Our focus on strong women continues, and sometimes we find those women exactly when we need them and they are a fleeting influence in our lives.
Life has an interesting, sometimes funny, way of bringing people together in the right place at the right time. Have you ever had a conversation with a woman who you didn’t know that impacted your life? Tell us about it.
Edith/Maddie: When I was a senior in college, a professor encouraged me to take a graduate seminar. After a week, I was so unconfident and cowed by what I perceived as the brilliance of the grad students, I dropped it. A year later I was on a cross-country solo bus trip and happened to sit with a woman a few years older. Like me, she also wore thrift-store clothes, no makeup, and sensible shoes (this was 1975). She said she was in a PhD program to look at the effect of feminist counseling centers on lesbians’ mental health. I stared and thought, if she can do that, I can. Two years later I started a doctoral program in linguistics and earned my PhD four years later. I don’t even know her name.
Barb: I’ve casual conversations with strangers that changed my life, but as I think of it, most were with men. The most meaningful encounters I’ve had with women have been with people with whom I have one sort of relationship, say as work colleagues, but somehow the conversation goes to another place. Strong, older women have given me incredible advice about parenting while working, time management, and general advice about what to expect from life and how to ride the inevitable roller-coaster. I am forever grateful for conversations they probably don’t remember.
Sherry: This wasn’t a conversation but a book about a strong woman. When I was going through a difficult period in my life, I came across Sara Parestsky’s V. I. Warshawski books. They helped me get through that time. Since then, I’ve met Sara and was able to thank her for writing such wonderful books with a complex female character.
Liz: I remember being in a really low place one day and going to a yoga class at my regular studio. While I was waiting for class to start a woman about my age came in and started chatting with me. I don’t even remember exactly what our conversation was about but it felt like I was talking to a kindred spirit – and I felt so much better after our chat. She didn’t even live in the area, but said she was passing through and wanted to do a class. We did exchange numbers and talked about getting together for coffee at some point, but I never saw her again and sometimes I think I imagined her, or maybe she was an angel sent to lift my spirits that day.
Jessie: I have pondered this question and pondered it but I cannot recal a time when something like that has happened to me. Like Barb, I have had a lot of heart-to -heart conversations that have meant a great deal to me but not with strangers. I am not sure I give off the sort of energy that invites that sort of thing from those with whom I am not acquainted! Perhaps I should ponder on that!
Readers, have you had a chance encounter with a woman that made a difference in your life? Tell us about it in the comments below.
I worked in the same hospital as my well known Aunt. Well known because she was Asst Director of Nursing for the longest time,her superior was a lovely old gentleman. Everyone knew & adored her for her knowledge & gentleness but firmly dealing with ‘anything’. My family was well known in the area as policeman,fire fighters, priests or in the medical field- big family you know us.
She and I worked weekend’s and were able to spend time together as we did when I was growing up. She told me to ‘”Always wear a smile, regardless of how I feel. You never know when some one
needs you. If you go about this world self absorbed & the Lord has some need for you, you’ll miss it. If you’re wearing a smile at least you’ll be able to pick some one else up and maybe lead them onward.”Then she said “Always carry a book, it reminds you that you have a purpose, shows other’s that you have interesting ideas and ideals and will give you talking points. Take a book to give away.”
When I was younger I would spend overnights at her home after she was widowed. She had 2 boys to put through college so the family worried when she was alone. She took classes often, I
enjoyed this. One was I had fun with was speed reading. It had a small machine, the sentences came on you had to memorize then type out. I loved this. I was about 8years old. Learning typing,speed reading, politeness, smiling thru everything, carrying a book to give to another in the hospital.. I don’t know what more a lady can do but she did.
I did tell her many many times in our later years how much she touched my life. Because I believe
God has special Angels in all our lives, Often for mere moments sometimes they stay awhile.
I keep watch to embrace and let mine know I appreciate them.
Like some of you, I’ve had heart-to-heart conversations with women who have become friends, but no chance encounters come to mind. I’ve been told that I can be intimidating until you get to know me, so perhaps that’s why!
Not a single conversation with a stranger that I can think of. I do like reading Kathy’s above. What wonderful advice.
In 2013, in St. Petersburg, Florida, I attended the 5th North American Conference of the Historical Novel Society. One of the speakers and guests of honor was Anne Perry, the best-selling mystery author. On the morning after she addressed the convention, I saw her eating breakfast alone. I asked if she wanted company, and she said “Yes, please!”
As we conversed, she generously asked about my writing. At the time, I was looking for an agent for my first Gideon Stoltz historical mystery, “A Stranger Here Below,” and had begun thinking about the second, “Nighthawk’s Wing.” (Both are set in the 1830s; both ultimately were published by Arcade CrimeWise.)
Ms. Perry suggested that I develop my main character’s wife, True Burns Stoltz, as a major character and a full partner to my main character Gideon, both in life and in investigating crimes. Anne had done that in her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt and her William Monk/Hester Latterly series; she said that having both a woman’s and a man’s perspectives in a novel greatly enriched the story. I followed her excellent advice as I plotted and then wrote “Nighthawk’s Wing.” I evenwrote many passages from True’s point of view.
That chance encounter made a huge difference in my writing career. I find that True’s emergence as a strong and independent character has made the writing of my mysteries much more satisfying and enjoyable.
What a great breakfast, Charles – and splendid advice. I love reading True’s parts of the books.
Thanks, Edith! btw, I am reading your “Delivering the Truth” right now. I absolutely love your character Rose Carroll. Talk about a strong woman!
Aww, thank you!
I worked as a public school librarian and my mother was also a teacher. Mom always said to be sure and make friends with the school secretary and the school custodian as they would be knowledgeable and very helpful. I followed her advice and learned so much at all the schools where I worked from those, in every case, strong women. I still keep in touch by postcards with several of them now, years later.
Not random people, but coworkers and mentors who helped with so much encouragement, advice, and support. I have tried to do the same for others.
One very random event, though, facing a health scare, I saw a license plate: UR OK. It was in the parking lot of my usual grocery store, but that was the only time I ever saw it . . . and I was, indeed, okay. 😉
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