Persistence Pays Off, Literally

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

The Key of Persistence

Did you know that if Stephanie Kwolek had listened to her colleagues, thousands of lives would be lost by now?

That’s because In 1964 her colleagues at DuPont considered the cloudy polymer solution she’d made a failure–telling her to throw it out because it wasn’t the clear solution they expected. But Stephanie refused.  “She explains, “I discovered over the years that I seemed to see things that other people did not see… if things don’t work out I don’t just throw them out, I struggle over them, to try and see if there’s something there.” She said she realized that the uniqueness of the liquid “might be useful,” so she spent “several days urging her colleagues to spin it and test its physical properties.”

Once they did test it, they discovered that her solution was five times stronger than steel by weight.

DuPont named the new material Kevlar.

Kevlar is used as a material in over 200 products, but perhaps what Stephanie was most proud of is it’s use in bulletproof vests.  “I don’t think there’s anything like saving someone’s life to bring you satisfaction and happiness.”

Innovation and creativity require persistence in the face of resistance.

As I struggle to finish the current draft of my middle grade fantasy novel, I’m going to think of Stephanie’s tenacity and push myself to carry on.

How has persistence paid off in your life?  Please share with me on my author page, or comment on this post.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: A kevlar ski helmet.  (Looked for purple bulletproof vest, but alas there weren't any.)

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: A kevlar ski helmet. (Looked for purple bulletproof vest, but alas there weren’t any.)


Destination of the Fortnight: Wilmington, Delaware, home of the Dupont Lab where Stephanie discovered Kelvar. (This is Stephanie in the 70’s with her invention.)


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One Giant Leap For Womankind

A Slice of AnnyWorld:


My little face was glued to the TV screen during Armstrong’s moon walk.  I told my mother that we’d all be vacationing on the moon by the year 2000–I was sure of it!
Unfortunately due to money, we’re still not vacationing at the Sea of Tranquility Spa.  But thanks to Nancy Grace Roman, The Mother of Hubble, as in telescope, we can visit lands light years away from the moon on our computer screens.

(Orion Nebula as seen through Hubble)
Yes it was a woman, Nancy Roman (b.1925),  who convinced Congress et al that searching the heavens was worth the cost.

Dr. Roman obtained a a Ph.D in astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1949, a time when women were raised to get married, have babies, and leave the outside world, not to mention the galaxy,  to men.

She recalls a time in high school when she needed permission to take algebra instead of Latin.  Her guidance counselor, a woman, sneered at her and said: ‘What lady would take mathematics instead of Latin?’ That was the sort of reception that I got most of the way.”

Undeterred, she not only became an astronomer, but she became the first ever, read male or female, Chief of Astronomy in the Office of Space Science at NASA. In her role, she successfully managed numerous astronomy-based projects including the Hubble Space Telescope.

Dr. Roman didn’t just break the glass ceiling, she zoomed out  into galaxies far, far away. She credits her scientist father for answering her questions and never questioning why his little girl loved science, and her mother, who took her out at night and showed her the beauty of the stars.

In addition she says the secret to making it in a male-dominated field was her ability to “remain open to change and new opportunities.” 

Today, Dr. Roman, who retired from NASA in ’79, has a new passion, inspiring girls to set aside their inhibitions and reach for the stars, just as she did. “I like to tell students that the jobs I took after my Ph.D. were not in existence only a few years before. New opportunities can open up for you in this ever changing field.”

And I would add that whatever your trajectory, plotting your destination, but being open to HOW you get there is key!  (I’ve learned the hard way that tunnel vision usually yanks you off course.)
Describe the path you took to reach one of your stars/dreams.  Reply to this email or post it on Anny Writes






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A Slice of AnnyWorld:

“You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.” Virgina Slims ad 1968 praising the success of the Feminist Movement.

But we haven’t come far enough!

Yesterday was #EqualPayDay.  It stuns me that in the 21st century women still aren’t paid the same as men for the same work!  What’s going on?
Is it because girls/women are just as likely to turn on each other as they are to support each other, and as long as we are divided, we can’t conquer?

If we look at our girls, we can see that being mean to each other starts at a pretty young age. Girls hassle each other about all sorts of things like their changing bodies, how they wear their hair, their clothes. 

I wish I could blame puberty for all of the friction between us, but as we get older, many of us still don’t stick together, even when it’s in our best interest. (For ex. Phyllis Schlafly led the successful charge against the Equal Rights Amendment.)

I’ve wondered why we seem to be our own worst enemy.  Here’s my theory: we are steeped in a male-dominated society that consciously or unconsciously devalues us.  You get hit over the head enough times with the message that you aren’t worthy because you’re a female, and self-loathing is born. And if you’re not valuable because you’re a girl, then all the other girls around you aren’t valuable either. So Mothers devalue their own daughters, and the legacy passes from generation to generation like a virus.

I’m not interested in debating how we got here, what matters is how we change this situation asap!

I suggest we focus on passing down new messages to our girls  that not only empower them, but drive them to empower each other. How do we do this? 

In my roles as stepmother, aunt, and daughter here’s some of what I’m doing…embrace my body, faults and all so my girls will embrace theirs, (Hubby and I continue to rave about Madu’s curly hair for ex, which she’s finally loving herself), encourage my girls to pursue their dreams be it as a social worker, E.R. doc, or NASA scientist, tell them marriage and family is a choice not a foregone conclusion, remind them that if a boy isn’t nice to them they should move onto the next, (as opposed to my upbringing where I was told if a boy likes you he hits you, which may be true, but sets you up for bad choices later).

In my quest to empower myself and other women, I vote for female politicians who represent my interests, i.e. women’s issues that men tend to ignore, I support groups that empower girls like Girls, Inc and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, and I attempt to view all women with acceptance and compassion, not judgement.

I’m sure I could be doing even more.  What are you doing to empower yourself and your girls?




Reykjavik, Iceland Enlightened, (get it?) country that boasts the world’s first democratically elected female President!


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Are You Man Enough To Be A Girl Scout Leader?

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

Since the goal of these letters is to inspire and empower girls of all ages, I assumed that I’d only feature girls & women in my correspondence.  I was wrong.

Meet Hank Harris, a 92 yr old WW II Vet who’s been a girl scout troop leader for many decades. 

Hank has always loved scouting.  Unable to join the scouts as a boy due to a lack of dough, he formed his own group, The Boy Ranger Scouts.  The Ranger Scouts focused on learning outdoor skills from a local man who volunteered to teach them.

Fast forward a couple of decades to the time when Hank’s daughter, Jill, was old enough to join the girl scouts. He and his wife, Carolyn, started a troop in North Carolina and never looked back.  Over the years he’s taught hundreds of girls how to pitch a tent, bait a fish hook, or start a fire. 

But Hank taught his girls much more than how to cook breakfast over an open fire.  He gave them confidence and self-respect–traits that can be hard to come by for girls that age, and something many never acquire.

His contribution to the girl scouts in his area has been so huge, that they named a lake at one of their camps Lake Harris, in honor of Hank and his wife.

So my hat’s off to you, Hank!  Thanks for reminding me that men can inspire and empower girls too.

Click here to find a girl scout troop in your area.  And check out another woman who’s empowered many, Girl Scout founder  Juliette Gordon Low.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: Girl Scout cookie oven..thin mints here I come!

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: Girl Scout cookie oven..thin mints here I come!

Destination of the Fortnight: Lighthouses on the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Destination of the Fortnight: Lighthouses on the Outer Banks of North Carolina


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Valentine’s Day Equals Hearts, Flowers, and Empowerment

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

Valentine’s Day is about love of all kinds, but there’s more to this date than hearts and flowers.
On February 14, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League of Women’s Voters while at the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association(NAWSA) in Chicago.Mrs. Catt, who was president of NAWSA, called the League a “mighty political experiment,” designed to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters. It encouraged them to use their new power to participate in shaping public policy. The League, which still exists today, represented Catt’s acknowledgment that the 72-year-old battle over an American woman’s right to vote had finally come to an end.

Carrie’s struggle for an equal voice started much earlier.  She was the only female in the 1880 graduating class of Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm in Ames (now Iowa State University). She managed to graduate at the top of her class despite holding down three jobs while there.  (Wonder how many of her male counterparts had three jobs?!) She went on to become one of the first female school superintendents in the nation.

In addition, she became one of the leading suffragists in the world. She initially succeeded Ms. Anthony as president of NAWSA in 1900, but it wasn’t until she returned to the post in 1915 that she was able to achieve her lifelong goal–to give women an equal voice in government.

In 1916, Catt unveiled her “Winning Plan.” She’d campaign for the vote on both state and federal levels, and would  compromise, if she had to, for partial suffrage in the states resisting change. Her strategy worked. 

By 1918, President Woodrow Wilson was finally convinced. On August 26, 1920, one hundred and forty-four years after the U.S. declared independence, the Nineteenth Amendment officially granted all women in the United States the right to vote.

So the next time you’re chomping down on your Valentine’s chocolate, remember Carrie, and that one woman can make a difference, while a whole lotta women can change the world!

P.S. If you’re wondering what to get me for Valentine’s Day in 2016, vote in the first female President of the U.S.!  Carrie will be cheering from the stands.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight

Purple Passion of the Fortnight

Destination of the Fortnight: U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.

Destination of the Fortnight: U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.


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A Rejected Princess Rises Again: Hypatia

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

After  I wrote a report on Hypatia of Alexandria (350/70-415 BC) the first known female mathematician, (she was also a philosopher, physicist and astronomer),  thought I might be connected to her in some way.  Maybe I was her in another life.  Though once I saw how much trouble I had with algebra in eighth grade, I knew better.

The first time I read Hypatia’s story the belief was that she was killed because she was a pagan intellectual woman who didn’t allow the church to control her.

Recently, due to a fantastic website called Rejected Princesses, I’ve learned there are many versions of Hypatia’s tale.  The most accurate seems to be that she was caught in the middle of a war between a secular Christian, Orestes who ran Alexandria, and the Christian bishop Cyril, who defied him. Because Orestes relied on Hypatia for guidance, someone in Cyril’s camp concocted a rumor that Hypatia was prolonging the conflict by giving Orestes bad advice.

The best idea Cyril’s folks had was to murder Hypatia.  The shame of it all is that because she was vilified before her death, none of her work seems to exist.

But here are the reasons I love Hypatia and why she can still inspire us today:

1) She’s a great reminder that girls can be good at math.  Sometimes I forget that.
2) She stayed true to herself, even though I bet it wasn’t easy to do so.  Her brilliance, coupled with her strong belief in doing it her way, inspired the men around her to seek out her advice and view her as a leader. This in a time when women were still considered eye candy and the actual property of their husbands.
3) She chose to share her gifts with those around her.  By becoming head of an academy, similar to a Harvard or Yale today, she equipped her students with the knowledge and heart they needed to go out and change the world. And that’s what they did.  So many of today’s discoveries sit on the foundation Hypatia helped build.

Whenever I feel like being different is stopping me from achieving something I want, I’m going to remember that being different was what enabled Hypatia to change the world.

How can Hypatia inspire you?

Purple Passion of the Fortnight

Purple Passion of the Fortnight

Destination of the Fortnight: The Royal Library of Alexandria, Egypt

Destination of the Fortnight: The Royal Library of Alexandria, Egypt


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Did You Forget You’re Beautiful?

A fashion designer once said that he used undeveloped girls as models because a woman’s curves messed up the line of his clothes.  He wanted his clothes to hang the same on his models as they did on the hanger!  This made me crazy when I heard it!  Do hangers buy clothes?

The majority of women in this country dislike their own body, a dislike that often starts when we are as young as 9 or 10 yrs old.  (I remember not being thrilled when I started to ‘fill out’ at age 25 because my family had always admired my ‘boyish figure.’ Just shows how screwed up we are that women are admired when they look more like boys! Again, the fashion industry strikes! Boys have no curves.) Media has been shown to be the major cause of this self-disgust.  But here’s s department store, yes I said department store, who values real women in all shapes, including women whose limbs are missing or didn’t form in the usual way, and sizes, Debenhams in England.

I searched online to find designers who design for women instead of hangers.  They were far and few between, but O Magazine has a slideshow of  designers who use real women.

I’ve often wondered if there were more female designers in the world, would the fashion industry be less harmful to female self-esteem?  I’m not sure actually.  We have been raised to be so critical about ourselves.  But we didn’t start out that way.  For a reminder, check out this Dove Real Beauty clip called Camera Shy.



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Be Heard…Make a Zine!

What if you could be a published author tomorrow?  What if you could devote an entire booklet to something specific that you want to share with others?  Maybe you want to retell your favorite fairy tale with the ending you want it to have., or share weird and yummy mac and cheese recipes or spend 8 small pages using pics and words to share your favorite songs and what they mean to you.

YOU CAN DO IT!  Zines are handmade short or long magazines on any topic the author wants to write about.  They can be made with a  piece of paper, and a pen, and are typically photocopied and distributed to people the author knows.  But sometimes they reach a bigger audience and get carried in bookstores and places like that.

Zines offer all of us the freedom to speak our minds, and empower us to be heard.

If you want to learn more about zines and how to make a mini-zine, go to Amy’s Poehler’s Smart Girls.

I’m thinking of making a mini-zine about the brilliance of the color purple.  In the meantime, here’s a picture of some zines already out there:

If you’ve already made a zine, send me a synopsis of what it’s about and a picture of it.  As long as it’s appropriate for readers 8 yrs old and up, I’ll feature it on my blog.

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What would happen if women ruled the world?

I got to ask former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that question.  I figured she of all people would know, since she’d worked with both men and women leaders around the earth.  She said ” Our lives would be markedly better.”

I agree and here’s why. Girls are usually taught to compromise, i.e. come up with a solution that makes everyone happy, whereas boys are often taught to be right at any cost.

Most recently the cost of having to be right was that the government shut down.  (if you’re curious about some of the unseen ways you were affected by the shutdown go here.)

But while men like the President and the Speaker of the House were busy being right, an article by Girl Warrior founder Courtney Brandabur says that the women of congress were busy working on a solution to reopen the government.

She goes on to say that “Women only hold 17% of the seats in Congress currently, despite making up around 50% of the population.”  Then asks, “Want to get more women in Congress so you can keep your life running smoothly?” Her answer: ” Start empowering them!”

Whether you’re old enough to vote or not, volunteer for a woman who’s running for an elected office.  Once you are old enough, run for an office.  Congress and other branches of government don’t accurately represent us.  Only we can change that!

Courtney ‘s article starts off: “When are they making Women of Congress action figures? I’ll be first in line to buy one, since women pretty much kicked butt during the government shutdown.” I second the motion.


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A Mighty Girl bills itself as the world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls. Though much of what makes a mighty girl isn’t of a material nature, media’s influence on all of us can’t be denied.  Thus I’m glad A Mighty Girl is here to suggest books, movies etc. to help inspire all of us to be our best, authentic empowered selves.

The Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess, a page on A Mighty Girl, showcases their picks for books that empower us all.  They break the recommendations into age groups to make it easier.

As my work in progress, The Lady In Waiting, is geared towards tween girls 9-12 yrs of age, I took a look at that section.

Saw a few books I hadn’t read and have added to my list:

Tuesdays combines Hogwarts castle with Howl’s Moving Castle I’m told.  Sounds right up my alley!

See the silver medal on the cover?  That’s a Newbery Honor Award medal.  The Newbery is the Oscar of kid books.

Finally, Hero did win the Newbery award.  It’s filled with dragons, magic, and a girl who must discover her true destiny. My kind of book!

They also have a great writing/journaling department. I’m going to buy illuStory, a make your own story kit, for my 9 yr. old stepdaughter…or maybe I’ll ask Santa to bring it for her.

A terrific writer buddy of mine, Jeri Baird, came across this website recently and thought of me.   A mighty girl herself, I appreciate the head’s up.  I invite all of you to send me links to websites that empower women and/or girls so I can feature the on this site.  Girl Power is where it’s at.


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