Her escape comes in the form of a meltdown from being dominated for so long.  When there was no hope in having a happy life of her own, Charlotte was given the gift of confidence by Dr. Jacquith.  Too bad we can’t all go to a rest home every time we slam down a tea kettle and cry.

Sensible shoes

Learning to walk in new shoes

The ones who help you along the healing journey may be a surprise.

We all lay at night creating scripts for our life to follow.  It never follows the stage instructions, but we keep internally writing our lives anyway.  I bet Charlotte never imagined she would meet a dashing, married man on a cruise ship who would be the inspiration to help her pick up the pieces of her shattered self-esteem.  Maybe she thought of adopting a dog during one of these nights of self-reflection in the rest home, but no, the moon and stars would not have that (and her mother probably would hate the dirt a dog would track in the house).

We often don’t give children the credit they deserve.  Their presence reaches a place within us that company with a peer cannot caress.  Charlotte found a chance to correct her past through Jerry’s daughter, Christina.  Karma is real…in the movies.  By consoling a sad, unwanted little girl, Charlotte mended the pain of her own childhood.

Go with you gut. Do what feels right.

If you like an article of clothing, WEAR IT!  Don’t listen to one person’s negative opinion.  Charlotte realized her mother controlled her life through her wardrobe.  Clothing is a form of self-expression, so use this medium to tell people who you are…not who someone else wants you to be.

You can’t have everything.

As much as you can help yourself, there are some thing that cannot be conquered. Personal prejudices may keep you from someone you love.  Finances may prevent you from shaking the dust of your hometown off your boots to pursue education or adventure.  Due to Charlotte’s social situation, she could not totally embrace Jerry as her own partner because his wife refused to divorce him, but she learned to survive with what she had which was better than what she began with at the film’s commencement. We can’t have everything that makes us feel whole along our experience in life, but how those elements shaped us can influence our perspective of life. Let me close with the famous last line of the film: Oh, Jerry.  Don’t let’s ask for the moon.  We have the stars.

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