Thursday, December 19, 2013

206: The Self-Empowered Woman: My Holiday Wish for You

Dear Followers,

I received this amusing email from my late father-in-law's widow, and thought I'd pass it along.  Helen is in her 80s, and it's nice to know that a good sense of humor doesn't fade.  Enjoy...

Merry Christmas To My Female Friends

If I were ol' Santa, you know what I'd do
I'd dump silly gifts that are given to you
And deliver some things just inside your front door
Things you have lost, but treasured before.

I'd give you back all your maidenly vigor,
And to go along with it, a neat tiny figure.
Then restore the old color that once graced your hair
Before rinses and bleaches took residence there.

I'd bring back the shape with which you were gifted
So things now suspended need not be uplifted.
I'd draw in your tummy and smooth down your back
Till you'd be a dream in those tight fitting slacks.

I'd remove all your wrinkles and leave only one chin
So you wouldn't spend hours rubbing grease on your skin.
You'd never have flashes or queer dizzy spells,
And you wouldn't hear noises like ringing of bells.

No sore aching feet and no corns on your toes,
No searching for spectacles when they're right on your nose.
Not a shot would you take in your arm, hip or fanny,
From a doctor who thinks you're a nervous old granny.

You'd never have a headache, so no pills would you take.
And no heating pad needed since your muscles won't ache.
Yes, if I were Santa, you'd never look stupid,
You'd be a cute little chick with the romance of a cupid.

I'd give a lift to your heart when those wolves start to whistle,
And the joys of your heart would be light as a thistle.
But alas! I'm not Santa. I'm simply just me,
The matronest of matrons you ever did see.

I wish I could tell you all the symptoms I've got,
But I'm due at my doctor's for an estrogen shot.
Even though we've grown older, this wish is sincere,
Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year.

Save the Earth; it is the only planet with chocolate!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

205: The Self-Empowered Woman: Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Dear Followers,

Practically everyone knows that Dr. Ruth--who studied at the Sorbonne and rose to fame in the 1980s--is America's most popular sex therapist. But few know about her life before success and stardom.
Her birth name was Karola Ruth Siegel, and she was born in Wiesenfeld, Germany in June 1928. Her parents (she was an only child) were Orthodox Jews (3: Belief In The Unbelievable), and soon afterwards Hitler began actively promoting genocide against the Jews. When she was ten years old, her father was taken by the Nazis (1: No Paternal Safety Net), and in January 1939, her mother and grandmother sent her to an orphanage in Switzerland. Letters from her parents stopped arriving by September 1941, and four years later she learned that her parents had been murdered in the Holocaust, probably at Auschwitz (12: Hard Times).
As a teenager, she emigrated to Palestine, where she joined the Haganah as a scout and sniper (11: Risk Addiction). When an exploding shell seriously wounded her in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, she was unable to walk for several months. Two years later she moved to Paris, and six years after that she immigrated to the United States (14: Selective Disassociation).
Dr. Ruth speaks English, French, German and Hebrew, and has written a number of books on human sexuality. She received her master's degree in sociology from The New School; her doctorate in education is from Columbia. She completed her post-doctoral work in human sexuality at New York-Presbyterian Hospital (10: The Critic Within).
In 1980, Maurice Tunick, who was the program coordinator at WYNY (NBC Radio's New York City station) joined with Betty Elam to launch a fifteen minute program at midnight on Sunday night starring Dr. Ruth and called "Sexually Speaking" (4: Supportive Someone). Within two months the show was expanded to an hour, and soon Dr. Ruth was appearing on TV shows like David Letterman. By 1982, Lifetime cable gave Dr. Ruth her first TV show, and she has also appeared on Israeli TV, PBS and has made guest appearances on a wide variety of programs (13: More Than Meets The Eye). 
Dr. Ruth is only four foot seven, wears size four shoes, has been married three times, and has a son and a daughter (who both have earned doctorates in education, just like their mother) and several grandchildren. At 85, she remains active, and recently allowed a New York Times reporter to write about her three-bedroom apartment in Washington Heights, Manhattan.
Looking forward to your comments...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

204 The Self-Empowered Woman: Mary Poppins/ P.L. Travers

Dear Followers,


Since there's been a great deal of publicity lately regarding the new film Saving Mr. Banks (starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as the irritable P.L. Travers), this seems like a good time to learn more about the woman who created Mary PoppinsPamela Lyndon Travers was born on August 9th, 1899 in Queensland Australia, and her birth name was Helen Lyndon Goff. Her mother was the niece of the Premier of Queensland, and her alcoholic father was an unsuccessful bank manager who died of influenza when Helen was only eight years old (1: No Paternal Safety Net).
Biographers believe that her creative career choice actually began only a few weeks after her father died. Her grief-stricken mother (who planned to drown herself in a nearby creek) had left her alone at home and in charge of her two younger sisters on a dark stormy night. To entertain her sisters she told them a fairytale about a magical white horse that could fly even though it had no wings--26 years later she would write about a magical nanny who could also fly without wings. And as a teenager, she also wrote poems and articles for local publications (2: An Early Sense Of Direction).
After her father's death, the family moved to New Zealand, but soon Helen changed her name to Pamela Lyndon Travers, and moved to Sydney where she began a career as a writer, dancer and model. When she was 24, she travelled to England with only ten pounds in her pocket (11: Risk Addiction). The gamble paid off, and she began writing newspaper columns for The Sun.
She began travelling to Dublin, and became friends with George Russell, the editor of The Irish Statesman. He became her mentor, and introduced her to a wide variety of accomplished writers, including Yeats (4: Supportive Someone). During her visits to Ireland she became exposed to various forms of astrology and mysticism; she also became an acolyte of the spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff (3: Belief in the Unbelievable).
In 1934, while recuperating from pleurisy (a lung disease), she moved out of London and into a cottage in Sussex, where she entertained two visiting children with a story about a nanny with an umbrella and a carpetbag. The story turned into Mary Poppins, was illustrated by the daughter of the Winnie the Pooh artist, and was published in 1934. The Mary Poppins books published from 1934 through 1989 became wildly successful (7: Magnificent Obsession).  
She had an unfortunately turbulent love life, and her lovers included a much older man, then an American bookshop owner, followed by an Irish poet (15: Forget About Prince Charming). As A broken-hearted 40 year old, she travelled to Killiney, Ireland where she was going to adopt a baby boy from a poor family. When she arrived she discovered there were twins, and on the advice of her astrologer she chose to adopt only one. Her new son's name was Camillus, but both his young years and adulthood were unhappy.
Travers was constantly able to change homes and locales during her life--to England, Ireland, New York, Arizona, Russia, Harvard, Japan, etc... (14: Selective Disassociation). Walt Disney's daughter fell in love with the book Mary Poppins, but it took him twenty years to persuade Travers to give him movie rights. She was notoriously difficult to work with, and made no secret about her dislike of everything connected with the movie. Richard Sherman who over a two and a half year period co-wrote the musical score for the movie told an interviewer, "She didn't care about our feelings, how she chopped us apart." She hated all the music, including Chim Chim Cheree, A Spoonful Of Sugar and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (5: Life Is Not A Popularity Contest). In spite of her disdain, Mr. Sherman and his brother won two Academy Awards for their work on Mary Poppins.  Julie Andrews  also won an Oscar.
Even though  her life was full of adventure and success, she definitely suffered. She told an interviewer that "Mary Poppins is the story of my life...Sorrow lies like a heartbeat behind everything I have written." She and Disney fought so bitterly that she wasn't even invited to the Mary Poppins premier. She begged for an invitation, but spent her time at the 1964 screening crying with her gloved hands clenched into fists (12: Hard Times).
All in all, Travers wrote 21 books, and died in 1996 (she was 96) from an epileptic seizure.
Looking forward to your comments...