Like many Americans, I have been glued to the Dickson television sets lately, taking in the excitement and pageantry of the Democratic National Convention. I expect the National Republican Convention to be similarly riveting for Americans, though for a decidedly different demographic slice.
    At any rate, I have been struck by the participation of women in this year’s process.{mosimage}
    Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and a number of lesser-known and what we think of as “normal” American women have been front and center in this year’s political process. Both of North Carolina’s candidates for the United States Senate are women, and two North Carolina women, one a survivor of the Pillowtex plant closing in Kannapolis which cost more than 4,000 factory jobs in a single day, addressed Democratic convention goers. I will be interested to see the participation of Republican women as well.
    Watching all this sent me back to a small paperback book I purchased during an unexpected, unwelcome and long layover for a delayed flight earlier this summer. Entitled Great Quotes from Great Women and compiled by Peggy Anderson, my little book buy could have been an example of people buying anything to stave off airport boredom. I find most of the quotations fascinating, though some are comforting and familiar, while some are novel and thought-provoking. They come from politicians, writers, entertainers, scientists and humanitarians, and each is a pearl of its creator’s experience and wisdom.
    A sampling from women unafraid to shake up the status quo as they saw it:
    Eleanor Roosevelt, a wise, compassionate and much-admired first lady left us with many such pearls, these among them. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” and “It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.”
    American Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shared her take on inner strength. “It is easy to be independent when you’ve got money. But to be independent when you haven’t got a thing, that’s the Lord’s test.”
    The English writer Agatha Christie was thinking about money from the opposite end of the spectrum when she said, “Where large sums of money are concerned, it is advisable to trust nobody.”
    Helen Keller, perhaps our nation’s most famous example of overcoming personal disabilities, said this, “I thank God for my handicaps, for through them, I have found myself, my work and my God.”
    Our first First Lady, Martha Washington, also believed in making our own happiness. She said, “I have learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.”
    Our entertainers share advice as well, both lighthearted and serious.
    “Sex appeal is 50 percent what you’ve got, and 50 percent what people think you’ve got.”
— Sophia Loren
    “I don’t know anything about luck. I’ve never banked on it, and I’m afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: hard work — and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t.”
— Lucille Ball
    “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”
— Janis Joplin
    “I’m not a has-been. I’m a will-be.”
— Lauren Bacall
    “Careful grooming may take 20 years off a woman’s age, but you can’t fool a long flight of stairs.”
— Marlene Dietrich
“Hungry people cannot be good at learning or producing anything, except perhaps violence.”
— Pearl Bailey
    “It’s the good girls who keep the diaries; the bad girls never have the time.”
— Tallulah Bankhead
    These pearls come from one of my favorites, Katharine Hepburn. “Plain women know more about men than beautiful ones do,” and “To keep your character intact, you cannot stoop to filthy acts. It makes it easier to stoop the next time.”
    Here are several random quotes which resonate with me. “Parents have become so convinced that educators know what is best for children that they forget that they themselves are really experts.”
— Marion Wright Edelman
    “Death, taxes and childbirth:  there’s never any convenient time for any of them!”
— Margaret Mitchell
    “We’re all in this alone.”
— Lily Tomlin
    “Sometimes it takes years to grasp what has really happened to your life.”
— Wilma Rudolph
    “In passing, also, I would like to say that the first time Adam had a chance, he laid the blame on a woman.”
— Nancy Astor
    “I’m having trouble managing the mansion. What I need is a wife.”
— Former governor Ella Grasso
    “I don’t know that there are any short cuts to doing a good job.”
— Sandra Day O’Conner
    “We can do no great things — only small things with great love.”
— Mother Teresa
    “We are living beyond our means. As a people, we have developed a lifestyle that is draining the earth of its priceless and irreplaceable resources without regard for the future of our children and people all around the world.”
— Margaret Mead
    And finally, this reality check from former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who said, “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.”
    Maybe a long layover is not such a bad thing once in a while.
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