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Huzzah! My New Book Cover!

Here she is!! The cover of my new book, Listen, World!: How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America’s Most-Read Woman. The book comes out September 27, 2022. You can pre-order it here

At 35, Elsie feared she’d lost it all. Reeling from a scandalous divorce in 1917, she had no means to support herself and her chronically ill son. She dreamed of becoming a writer and was willing to sacrifice everything for this goal, even swinging a pickax in a gold mine to pay the bills.

When the mine shut down, she moved to the Bay Area. Armed with moxie and samples of her work, she barged into the offices of the Oakland Tribune and was hired on the spot. She went on to become a nationally syndicated columnist and household name whose “Listen, World!” column ran for more than 30 years and garnered millions of  readers.

Elsie took a gamble on self-fulfillment, and I’m certain you’ll find her story as inspiring as I do – no matter what your goals are. I’ve come to love Elsie, and Julia Scheeres and I can’t wait to share her with you!

Why did I write a biography about a woman you’ve likely never heard of? I didn’t know anything about Elsie either when I began researching her life 11 years ago. But when I discovered a poem she wrote (I found it in my childhood home after my mother died), I was absolutely captivated and driven to learn more. Read the piece I wrote for Moms Don’t Have Time to Grieve about this life-changing moment.

Be first to hear Elsie updates by joining my newsletter list. Join a growing group of readers as we learn from Elsie’s triumphs (and mistakes!) and how she persevered to fulfill her most pressing professional and personal dreams. 

my favorite poem

After my mother died, I found this typewritten poem stashed in a book that had belonged to her. Reading it, so deep in my grief, I felt equal blows of tough-love and compassion. My mother’s parenting style was steeped in that dichotomy: She loved me so fiercely, so unconditionally, she’d sooner let me fail than rescue me. I’d learn best, she might have said, if I understood life as a case study in cause and effect. Reading the poem that day, attributed to Elsie Robinson, it was my mother’s voice that filled my ears. And that felt welcome, needed, and healing.

But who was Elsie Robinson? I had never heard the name before and have spent much of the last 20 years finding out. In my research for my forthcoming book, the first biography of Robinson (1883-1956), I’ve learned she was once the highest paid nationally syndicated female columnist at Hearst. She was a writer who gave a voice to a generation of women and launched a movement that decades later included Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Dorothy Pitman Hughes. Researching and writing this biography has created a new, living connection to my mother, as if she’s sitting next to me as I type. 

Below is the poem I found more than 25 years ago. I’ve written it out for you, in its entirety. I hope it brings you as much comfort as it’s brought me. To learn more about Robinson and keep up to date on the book’s progress, please join my newsletter list. I promise not to bombard you; I send notes only once a month.

 

PAIN by Elsie Robinson

Why must I be hurt?
Suffering and despair,
Cowardice and cruelty,
Envy and injustice,
All of these hurt.
Grief and terror,
Loneliness and betrayal
And the agony of loss or death –
All these things hurt.
Why? Why must life hurt?
Why must those who love generously,
Live honorably, feel deeply
All that is good – and beautiful
Be so hurt,
While selfish creatures
Go unscathed?
That is why—
Because they can feel.
Hurt is the price to pay for feeling.
Pain is not accident,
Nor punishment, nor mockery
By some savage god.
Pain is part of growth.
The more we grow
The more we feel –
The more we feel – the more we suffer,
For if we are able to feel beauty,
We must also feel the lack of it –
Those who glimpse heaven
Are bound to sight hell.
To have felt deeply is worth
Anything it cost.
To have felt Love and Honor,
Courage and Ecstasy
Is worth – any price.
And so – since hurt is the price
Of Larger living, I will not
Hate pain, nor try to escape it.
Instead I will try to meet it
Bravely, bear it proudly:
Not as a cross, or a misfortune, but an
Opportunity, a privilege, a challenge – to the God that
gropes within me.

Bob Woodruff on how his near-death experience changed his life

In 2006, while in Iraq covering the U.S transfer of power to Iraqi security forces for ABC News, Bob Woodruff suffered a life-threatening brain injury. His armored vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. In that one moment, Bob’s life, and the lives of his wife and four children, were changed forever. He was transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and spent 36 days in a medically-induced coma. And while he recovered, relearning how to walk and overcoming significant gaps in his memory, Bob’s family grieved the husband and father they no longer had.

…Continue Reading

5 Amazing Photo Gift Ideas

Too early to think about the holidays? I think now is the perfect time! COVID-19 has sharpened my focus on what’s most important to me. Without the ability to do much of anything in public these last few months, I’ve spent most weekends tidying up my home, getting rid of clutter, and organizing and digitizing family photographs. And it’s all been making me feel stronger and boosting my appreciation for all that’s still positive in my life — my friends, family, and yes, even my very loud cat.

…Continue Reading

why bereavement care should receive federal funding

As Covid-19 deaths continue to rise, a conversation is bubbling up in Washington about what kind of support is available to grieving families, and whether bereavement care, like other forms of healthcare, should receive federal funding, and if so, how much.

In March, as much of the nation was shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic, nine key U.S. Department of Health & Human Service agencies, including National Institutes of Health, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were pushed by Evermore, a non-profit advocacy group, to report to Congress what grief-specific resources are available right now to Americans in need. Follow-up came Sunday evening, July 12 when the House Committee on Appropriations made the same request as lawmakers debate the 2021 federal budget. Both requests are historic, marking the ​first attempts to get f​ederal agencies to report on the state of bereavement care in the United States.

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Modern Loss cofounder Rebecca Soffer shares stories from her post-loss life

After losing both of her parents, Rebecca Soffer started having monthly dinner parties with a group she named WWDP (Women With Dead Parents). These raw and often irreverent gatherings eventually became Modern Loss, a vibrant community that offers support and validation via blog posts, advice columns, and events. Its most enthusiastic supporters now have the opportunity to become Patreon members, receiving access to exclusive benefits.

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Judith Warner shares memories of her dear friend, gone too soon

Judith Warner is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a frequent contributing writer for The New York Times. Her latest piece, “The War Between Middle Schoolers and Their Parents Ends Now,” shares how the coronavirus lockdown is an opportunity for a reset with your children. She and I met in 2011 when she did a book talk for We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication, which followed her best-seller, Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety. Her latest book is And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School, and how I wish I had this book when my children were living through those emotion-charged years! …Continue Reading

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