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Wednesday, June 18, 2014
As part of Wendy Crutcher's 2014 TBR Challenge, here are my brief comments on The Girls' Book of Wisdom: empowering, inspirational quotes from over 400 fabulous females edited by Catherine Dee.
This book is where the thoughts of hundreds of women over the past two centuries have come together to share their experiences, their wisdom, and, yes, their dreams. The hope of the book is that girls reading it will be inspired to look at themselves and the works with new eyes, with new awareness.
The book covers twenty five topics across a wide spectrum of daily life, such as confidence, creativity, adventure, style, believing, leadership, moods, friends, self reliance, freedom, and giving back. The book ruefully acknowledges that knowing is not doing, but it hopes that it does light a bright fire throughout the book that makes the contents sufficient encouragement for girls to come forward and enact their passions.
The book opens with a chapter on Beginnings. How do you begin your day—with anticipation, a lets-see attitude, a determined conviction that it is going to be wonderful or ...? The advice from various women is that it is important to decide to be appreciative of every moment of every day, be it basic chores, the known, and the unexpected. "Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow." —Mary Jean Irion, writer and teacher.
About Self-Awareness, the book asks: Do you know what you are thinking about, feeling and saying, and what and who impresses you? Knowing who you are is essential to your life. It allows you to make smart decisions about your life and accomplish what you want in life. Professor and software engineer, Marsha Kinder, advises: "Don't let others define you and tell you what you like or don't like, or what you or can't do."
Believing in yourself is the way you can achieve your goals. Believe in your abilities and trust that you can figure a way out of adversity. "The body achieves what the mind believes," according to sailor and rower Amy Fuller. Isn't that succinct and beautiful? Believe in your ability to do it and you will rise up to the challenge and do it. Evelyn Underhill, a Victorian mystic, is even more exact: "It looks impossible until you do it, and then you find it is possible."
This segues right into Success. "Ninety eight percent of success is in the head and the heart," said swimming Cathy Ferguson. Another swimmer, Nicole Haislett, support this: "Ultimately, success is not measured by first-place prizes. It's measured by the road you have traveled: how you have dealt with the challenges and the stumbling blocks you've encountered along the way. Akin to Believing, business exec Rosa Diaz says, "You must visualize yourself as a success in order to be successful."
And what is the secret of Success? It's not brilliance, but plainly and simply Hard Work. "Winning isn't about miracles on ice, it's about the training," says Olympics figure skater Michelle Kwan. Lisa Loeb, singer and songwriter, believes: "It would be magical to believe in fate, but I don't know if I do. I believe in working hard and being open to situations and opportunities."
Editor Catherine Dee posits: "The power of Laughter lies in its ability to improve your state of mind." Such a simple thing, really, laughter, and yet, we do so little of it. If we could notice humor in the mundane and high comedy in the unusual, life would not only be bearable but also enjoyable and desirable. Recently deceased poet and activist, Maya Angelou, once said, "Laugh as much as possible, always laugh. It is the sweetest thing one can do for oneself and one's fellow human beings." Laughter begets happiness and happiness is contagious.
There are many, many such bon mots by noteworthy women in this book. It is a fabulous young-adult book, but also a wonderful book for adults to return to, time and again.