I hope you’ve had a good week, that you had a warm family Passover or Easter, or are just having a nice Spring if neither of those religious holidays are part of your life. Religiously, and just philosophically, I have always loved what Easter represents, not the crucifixion, but the resurrection. A renewal, a rebirth, a healing from the challenges we live through, rising from the ashes. It’s about hope that we will survive our difficulties and things will get better again. Whatever one’s religion, or none, it’s a comforting thought.
I just had a wonderful weekend before that, in LA with one of my daughters, to celebrate her birthday. We had a great time, and I always have fun with her in LA. I loved it!!! And as I left LA, she gave me some magazines to flip through on my trip home. And I had a great time browsing through Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Time Magazine, W, Town and Country. I love looking at the fashions, and reading articles that interest me. I wasn’t expecting to find one in Vogue that struck a real chord with me, I was having too much fun looking at the clothes. And then I found one about a fascinating woman. It was an article about an apparently famous political journalist in the l950’s, named Dorothy Thompson. I probably should know about her, or have heard about her, but I don’t know of her. She was greatly respected and apparently in 1939 was named by Time Magazine one of the two most influential women in America, along with Eleanor Roosevelt. She ran a foreign news bureau in Berlin, and apparently stood up to Adolf Hitler, and wrote a book about him, which got her expelled from Germany. From everything the article in Vogue’s Nostalgia section said, she sounded like an amazing, admirable woman. A trail blazer in a major way, at a time when few women worked, most were in the home, and she was apparently a devoted mother and grandmother as well. They mentioned her in Vogue because apparently in the 50’s, she complained that she had nothing decent to wear, and was a size 20. (They commented that in those days a size 12 was considered slim). And apparently Vogue did a whole article at the time, based on putting a wardrobe together for her with half a dozen looks, in her size. But the woman who wrote the article I read went on to say how she had always admired her, and what a gutsy woman Thompson was. It made me think of actresses we admire from those days, who were gutsy too, or appeared to be, Barbara Stanwyck, Rosalind Russell, Katherine Hepburn, women who spoke their minds and had big personalities. Clearly, Dorothy Thompson was not just acting a part, but was the real deal, and just reading about her, I admired her too. The writer said that reading about her had given her courage in her own life, which made me think too.
To me, courage is what you do when you really have no other choice, but to forge ahead, even if you’re scared to death, or shaken to your core. I’ve faced my own share of challenges, divorces, being a single mother, working in a man’s world, sick children, and a son who died at 19. I don’t think of myself as brave, or no braver than anyone else. I just did what I had to do, got through it, and kept moving forward. What other choice do you have at times? And I’m a coward about some other things, I used to be afraid to fly, but got over it, I hate roller coasters, snakes, mice, reptiles of any kind, big scary dogs, the dentist. Don’t count on me if you find a giant spider on the wall, or even a small one. And I’m not great with exotic travel, and am happier on familiar turf. I’m not a bold person, but maybe a strong one. I like to frame sayings and put them on my office wall. The one about courage says “Courage is not the absence of fear or despair, but the strength to conquer them”. That works for me. The writer of the article about Ms. Thompson said that just reading about her had given her courage at a hard time in her life. And we all have our hard times. I’ve been facing work challenges as we all do, children growing up and my worries about them, and all the pitfalls and worries that women alone, or people alone, face today. And as I read about Dorothy Thompson and all she accomplished, I was filled with admiration too. Ms Thompson apparently once wrote that “courage is the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good”. Wow. No whining there. No hesitation. No cowardice. And extraordinary strength. Courage. It really made me think about it and how I’d like to be, to still believe that life is good even when it’s tough, and to be able to face fear, misfortune, injustice, and come through it. It doesn’t get braver than that. So all these many years later, through generations, she has given me courage too. Maybe if I try hard, I can be just a little bit like her….I’d like to try. It’s a noble goal, and she sounds like a noble woman. I was so glad I read the article. She left us a legacy of courage with her life and her words, and I was so happy that the writer wrote about her and I saw it. I will try to remember those words the next time I’m facing something hard. It gives me something to aspire to, and maybe you too.