Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ Women Making History

Amazing "Women Making History in Portland" mural

In August of this year I learned for the first time of the amazing Gerda Lerner who founded Women’s Studies in the USA.  It led me to devote a Mojo Monday post on September 1st to her and her accomplishments.  One of her quotes that stays with me is the following:  “Now, in one of the best graduate schools in the country I was presented with a history of the past in which women did not seem to exist, except for a few rulers or some who created disturbances. What I was learning in graduate school did not so much leave out continents and their people, as had my Viennese education, as it left out half the human race, women.”  

Sadly what still appears to happen in school in this country is that the history that is taught to our children still remains more focused on the accomplishments of men.  History was one of my favorite subjects in school and I so loved it that I even went on to get one of my university degrees in history.  One of the papers I wrote and still remember well was about Native American women warriors.  Yet I can tell you as a History major that there never was much of a focus on the contributions of women.  

Recently though I spotted a book called Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh.  Spotting that one book led me to a wonderful discovery – that there are more incredible books out there that focus on the history of women and many have been written for children.  As a mom to two little girls I was doubly excited about adding these books to our family library.  One of my goals is to raise confident daughters with healthy and positive self images.  Sharing with them the stories of the many trailblazing women in history not only allows us to honor all the women who came before, but also gives them models and opens up to them all the possibilities that lie before them.

Here is a list of books that I am incredibly excited about reading and if you know of any books not mentioned that cover the history and contributions of women please leave a comment.

 Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America
by Charlotte S. Waisman and Jill S. Tietjen
Her Story is a vivid documentation of the breadth and diversity of American women's achievements throughout U.S. history. This one-of-a-kind illustrated timeline highlights the awesome, varied, and often unrecognized contributions of American women since the 1500s.
There have been women trailblazers throughout American history; women have had a profound impact on the intellectual, social, and political development of our society. But many of their contributions have gone unnoticed. Most people have heard of Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Margaret Sanger, and Eleanor Roosevelt. But did you know that a woman microbiologist discovered the bacterium responsible for undulant fever, which then led to the pasteurization of all milk? Or that a woman patented the paper-bag folding machine to make square-bottom bags (the grocery bag)? Or that a female mathematician's work laid the foundation for abstract algebra? 

The women featured in Her Story range from writers, artists, actors, and athletes to doctors, scientists, social and political activists, educators, and inventors, and include women of all backgrounds and philosophies. The authors of Her Story, Charlotte S. Waisman and Jill S. Tietjen, have compiled an extraordinary collection of women and events that provides a unique view of history. Part of Her Story's distinctiveness is the inclusion of hundreds of lesser-known women from all walks of life who have broken barriers and created paths of noteworthy and inspiring achievement. 

In her Foreword to the book, Madeleine Albright comments, "Spanning the centuries from 1587 . . . this book will allow women and men to become more aware of and informed about the women who have been instrumental in giving us the quality of life we enjoy today. Often stepping outside of the expected modes of behavior for women during their lives, the profiled women were the pioneers for their causes, their professions, or their passions. Their accomplishments have advanced the arts, the sciences, politics, and business." 

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women
by Catherine Thimmesh
In kitchens and living rooms, in garages and labs and basements, even in converted chicken coops, women and girls have come up with ingenious innovations that have made our lives simpler and better. Their creations are some of the most enduring (the windshield wiper) and best loved (the chocolate chip cookie). What inspired these women, and just how did they turn their ideas into realities?
From Sybilla Masters, the first American woman with a documented invention (although the patent had to be in her husband's name), to twelve-year-old Becky Schroeder, who in 1974 became the youngest girl to receive a patent, Girls Think of Everything tells the stories of these women's obstacles and their remarkable victories.

The Sky's the Limit: Stories of Discovery by Women and Girls
by Catherine Thimmesh
They study the night sky, watch chimpanzees in the wild, and dig up ancient clay treasures. They search the beach for rare fossils, photograph old rock carvings, explore the hazards of lead poisoning, and wander into dark caves. And in their watching, digging, and wandering, they become discoverers. Young and old, they are women and girls who discover seventy-million-year-old sea lizards, the very origins of counting and writing, Stone Age cave art, mysterious matter in the universe, and how a puddle of water can be sanitized when heated by the sun.
Here is a tribute to the findings and revelations of these remarkable women and girls: to their perseverance, their epiphanies, their wondrous curiosity. Brought to life by innovative collage illustrations, these inspiring stories drawn from primary sources consistently probe into still unanswered questions. Here are discoveries that open our eyes not only to what women and girls can accomplish but also to the astonishing world in which we live.

Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics
by Catherine Thimmesh 

When Abigail Adams asked her husband to “Remember the Ladies,” women could not vote or own property in America. Some seventy years later, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote, “To vote is the most sacred act of citizenship,” the government of the United States still did not treat women as equals, having yet to grant them the right to vote. But sixty-four years after that, Geraldine Ferraro declared, “We can do anything,” and became the first American woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket. Today, surely our country is ready for a leader who, as Elizabeth Dole said, “will call America to her better nature.” This captivating book illuminates the bravery and tenacity of the women who have come before us. With an engaging narrative, fascinating quotes, and elegant illustrations, it not only shows how far women have come but also reveals the many unsung roles women have played in political history. Step by step, these capable ladies have paved the way for our young leaders of tomorrow. They have enabled and empowered us to ask today: Well, why not the presidency?

Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists
by Jeannine Atkins (Author), and Paula Conner (Illustrator) 
Girls Who Looked Under Rocks portrays the youths and careers of six remarkable women whose curiosity about nature fueled a passion to steadfastly overcome obstacles to careers in traditionally men-only occupations. The six--Maria Merian (b.1647), Anna Comstock (b.1854), Frances Hamerstrom (b.1907), Rachel Carson (b.1907), Miriam Rothschild (b.1908), and Jane Goodall (b.1934)--all became renowned scientists, artists and writers.

The New York Public Library Amazing Women in American History: A Book of Answers for Kids (The New York Public Library Books for Kids)
by Sue Heinemann
Taking a chronological and historical approach, the book makes use of a question and answer format to respond to questions that students might be asked in class, or ask for themselves, about historical figures. Beginning with Native American women, the chronologically arranged chapters cover a variety of historical periods. Attention is given to abolitionists, the temperance and labor movements, and to developments in literature and science. Additional information in the margins and boxed highlights expand upon or add to the Q&A material. The author includes as much information as possible on Native American, African-American, Latina, and Asian women. When providing names, she often offers variants of first names and married names. She includes famous women such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and far less famous ones like Nanye-hi (Nancy Ward), a Cherokee elder and leader who led her people to victory and who negotiated peace agreements with white settlers in 1755 and Kaahumanu, a 19th-century ruler of Hawaii.

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World
by Cynthia Chin-Lee (Author), Megan Halsey  (Illustrator), Sean Addy (Illustrator)
An introduction to 26 diverse, 20th-century women who have made a difference in such varied fields as the arts, sports, journalism, science, and entertainment. The entries include Dolores Huerta, Frida Kahlo, Lena Horne, Maya Lin, and Patricia Schroeder. Determination, imagination, perseverance, and strength are what bind them together. Entries are arranged alphabetically by first name; each woman is featured on a full page that includes a two-paragraph introduction, a quote, and striking mixed-media art that illustrates the essence of the person. There is sophistication in both the quotes and in the art, encouraging repeated readings. The nuggets of information should inspire readers and leave them with a thirst to know more about these women.

For your enjoyment here is a short video about how the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America by Charlotte S. Waisman and Jill S. Tietjen came into being. 

Again if you know of any books not mentioned that cover the history and contributions of women please share it in a comment.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ Being Thankful

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melodie Beattie

Here is a beautiful song called I Give Thanks by the talented Kathryn Mostow. 

This week the majority of people in the USA will gather on Thursday for a holiday called Thanksgiving.  The origins of the holiday may have a complicated historical past, yet the idea of families and friends gathering together to share in a day of Giving Thanks and expressing their Gratitude is inspiring.    

I have been in some circles where we have gone around the dining table in order for each person to express his/her gratitude.  I have also experienced meals where we each wrote down something for which we were thankful on a piece of paper and then they were all read at the table.  

This last Friday night my family gathered with some other adult friends and we all dined together.  We shared one thing we had learned this past year and at least one thing we are grateful for.  Even my daughters shared what they were grateful for in their kindergarten class and brought home a drawing and the words written out for us to see.

Share with us here on the Red Boa what you will be Giving Thanks for this year.

“Embrace your ordinary life, whatever its wrapping, for in the embrace you will hear the whisper of Gratitude. Listen for her in the ordinary activities of your day, in the ordinary encounters with loved ones, and in the ordinary challenges that greet you each morning. She speaks from the depths of you, in the voice of your ordinary life.” —Patricia Lynn Reilly

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ US! Celebrating the Power of Friendship with Mary Anne Radmacher

I have long admired writer and artist Mary Anne Radmacher.  Her writing and images have been in my life for a very long time.  One of the things I most love about technology is how I have been able to connect more personally with some of the writers I love most.  Mary Anne has a strong positive presence on Facebook and she actually takes the time to connect with people.  I was already familiar with some of her wonderful tales regarding letter exchanges between her and friends from her books.  Through my recent interactions with her though I have had the chance to observe on a more personal level her incredible generosity and her very caring ways, so it came as no surprise when I learned she was releasing a book about friendship called US! Celebrating the Power of Friendship. 

I was then incredibly honored to be contacted by her publisher to see if I would take part in a Mary Ann Radmacher blog tour.  No one had to ask me twice!   There was also the fact that I have been noticing a trend here on my own Red Boa blog, which is that the two most popular and most read posts are on friendship and belonging.  I believe that we humans experience the most joy and deepest sorrows in regards to our relationships.  They are what keep us going, and sadly at times, are what drag us to the depths of grief and loss.  It appears that the topic of friendship is one that draws many to seek advice and answers.  If you are seeking some guidance regarding friendship you have come to the right place.  Here are some words of wisdom from Mary Anne Radmacher herself regarding friendship.  

Special Note - Don't miss the opportunity to win a FREE copy of US! Celebrating the Power of Friendship. See details below!

10 Questions with Mary Anne Radmacher about Friendship and US!

What inspired you to write a book about friendship? Was there a particular friend that kindled the idea?

My friend, Maureen, was a high school senior when I was a sophomore. When she graduated she gave me a book of quotes about friendship. I knew when I finished enjoying those great thoughts that someday I would write a book on friendship. When I was 19 I operated a switchboard for a small college in San Francisco. In the quiet moments, I would work on my friendship book. A teacher who stopped by my desk each day, Professor Sparks, greeted me with an unusual question – “What dream are you working on today?” I easily and quickly replied, “My book on friendship.” Thirty five years later US! CELEBRATING THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP features some of the things I knew and treasured about friendship when I was still a teenager.

Why is friendship important - to women especially?

I first want to say that I believe friendships are very important to men – and I have observed that they deal with it and talk about it (when they talk about it at all) differently than women. Women want to affirm, support, validate what they know to and for each other. Women have an increasingly demanding set of roles to fulfill in our culture, and our friends help us “suit up” for those various tasks. Women friends offer each other support that is both tangible and metaphysical.

Is friendship more important than familial relationships? As important? 

The answer to that question depends on the nature of one’s relationship to family. I was born around the time my parents were celebrating 25 years of marriage. Two of my siblings could have been my parents. The participants in my family structure were either a) tired or b) involved in their own life activities. From early on I learned to create my own “tribe” first from the neighborhood, then school, then peers in my life experiences. My friends, in all practical applications, have been like family to me.

Why do we need to take time out to appreciate our friends? Everyone leads busy lives, and our friends certainly understand that.

The busier I am the more conscious I am of how important it is to stay connected to my friends. It’s too tempting to relegate our friends to the back of the line. When, in fact, our relationships are one of the greatest graces of our lives.

Digital Art by Createwings Designs
What are some easy ways to show our appreciation?

I’m a BIG FAN of the postal service. Sending a fun or meaningful card “just because” is a real tender connection between friends. I use technology to take photos with the short caption, “I saw this and it made me think of you.” I’m encouraging groups of friends to use my US! book as a “scrap book” or to use an older term , “autograph book.” Each member of the circle has a copy and each book gets passed around. Friends write their own thoughts of appreciation on the page that most reminds them of their friend. Combining my words and illustrations with loving words from your own friends – a powerful and memorable combination.

Being cued in to the present and real struggles a friend is facing is important. More than saying, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” DOING something practical really shows how much you appreciate your friend. My friend is moving this week. She has a two hour daily commute. AND she has special food needs with a variety of allergies. I made allergy-appropriate lunches for her for a week. I said, “I know when you are moving you don’t even know where your kitchen utensils ARE! I hope this makes making good, healthy choices easier for you this week.” It got a big WOW from my friend.

As we get older, it becomes more and more difficult to establish new friendships. Why is that?

Age brings a certain predictability and a whole road of judgments and assessments at our backs. It becomes very easy to judge someone in advance and tell ourselves all the reasons why we likely wouldn’t like this person or that. Also, we’ve had a few friendship failures as we’ve gotten older and might be less inclined to be vulnerable. My dad outlived all his old friends and he told me one of the regrets of his life is that he did not take the time to make new friends. My life is like a shelf on a bookcase. My oldest and my newest friends are the book ends that hold all the other books together!

What are some ways to foster new relationships?

Be open to people who are different than you. Say yes to experience new gatherings and go to events that are a little out of your comfort zone. Listen attentively and observe how you feel listening to this new person. If you are immediately engaged, interested and alert…that might be an excellent basis for exploring the possibility of a friendship. If someone says, “We should talk about that,” or “I’d love to get together sometime and learn about your experiences with_________,” schedule the time. Sometime soon. Listening is an excellent way to foster a new relationship. And it’s also a litmus! If you find yourself endlessly listening with no opportunity to speak, that might be an indicator of a relationship you want NOT to foster. That’s important to pay attention to, as well. Not everyone you meet would make a good friend for you.

If you could plan a perfect night with a friend, or group of friends, what would that be?

I get to have quite a few of those kinds of nights. We share healthy and yummy food, work on some sort of art project and tell each other fabulous stories. Most of them even true!

What is your advice for people who have grown distant from friends, and don't know how to change that?

Reach out. Take the risk and say, “I miss our times of connecting. I thought of you just the other day and remembered the time that we…..” Sometimes just confessing that you’ve noticed some distance has crept in will be a relief – they have likely noticed it, too, and haven’t known what to do, either!

We can't talk about your books without mentioning the artwork. Do your friends inspire you, advise, you or in any way assist you in your creative life?

My friends deliver honest advice and critique when I ask for it and otherwise have an abundant supply of “Ooooooh’s” and “Ahhhhh’s.” That sweet celebration is like the warmest, softest sweater on a chilly afternoon. The finest compliment I get from any of my friends is when they purchase my work and give it as a gift to their other friends. Not only are they supporting my career but they are affirming that what I communicate has functional value to them. That means so much to me. 

Some additional words of wisdom from Mary Anne Radmacher.

Digital Art by Digitreats

Do you have any words of wisdom regarding friendship?  

How do you nurture your friendships?

The words and work of Mary Anne Radmacher have circled the globe on products, quotes in books, been included in speeches, are part of ceremonies from graduation to weddings to memorial services.

Radmacher's words are woven into media from Oprah's Harpo Studio headquarters, commercials, to being quoted in newscasts from the 2011 Tour de France coverage to the evening news with Diane Sawyer. Her signature posters are in board rooms and school rooms, adorn hospital halls and homes around the world (and found at and her work is visible from the Clinton Museum Store to gifts store on the corner.

Stay current with her appearances and what writing processes she is guiding at

You can find US! Celebrating the Power of Friendship here.
Her previous book LIVE WITH INTENTION was also just released as an ebook and can be found here.

Digital Art - Color My World Kit by Kay Miller

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waking Up Full of Awesome

I am thrilled to feature Melissa Wardy and her fabulous blog post called Waking Up Full of Awesome in my column in the Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine. Come be inspired and reminded how awesome you are by clicking here

Monday, November 7, 2011