One of the most popular shows on television right now is Madam Secretary.  The show’s popularity is due in no small part because the storyline showcases a woman in an important decision making position in our government.  Something that seems to be lacking in our current administration.  I thought we might like to have a refresher on the original Madam Secretary Madeleine Albright.

Marie Jana Korbelová was born on May 15th in the Smíchov district of Prague, Czechoslovakia.

Adolf Hitler forced the family into exile because of their political beliefs and Madeleine and her family spent the war years in Britain. They first lived on Kensington Park Road in Notting Hill, London, where they endured the worst of the Blitz.  Madeleine remembers hiding under a large metal table, to protect the family from the recurring threat of Nazi air raids.

After the war, her family moved back to Czechoslovakia but in 1948 they had to flee their homeland once again because of the Communist takeover of the Czech Government.

Madeleine graduated from Wesley College and began her career assisting in two presidential campaigns.  She then became a National Security Advisor under President Jimmy Carter.

Madeleine Albright went on to become the first woman to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State. She served as the 64th United States Secretary of State and the 20th United States Ambassador to the United Nations.  She accomplished while simultaneously being a wife and a mother to three children.

Since retirement Madeleine has stayed active in shaping world history.  In 2007, she was the chairperson at the Women’s Ministerial Initiative organized by the Council of Women World Leaders. The following year, she supported Hillary Clinton in the Presidential campaign.

Madeleine is widely quoted as saying:  “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”


I invite you to share a link to your story of an inspiring woman.  I will try to share your post over the weekend.


Every once in a while a friend recommends a story about an amazing woman to me.  My friend, Elizabeth, brought Gertrude to my attention and boy am I glad she did.  What an amazing woman.

Gertrude Bell: The Queen of the Desert 

Born into an affluent, progressive family, Gertrude Bell lived a life of adventure and intrigue. She defied the expectations of a woman in Victorian England, becoming a world traveler, a skilled mountaineer and an accomplished archaeologist. Well versed in the lands and cultures of Mesopotamia, Bell put her knowledge to work for the British government during World War I. After the war ended, she was instrumental in the creation of the country we now known as Iraq.

Bell was the first woman to earn first-degree honors in modern history at Oxford. At the time, few women attended college, but Bell was fortunate to have a supportive family who allowed her to advance her education. She attended Lady Margaret Hall, one of the only colleges in Oxford that accepted women.

Bell was unlucky in love. The first man she fell for was Henry Cadogan, a member of the foreign service she met while visiting Iran in 1892. The couple shared a love of literature, including the poetry of Rudyard Kiplingand the stories of Henry James. Unfortunately for Bell, her father disapproved of the match. He objected to Cadogan’s gambling habit and its accompanying debt.

Later Bell became enamored with a married British officer, Dick Doughty-Wylie. According to an article in the Telegraph newspaper, the pair exchanged numerous letters expressing their affection for each other. Bell wanted Doughty-Wylie to leave his wife for her, and his wife threatened suicide if he did. The whole tragic mess ended when Doughty-Wylie died in the battle at Gallipoli in 1915.

A skilled mountaineer, Bell almost met her end on a slope in 1902.She started climbing years earlier during a family holiday in La Grave, France, in 1897. She tackled greater heights with her 1899 ascents of the Meije and Les Ecrins in the French region of the Alps. Bell continued to challenge herself with other peaks in the Swiss Alps the following year. Becoming one of the leading female climbers of her day, she helped tackle some of the virgin peaks of the Engelhorner range. One of these previously uncharted peaks was named Gertrudspitze in her honor.

Bell, with her guides, tried to climb another mountain, the Finsteraarhorn, in 1902, when a blizzard hit. She spent more than 50 hours on a rope on the mountain’s northeast side before she was able to make it back to a local village with her guides. The experience left Bell with frostbitten hands and feet, but it did not end her love of climbing. She went on to scale the Matterhorn in 1904. She described her experience in one of her letters, according to A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert. “It was beautiful climbing, never seriously difficult, but never easy, and most of the time on a great steep face which was splendid to go upon.”

Bell’s fascination with the Middle East began with a visit to Iran in 1892. Her uncle, Sir Frank Lascelles, was the British ambassador at the time she made her first journey to the region. To prepare for the trip, Bell studied Persian and continued to actively work on learning the language while in Tehran. She later took up Arabic, a language she found especially challenging. As she wrote in one of her letters, “there are at least three sounds almost impossible to the European throat.”

Later traveling extensively through the region, Bell found inspiration for several of her writing projects. She published her first travel book, Safar Nameh: Persia Pictures, in 1894. In 1897, her English translations of Poems from the Divan of Hafiz were published and are still considered some of the finest versions of these works today.

Bell was passionate about archaeology. She had developed this interest during a family trip in 1899, visiting an excavation of the Melos, an ancient city in Greece. Bell undertook several archaeology-related journeys, including a 1909 trek along the course of the Euphrates River. She often documented the sites she found by taking photographs. In one of her projects, she worked with archaeologist Sir William Mitchell Ramsey on The Thousand and One Churches (1909), which featured Bin-Bir-Kilisse, an archaeological site in Turkey.

During her career in military intelligence and civil service, Bell was the only woman working for the British government in the Middle East. She worked with T.E. Lawrence, perhaps better known as “Lawrence of Arabia,” in the Arab Bureau during World War I. Based in Cairo, the bureau gathered and analyzed information to help the British oust the Ottoman Empire from the region. The British had suffered several military defeats against them when Lawrence devised a new strategy. He wanted to recruit Arab peoples to oppose the Turks, and Bell helped him to drum up support for this effort.

After the war, Bell sought to help the Arabs. She wrote “Self-Determination in Mesopotamia,” a paper that earned her a seat at the 1919 Peace Conference in Paris. Bell continued to explore related political and social issues in her 1920 work Review of the Civil Administration of Mesopotamia. She was involved the 1921 Conference in Cairo with Winston Churchill, then colonial secretary, that established the boundaries of Iraq. Bell also helped bring Faisal I to power as Iraq’s new king. For her work on their behalf, Bell earned the respect of the peoples of Mesopotamia. She was often addressed as “khutan,” which means “queen” in Persian and “respected lady” in Arabic.

Bell helped establish what is now the Iraq Museum. She wanted to help preserve the country’s heritage. In 1922, Bell was named the director of antiquities by King Faisal and she worked hard to keep important artifacts in Iraq. Bell aided in the crafting of the 1922 Law of Excavation. A few years later, the museum opened its first exhibition space in 1926. She spent the final months of her life working on the museum, cataloguing items found at Ur and Kish, two ancient Sumerian cities. Bell died on July 12, 1926, in Baghdad.


The information in this post was written by Wendy Mead for Biography.Com.

I invite you to share a link to your story of an inspiring woman.


 I watched the movie, Hidden Figures, the other evening and you can just imagine how much I enjoyed watching a movie about these inspirational women.  Then I stumbled upon this blog a few days later and I just have to share it with you.

Katherine G. Johnson Computational Facility Opens at NASA Langley Research Center

NASA Legend Katherine Johnson with Dr. Yvonne Cagle (photo by Megan Shinn via 11alive.com)

via 11alive.com

HAMPTON, Va. (WVEC) — An American treasure is being honored in Hampton. A new facility at the NASA Langley Research Center is named after Katherine Johnson. She’s the woman featured in the movie “Hidden Figures” for her inspiring work at NASA Langley. People knew the mathematician as a “human computer” who calculated America’s first space flights in the 1960s. “I liked what I was doing, I liked work,” said Katherine.

The 99-year-old worked for NASA at a time when it was extremely difficult for African-Americans — especially women — to get jobs in the science field. “My problem was to answer questions, and I did that to the best of my ability at all time,” said Katherine. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. She said, “I was excited for something new. Always liked something new.” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck, and “Hidden Figures” author Margot Lee Shetterly were among the dignitaries who were on hand to honor Johnson.

Governor McAuliffe said, “Thank goodness for the movie and the book that actually came out and people got to understand what this woman meant to our county. I mean she really broke down the barriers.” The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility (CRF) is a $23 million, 37,000-square-foot energy efficient structure that consolidates five Langley data centers and more than 30 server rooms. One NASA astronaut, Doctor Yvonne Cagle, said Katherine is the reason she is an astronaut today. “This is remarkable, I mean it really shows that when you make substantive contributions like this, that resonate both on and off the planet. There’s no time like the present.” Doctor Cagle said she’s excited the new building is named after Katherine. “Thank you all, thank everyone for recognizing and bringing to light this beautiful hidden figure,” said Cagle.

The facility will enhance NASA’s efforts in modeling and simulation, big data, and analysis. Much of the work now done by wind tunnels eventually will be performed by computers like those at the CRF. NASA Deputy Director of Center Operations, Erik Weiser said, this new facility will help them with their anticipated Mars landing in 2020.

Source: NASA legend Katherine Johnson honored in Hampton | 11alive.com



I invite you to share a link to your story of an inspiring woman.


It’s been four years and I’m finally able to write about losing my sister

It has been 4 years since I lost my sister Linda and I haven’t written about her until now. In all fairness I wasn’t writing on a regular basis when she died and I was weary from all the grief I endured over a five-year period, first losing Mom, then Dad, then Linda.

She taught me to keep a child-like view of the world and its wonders. And I miss that so much.

It is an appropriate season to break my writing silence about her since she loved the holidays. At Thanksgiving, we shared our day with a traditional family meal, but the highlight of the weekend was Black Friday when Linda led us to the mall to have our photo taken with Santa. Shopping was secondary to this non-negotiable ritual and we had an abundance of laughs squeezing into Santa’s booth, knocking down small children to be first in line.

santa-photo-2004-editedLinda didn’t have an easy life.

She was a teenage mother and she and her childhood sweetheart raised four rambunctious children. Finances were tight and there were crises throughout the years, the worst being the loss of her 16-year-old son Danny from cancer. She could have justified an attitude tainted with bitterness, anger, and depression but instead she continued to bless us with a beautiful smile accented with the sound of her laughter.

During the last years of her life, her family included a beloved dog named Lady Bug, a Peek-A-Poo with an attitude. Linda always said she could not bear the thought of losing her and Lady Bug outlived her in the end, sparing my sister from enduring this sorrow.

Close calls.

She had inoperable uterine cancer in the mid-1980’s, postponing a trip to the doctor until she had insurance to cover the treatment costs. We thought we were going to lose her and I did the typical bargaining with God, asking for more time in exchange for never taking her for granted again. My prayer was answered and life went on with me taking her for granted.

In the 1990’s a new cancer embedded in her colon and the surgeon prepared us for the worst predicting stage IV. I’ll never forget the night before her surgery when she and I dashed into the grocery store for something and ran into a family friend.

Linda told her she was going to have surgery the next day and Mavis looked concerned and asked, “What for?” Linda grinned and chirped, “Colon cancer!” like she had just won Publisher’s Clearing House. She and I immediately doubled over laughing until we cried and peed our pants. That is the way it was with Linda. You never got together with her without someone needing a change of underwear.

Once again I met God at the bargaining table negotiating for more time with my precious sister. I promised I would appreciate every single day with her if only we could have her for a few more years. Miraculously her cancer was stage I, cured with surgery. She adjusted to life with a permanent colostomy and we adjusted to having her alive, forgetting that our time with her was borrowed.

The final diagnosis.

The final diagnosis was lung cancer and this time there was no cure. She wasn’t a surgical candidate but embraced radiation and chemo with a spirit of “I’m going to beat this!” When the tumor didn’t shrink she made the brave decision to stop treatment and entered the hospice program.

Thus began six months of renewal when she gained weight, restored some of her strength, and sprouted hair with uncharacteristic natural curl. We spent heaps of time together talking, crying, laughing, and changing our underwear. There was no forgetting that each day was a gift and she helped us prepare for the pending loss reflecting her faith in a loving God who would carry us through it.

Photo courtesy depositphotos: used with permission

Photo courtesy depositphotos: used with permission

The aftermath.

And now we live on; a family forever changed without Linda’s spirit of love, life, and laughter.

And none of us has been able to bear the thought of having a photo taken with Santa on Black Friday.

Do you have adult siblings? How do you make sure you don’t take them for granted? If you have lost a sibling how are you doing? 



©2016, Stevens. All rights reserved.


Stock photograph of the famous World War II poster "We Can Do It!" showing Rosie the Riveter wearing a red bandana and flexing her muscles against a yellow background, created by J. Howard Miller. The woman that modeled for this image was actually named Geraldine Doyle and was a real riveter in the 1940s.

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer accounts for only 4% of cancer in women, but due to its lethal nature, it is the 5th leading cause of cancer death in women. Since screening for ovarian cancer is currently inadequate, it’s important for women to be aware of this killing disease, its signs and symptoms and to actively campaign for research for a cure.  Gilda Radner valiantly fought her Ovarian Cancer and her husband Gene Wilder founded Gilda’s Club in her honor.  What follows is my love letter to Gilda.

At a time in my life when women were not even allowed to wear pants to work, I turned on late night television and discovered SNL and Gilda Radner.

I was completely amazed to watch a woman my age on a comedy show holding her own.  And, she was holding her own against men who would become the giants of the comedy industry.  She was funny and smart and not afraid to take chances.  Gilda did all of this and at the same time was the equal of the male comedians.  She didn’t use her sexuality, she wasn’t afraid to not be portrayed as pretty, she portrayed old and young and always seemed to be winking at you when she did.

Later in her life when Gilda got ovarian cancer, she again was fearless.  She took herself out in public and discussed her illness.  Again, this was something that was not done at that time.  You dealt with your illness behind closed doors back in the day.

To quote Amy Poehler, “What Gilda did is she accepted that life is ridiculous and just said well f… it!  What else are we going to do?  It’s beautiful, it’s crazy, it’s disappointing, it’s lonely, but why don’t we live while we’re alive.”

Gilda did all of that and was an inspiration.



I invite you to add a link to your post about an inspiring woman.



This is a reprint of an article I wrote some time ago.  With the anniversary of 9/11 on Monday,  and with all the heroic work that first responders have been doing for the last few weeks, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to a hero, Moria Smith.  Moria selflessly gave her life so that many others could live.  What follows is an article by a man who was probably one of the last people to see her alive.

Moira Smith

I was one of the last people to see Police Officer Moira Smith before she perished in the collapse of the World Trade Center. I remember her very vividly because my experience was personal, intense, and unique. This is to document what she was doing in those final minutes.

I have to background this story by saying that my wife has been a flight attendant for a major US Airline for over twenty years. During that time, she has received extensive training in emergency evacuation procedures. I have seen her practice the drill for evacuating passengers from a fiery aircraft on many occasions. I always felt that she was very sincere about executing her responsibility in such a situation. Her rehearsals includeded details that would never occur to the average person. For example, she was trained to touch a door with the back of her hand before opening it. If the door was so hot that it burned her hand, she would still be able to use the front of her hand to hold a rope should that be necessary. The dedication and intensity with which she executed these exercises left me no doubt about her intention to perform in an emergency situation.

On 9/11, I entered 2 WTC moments before the first tower was struck. I took the express elevator to the 78th floor sky lobby and everything appeared normal. I entered the local elevator and pressed 84. The elevator stopped on the 82nd floor and a young man leapt into the car just as the door was closing. He was screaming, “Terrorists, go down” I asked him what he had seen, but he was in such a state of shock he couldn’t communicate. He was crouched in the corner and kept saying, “Fire! Fire”

The elevator continued up to my floor but I didn’t get out. I kept trying to find out what the young man had seen. When we got back down to the sky lobby, the scene has changed completely. The floor was packed, and people were lined up ten deep in front of the express elevators to go back down. We weren’t sure if the elevators were going to be running, so many of us started down the stairs.

At first, it was a slow march. There were people streaming into the descending crowd on every floor. However, when we had gone down about ten floors, the flow of people joining us stopped. I though that perhaps the situation had clarified, and I decided to view the scene for myself.

The first reentry door was on the sixtieth floor. I asked a fellow who was walking around locking up offices where I could go to see the North Tower. He pointed down a hallway and said, “It’s that way, but don’t look. It’s too horrible!”

I went anyway. When I got to the window, I looked up and saw the flames shooting out of the top floors. I looked down and saw three distinct large pools of blood. I reckon the largest was thirty yards across. The bodies were mixed in with the wreckage and I could make out several legs sticking out of the debris. I looked back up just to see a man in a white shirt jumping from a top floor. I saw his face clearly. My eyes followed him down till the ground came into focus, then I looked away.

My reaction was very physical and intense. My stomach turned, my knees became wobbly, and my eyes saw black. I almost passed out.

I thought that by exiting the building under these circumstances I would add to the confusion and impede the rescue workers. I decided to sit down and wait for the emergency to get under control. I had been sitting for about 15 minutes, when the second plane hit our building. We knew something enormous had happened because the building shook and the temperature rose by ten degrees in an instant.

There were about ten of us who had been sitting around in the reception area on that floor. We all got up quickly and hurried down the steps. The staircase was open now and we were moving quite fast.

After we had gone down several floors, we came to a cripple woman lying on a landing between floors. Her walking cane was by her side and she was looking at the people hurrying by. She was yelling, “I’m going to die. I’m going to die.” I felt a pang of guilt as I continued past her with the rest of the crowd. My mind flashed images of my wife alone in the bed and my sons without a father. Nothing else mattered, I had to get out.

When we got down to about the fifth floor, we caught up with the tail end of the main crowd. The trek down the steps became a slow march again. I looked back to see who was behind us. There I saw an Oriental fellow carrying the crippled woman on his back.

I didn’t fault myself for being a coward. Rather, I admired him for being calm and composed in this emergency situation. I thought, “I could have done that too – or at least I could have helped out – but I’m not thinking – I’m panicked”. As we stood there in the dimly lit staircase, I was thinking about the carnage I would witness when we came out into the plaza lobby. I was trying to brace myself. To be prepared for the worst.

We exited the stairwell to a ramp which led toward the main plaza. A slow moving line progressed along the ramp to a down escalator which connected to the underground passageway being used to exit the compound. Moira stood at the end of the ramp directing the traffic down the escalator. She had her flashlight in her right hand and she was waving it like a baton. She was repeating over and over- “Don’t look! Keep Moving.”

I immediately had the sensation that I knew what had happened there before. I thought: groups of people had come through here and stopped to look at the horror of the situation. There mass hysteria and the exit paths were blocked. She broke it up and got things moving again. Now she’s making sure it doesn’t happen again.

It was a very intense personal experience for me. It was like I was in a scene that I had witnessed before only this time – instead of my wife rescuing strangers – it was me being rescued by Moira.

I came to the end of the ramp and I was standing squarely in front of Moira, I leaned to the left to try look past her to see the plaza. She quickly matched my motion and blocked my vision saying “don’t look.” Our eyes made direct contact. My eyes said to her, “I know how bad it is and I understand what you’re doing.” Her face was full of pain and her eyes said to me, “In this horrific situation, this is the best and only thing I can do.”

The mass of people exiting the building felt the calm assurance that they were being directed by someone in authority who was in control of the situation. Her actions even seemed ordinary, even commonplace. She insulated the evacuees from the awareness of the dangerous situation they were in, with the result that everything preceded smoothly.

In my company – sixty one people perished – one hundred eighty survived. Afterwards, I asked several of my fellow employees if they had noticed the woman police officer at the escalator landing. They said, “Yeah – she was directing traffic.”

A statue of Moira –holding her flashlight while evacuating the building – would be an excellent way to pay tribute to the heroism of the NYPD on 9/11. As a work of art, it would work on many levels.

It commemorates the Supreme Sacrifice in an understated way that will encourage viewers to look twice.
It will have special meaning for women. Moira’s job on 9/11 was without heraldry, yet she may have been responsible for saving more lives than anyone else.
Contact the Author – Martin Glynn



I invite you to share a link to your story of an inspiring woman.


Who was Erma Bombeck and why does she still matter?

When I started writing my blog, I found it particularly difficult to compose my bio. I wanted to say that my writings were the love child of Erma Bombeck and Jerry Seinfeld. But I felt too presumptuous putting anything I wrote in the same league as Erma Bombeck.

Following the example of my blogging friend Roxanne Jones who writes “Boomer Haiku,” I decided to submit an essay to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. I doubted it would be accepted, but three days later I received notice that my piece was up on the website.

And I cried.

Why was this so emotional for me?

My mother was an avid Erma Bombeck fan, so when I saw my photo beside Erma’s, I longed for Mum. I wanted to call her and share the news. I wanted to see her smile when she saw two of her favorite people displayed on the same web page.

text of me on EBWW

I sent my sister a text because I knew she would understand the significance, and she did.

Mum was a housewife at seventeen, and had her first child when she was eighteen, the year Erma turned eleven years old. Who could have known that a woman from Dayton Ohio would become a voice for a mother of four in northern Maine?

But she was that voice for my mother and her generation of housewives. Erma understood the demanding life of preparing endless meals, cleaning, gardening, shopping, sewing, and mothering. Erma brought honor and hilarity into Mum’s undervalued role.

Mom and me 1

I adored Mum the moment I laid eyes on her

But Mum is gone and so is Erma.

How wonderful that Erma’s legacy is being kept alive with The University of Dayton Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop. This is a soft place for kindred writers to land, gleaning humor in both common and crucial situations.

I can’t believe I have descended on that revered page. And in so many ways it memorializes both Erma, and my late mother. Mum’s long hours working on the farm, caring for four children and a husband, precluded full exploration of her creativity. But we have intricate quilts, dainty crocheted doilies, hand-sewn clothes, and knit sox to remind us of her talents.

She was a prolific reader, and did some of her own writing, often humorous. I wish she had written more. Here is a sample of something she wrote for her 50th anniversary. She dusted it off and reused it for her 70th anniversary, which she celebrated less than 6 months before she died.

I always will remember, dear;
A day in April bright and clear.
In the year 19 & 37;
I really thought I was in heaven.

That was 70 years ago;
We tied the knot and made a bow.
We had three daughters and a son;
They really kept us on the run.

Now we’re back to just us two;
First there’s me, and then there’s you.
I loved you then and do today;
But now here’s what I have to say.

People ask me how I do it;
And I respond, there’s nothing to it.
I just stand there looking wise;
And always, always compromise.*
*Spoiler alert: she did not always compromise!

In going through my mother’s mementos, I found scads of my childhood writings. Crudely printed words evolved into cursive: fiction, non-fiction, poetry….proof that I was a writer at a young age.

Why did she save them? Because she believed in me, and was for me the voice that Erma heard when Father Tom Price said, “You can write.”

One of Erma’s most inspiring quotes is: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’”

Who has encouraged you to discover your talents? It isn’t too late. What is holding you back from unleashing your inner artist?

Note: Since drafting this post, I have had two more essays published on the Erma website, and I am registered to attend the 2016 Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop in Dayton Ohio 3/31- 4/2/16. Erma and Mum’s legacies live on!



©2016, Stevens. All rights reserved.

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37 thoughts on “Who was Erma Bombeck and why does she still matter?”

  1. This moved me to tears. Erma definitely was the voice for a generation of women. A voice that told the truth gently and with hilarity. After reading your Mom’s poem I would say that a very special edition of Erma was writing her words and living her life in Maine. Thanks for sharing your Mom with us today.

    • Thank you Bernadette. That was a moving piece for me to write and I’m glad the emotion came through to you as you read it. Mom was a big fan of Erma and taught me to see the humor in the mundane to the tragic. She passed this on to all of us kids and we tend to view life through Groucho Marx glasses as much as possible. I even have a mustache now that I’ve grown older. LOL.

    • Thank you Stacey. I loved Erma’s work and it is such a privilege to have my posts on her site. I also entered the contest they hold every two years and made it to the final round with a humor essay. I still can’t believe that happened but I’m determined to win it in 2018!

  2. I’ve never heard of Erma Bombeck, but reading this post has made me want to go read her writings! Also, I’m sure your mother would have been very proud of you for getting a piece published on that website, I’m sure she is looking down on you from heaven and smiling 🙂

    • Erma’s writings are timeless, Jessica. There are a few outdated references to current events, but her overall message is as relevant today as it ever was. She wrote terrific humor about every day life, and some real tear jerkers when she wrote human interest pieces. She was a blogger before we had blogs as her essays are short. I think you’d love her and I hope you give her a try.

    • I hope you do. I think you’d enjoy her timeless essays about parenting and homemaking. She is still hilarious today. I have read most of her work and reread it this past year.

  3. Beautiful. I love her quote about using all the talent we are given. A great reminder, especially for me, as I am fresh off the heels of a “traditional” corporate job and taking the leap to instead pursue my passions. Love this.

    • That is one of her most famous quotes and I love it too, Faye. It was interesting that my daughter-in-law used that quote and did not know it was from Erma until she read my post. She is too young to know Erma, but her writing is timeless.

    • I know, Carol. The University of Dayton has done a wonderful job keeping her legacy alive. She really paved the way to make humor writing more respected. Even today humor writers are looked down upon in the literary world. For me, it is in my blood to write humor and Erma has been my prime inspiration leading me down this path.

  4. Congratulations, Molly!!
    How honored you must feel. I am sure your mum knows what’s going on. Hey, maybe they’re chatting it up together in Heaven saying, “I knew this was coming – Molly’s talent will not go unnoticed!” 🙂
    I am so happy for you.
    What a sweet poem written by your mum. Very creative, even within months of her passing.
    I can imagine you miss her more than ever. This may make you feel closer to her.

    For me, I grew up in a musical family. My mother and grandmother play(ed) the piano very well. I took lessons as a child, but I didn’t retain a whole lot. I think because I didn’t take it seriously as a kiddo. Now, I bought myself a “teach yourself” piano book. Just started teaching myself this past weekend! My mum has agreed to fill in any “blanks” — if I’m having trouble. 🙂

    Miss you lots, Molly!!
    Amanda Dugre

  5. I DO call myself the secret love child of Erma Bombeck, but with Dave Barry. I know it’s presumptuous, but it’s totally meant as homage as, like you, she is my favorite. How great that you’ve had work published at her site!

    I’ve heard about the U of Dayton workshop and have been really intrigued by the idea. Please report back on whether or not you think it’s worthwhile.

    • I think you have every right to claim your status as Erma and Dave’s secret love child, Peg, and I love your writing. I’ve been reading Erma’s books and enjoying every word, laughing out loud. I’m excited and nervous about the trip to U of Dayton and will fill you in on how it goes. I’ve been told it is ‘life changing.’

  6. Absolutely beautiful and you deserve (more than deserve) to be published on the Erma site. She would be proud of as would you mom, because all of us are so proud! What a lovely essay.

    I wish my budget allowed for my going to the Erma event – I am sad but hopeful that sometime in the future I’ll be able to go.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Cathy. They warm my heart. I wish you were coming to the Erma workshop, too. In the meantime you will continue to inspire us with an ’empowered spirit!’

  7. Molly, I have just now had the time to read this beautiful tribute to two remarkable women written by a remarkable woman. I awoke this morning with the picture of you and your Mom on my mind; I had commented on the adoring look of love on your mother’s face but I had failed to comment on that bright, energetic baby who grew up and continues to bring light and brightness and humor into the world. Congratulations, I.am so proud of you!

    • Thanks so much my dearest friend. Your words warm my heart and give me encouragement to keep on writing. You have quite a knack with words, too, I might add. No one writes a more beautiful handwritten letter than you, my dear.

    • Thank you Terri. Erma’s writings are timeless and still so relatable. I have been reading her books, and laugh out loud frequently, and occasionally shed a tear when I come upon an especially tender piece. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  8. You have definitely inherited your mother’s talent and you are a great legacy. She would be so proud of you Molly, as we all are. Thank you so much for sharing this on #blogsharelearn.

    • I’ve been away from my blog all day. What a wonderful comment to come home to. I feel like you have reached out and given me a big hug on behalf of my mother, Elena. I treasure your words and your friendship. And I love #blogsharelearn!

  9. I remember reading Erma Bombeck with my mother while I was growing up. And it was my mother (and father) who continued to encourage me to write. Thanks for the fond memories.

    • Glad you took a trip down a pleasant memory lane, Jennifer. I have been reading Erma’s books and feeling so close to my mother and Erma. Except for the occasional reference to dated current events, her message is timeless and oh so funny. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  10. Can’t wait to meet you, Molly. This a beautiful piece and I think both Erma and Jerry would be comfortable sharing a cup of coffee and a few laughs with you. Sometimes I refer to myself as a wannabe cross between Amy Schumer and Grandma Moses. I don’t think Mrs. Moses would know what to do with me, but I’d like to think that Amy would find me amusing at times. 🙂

  11. Molly, this is so beautiful. What a wonderful legacy your mum left and how proud she must have been of you–and would still be. You are a jewel in her crow in heaven!

    • I have no doubt that my mother has jewels in her crown, Lee, and I believe she would think I was one of them. She did always like costume jewelry. Thank you as always for reading and leaving a heartfelt comment. Can’t wait to meet you in person very soon!




When my children were preschool age it was very popular to send your child to a Montessori Preschool.  I really knew nothing about Dr. Montessori or her method, so I was intrigued to learn about what an inspiring woman she was.  In honor of the first week of school in our district, I would like to introduce you to this innovator.

Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle, Italy (1870). She was a bright student, studied engineering when she was 13, and — against her father’s wishes — she entered a technical school, where all her classmates were boys. After a few years, she decided to pursue medicine, and she became the first woman in Italy to earn a medical degree. It was so unheard of for a woman to go to medical school that she had to get the approval of the pope in order to study there.As a doctor, she worked with children with special needs, and through her work with them she became increasingly interested in education. She believed that children were not blank slates, but that they each had inherent, individual gifts. It was a teacher’s job to help children find these gifts, rather than dictating what a child should know. She emphasized independence, self-directed learning, and learning from peers. Children were encouraged to make decisions. She was the first educator to use child-sized tables and chairs in the classroom.

During World War II, Montessori was exiled from Italy because she was opposed to Mussolini’s fascism and his desire to make her a figurehead for the Italian government. She lived and worked in India for many years, and then in Holland. She died in 1952 at the age of 81.

She wrote many books about her philosophy of education, including The Montessori Method (1912), and is considered a major innovator in education theory and practice.


The information in this post first appeared in the The Writer’s Almanac.

I invite you to share a link to your story of an inspiring woman.  I will try to share your post over the weekend.


When you care enough, you’ll thank a nurse

You know what is hard about choosing to become a registered nurse? Society assumes you chose the occupation to help people. But then stereotypes your noble profession as a contradiction between a sex symbol and a deranged killer.

In real life, there are as many reasons to go into the nursing profession, as there are nurses. When you are shallow like me, career choices are simple, practical and self-serving.


The only time I wore my nursing cap was at my pinning ceremony

I chose nursing because I knew I could always get a job.

When I started college, I enrolled in liberal arts, thinking I’d major in English, since I was obsessed with books, words, and ideas. My interests veered, and I decided to become a health educator. When I envisioned poor job prospects, my pragmatic father, James, advised, ‘Why don’t you become a nurse? There are always nursing jobs.”

When my future daughter-in-law, Kelley, was a senior in high school, she and my son, James, were filling out college forms. She was stumped when she came to the check box for ‘major.’ James offered, “Since you are a lot like my Mom, why don’t you major in nursing?” She did, and I can testify that she is like me, at least in her vulnerability to suggestions from career counselors named James.

Kelley getting PhD revised

My daughter-in-law, Dr. Kelley Strout, PhD, MSN, BSN with her mentor Dr. Elizabeth P. Howard, PhD, MSN, BSN. Kelley is a nursing professor, shaping the future of nursing.

Deeper reasons for entering the profession

Through the years I’ve heard stories of people who had deeper reasons for entering the profession. Like my friend Debbie, whose inspiration emerged from childhood heroism.

Debbie was the eldest of four children in a household that scraped by through resourcefulness and hard work. She was the keeper of a young gang of turkeys destined to adorn the family dinner platter. One day the smallest of the posse was smothered while the more aggressive chicks foraged for lunch.

Debbie recovered his lifeless body from the bottom of the heap, and instinctively vaulted into action. A few seconds of mouth to beak resuscitation and his tiny breast demonstrated the up and down motion of unmistakable respirations.

With life still hanging by a kitchen string, she wrapped him in a dishcloth and popped him into a warm oven until he revived. ‘Second Chance’ as they named him, lived to be a full-grown turkey. We won’t dwell on what happened after that.

More than job security 

Even though the promise of job security influenced my career choice, I’ve learned after a few decades to bristle when people say, “You are a nurse. You can always get a job.” Being steadily employed in a dynamic, fascinating, honorable profession has provided much more than a paycheck, and I’m proud to be a nurse.

I’ve endured jokes about slinging bedpans. I’ve endured insults from the hosts of the talk show ‘The View.‘ I’ve endured lightning speed changes and things that never change.

I’ve endured.

Congratulate a nurse 

I hope you will congratulate the nurses you know for a job well done not only on May 6, National Nurses Day, but every day of the year.

If you are a nurse, twist your arm around and give yourself a generous pat on the back. And while you are at it, make sure you have the back of your nurse colleagues. In a world with so much misunderstanding about our profession, we need to stick together.

To my readers who are nurses, why did you choose to become a nurse? To those who know a nurse, how will you show your appreciation?

Photo credit: depositphotos: Copyright:pressmaste
©2016, Stevens. All rights reserved.

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22 thoughts on “When you care enough, you’ll thank a nurse”

  1. If you have ever been hospitalized or visited in a long term care facility, you would quickly realize that nurses are angels walking the earth. Their care for you will make all the difference in your recovery – and I am married to a Doctor who heartily agrees with this comment.

    • You have a winner on your hands, Bernadette, since doctors who recognize the value of nurses are the best doctors in the business. Thank you for your kind words regarding my beloved profession. I tried to retire and even set a date but couldn’t do it! So I’m going to keep working but will cut down on my hours to only 2 days/week starting last week of September. XO

  2. I don’t think it matters much WHY you chose to become a nurse. If you’ve stayed with it for any length of time, then you’ve likely helped hosts of people in times that were frightening and uncomfortable, and for that you deserve a bit of praise. I spent a decade in the healthcare field, so I know what it means to do the daunting, physically and emotionally draining job — on the third shift, too! Kudos to you and all who “heal” for a living.

    • I agree, Rica. How we come to the profession doesn’t matter as much as why we stay in it. I kind of wish I had put that in my blog. Next year I’ll add it. BTW, the third shift is the worst!

  3. Hi Molly! I’m not a nurse but I am so very grateful for the nurses I’ve had in my life! I have witnessed how difficult and challenging your profession is and I want to thank every single one of you for the work you do to help and support the rest of us when we need you. While doctors sometimes get the glory, it is the nurses that make our journey to healing so much better. Thank you again and please know that you are appreciated! ~Kathy

  4. Thank you, Molly, for singing deserved praises for nurses everywhere. I would like to thank
    the intensive care nurse who helped me ‘breathe’ and gave support and comfort until rescuers arrived after a car crash in 2007. She just happened to live across the street from the accident site and was the first person to arrive on the scene!! Happy Nurses Day to all our dedicated, caring nurses. You are appreciated.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Sharon. I am certainly grateful there was a nurse nearby to care for you at the scene of that crash in 2007. I have never wanted to work in emergency medicine and am so happy there are those who do. God was looking out for you, wasn’t he?

  5. I’m not a nurse but am married to one, a terrific nurse! You nurses can not only always get a job, it can be anywhere in the world! And it pays well too, don’t forget that. If you have a heart attack and end up in Cardiac Care or you have a premature child who winds up in the NICU, you not only want your nurse very proficient but you definitely want her well paid!

  6. I grew up on a dairy/potato farm in Aroostook County and in the 60’s a young lady was a rare creature to want to go to college. My choices could have been to become a farmer’s wife , a secretary, work at Woolworth’s or maybe go to college and become a teacher or nurse. Nursing was my choice after a childhood of caring for animals, and watching grandparents grow old and endure many medical issues that were devastating to a young girl. I went far away to Bangor to nursing school and began a career that spanned 45 years at that same hospital. I found so much more than just caring for people (which was always the reason anyone would want to become a nurse) back then. I gained so many life’s lessons-living with a tribe of women who were not BAPTIST, who smoked, drank alcohol, dated men from Husson College and had many different upbringings. I admit I tried many of these things and lived to tell about it.. Many of those same women are my closest friends and we meet every year. I learned about compassion, empathy, the power of prayer and being with those who were waiting to die. Such a gift from those people!. I was afforded an incredible career that took me places I could have never imagined would happen when I left the “County”. I worked 25 years in Intensive Care which then led to helping to establish transport medicine and my becoming a Flight Nurse for nearly 12 years. Then I picked up another stint in Emergency Nursing for 5 years before retiring. I have done Hospice Nursing and currently School Nursing. So many opportunities -not just because I wanted to help people, but because opportunities were there that gave me so many wonderful experiences to experience what it is like to be a nurse. I have a son in law and a daughter in law who are nurses who make me proud every day for the work they do for their patients. I was so blessed to have chosen this profession, and felt very loved every time someone thanked me for being a nurse and said “Happy Nurses’ Day.

    • Oh, Carol, thank you for sharing your pathway to nursing. I love the idea of a young country girl from Aroostook landing in the big city with all its vices and temptations. What an exceptional nurse and human being you are, and I am privileged to know you. What a career you have had. And thank you for reminding me of Woolworth’s. I loved that store, but I’m glad I didn’t end up working there, aren’t you? Happy Nurses Day back at you.xoxo

  7. Thank-you, Molly. Not only for calling attention to National Nurses Day/Week, but most importantly thank-you for all the souls you have comforted with your care and expertise. You are a credit to your profession, your family, and your community.

  8. I became a nurse for several reasons. As I think back 35 years or so, which is about when I was making my choice for college, I was inclined to become a teacher. At that time, teachers had difficulty finding jobs. So the older members of my family suggested that I become a nurse. (In my family, the women were teachers or nurses.)

    I imagined myself as a nurse taking care of families in the backwoods, possibly even reaching them by horseback. My heroines were Mary Breckinridge and Lillian Wald. Since I enjoyed science classes more than general business classes, and I felt called to help people in some way, I enrolled in nursing school.

    The reality was far different from my imagination. Although at times I wondered what there was to like about nursing, it never occurred to me to change my plan. I was ecstatic when the final two quarters of nursing school came along because it turned out that I really enjoyed obstetrics and pediatrics – working with families.

    When I returned to university a few years later to earn my bachelor’s degree, I learned about public health, and I fell in love again. I found one of the best jobs ever, as a public health nurse working in a generally rural county, with a subspecialty of working with mothers and children. Hmmm. Sounds a lot like my teenager imagination – minus the horseback riding.

    Now I teach public health clinical to university students – combining the best of nursing with my original desire of teaching. I am also a freelance writer, fulfilling another childhood desire of pecking out stories (on a computer instead of a manual typewriter). With a husband who is also in public health and three daughters, I have a very full and blessed life.

    • You have just illustrated how diverse nursing is, Crystal, and how many options there can be for someone to follow their passion in this field. I’m so happy you found the niche that fired you up, and fulfilled a form of your childhood dreams. It was great connecting with you at Erma’s workshop, and we know it was meant to be. 🙂 Isn’t it great to meet another nurse writer?




 On the eve of the Labor Day Weekend, I would like to introduce you to Mary Harris Jones, more commonly referred to as Mother Jones.  Mother Jones was a fearless union organizer.  At one time she was called the most dangerous woman in America.  It is thought that the American Classic song,”She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain” was written to honor her and to this day there is a magazine that investigates and reports injustice titled Mother Jones.
 Mary Harris Jones, or “Mother Jones”, was born to a tenant farmer in Cork, Ireland, in 1837. Her family fled the potato famine when she was just 10, resettling in Toronto. She trained to be a teacher and took a job in Memphis, where on the eve of the Civil War she married a union foundry worker and started a family. But in 1867, a yellow fever epidemic swept through the city, taking the lives of her husband and all four children. A widow at 30, she moved to Chicago and built a successful dressmaking business – only to lose everything in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Jones then threw herself into the city’s bustling labor movement, where she worked in obscurity for the next 20 years. By the turn of the century, she emerged as a charismatic speaker and one of the country’s leading labor organizers, co-founding the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

She traveled the country to wherever there was labor struggle, sometimes evading company security by wading the riverbed into town, earning her the nickname “The Miner’s Angel.” She used storytelling, the Bible, humor, and even coarse language to reach a crowd. She said: “I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I said if he had stolen a railroad, he would be a United States Senator.” Jones also had little patience for hesitation, volunteering to lead a strike “if there were no men present.” A passionate critic of child labor, she organized a children’s march from Philadelphia to the home of Theodore Roosevelt in Oyster Bay, New York with banners reading, “We want to go to school and not the mines!” At the age of 88, she published a first-person account of her time in the labor movement called The Autobiography of Mother Jones (1925). She died at the age of 93 and is buried at a miners’ cemetery in Mt. Olive, Illinois.
She said: “Whatever the fight, don’t be ladylike.”



The information in this post first appeared in the The Writer’s Almanac.

I invite you to share a link to your story of an inspiring woman.