Day #42: TV Role Models

As a latch-key kid from 1965-1972, I had TV as a companion. Coming home after school, and while my mom worked overtime, I had the TV on while I did my homework and read books beyond my school assignments. There were three women in particular who inspired me during those years. I am grateful to Nichelle Nichols, Diahann Carroll, and Sally Fields for portraying women who increased my confidence.

Nichelle Nichols, Diahann Caroll, Sally Fields

As Lt. Uhura, Nichelle Nichols worked on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, responding quickly and competently to communications challenges. I loved that she worked with languages. Following my reading of A Wrinkle in Time, even my mother forbidding me to watch Star Trek (who knows why?) couldn’t keep me from traveling through space. Uhura was the woman who helped me understand what a woman could do as a professional.

Diahann Carroll portrayed Julia Baker, a nurse and mother who, like my mother, had lost her husband and was raising her child alone. She did so with grace and good humor. At a time when most families in my school and church had two parents and often more than one child, it was important to me to see these fictional lives as happy and normal.

And Sally Fields as Gidget? Well, she was the intrepid, clever, and well-dressed teen I wanted to be. I loved her sparkle and her sense of humor. When we moved to California for a year, she inspired me to try surfing … once.

I suspect we all have these role models. Who were yours?

Day #20: Nancy Carlson

You’ll most likely agree, some days it’s tough to swing your legs out of bed and stand up to face the hours ahead.

On those days, I think of Nancy Carlson, author and illustrator, mom and wife, school visitor, grandmother, who cared for her husband during the years when he descended into Frontotemporal Dementia. Troubles mounting, finances threatening, her husband’s mind disappearing,

Nancy wrote a blog called One Foot in Front of the Other, sharing her challenges with all of us. She posted a doodle on social media every single day. And she kept speaking at schools and conferences, writing and illustrating books.

Nancy Carlson’s doodle above, “And we all looked out to God, although He is the color of the wind.” (Laura Nyro lyric) is one of many you can see at her A Doodle a Day: Ten Year Doodle Journey show on exhibit through December 28, 2018, at Artistry in Bloomington, MN. I am grateful for this brave and talented woman, who helps me believe in tomorrow. She is an extraordinary woman.

Follow Nancy on Facebook so you can see her work firsthand.

Day #15: Ngaio Marsh

Among the top 10 on my list of influential writers is Ngaio Marsh (ny-e-o), who wrote 32 mystery novels set in England and New Zealand, featuring Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn, with plots that involved the theater, the art world, and the two countries she knew well. She was an artist and a theater actress and director, all the while writing a novel nearly every year from 1935 to 1982. I am particularly inspired by her memoir, Black Beech and Honeydew. She was a woman engaged in a life that brought her joy and I am grateful for the legacy she left her readers. (By the way, the audio book of Death in a White Tie is read by Benedict Cumberbatch. Yes, it is.)

Ngaio Marsh

Day #10: Jessie Wilcox Smith

The illustrations of Jessie Wilcox Smith have graced our home for more than 40 years. I have marveled at her ability to capture childhood since I was a grad student. When we walk through the rooms where her art is featured, my eyes are always drawn to them. I admire her choice of colors, her ability to focus on each child, but her choice of subjects is always intriguing. She studied with Thomas Eakins and Howard Pyle, she was one of the Red Rose Girls with Violet Oakley and Elizabeth Shippen Green, and she made a very good living by painting covers for Good Housekeeping, advertising art, and portrait commissions. Jessie Wilcox Smith was an extraordinary woman and I am grateful for her continued presence in our lives.

Young Tennis Player, Jessie Wilcox Smith
Jessie Wilcox Smith, Young Tennis Player, September 29, 1929 Good Housekeeping cover