A Message from Amelia Earhart to the Women of the Future

Dear Sisters,

Dear Sisters,

You know me as a brash American flyer. And, yes, I set flying records. Yes, I championed the cause of women in aviation.  I was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the US mainland. Mostly, my flying has been solo, but the preparation for it wasn’t. Without my husband’s help and encouragement, I could not have achieved what I did. Ours was a contented and reasonable partnership, he with his solo jobs and I with mine. But always with work and play together, conducted under a satisfactory system of dual control.

But my greatest adventure – to circumnavigate the globe – was cut short in July of 1937.  Obviously I faced the possibility of not returning when first I considered going. Once faced and settled there really wasn’t any good reason to refer to it. The most effective way to take up a challenge or adventure, is to do it. One must plan thoughtfully and thoroughly. One must practice and perfect all skills. Then, one must take up the challenge and do it! Adventure is worthwhile in itself.

I will always cherish the vision of flying after midnight, the moon set, and I was alone with the stars. I have often said that the lure of flying is the lure of beauty, and I need no other flight to convince me that the reason flyers fly, whether they know it or not, is the esthetic appeal of flying.  Flying might not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price

After I was lost over the Pacific, probably in near the Howland Island, the wreckage of my plane, my bones were never found. And so, for all of my accomplishments, for all of my achievements, I am remembered as the woman who was lost at sea.  

But I was so much more than that. I was a woman who relished beauty and adventure. I was a woman who believed that women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.

And so I say to you, my sisters of the future, never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done. Watch them, learn from those who are doing. Use your fear, let it take you to the place where you store your courage. And then, FLY!

A message from Abigail Adams to the women of the future

Perhaps you will remember me as the wife of the second president of the newly formed United States of America. I would rather you knew me as I was, a woman who thought deeply and who acted with care. The times of my life placed many limits on the actions and engagements of women. But I believe the women of my time stretched and strained those limits to the best of our abilities.

Our times were times of greatness and of grief. They were times of hope and of desolation. They were times in which a genius would wish to live. Your era has said, ‘keep calm and carry on.’ I think that a calm is not desirable in any situation in life. Humans were made for action and for bustle too, I believe. Indeed, it is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. It formed the habits of a vigorous mind in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. All history will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruit of experience, not the lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman.

But let no person say what they would or would not do, since we are not judges for ourselves until circumstances call us to act. No one is without difficulties, whether in high or low life, and every person knows best where their own shoe pinches. Great difficulties may be surmounted by patience and perseverance.

I beseeched my husband and the men of my time to remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than their ancestors. I urged them to not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands; to remember, all men would be tyrants if they could; to remember that members of your sex are naturally tyrannical is a truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of master for the more tender and endearing one of friend. I cautioned them that 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.

Well, my entreaties went unheard. To you women of the future, I say, if we mean to have Heroes, Statesmen and Philosophers, we should have learned women. The world perhaps would laugh at me, and accuse me of vanity, but you, I know, have a mind too enlarged and liberal to disregard the sentiment. If much depends upon the early education of youth and if the first principals which are instilled take the deepest root, great benefit must arise from literary accomplishments in women. Even while I argue that knowledge is a fine thing, remember that while mother Eve thought so as well, she smarted so severely for hers. Most of her daughters have been afraid of it since. Women of the future, set aside that fear. Take up your books. Take up your lives of action. Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence. To be good, and do good, is the whole duty of human beings, comprised in a few words. Learn each day. Each day, do your best, for your soul, for your family, for your community.

(the above is a collection of quotes from Abigail Adams, woven together and elaborated with words from my heart.)

On not doing everything, but for sure doing some thing

The other day I was cleaning out some files and came across a page with this quote from Thomas Merton.  It so reminded me of why I fell in love with his writing, I thought I would share it with you all.  I hope it give you pause to think for a moment or two the way it did (and still does) for me.

The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, it its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

From Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, by Thomas Merton (Doubleday & Company. Garden City, NY, 1968, p. 86

Reflections of Summertime, Balance and the Need for Play

Now that I am retired and have time to think and recently I find myself thinking about the importance of balance, and well, the importance of rest and play. When I was working, success at work was my primary goal for a good long while. Then my partner caught cancer, and doing my best to take care of her was not just my primary goal, it was my only goal. Now I find myself thinking about balance: work and play, self and others, doing and being.

As if to remind me of the importance of balance between work and play, I came across this story in Joan Chittister’s book “Wisdom Distilled from the Daily.”

One day a traveler in the desert came across good Sister Scholastica who was relaxing and enjoying herself with the other sisters. The traveler was shocked, and taunted the sisters saying, “What kind of monastics were they to be out playing like that?!?”

Sister Scholastica asked the traveler if he had a bow and arrow. And the fellow allowed as how he did. The good sister then asked him to shoot an arrow off toward the far distant horizon. He did. And she said, now shoot another. He did. And Sister Scholastica said, “Shoot your bow again. Keep shooting; keep shooting; keep shooting!” Finally the traveler said, “But if I bend my bow so much I will break it.”

And Sister Scholastica said to him, “It is just the same with the work of holiness and with the work for justice. If we stretch ourselves beyond measure, we will break. Sometimes it is necessary to take the time to meet our other needs as well.”

When the traveler heard those words, he was saw their wisdom and repented of his rebuke to Sister Scholastica. And the other sisters were strengthened in their sense of community.

Further in the book, Chittister notes that Talmud Scholars have commented on the importance of rest.  When we rest from our work, we create a time and space to evaluate where we have been, how far we have come, and the quality of what we have done. When we rest we open time and space to contemplate the meaning of life, and the meaning of our own life as we have chosen to live it.

So, yes the work that you are doing IS important. AND it is important to remember that if you overwork a bow it will break, if you overwork yourself, you too will break. So, take a deep breath and go out and play for a while! After all it is summer time and the living should be easy.

Rumi’s Seven Advices

One of my favorite poet/sages is the Sufi scholar I know as Rumi (1207-1273). His full name is Mevlânâ Celâleddin Mehed Rumi. Recently I came across a bit of writing by him knows as the ‘Seven Advices’ and I thought I would share it with you all here:

  1.  In generosity and helping others: be like the river
  2. In compassion and grace: be like the sun.
  3. In concealing others’ faults: be like the night.
  4. In anger and fury: be like the dead.
  5. In modesty and humility: be like the soil.
  6. In tolerance: be like the ocean.
  7. Either appear as you are, or: be as you appear.

Rumi wrote in the thirteenth century, and yet, these bits of advise are well taken today. Imagine a world where generosity and help flowed as freely and as powerfully as a river. Imagine a world where compassion and graciousness shone in all of our lives as brilliantly as the sun on a perfect summer day. Imagine a world where we were eager to hide others faults the way the darkness of a cloudy, starless night hides just about everything. Imagine a world where we put no energy or life into our anger or frustrations. Imagine a world where our modesty and humility were as rich and fertile as the soil of a river delta. Imagine a world where we were all as tolerant and accepting as the ocean is deep. Imagine a world were appearances were not deceiving, but what you saw was what you got, where authenticity reigned.

Imagine!

You may say I’m a dreamer.

But love and joy increase.

I hope someday you’ll join in,

and the world will be in peace.