I love museums! Next to libraries, they’re one of my favorite destinations. I first discovered the awesomeness of museums at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History as a sullen young teen who had recently been forced to relocate halfway across the country with my family. To add insult to injury, I was forced into a family outing to a museum instead of being able to stomp around the house. But how can you not be mesmerized by the dinosaurs, not to mention ancient cultures and other fascinating things? No wonder, Ben Stiller had a hit with “Night at the Museum.” There are so many treasures and stories within museum walls.
I visit Washington, DC as often as I can and always make time for the Smithsonian Museums. Their Natural History museum is tops, and I have a special place in my heart for the Air and Space and American Indian museums as well.
This past weekend, I paid a visit to my local museum, the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History. My kids were regulars there as they were growing up—field trips, summer classes, and regular visits. Two of them even worked as docents for a summer. But it had been awhile since I visited.
Old favorites remained—the mastodon on the first floor peering through a doorway to the dinosaurs who once lived in the region. Some items had been added to the extensive Native American exhibit, and I discovered beautiful sculptures from a Cherokee artist.
There were new exhibits as well. A traveling exhibit on Comets, Asteroids, and Meteors was pretty cool. With my upcoming book release of Cells: Experience Life at Its Tiniest, I particularly enjoyed an exhibit on cells, particularly how the first cells on Earth came to be. Then, there were the peat swamps. Who knew?
I think it’s fascinating that for all the exhibits we do see, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands more, behind closed doors. And for writers, a museum is a playground of ideas. Whether it’s a fictional adventure of museum artifacts coming to life or exploring a piece or idea further. Ugly Bug Contest anyone?
There are many ways to look at life. Perhaps the most authentic is by looking at its most basic. Cells make up every living thing on Earth. The majority of the living things are single-celled and invisible to the human eye. Still, millions of species are visible, like humans! Did you know that the typical human body has 30 trillion cells? And even more amazing is that they all have a job or function? If only our mechanized society ran as efficiently as the machine known as the human body!
On July 11, Cells: Experience Life at Its Tiniest is being released. This book shows readers ages 12-15 how cell science has impacted their lives in the past, present, and future. And readers can apply what they’ve learn and learn more with Inquire & Investigate activities at the end of each chapter.
Pre-order your copy of Cells: Experience Life at Its Tiniest (Nomad Press) at Amazon today.
March has arrived once again, and not only do we celebrate spring, but we have the honor and responsibility of celebrating women through National Women’s History Month. I want to connect with others—men and women—in the contributions women are making to the past, present, and future.
Each year, I look for new ways to recognize intelligent and courageous women. Why not do it this year with quotes? I enjoy motivating quotes. I collect them, post them, and share them. Good quotes inspire me to pay attention to what matters and to become a better person.
So here are a month of quotes to share–
We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced. — Malala Yousafzai
The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. –Gloria Steinem
A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. –Eleanor Roosevelt
Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got. There is no yesterday, no tomorrow, it’s all the same day. –Janis Joplin
I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind learning. –Amy Poehler
The best protection any woman can have is courage. — Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination. — Mae Jemison
I hope the fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say ‘yes, women can.’ – Dilma Rousseff
Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you. – Hillary Clinton
Aging is not ‘lost youth,’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength. — Betty Friedan
A feminist is a person who believes in the power of women just as much as they believe in the power of anyone else. It’s equality, it’s fairness, and I think it’s a great thing to be a part of. –Zendaya
A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim. –Maya Angelou
Well-behaved women seldom make history.― Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man; if you want anything done, ask a woman. — Margaret Thatcher
Knowing what must be done does away with fear. – Rosa Parks
If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. – Erica Jong
We’re here for a reason. I believe that reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark. –Whoopi Goldberg
It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent. – Madeleine Albright
Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance. – Anne Lamott
I would always rather be happy than dignified. ― Charlotte Brontë
The challenge is not to be perfect…it’s to be whole. – Jane Fonda
Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. ― Nora Ephron
When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch. ― Bette Davis
Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement. –Golda Meir
I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done. – Lucille Ball
I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.–Jane Austen
For whatever reason, I didn’t succumb to the stereotype that science wasn’t for girls. I got encouragement from my parents. I never ran into a teacher or a counselor who told me that science was for boys. –Sally Ride
Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create. – Oprah Winfrey
What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. – Jane Goodall
Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.― Cheris Kramarae
If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. – Katharine Hepburn
I’m going to let you in on a secret. I like fairy tales. Any type of fairy tales. Classic, modern, and mash-up’s. G-rated and dark, disturbing tales. I enjoy fairy tales across all mediums—books, television, and movies.
Outside of fairy tales and perhaps Tolkien, I’m not a huge fantasy ban, but fairy tales…let’s just say that the words Once Upon a Time send sparks of excitement running through my veins, and They Lived Happily Ever After gives me a sense of satisfaction that all is right with the world.
Fairy tales have been around for many centuries now. No one is certain how long, because these tales of bravery and lessons learned started as part of a strong oral storytelling tradition. Oral storytelling was like performance art in an intimate setting. The telling of the stories changed from storyteller to storyteller and audience to audience. You would never hear the same story twice. That changed some when they became preserved on paper. The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson get credit for writing down the stories.
I like how you can relate most fairy tales to some aspect of the world at large. For example, current American politics reminds me a lot of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Think about it.
There are lessons to be learned from fairy tales that go far beyond the obvious moral message. Fairy tales allow us to connect with our own unconscious feelings and struggles. We can experience battles of good versus evil, that are fueled in part by our daily lives. And we can overcome obstacles and triumph over any situation. We are the heroes.
Magic in fairy tales is a special enticement. How many of us hasn’t wished for magic in our own lives? With magic, wrongs are made right because good ultimately wins. Magic is possibility and hope. We can all stand to have a little more magic and fairy tales in our lives.
It’s February, and that means it’s African American History Month. Next month is Women’s History Month. And fitting to both is Hidden Figures, both the book and the movie. Author Margot Lee Shetterly knew two of the women highlighted in her book because her father also worked at Langley. But her husband had never heard of these women—Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson nor their contribution to the space race. Shetterly soon realized that most people didn’t know the story, so thankfully she wrote Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.
I had only heard of Katherine Johnson a couple of months earlier in a Timeless episode where the protagonists are trying to save the space program from a villain intent on keeping Apollo 11 from happening. At a critical moment at NASA, the character Rufus has an epiphany and goes to get help from NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson. Johnson, an African American woman, is basically hidden in the basement. She, of course, saves the day for the space program on the small screen as well.
Knowing that the show’s premise of time traveling back into history, I immediately looked up and read about Katherine Johnson. And I wanted to know why I had never heard of her. I had the same reaction years ago when I saw a small picture and placard in a museum years ago. She was the first African American woman to receive a pilot’s license and did it in the early days of aviation in 1921. Why had I not heard of Bessie Coleman?
Bessie Coleman got the idea of learning to fly when her brother came home from WWI talking about foreign female pilots. It lit a fire in her. She wanted to learn to fly. The problem was she couldn’t find anyone to teach her. She had two strikes against her. She was black, and she was female. Did she give up? NO! She learned to speak French, and she saved and raised enough money to get to France. Bessie walked nine miles to and from the airfield everyday to save money. And she finished the 10-month program in 7 months before becoming a licensed pilot. I’m still waiting for a movie on her life.
It would only take me another minute to come up with another dozen women who lived exciting, meaningful lives worthy of retelling. Give me five minutes, and who knows what number I could come up with.
The point is that for so long history was written from a white male Eurocentric point of view. Now that we’re embracing a broader view, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories out there worth knowing and sharing.