Hidden Figures, How a Woman’s Creativity Saved NASA


Hidden Figures is hands down the best movie I saw in 2016!

It’s the story of how one woman’s creativity saved not only a man’s life, but also the entire NASA program itself.

Katherine Johnson was one of a handful of African-American women who worked at NASA in the ‘50s. She referred to herself and her female colleagues as ‘virtual computers who wore skirts.’

Katherine says that she was pulled from the ‘colored computer pool’ to work on flight research because she always asked a lot of questions, while the rest of the women just did as they were told.

But it was Katherine’s creative use of geometry that made the all white male division “[forget] to return me to the pool.”

In 1962 John Glenn was slated to become the first American to orbit the earth. Right before launch, Katherine’s supervisor discovered that the fancy new IBM computer had turned our conflicting return longitudes and latitudes. When he shared this info with Glenn, Glenn refused to go up until Katherine had verified which of the computer’s numbers for launch and landing were correct.

Once in orbit Glenn’s heat shield started to fail.  Again Glenn and a panicked NASA supervisor turned to Katherine. She reassured them that her ‘return window’ numbers would get Glenn safely back to earth.

If Katherine’s geometry had been wrong, Glenn would’ve been incinerated upon re-entry.  In addition, his death would’ve most likely given Congress the reason they needed to stop funding NASA.

Fortunately for Glenn, Katherine’s numbers were spot on as usual.

Once Glenn survived, NASA had its eye on the moon, but had no idea how to get there. Katherine was told that she’d have to invent math that didn’t exist yet in order to make it happen. She did just that.

Lest you think I’ve given the whole movie away, I haven’t.  The story is powerful because it’s really about race, sexism, and the few folks on both sides that decided that they were going to move beyond their prejudices and make history.

So please read the book Hidden Figures, or go see the movie, or both. You’ll come out of it encouraged, empowered and ready to create something of your own. And who knows? Your creation just might be the thing that takes us to Mars, or saves an endangered species in the ocean, or adds beauty to the wall of a museum.
Would love to know what you thought of the movie/book. Please let me know by replying to this letter, or post your comments on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.


Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Thank God Katherine is better at math than I am!


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Saturn prances around
Like he’s the only game in town
His rings on display
Make girls swoon in his wake
Ladies beware
This boy is full of hot air
So just walk on by
This peacock’s not worth your time
–Anny Rusk
There’s a new poetry book out about space and aliens called Watcher of the Skies. (Published by the small British company The Emma Press.) It’s for kids aged 8-108.
Inside its pages poets muse about all aspects of space such as how astronauts brush their teeth (You don’t want morning breath if an alien drops by for tea.), how planets talk, and how to make a cosmic cupcake. (Recipe included.)
At the back of the book editor Rachel Piercey encourages readers to write their own space poems using prompts and examples from the anthology. My poem was inspired by the How Planets Talk prompt.
Example: “Write your own cosmic recipe for another kind of food, for example Star Stew or Moon Muffins. Try to include some relevant ingredients – so if it’s Star Stew, you might have hydrogen, helium and mouldy old light.
Where will you serve your food, on what, and to whom? Let your imagination run riot!”
Please, please write a space poem and share it with me by leaving it in a comment below, or post it on my Facebook page, or tweet me. 
Creativity Can Encourage & Empower Us All!
FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Of course the cool astronauts brush their teeth with purple toothpaste!


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Using Creativity to Encourage Grrl Power


All of the stories I’m working on have one thing in common: they feature strong female protagonists. My aim is to empower girls, and the guys around them (Think #HeForShe ) of all ages through my writing.

My first finished project is my fictional, science-based graphic novel story for tweens, Hidden Heroes. Think the movie Inside Out starring Estrogen as a superhero, and Samantha, the girl Estrogen has to turn into a woman. Think a story, not a textbook, on the beginning stages of female puberty.

Facts I had to learn about graphic novels before I could attempt to write one:

–GNs are comics, but usually much longer, and don’t have tons of issues. They can be a series though—think Zita Spacrgirl, a trilogy, or Hereville, trilogy.

–Graphic novel text is written for the illustrator, NOT the reader.

–The text is written in script form. From Hidden Heroes:

SPLASH PAGE: (This means only one panel for the whole page.)
Estrogen and Antibody come around the bend in a vein, cruising on the blood stream. Estrogen is in an inner tube. Antibody is swimming. Estrogen is wearing a one-piece bathing suit. Antibody resembles a friendly Mammalian sea creature. (This is the panel description that the illustrator needs, but won’t end up in the published book. BTW: Things like captions and dialogue do end up in book.)

Caption: Inside Samanthaland, Estrogen and Antibody are riding the blood slide around Ovarian Island.
Estrogen: Wheeeeee!
Antibody: Owamp!

–A typical graphic novel as 4-7 panels per page.
This is an example page from Zita Spacegirl (6 panels):


–Because a picture tells a 1000 words, your words can’t repeat what’s going on in the panel illustration, but rather, need to show what’s not going on…think dialogue, sound effects etc.

–GNs ask readers to engage with its story on two levels: Language and pictures. This means kids are using two parts of their brains to comprehend what they are reading. Schools are noticing a significant increase in test scores when kids can study complex topics, like the Constitution, using a graphic novel instead of a regular textbook. (Check out my buds at: The Comics Education Offensive to learn more about it!)

This is the advantage of doing a science-based story as a graphic novel…accessibility and deeper comprehension.

If you haven’t read a graphic novel yet, try one out. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it.

Some suggestions of fictional graphic novels with strong female characters for tweens:
Zita Spacegirl
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
Find these and other suggestions at the A Mighty Girl site.

A list of posts on  graphic novels for older girls, aka women, can be found in this Huff Post page.

Which graphic novels have you enjoyed and why? Send me your answer by replying to this letter, or post it on my Facebook page, or tweet me. 

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Batgirl costume



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What Do You Expect?


In my case letting go of myself meant releasing my huge aspirations. Aspirations that I thought were my way in…into connection, into being loved. They were my lifelines. How would I survive without them?

But once I saw what my aspirations had become, I knew I had to let them go. They’d morphed into paralyzing expectations that seemed to move me further from my dream rather than closer to it. And in addition, they prevented me from enjoying the journey.

Letting go also means I have to float in the present, and allow the future to unfold on its own. To accept that I might not become a best-selling author who starts a foundation to serve kids’ needs. That I may give on a smaller scale like George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life) rather than on a J. K. Rowling scale. And that that’s okay.

I’m still struggling with this, but I can acknowledge that there’s a certain freedom and relief in casting off expectations in all areas, not just my career.

Lack of expectation makes room for acceptance, for amazing surprises to happen, and removes the possibility of resentment. For we all fall short of our own, as well as others’, expectations at times.


Deenie, the heroine of Judy Blume’s book by the same name, knows all about failing to meet another’s expectations. The popular girl in school, whose mother expects her to become a model, falls from grace when she’s forced to wear a body brace due to her severe scoliosis. Freed from the expectations of her classmates as well as her mother, Deenie eventually discovers who she can become.

I loved the book when I read it as a kid. Perhaps it’s time to read it again.

Have you let go of a dream, or expectation recently? How has it changed your life? Where/how did you find the courage to let go? Please share your stories in the comments section below, or on my Facebook page.


Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Floating in the purple present






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Listening To My Internal GPS

One day while working in the State Department I had a vision. I say vision because I was wide awake.

An old woman in a gorgeous canopy bed just appeared.  She was sobbing. When I approached her, she pleaded with me to not let fear, or anything else stop me from pursuing my goals. That I would succeed if only I jumped in with both feet. When I asked why she cared, she told me she was giving me a second chance to rewrite my past. (Turns out she was me.) The experience gave me the courage to go to LA and pursue acting and music.

At the time it seemed like what I needed to hear.

But now I think my older self was misguided.

unaimed arrow

Maybe using our internal GPS is the best way to approach life goals. You have destinations in mind, and are open to getting re-routed along the way. In addition, if the weather at a certain spot makes it impossible to get there, you change your destination altogether.

Flexibility allows you to swerve around the potholes, while softening the blow if you have to drive over them.

If I have a chance to go back to my younger self again, this is the advice I’d share.

As I embark upon a new journey to published writerland, I’m asking myself to stay open to detours, or new destinations, along the way.

For a good example of flexibility in action, check out The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz.


Born a night fairy, Flory’s life takes a drastic turn when she loses her wings. Forced to live on the ground, Flory must learn new skills in order to survive. These include fighting off predators using a thorn sword, and finding food on foot. Ultimately, she decides to change her very nature into that of a day fairy.

Ultimately Flory succeeds because she accepts her new situation, rather than trying to get back to her old life.

Though the book is targeted for younger readers, aged 6-9, I think all of us could learn a thing or two from Flory.

Have you changed course lately? Tell me about it–what you’ve discovered, where you’re headed etc. by replying to this letter, or post your stories on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:

purple arrow

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Mother Nature Lets Loose

Do you think Mother Nature feels our pain? I do.

No one can deny it’s been a tumultuous year so far.

Last Sunday night Mother Nature let her own frustration loose. (Her fury arrived between conventions, which I take to mean she’s not telling which way she’s voting.) 🙂 We had heavy rain, hail, and winds gusting up to 50 mph.

She blew down man made stuff like this stoplight, amazingly it still worked, and her own creations-think trees big and small.


I wondered whether she was trying to tell us something. Be kind to each other and me or else? Perhaps she was just venting. Spitting the negative energy she’d absorbed from us back out. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just ask her?

In the fantasy/mystery tale Gaia Girls Enter The Earth, 10-yr-old Elizabeth gets to do just that. She meets Gaia, the spirit of the earth, who resides in the body of a cute otter. Gaia explains how everything is connected, and thus why hurting the environment damages us all.

Elizabeth also has powers. She can control soil, and the trees and creatures that live in it. (Wish I could’ve controlled the wind the other day. Watching trees fly around was scary.) This comes in handy when she wants to save her family farm from being swallowed up by a corporate farming outfit.

Since I haven’t met Gaia yet, I can only guess that she wants what I want… to be treated with loving kindness and respect.

Maybe if we continue to change our ways we’ll see more of these:

Shot from my deck a few weeks ago.

If you have any cool storm or rainbow pics, please share them with me here on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Chicago storm captured by David Mayhew.

DavidMayhew stormPic

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Lyrics For Gonna Get Mine

Gonna Get Mine, By Anny Rusk


They strapped her in

blood drained from her face

She tried to smile

I tried not to faint

Each tick of the clock

sounded like a blast

They put in her I.V.

said she’d go real fast


I saw the poison spread

like ink in a water glass

Before she went cold she said



They say when you die

you’ll find peace of mind

Well I hope they’re right, I hope they’re right

They say when a bell rings

an angel gets wings

and tonight when the last bell chimes

I’m gonna get mine


Used to believe

an eye for an eye

You cut someone down

you become the sacrifice

Not so cut and dried

when before your eyes

You watch her writhe

as death breathes in her life


What point has been made

through this retribution

Any souls saved, anything changed…she prayed




If it could bring back

just one little lamb

I could wash her blood from my hands

She looked like an angel, peace on her lips

She had flown, flown away, gotten her wings…..


The victim’s family

said a swift amen

Thought their hearts would heal

thru an act of revenge


The poison spread

like ink in a water glass

Before she went cold she said




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I’ve missed writing to you.
In the few months since I last wrote, lots has happened.  AnnyWorld has grown. This expansion motivated me to change the focus of my Letters.
Each Letter from AnnyWorld will explore a new realm.  Together we’ll discover fictional lands such as The Roids from /Craig Thompson’s Space Dumplins, and my own Deamspree, places we already know, but with a my twist on them, and folks who are changing pieces of their own worlds.
Whatever the topic, my intention is to empower you to build a world of your own — a world that both inspires and excites you.
Because correspondence is meant to be a two-way street, I encourage you to put your own stamp on Letters From AnnyWorld.  Suggest fantastical realms, real or imagined,  for me to explore and share here, people you’d like me to profile, ask me questions, and share my letters with anyone you think would enjoy and/or benefit from them. 

You can reach me by replying to my Letter emails, posting on my Facebook page, or engaging me on Twitter,
I’m excited to continue our journey together!
Expect a new letter from me soon.
Here are some tidbits from upcoming letters:

Vietnamese Purple Fan

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: Vietnamese Silk Fan

Page of the script from Hidden Heroes, my new graphic novel.

Page of the script from Hidden Heroes, my new graphic novel. 

Fan mail for Riley.

Fan mail for Riley.

Riley, a famous K9 Reading Buddy.

Riley, a famous K9 Reading Buddy.

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A Slice of AnnyWorld:

It all started when Will decided to make his grand entrance exceedingly early–three months before his due date. 

Having not waited until he was fully ‘cooked,’ meant Will had to spend five months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). A harrowing experience for Will, but maybe even more so for his parents, Brittany and Scott. (Around 60% of parents whose babies have long NICU stays  are at risk for Post-Traumatic Stress.) Well-meaning caregivers focused on Will’s survival, but didn’t have time to educate his parents on what was happening, or how to handle a fragile preemie, so often Britt and Scott were left out of their son’s care altogether. 

As the months dragged on, Britt imagined a world where parents were an equal and active member of their baby’s health care team.  She and Scott shared her idea with docs, nurses, caseworkers, parents, everyone involved in the NICU process to see what they’d have to do to turn Britt’s dream into a reality.  What they discovered was that there was a name for what they wanted to bring into the NICU: Family Integrated Care. 

Turns out FICare had been around a while.  A pilot program at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto revealed a simple truth: babies/children not only survived more often, but thrived when health care became a family affair. To make Family Integrated Care a reality in her backyard, the Bay Area , she and Scott founded Will’s Way Foundation.

Right now Will’s Way devotes money and energy to supporting families with babies in the NICU. As Britt put it: “We try to give parents one moment to feel normal.”  Will’s Way accomplishes that by providing “milestone meals” to parents, such as when a baby reaches a goal weight, or gets off oxygen, dinner at a local restaurant to get them out of the hospital, and in one case, threw a wedding dinner for a couple who got married while their baby was still in the NICU.

The foundation also addresses basic needs of NICU parents, such as giving gas cards to lessen the expense of their commutes, grocery cards to help them feed their families, and support for the siblings of the sick babies.

And there’s more on the horizon such as using technology to teach parents what they need to know in order to actively care for their baby in the NICU and beyond.
Currently Will’s Way helps about 6 NICU families per week.

Will’s Way’s mission is to make FICare the norm in the NICU first, and then hopefully the paradigm for all hospital patients.

Want to change your world?  Britt’s advice is to “share your idea with others.  Allow your idea to change and become what it needs to be, then own it and continue to grow it.  There are a lot of ideas out there.  The key is to see it through.”

Using their imaginations and will, Britt and Scott are changing the NICU experience for the parents that have come after them.

“Imagine a world where….” finish the sentence and share your idea, and what you will, or are doing to make that word a reality with all of us on my FB page, or reply to this post.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: A diaper cake.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: A diaper cake.

Destination of the Fortnight: One of my favorite museums is in Will's backyard, The Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA

Destination of the Fortnight: One of my favorite museums is in Will’s backyard, The Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA


Posted in Imagination, Inspired Creativity, Thinking Outside The Box, Uncategorized by with 1 comment.


A Slice of AnnyWorld:

I admire my buddy Lorraine Watson.  She walked away from the safe tech world when she realized her life was not of her own making.

Her discomfort pushed her to discover, and then embrace, her own unique light.

Turns out that Lorraine’s being enjoys leading others along a similar path of self-discovery.  In that spirit, she launched a company called FOLLOW YOUR LIGHT.

But years before that, her being leaked out in creative ways that she didn’t always recognize at the time.  Take this example: When she used to regularly babysit her nephew, Lorraine would take him to a local tourist spot called Heritage Park, which depicted early 20th century life.

Every time they went, Lorraine encouraged her nephew to let his intuition, his inner voice, chart their path through the park.  The result was a different adventure, a different story, on every visit. 

I suspect her nephew retained much more of what he learned because his inner compass dictated when and how he picked up the information. As an added bonus, the adventures were much more fun for all of them.

For Lorraine it became a truth that she now shares with others: Following your own inner light guides you to make the best decisions for yourself.

In addition, it reminds her to “Let go of control, and fall into collaboration.”  in this case collaboration with your own being, or the beings of those around you.

Imagine what your next adventure could be like if you let your inner self, or your kids’ intuition, guide you instead of what a guidebook or museum map tells you to do? Perhaps you allow your kids to set the schedule for a Sat or Sun. family day, or allow them to do their homework in whatever order speaks to them that night?

On our next visit to the Art Institute or the Museum of Science and Industry, I’m gonna ask Madu to lead me around.  Can’t wait to see where we go!

Can you suggest other ways we can encourage our kids, and ourselves, to follow our inner compass to create amazing adventures?

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: Maple Leaves

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: Maple Leaves


Destination of the Fortnight: Heritage Park, Calgary, Canada


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