Tag Archives: J.K. Rowling

NV’s Inspirational Single Moms List

RosieRiviter

I need inspiration these days—maybe you do too? Being a single mom doesn’t necessitate giving up on personal dreams and goals, right?! … I keep telling myself this—like a mantra to get me through the eye of a storm. Yet, weeks go by where I find myself juggling demands from school, illnesses with the boys, a myriad of activities, homework help, cooking, shopping, freelance work, etc. … I know I don’t need to tell any of you about any of this! I am not alone. There are more than 10 million single mothers in America, according to the US Census Bureau’s Mother’s Day 2013 report .
I’d venture to guess that most of us are great moms. (Regardless of what silly politicians may say!) We put our children’s needs first and work diligently to provide safe and nurturing homes for them. But there’s no reason why we can’t also put ourselves, our dreams, and aspirations on our to-do lists, too.

For inspiration, I started researching successful women who pursued their passions—while also raising children solo. From poets and journalists—to athletes and politicians—these single working mothers beat the odds, pushed aside doubts and societal conventions and fought to make their dreams come true. I hope you are inspired by NV’s Inspirational Single Moms List:

mayaMaya Angelou: Ms. Angelou tops my list. Before writing I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings—and certainly before she became the Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University, OR read at Clinton’s inauguration, OR inspired Oprah—Angelou held a number of wild jobs to help raise her son Guy, including dancing, acting, writing and waiting tables. She was even rumored to have been a madam at one point. Thankfully, she kept writing, as her her poetry and vision has inspired millions. Angelou received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her book of poetry Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie, numerous literary awards, theNational Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton. In 2010, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., by President Barack Obama.  

Maria Montessori: Most have heard of the popular Montessori schools, but did you know the person who developed that particular method of education, was a single mother? Her determination in a male-dominated field, must have helped Montessori later as a single mother. Montessori had to fight her way into the University of Rome in 1890 to study physics, maths and natural sciences—subjects women in Italy were not allowed to study at the time. (When turned down, she pled her case to the Pope.) Upon her graduation, with another intercession by the Pope, Montessori entered the Faculty of Medicine, and became the first woman to enter and graduate medical school in Italy. Her work as a physician with disabled children, inspired her to ultimately create the Montessori style of teaching . Her drive and ambition is incredibly motivational, especially at a time, and in a country, that shunned women from science and further education.

IsadoraDuncanIsadora Duncan: The inventor of Modern Dance led an adventurous and rather unconventional life for the times. She was born  in San Francisco in 1877 (on my birthday, May 27th, coincidentally), and taught dance at a very early age.  After a few stints with dance companies in America, she sailed on a cattle boat to England at the age of 21. She worked throughout Europe and even in Russia, creating schools of dance to follow her modern dance style. Duncan interpreted music freely and without restriction, with a fondness for scarfs and Greek-inspired attire. A performance in London, with her dancing barefoot, soon enraptured concerts halls throughout Europe. The revolutionary dancer was a single mother of two.

Madeleine K. Albright:  The first female Secretary of State took a circuitous route in her career. For many years Albright focussed on raising her three young daughters and supporting her husband and his career. After her husband left her for a younger woman, Albright, who earned a Ph.D from Columbia University, became foreign policy adviser to vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. By 1988 she was advising presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. In the course of that doomed crusade, she met Bill Clinton and wrote him a letter of recommendation to the Council on Foreign Relations. A few years later, he named her ambassador to the United Nations. And we all know where this position ultimately led her.

NataschaNatascha Ragosina: As an undefeated professional boxer, this Russian athlete spent much of her career as the top super middleweight of the world. Not afraid to show her sexiness, or her powerful reach and quickness in the ring, she held all major female super middleweight titles and two heavyweight belts. This single mom embodies strength, power and beauty.

J.K. Rowling: Rowling worked hard—to not only support her infant daughter—but also to write a little book that would become known around the world: Harry Potter. After divorcing her first husband while pregnant, Joanne “Jo” Rowling raised her daughter Jessica solo while on state assistance and writing Harry Potter. Her depression during this period inspired the now famous soul-sucking dementors.  Rowling wrote in 2008 that there were “fringe benefits of failure,” explaining that she poured all her energy into finishing her book, as she considered herself officially a failure in everything else in her life.  “Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged.” Rowling’s hard work writing in cafes while her baby girl slept, paid off. She is now remarried and has two more children. Oh, and the mother of three has sold more than 400 million copies of her Harry Potter series worldwide. Her latest book, The Casual Vacancy, was published in 2012.

katiecouricKatie CouricThe now-famous TV journalist and talk show host, lost her husband to colon cancer in 1998—leaving her to raise her two teenage girls on her own. Couric rose to fame as a NBC new reporter, landing a job as the co-anchor of Today, then in 2006 becoming the first solo female anchor of CBS Evening News. Now Couric has her own talk show, Katie.  Clearly, she’s done a great job juggling single parenting and her career, while making it seem effortless.

Naomi Judd:  Before becoming the elder member of the wildly popular country music duo, Naomi Judd was a young single mother raising two little girls. She worked several jobs to support her family, including being a nurse, secretary, waitress and clerk, before she and her daughter Wynonna formed The Judds. The group would go on to become country music’s most successful mother-daughter duo. Her second daughter, Ashley Judd, became an acclaimed film actress. Along with her daughter, Wynona, Naomi has earned five Grammy Awards, and eight CMA awards. Not too shabby by any account!

mcclendonSarah Newcomb McClendon: McClendon worked as a long-time White House reporter and founded her own news service as a single mom during the post-World War II era. What I didn’t realize, is that this woman clearly embodies Texas grit and determination. After enlisting in the War and being assigned a public relations post, her husband left her before he met his death. She, meanwhile, was pregnant. Using her connections in Washington, D.C., McClendon landed a job—the same month as her daughter’s birth. Her moxie was evident her entire life as the savvy reporter became a leading model for women in the press and she was well known for asking bold questions during Presidential press conferences. She died in 2003.

Harriet Strong:  Her last name is perfect. I can’t imagine the strength it took to be able to invent a water conservation device and irrigation system during the first World War—after her husband left her and their four daughters for the California Gold Rush. The single mother and scientist was also a well known speaker for women’s independence and suffrage.

Julie-Newmar-CatwomanJulie Newmar: There are many actresses who are single mothers today. But to be honest, it’s hard to garner inspiration from their lives, when many achieved stardom before having or adopting children and have an entourage of help and money at their disposal. One actress, however, is a bit different. The original Catwoman in the popular “Batman and Robin” TV series, Newmar was an accomplished Broadway success in the 50′s and 60′s. Few realize, however, that she  raised her son, John who has down syndrome, alone—taking him with her all around the world. She showed that women can pursue their passions, while finding a way to provide love and security for a child.

NV’s Book Choices for the Holidays

Woman reading a book on the sofa

The gift of a good book just can’t be underestimated! Here are some of my favorite reads, and tops on my must-read list. (And, don’t worry, NV’s children and young adult picks are coming out soon.) But isn’t it important to treat ourselves during the holidays, too? I think of it like oxygen on the airplane. You have to first breathe into your own emergency oxygen container before securing one onto your child, right? Similarly, don’t forget to put yourself on your holiday list with one of these inexpensive splurges. So, while you’re  buying Santa’s gifts for your cherubs, pick up one of these for yourself! Think of it as momma’s indulgence: put the kiddos in bed, snuggle with a blanket, drink some coco (or other beverage) and drift far, far away.

1. Heft, a novel, by Liz Moore

Why I love this book: It’s remarkable when an author can make you feel compassion for extremely flawed characters. We come to see the morbidly obese ex-professor as the beautiful person that he is. Tragically caged by his mind and his habits in his house—we begin to see that he is one of the thoughtful, kind, compassionate souls the world needs more of. The depressed, alcoholic mother and her baseball fanatic son become people of worth. The co-dependent son is wise before his years. He doesn’t realize his true strength and courage may be off the baseball field. His mother, fighting lupus and addictions, has a kindness tangled beneath her depression, pain and booze. The young pregnant maid without a college degree, we come to see as courageous and street-smart. They all have gifts that would be rarely recognized in the real world or through our lens coated with societal constraints and judgements. Any book that can open our hearts and make us re-evaluate quick, stereotypical thinking, is high on my list. It’s a great read for teens and adults.

2. Ladder of Years, by Anne Tyler

I have read every book by Anne Tyler, and could easily recommend her latest or one of my other favorites by the Baltimore-based author—such as Back When We Were Grownups and Breathing Lessons. But this particular book is a great one for single moms, or any of us who have stayed the course in our lives and with our families, but sometimes fantasize catapulting a way out—even if just for a brief period.

Married with three almost-grown children, Delia Grinstead leaves her family’s beach house for an errand. Her bags aren’t packed, her next move not pre-meditated, but she just keeps going. It’s as if her feeling of liberation moves her forward and her mind must catch up later. She settles into a new life, that most would not find that exciting, but it is her own. She is in control of her life, her decisions and her time—and she is no longer reminded daily of how she is taken for granted. Oddly, even though most of us would never make this choice, it’s hard not to like this character and feel some understanding for her bizarre, steadfast “crack” that pushed her forward and onward—leaving her older children with her husband.

3. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
This remarkable example of the healing power of forgiveness tops my ‘must read list.’ I first saw an interview with Louis Zamperini, the champion of Unbroken, on CBS Sunday Morning Memorial Day weekend. (Watch the clip here, it’s worth it!) I’ve been meaning to read this book ever since, as I  know that holding on to your pain, grudges and toxic memories only hurts you. Forgiving those who have hurt you, frees you to live a joyous life. It’s easy to say, very hard to do. So hopefully, Unbroken will be in Santa’s bag for me!

If you haven’t heard about this book, it’s about the life of Louis Zamperini, a young Olympian runner who was shot down in  the Pacific near Japan during WWII. Imprisoned in a brutal camp for two years, Zamperini endured horrific torture and starvation. His story, written by Hillenbrand, shows how he managed to turn away from abusing alcohol to numb his post-traumatic stress and nightmares—to a lifetime of forgiveness—even forgiving the sadistic camp director. Just amazing.

4. Super Brain, by Deepak Chopra, M.D. & Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D.

I got inspired to read my first Chopra book after doing his 21 Day Meditation Challenge. During the challenge, I had a few ‘aha moments’. One, is that hearing “you are a transplendent being” or “worthy of love” every day—makes you believe it. And, finally, focussing on your inner beauty, strength and kindness helps you realize that you deserve health, love and abundance in your life.

Intellectually, you may think that you deserve these things, but emotionally, you may hold different beliefs—even those not spoken. Perhaps neglect or abuse from childhood, abuse during marriage, or other toxic memories have made you feel lesser than. This book explains how to harness your mind to overcome these issues, control your thoughts, and lessen anxiety to live a more joyful life.

As a good friend said to me: “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

5. The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling

This is on my “must-read list” and I’m happy to report that one of my son’s “bought” this for my Christmas present today! I can’t wait to read J.K.’s latest just for pure escapism during the holidays. As a former London resident, I’ve developed a fondness for quaint English villages and the quirky, gossipy residents who typically live there. I can’t wait to indulge in this book that follows the aftermath of a young man’s death and how the families in this idyllic village don’t lead such idyllic lives.

So tell me, what’s on your list?