Lessons I have learned about being a strong and independent woman

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Annie Oakley: A Woman to be Reckoned With

Annie Oakley indeed fits the category of a strong and independent woman!
As a child, I loved the music from the musical “Annie Get Your Gun” which is a fictionalized tale of Annie Oakley’s life. I knew that music by heart as I played it whenever I could, and sang along.
As a shy kid, her gutsy songs gave me words and strength as I sang along. I loved the musical expression of strength. For years I longed to be able to sing them publically.
Fast forward some sixty years and I am finally getting to sing her words! I sing with a women’s chorus of about twenty voices. This spring we are singing from the musical. I am so excited!

Pieces of History

March is Women’s History Month! Today’s post comes from Madie Ward in the National Archives History Office.

Among the billions of documents in the National Archives, Archivist of the United States David Ferriero has a favorite: the 1898 letter from Annie Oakley to President William McKinley offering 50 American lady sharpshooters in the Spanish-American War.  

Letter from Annie Oakley to President McKinley, 1898front 05830_2005_001 Letter to President William McKinley from Annie Oakley in which she offers the services of a company of 50 lady sharpshooters who would provide their own arms and ammunition to the government should war break out with Spain, 4/5/1898. (National Archives Identifier 300369)

When I asked why, he replied, “[It is] an example of why archives are not boring! Most people have a mindset that these kinds of institutions are full of boring and dusty pieces of paper. I constantly remind people that each of our 13 billion pieces of paper and parchment—and…

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Unless you live under a rock…

you are probably very well aware that we are getting closer to the BIG day. Yup I am calling it the big day, that day that appears every four years – Election Day. Now before you groan and move off this page I just want you to check in with yourself and ask this question: Have I registered to vote? ( I did not ask you how you are going to vote, or what the most important issue in the campaign is or any of those other questions hanging out there at this time of year!)

Have you moved in the past year? The past two years or the past four?  Some of us move around more than others. When you moved did you register to vote at your new address? If you have not, please get yourself to the city/town clerk’s office and register to vote!!

It really is very important – for you, for me, for your friends, relatives and especially for your community. Voting is a special privilege we have in this country and it is very important to exercise it. Ooops, I am getting ahead of myself!!

Please, if you are not already registered to vote at your current residence, do it this week!





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Catching Strong and Independent Women

It is hard work keeping up with those strong and independent women! Or maybe I am just lazy. Actually today I do not feel much like a strong person at all. I had to take my beloved cat Zeus to the vet to be put down this afternoon. He was seventeen years young and I have had him since he was six weeks old. A horrible brat when he was a kitten, he grew to be a caring, fun loving and adventurous cat who liked nothing better than to ride on my shoulder whenever we moved.

He loved to watch television, in particular comics or nature shows. Zeus never failed to be upset by the sound of a baby crying – either on tv or in person, or by a distraught animal of any kind. He had a very strong maternal side as evidenced by his reaction several years ago to our bringing home a kitten rescued by my niece. A tiny little Maine Coon kitten he claimed tiny little Indie (short for independent), as her personal kitten within five minutes of his appearance in the house. Indie was young enough that he needed assistance in cleaning himself. One day my mother took it upon herself to take care of the poor little kitten with a dirty butt; this was not to Indie’s liking however and as his tail swiveled he loudly made clear his displeasure. To Zeus this was a battle cry for freedom as he charged the area. A gentle boy at heart, he struggled with a felt need to physically restrain his grandmother from “hurting” his kitten as his paw struggled to be still. Instead he let loose with a strong growl of warning to her. When she was finished he spent the next several minutes grooming and consoling little Indie.  Indie is about ten now but there has never been a more comforting reassurance in life than to have his “Mama Zeus” groom his head for him.

Zeus has been going blind for several years now, but he seemed to compensate well except the past year he has cried out loudly at night, which has been somewhat alleviated by strategically placed nightlights. In addition he became very arthritic and had recurring bouts of cancer on his back. The past few days he has not been himself and stopped purring. That was the warning to me that he was in bad shape – he usually purred so loudly he could be heard acrost the room.

I wil miss my buddy, but he did help me learn to be more independent. Thanks for the love, and the lessons, little Zeusaroo. 20131211_004243 Handsome Zeus May 2011

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“It is not easy being green”

So said Kermit the frog. He knew what he was talking about. Some days it is hard for all of us to be who we are. It certainly must have been so for all the strong and independent people that I know. It is true for everyone that I know -even if we do not always know how hard it is for some people.

I seek to highlight those strong and independent women of my family as well as the many others who have influenced me. I came of age at the beginning of the so called women’s liberation movement so it was important to me and my friends. I was blessed to have a mother who inspired independence – even if I did not always appreciate it!

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Lessons from Gram

Growing up we lived next to my maternal grandparents who had a farm. (ee-i-ee-ii-oo!) I spent a lot of time with them and consider them to be a great influence on my life, and am very thankful for the experience.

My grandmother was truly a strong and independent woman with a wonderful smile and great laughter. I am proud to say that I am taller than she was at my 5’2″ (when I have been doing my yoga that is!) A feisty redhead from a large family, Gram (known as Trixie to her friends in her youth) was in the middle of the brood of eight children and the apple of her father’s eye.

Born in 1893 she was a forward thinking woman who had her own bank account throughout her marriage – at a time when most women did not even know about finances. She was a thrifty saver that used that money to decorate the house or purchase special things from her account. Gram also loved poetry, read extensively and was a good baker.

Gram was also fiercely competitive – I think having all those siblings made her that way! She taught me to play checkers at a very young age. While she willingly taught a child to play, she did not let me win! It took me a couple of years until I could beat her – I endured endless shouts of “king me” while her deep brown eyes danced with joy.

I came very close to winning many times, but not quite. Gram made me a persistent child, and woman, as I tried and tried to beat her at checkers. And finally one day it just happened – no fanfare, no shout, just surprise on my part as I finally WON!!!!  I think that I was in a state of shock as I started to realize that indeed I had just beat my grandmother at checkers.  There was silence. Silence as she appeared to be sulking over my win. She seemed unhappy to have lost. I do not think that she was unhappy that I won however, just that she did not like losing.

I learned quite a lesson that day. I learned that strong and independent women do not give up – ever. They work hard, they practice the things that they do not do well. And in time, perhaps years, but in due time they do succeed.

Oh by the way, Gram and I did continue to play checkers and sometimes I won, and sometimes she won. She was always patient. And in time she taught me other board games, I do not remember much about who won and who lost those games but I have never forgotten the thrill of winning at checkers for the first time. What a great feeling, even all these years later.