Women’s History Highlight
This past week, we lost an American icon and a trailblazer in Women’s History, for all of history, Madeleine Albright; first female Secretary of State of the US. She was our 64th Secretary of State.
Albright immigrated with her family to the United States in 1948 from Czechoslovakia and became a U.S. citizen in 1957. When asked what was the most important thing which ever happened to her, Mrs. Albright responded, “becoming an American, hands down”.
In 2012, Albright was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom recognizes people who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Albright was an avid reader; here’s a bit of a looksee into her reading life: Source, New York Times, Madeleine Albright: By the Book
When and where do you like to read?
At home on weekend afternoons or on planes and trains.
What was the last truly great book you read?
Truly great? At the risk of being boring — “War and Peace” (the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky), as an e-book.
Are you a fiction or a nonfiction person? What’s your favorite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?
More nonfiction than fiction. Innocent pleasure: Walter Mosley.
If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? What book would you require all heads of state to read?
“The Art of the Impossible”, Vaclav Havel at his deepest, wittiest and most eloquent.
What were your favorite books as a child? Did you have a favorite character or hero?
“The Little Prince,” “Fireflies” (a Czech fable), and Frantisek Langer’s “Legends of Prague.”
If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be?
Karel Capek, a favorite of my parents, first to write about robots, and author of “War With the Newts.” Little known now, but a profoundly intelligent and humane writer at a time and place, 1930s Europe, when beasts were at the door.
The “voices” of Women’s History
“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” – Madeleine Albright
"Without justice there can be no love." – bell hooks
"I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives." – Jane Austen
"If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation." – Abigail Adams
"Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.” – Oprah Winfrey
“The woman power of this nation can be the power which makes us whole and heals the rotten community, now so shattered by war and poverty and racism. I have great faith in the power of women who will dedicate themselves whole-heartedly to the task of remaking our society.” – Coretta Scott King
Lesser known “Firsts” in Women’s History
1700s | Henrietta Johnston became the first female artist working in the colonies
1739 | Elizabeth Timothy was the first woman to print a formal newspaper as well as the first female franchise holder in the colonies.
1756 | Lydia Taft was the first woman to vote legally in Colonial America after her husband died and son left her; she was granted permission to vote through a Massachusetts town meeting.
1784 | Hannah Wilkinson Slater was the first American woman granted a patent.
1812 | Lucy Brewer was one of the first American women to join the United States Marine Corps.
1866 | Antoinette Brown Blackwell was the first woman ordained as a minister in America.
1866 | Mary Walker was the first woman in America to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
1869 | Arabella Mansfield was the first female lawyer in America.
1870 | Esther Hobart Morris was the first woman in America to serve as Justice of the Peace.
1900 | Margaret Abbott was the first American woman to win first place in an Olympic event.
1909 | Carolyn B. Shelton became the first woman to serve as acting governor of a U.S. state (Oregon).
1916 | Jeannette Rankin was the first American woman elected to Congress.
1954 | Jewel Prestage, first African-American woman to complete a doctorate in political science.
1994 | Judith Rodin was the first permanent female president of an Ivy League University, University of Pennsylvania.
2017 | Vanessa O'Brien became the first woman to summit K2, the second tallest mountain, at 28,251 feet.
Being GREAT does NOT require talent
G.O.A.T. is a “word” we hear a lot these days, Greatest Of All Time.
But what makes greatness, GREATNESS?
This is a “great” debate topic amongst friends, family, colleagues and neighbors but I contend talent is NOT the determining factor.
Chuck Knoll, legendary coach of the greatest NFL franchise ever, the Pittsburgh Steelers (that’s right, I said it), said this, “Champions are champions not because they do anything extraordinary, but because they do the ordinary things better than anyone else.”
Please note: He didn’t cite talent, physical ability, best facilities, nicest uniforms, etc. etc. To me, and I think this is true in life, personally & professionally, greatest or any chance of greatest, rests on one’s ability to be GREAT at the things which don’t take talent, the ordinary.
Responding to a phone call or email or text promptly…doesn’t take talent.
Being coachable and open to new ideas…doesn’t take talent.
Being on-time (15 minutes early)… doesn’t take talent.
Showing gratitude, maybe even sending a handwritten note… doesn’t take talent.
Being trustworthy… doesn’t take talent.
Max effort and preparation… doesn’t take talent.
Being reliable… doesn’t take talent.
Follow-up… doesn’t take talent.
Communication… doesn’t take talent.
None of these things require talent.
However, they do require two things:
- Desire to be great
Doors or Wheels?
Recently, my soon to be stepson posed a great dinner topic question.
Are there more doors or wheels in the world?
Well, what constitutes a door, what constitutes a wheel?
Is a car trunk door a door?
How about a gear, is that a wheel?
Is anything that opens and closes a door?
If a door doesn’t open, but it’s a door by name, does it count?
Example: A matchbox car has wheels that turn, and doors, but the doors sometimes don’t open.
Does it still count as a door?
Anywho, talk amongst yourselves.
Word of the Week
Comfort seems to be a word coming up a lot lately, especially over the past couple of years.
I believe comfort is part of the “American Condition” and not in a good way. Now I’ve never been asked to name the generations but unfortunately, if I was given the opportunity to name our generation, it would be the “comfort generation”. To be clear, that’s nothing to be proud of.
We just want to be MORE comfortable, all the time, we never have enough comfort; financially, health wise, professionally, physically and on down the line.
In addition, we want our children to be comfortable, ALL. THE. TIME.
I’m sorry, but that’s a BIG MISTAKE.
We’re anti-pain, anti-unknown, anti-truth, anti-crying, anti-challenges, anti-anything which might make us uncomfortable.
I read somewhere, pardon the paraphrase, “the richness of your life will be measured by how many uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have and how many uncomfortable actions you’re willing to take”. BOOM, nailed it. I believe the beauty of life actually lives in UNcomfort.
Honorable mention: Lexicographers, huh? Look it up.