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IWSG June 2014


Quote of the Day:  I feel now that the time has come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak…and I hope every woman who can write will not be silent… Harriet Beecher Stowe, quote from Harriet Beecher Stowe – A Spiritual Life by Nancy Koester

InsecureWritersSupportGroup.jpgAs I was considering what to write for this month’s installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group, hosted by successful blogger and author Alex J. Cavanaugh, I heard the voices of women who have gone before me. Like many people who have been inspired by the life, writings, and work of Maya Angelou, on the morning of her passing, I wept. I read blog posts and watched video clips of her and felt again her energy rising and inspiring me. I am currently reading the above mentioned book on the spiritual life of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the woman who gave a voice to the slaves in early America, and did much to change attitudes and inspire action. Both Angelou and Stowe felt silenced by the society they lived in and from the circumstances of their lives. And, still, they rose to their calling. Once they found their voices, they used them for good.

Harriet Beecher Stowe said she “saw a vision” and that came to her “by the rushing of a mighty wind.” She could no more push away the thoughts, ideas, and story than if they were her own children clamoring for attention. Despite the demands of motherhood (she had seven children) and living in a society that barely offered a living to a woman as a writer, or anything for that matter, and certainly didn’t think she had any place taking a political stance, she knew she had to write this story.

 Maya Angelou writers in her book, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas that there was a time when she just wanted to lie down and give up. She is the survivor of childhood rape and incest. She grew up in poverty, felt the sting of abandonment, and the horrible glares of prejudice. She worked as a stripper, raised her son on her own, and persevered. God placed in her a seed of strength and she rose to greatness. Some of my favorite quotes from her: 

Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.’

Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin – find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.

Our stories come from our lives and from the playwright’s pen, the mind of the actor, the roles we create, the artistry of life itself and the quest for peace.

And, one more that I’m paraphrasing here, I realized at one point that I am not a writer who teaches, rather I’m a teacher who writes. That’s also how I think of myself.

Dear Maya Angelou, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and all the courageous women who have gone on before us, Thank you.

You, whether you’re a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group or not, have a seed of strength in you, too. Answer your call and see where you will rise.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  Who do you look to for inspiration? Who has lead the way for you?


  1. It’s a far cry from Maya Angelou, but I looked to cartoons for this month’s inspiration. Watching Cars with my toddler for the 57th time has taught me a lot about the critical eye.

    • Mary Aalgaard
      Mary Aalgaard says:

      Bob, watching kids’ shows is excellent. They really know pacing and how to keep a viewer’s attention. Same with picture books. You have to be word savvy!

  2. When you see what those women went through, it destroys most of our excuses.

  3. There are certain authors that inspire me as a goal to achieve that level of style. TFS!

  4. Harriet and Maya are such amazing role models. They always inspire me to want to do and be better.

  5. That was very motivating; thank you.

  6. It goes to show you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it. What an inspiring post!

  7. “…I’m a teacher who writes…” And so am I.

    My favourite Maya Angelou quote:’I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

  8. This was delightfully inspirational. Thank you!

  9. So great to have this kind of inspiration! She will be dearly missed, but she also left us a great gift with her words.

  10. So loved Maya, what an amazing woman! Thank you for this inspiring post.

  11. What a lovely reflection! Like you, I cried when I found out that Maya Angelou passed this week. Seeing her speak/read her work was on my bucket list. She was such an incredible woman. Thank you for the quiet moment. 🙂

  12. What an amazing tribute to two beyond-amazing women. I, too, was very sad to hear of Maya’s passing, but at least no one can say she didn’t lead a very full, incredible life.

    When I think of the great people who inspire me–Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr., Stephen King–they always tend to be men. I want to get better at honouring the inspiring women of the past, as well as those I see around me everyday.

    • Mary Aalgaard
      Mary Aalgaard says:

      Holli, Keep your eyes and ears open for those incredible women. It is our job to lift them up. And, we can also rise to inspire others.

  13. “Have a seed of strength.” Beautiful post. So inspiring.

  14. “Answer your call and see where you will rise.”

    Perfect quote! That will be going on my inspiration board. This post is beautiful. It made me cry. I was so sad to hear of Maya’s passing, but the tribute I heard on NPR was such a celebration of life! That’s what we’re here for: to encourage people to the point that when we’re gone, we are missed but there is more dancing and singing than weeping. Oh, thank you for this post!


    • Mary Aalgaard
      Mary Aalgaard says:

      Jen, Thank YOU for the lovely comment. That is so true. Our words live on, our lives continue in and through others. What we do matters.

  15. This is beautiful. So true.

  16. I have to say that you picked two very inspirational role-models. Because honestly, if they managed to succeed, nothing stops us in comparison.

    Why? Because they opened those doors for us already. 🙂

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